Hobby Boss 1/48 A-7K Corsair II
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II is a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the United States Navy's A-4 Skyhawk, initially entering service during the Vietnam War. The Corsair was later adopted by the United States Air Force, to include the Air National Guard, to replace the A-1 Skyraider, F-100 Super Sabre and F-105 Thunderchief. The aircraft was also exported to Greece in the 1970s, and Portugal and Thailand in the late 1980s. The A-7 airframe design was based on the successful supersonic F-8 Crusader produced by Chance Vought. It was one of the first combat aircraft to feature a head-up display (HUD), an inertial navigation system (INS), and a turbofan engine.
The A-7 enjoyed the fastest and most trouble free development period of any American combat aircraft since World War II. The YA-7A made its first flight on 27 September 1965, and began to enter Navy squadron service late in 1966. The first Navy A-7 squadrons reached operational status on 1 February 1967, and began combat operations over Vietnam in December of that year.
The A-7A and subject of this kit was the first production version. Early USN Corsair IIs had two 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannons with 250 rounds per gun. Maximum ordnance, carried primarily on the wing pylons, was theoretically 15,000 lb (6,804 kg), but was limited by maximum takeoff weight, so the full weapon load could only be carried with greatly reduced internal fuel; 199 built. Many were later refurbished for Portugal and sold as A-7Ps. New build A-7H airframes were supplied to Greece while Thailand got refurbished A-7Es as the types only export customers.The A-7K was a two-seat trainer version for the Air National Guard. 30 airframes were constructed.
Like the other A-7 versions produced, the kit is nicely molded in the current style of lots of indented rivets. I found just a few sink areas on the outside of gear doors where there is a lot of internal detail. The kit has a well done cockpit with raised instrument details on the main panel and side consoles. Decals are also provided in case you wish to go that route. The seats are a bit plain looking and like most kits, could do with a more detailed replacement, or at least a harness.
The wheel wells are fully detailed and the intake goes back to the end of the cockpit area. Also detailed are the external avionics bays with covers that can be posed open. Now in the USAF, it was common to see some of these open. Full weapons pylons and a broad array of things to carry under the wings are provided. In fact, two sprues are nothing more than weapons. Before going into a listing of what is there, I should mention that the A-7K was basically used for training and keeping current flight hours so rarely carried anything under the wings aside from the drop tanks. You get Sidewinders, Mk 80 series slick bombs with MERS, a pair of fuel tanks (which were frequently carried despite the Corsair II's excellent range without them), some more modern LGBs, and a FLIR pod. There are other guided munitions that you can relegate to the spares box. The kit includes a load-out sheet which shows the fuel tanks being carried on the outer pylons. From what I understand, only the inner pylons were plumbed for the drop tanks. At least, that is where I've always seen them carried.
Now you would think that with an all new fuselage, this would be the opportunity to fix the two biggest defects of this kit. One is the oval shaped intake and the other is the canopy that is too flat on the top. Nope. Same problems. I just don't get it as these could have been so easily fixed. Aside from the canopy and new fuselage/interior sprue, the rest are the same as with the A-7A kit. The new sprue also has bits for the TA-7C previewed earlier.
Instructions are quite well done. There is an nice parts diagram with a listing of unused pieces. Paints shown are the usual Gunze references with generic names included. The insides of the equipment bays are listed as Interior Green. Most photos I've seen are Chromate Yellow, but I have seen one or two USAF planes with these areas in Interior Green. Markings are for two aircraft. Both are ANG planes as the guard was the only service to operate these. One is an SEA wrap camouflaged plane from the 152 TFTS, Arizona ANG, who, as the primary training unit, used to have all of the A-7Ks. However, it was decided to allocate one plane to each of the ANG units flying the type, thus decreasing the number carried at Tucson. This particular plane is the prototype A-7K (73-1008), converted from a standard A-7D. The photo I have shown is when it was with the F-117 unit back in 1983 before the world knew of the stealth fighter. The other is in the two greys scheme worn when the planes were retired. This one is from one of two Iowa ANG units that flew the plane, this one being the 174 TFS based at Sioux City, Iowa. The decals are well printed and should provide no problems with application.
This kit now pretty well completes the A-7 variants. There were planes built for Greece and others sold to Thailand and Portugal, but they are all based on extant variations, so no new sprues will be needed to produce those. Oh yes, sharp eyes have noticed that the serial presentation on the box art and decal sheet are wrong for the right side. This wasn't handed and should have the FY date preceding the rest of the serial on both sides.
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