Herigate 1/48  IA-58A Pucara

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $90.00
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Resin kit. Mirage kit Decals used



A very brief history of the FMA IA-58 Pucará

During the decade of 1960, the Argentine Air Force realized that needed a ground support and reconnaissance plane.

In 1968 the first glider, made entirely of wood, flew for the first time. On August 20th, 1969 the first prototype makes the initial flight of the Delfín, later called Pucará. It was powered by two Garret TPE 331-U303, which later on where changed to two French Turbomeca Aztazou.

The first series aircraft was delivered to the Air Force on November 15th 1974 (A-501). By 1975 there were four planes in service and they took part in combats against the communist guerrillas that wanted to “liberate” the Tucumán province in Northern Argentina.

In 1978, with more planes now in service in the III Brigada Aérea (in BAM Reconquista (Santa Fe Province)) a squadron was sent to the South to be ready in case the tensions with Chile became a war.

On December 31, 1979 this plane (A-533) having being completed in October of the same year, was delivered to the III Brigada Aérea.

The next important event in the life of the Pucarás was the 1982 war for the Malvinas/Falklands islands.

The very same day that the Argentine forces took the islands, a section of 4 Pucará arrived in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley.

On April 8th four more planes were readied to go to the islands, having arrived first to Comodoro Rivadavia. Two days later, the planes were given their cammo colours for the theater of operations.

On April 15th the BAM Condor was created in Darwin. The first landing of a Pucara took place on April 24th  (Capt. Navarro, Major Vila in A-529)

On April 26th the above-mentioned Squadron crossed to the islands (Puerto Argentino/Stanley), and on the 29th they were deployed to BAM Condor.

During the attack on May 1st that destroyed A-527 and killed the pilot (Lt. Jukic) and 7 mechanics, A-502 was slightly damaged. Some shrapnel had hit the plane and the canopy but was fixed using the available resources: parts of another canopy, screws, bolts and pieces of metal.

As it would be very long to describe all the missions flown by the Pucarás during those almost 2 months, I will only focus on the ones flown by the plane built for this article: A-533.

On May 15th, after the SAS raid on Borbón/Pebble Island, four Pucarás (call sign POKER) took off from Comodoro Rivadavia, in the continent, to reinforce the garrison in the islands. They were armed with 4 rocket pods. A MU-2B 60 guided them and they landed in the BAM Condor. The pilots were: Leader Vice Commodore Saul Costa, #2 Ensign Lema, #3 1st Lt Juan Micheloud and #4 Ensign Diaz in A-533.

(Missions ordered from the islands had no O.F. number)

May 17th, the first mission for this plane: reports from Port Howard stated that 2 enemy landing crafts were navigating along Puerto Salvador bay. Five planes flew in this mission for more than 2 hours but were unable to find the targets. They spotted Harriers but the British pilots did not see the Argentine planes. A-516 (Capt Grünert) and A-533 (Lt Calderon) turn was from 10:00 am till 12:00 pm.

May 21st, at 4 pm and after the first missions against the British troops in the vicinity of San Carlos were flown, Lt Gimenez flew the plane to BAM Malvinas (Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley), along with A-516 (Lt. Cruzado).

May 24th, at 2 pm a section of two planes (Lt Brest in A-533, Lt Címbaro in A-516) flew a mission looking for EW devices in the Bezuchere Is, which had been potentially detected by the Argentine Navy. They returned without engaging at 4 pm.

May 26th, call sign FIERRO. Two Pucarás to find the enemy located North of Darwin. Lt Cruzado (A-533) and Lt Gimenez (A-509)

