Hasegawa 1/48 A-7D Corsair II

KIT #: P13
PRICE: 2900 yen when new
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1987 release

HISTORY

The United States Army has not been permitted to operate fixed-wing combat aircraft since the establishment of an independent United States Air Force (USAF) in 1947. To meet its need for close air support of its troops in South Vietnam, the Army pressured the Air Force to procure a specialized subsonic close air support fixed-wing aircraft that would suit its needs better than the general-purpose supersonic aircraft that the USAF preferred.

The Vought A-7 seemed to be a relatively quick and inexpensive way to satisfy this need. However, the USAF was initially reluctant to take on yet another Navy-designed aircraft, but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was insistent. On 5 November 1965, Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown and USAF Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell announced that they had decided to order a version of the Corsair II, designated A-7D, for the Tactical Air Command.

The A-7D differed from the Navy's Corsair II in several ways. For one, the USAF insisted on significantly more power for its Corsair II version, and it selected the Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan engine, which was a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Spey. It offered a thrust of 14,500 lbf (64,000 N), over 2,000 lbf (8,900 N) greater than that of the TF30 that powered the Navy's Corsair IIs. Other changes included a head up display, a new avionics package, and an M61A1 rotary cannon in place of the two single-barreled 20-mm cannon. Also included was a computerized navigation/weapons delivery system with AN/APQ-126 radar.

Two YA-7D prototypes were completed with TF30-P-6 engines, and the first of these flew on 6 April 1968. The first Spey-powered A-7D (67-14854) flew for the first time on 26 September 1968. The seventeenth production aircraft introduced a provision for boom flight refueling in place of the Navy's retractable starboard-side probe/drogue system, with the boom receptacle being on the top of the fuselage behind the cockpit and offset to port.

The USAF operated the A-7 in active duty squadrons until the A-10 came on line and quickly transferred the type to the ANG. The Air Force did not like to admit that it needed USN designed aircraft (F-4 and A-7) to fulfill the majority of its missions during the mid-60s through the 70s, but there it is. During the Vietnam war, the USAF A-7D flew a total of 12,928 combat sorties during the war with only six losses  the lowest of any U.S. fighter in the theater. The aircraft was second only to Boeing B-52 Stratofortress in the amount of ordnance dropped on Hanoi and dropped more bombs per sortie with greater accuracy than any other U.S. attack aircraft.

THE KIT

Hasegawa's A-7 series was initially released in 1987 and is still what many consider to be the best A-7 in this scale. While Hobby Boss did a full series of A-7s in this scale, they apparently based their kit on the Monogram/Aurora kit which has an intake and canopy that are far too wide, ruining the look of the front of the aircraft. To my knowledge there is no aftermarket fix for this. Too bad as apparently it is a good building kit and they do variants that, for some reason, Hasegawa never bothered doing. This is the D model boxing with the other being the A-7E.

Interestingly the more recent boxings allow you to do either variant. However, that is now and this kit is then when the D and E kits were boxed separately. The kit includes a fairly nice interior with an 8 piece bang seat. The seat is without harness detail as one is expected to install the pilot figure that is included. There is a tub with separate side consoles a set of rudder pedals, a control stick and the appropriate instrument panel for the D version. There is an entire sprue that has all the D bits on it.

One will need to open several holes in the fuselage prior to installation of the cockpit and tail assembly. There is also a rather complete intake provided which contains the nose gear well. There will be a rather long seam that will be difficult to hide, though there have been aftermarket single cast intakes produced for this kit. A rather odd inclusion is a separate speed brake, which can be modeled deployed. Frankly, I've never seen this down on the ground as it is quite long. This item needs to be trimmed to be installed in the 'up' position. Those that build kits in flight would be the ones to take advantage of this feature.

Another feature are molded in avionics bays with their separate doors. One of these doors is for the RAT (ram air turbine). Having at least some of these doors open seems to be a rather regular occurrence in the USAF. Cutting away the door hinges will allow those to be closed.

The kits wings are molded with a number of features. One is that you can build the kit with the wings folded. Those who like folded wing models and who also may want a bit more shelf space will like this feature. Another is that the flaps and slats can be modeled deployed. Again, this was not often seen on the ground, but the option is there and I know many who will appreciate this.

Landing gear is well done and the kit seems to have the proper USAF wheels. Something different from the USN variant is the lack of a launch bar and its piston. Before assembling the wings, one needs to open the holes for the pylons. I have to tell you that it was quite normal for all six to be attached to the plane, even if it wasn't carrying anything. For stuff to hang on the plane you have a pair of fuselage Sidewinders (again, these were something rarely carried and the instructions show them as not used), a pair of fuel tanks, and a pair of MERs (Multiple Ejection Racks). If you want bombs and such, you'll have to get one of Hasegawa's weapons sets. 

Instructions are standard fare for Hasegawa at the time with Gunze paint references. Three options are provided with three different camouflage schemes. The box art plane in Euro I is with the 4450th Test Squadron. These planes were used to give F-117 pilots some air time in the early years of the program. Next is an SEA wraparound scheme on a 74TFS/23 TFW aircraft and finally the original SEA camouflage one a plane from the 353rd TFS/354th TFW. Decal are probably still useable after all these years, but the white parts are actually off white and you'd be wise to get some aftermarket replacements.

CONCLUSIONS

As mentioned, this is still the best in this scale in terms of shape, though it will take some care when building. It is generally still available, though it won't be inexpensive.

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTV_A-7_Corsair_II#United_States_Air_Force_A-7D

August 2020

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