May 28th, engagement with British troops attacking Darwin-Goose Green. Call sign NAHUEL: A-537 (Capt. Vila), A-533 (Lt. Címbaro), A-532 (1st Lt. Argañaraz), all armed with rockets. They took off at 8.00 am and returned at 9.20 am. They attacked the enemy and were fired at with Blow Pipes that missed their targets. Capt. Vila recounts that they were told that from the smoke onwards, it was all enemies. It was good information. They overflew the first group of soldiers and attacked the following one. The pilots were surprised as the soldiers, instead of running for cover or ducking, fired at them with their guns, still standing. The first two Pucarás fired their rockets at the soldiers. Argañaraz saw a missile flying towards Címbaro (fired by a soldier of 43 Air Defense Battery, Royal Artillery) and shouted him to break. Thanks to the warning, A-533 evaded the missile. Then Argañaraz saw that the group that had fired the missile was running towards a small house. He aimed his rockets and fired. At that moment, everything in front of him turned red and the plane flipped inverted and out of control. Another AA portable missile had misfired and exploded on the ground just in front of him. It was impossible to eject. He tried to level it and managed to regain control. The planes kept on flying low (ceiling was only 50 meters) and returned over Darwin to show them their support. Here the reception was even worse than the British one. Red tracers could be seen everywhere. Vila’s plane was hit by friendly fire. He thought that Argañaraz had been shot down and told the controller that 2 planes were returning. The radar had 3 planes returning, one of them some distance behind the first two ones. Finally, #3 was able to make his radio work and communicated: “Of course there are 3 planes! The “Gaucho” (his war name) is also coming back!” When Vila landed back in Puerto Argentino, 50 impacts were found on his plane. A-537 was now out of action. Pilots were waiting anxiously at the base to jump on the retuning planes and take part in the next attack, while the pilots that had just finished their mission could rest. The two remaining serviceable planes took off immediately in the following mission, manned by rested pilots.

The follow up mission (call sign BAGRE): Capt Grünert (A-533), Lt Russo (A-532), armed with 4 rockets launchers (LAU-61) with 19 rockets each, 7.62 mm machine guns and 20 mm guns. They took off at 9.20 am. They were flying extremely low over the water (5 meters) and they attacked with the sea behind them when they reached Goose Green. It was raining heavily and was hard to see. Russo saw a blast under Grünert’s plane, which started to turn left and then fired his rockets at the British positions. Thinking that A-533 was doomed, Russo followed his leader and asked him if he was going to eject. Grünert explained his wingman that he had everything under control and asked, in turned, if he had fired. As Russo had not fired, he was ordered to go back and attack the British troops. Under heavy AA fire, A-532 attacked again. Vcom. Pedrozo, in charge of the Air Force detachment at Goose Green/Darwin, asked Russo if he still had armament left. As he still had his guns loaded, Pedrozo commanded him to attack for a third time. Hearing this, Grünert told his wingman not to do it, as he would be too lucky to get away with it for a third time. Both planes returned to Puerto Argentino in clouds, where they crossed a Harrier according to the radar controller, but flying in such a bad weather they did not see it. They reached Puerto Argentino, where the next section of Pucarás (Gimenez/Címbaro) had already left on their mission.

Upon landing, it was discovered that A-533 had received 4 impacts on her left engine and 58 on the fuselage. But still managed to get her pilot back to base, though now it was also out of service.

June 13th: A-533 was back in flying condition after several days of repairs.

June 14th, the last 4 flyable Pucarás were readied for a close support mission and then they were to fly back to the continent. They had two drop tanks under the wings (318 lts) and 3 x LAU-61 rocket launchers in a TER under the fuselage. The cease-fire prevented them from carrying out this mission and they fell intact into British hands.

After the war: A-533 was shipped to the UK aboard Tor Caledonia in August 1982. Allocated serial ZD486 for tests at A&AEE Boscombe Down in September 1982, in never flew again. It was preserved at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop from February 15th, 1984. Pictured (in somehow rough shape) in 1990, the plane has been scraped and only the cockpit remains, back now at Boscombe Down. The bonnet part and a few other small parts ended up at Flixton on the Norfolk & Suffolk Av Museums example.


What happened to the pilots that flew A-533 during the war?

Lt. Calderón: Survived the war

Lt. Gimenez: flew several missions, shot down a Scout helicopter on May 28th but perished when his plane crashed on a hill in bad weather on his return leg.

Lt. Brest: flew several missions and survived the war

Lt. Cruzado: shot down and taken prisoner in the Goose Green/Darwin area on May 28th after flying several missions

Capt. Grünert: another experienced pilot that survived the war.


The Pucarás had a distinguished performance during the war, attacking the ground troops from May 21st until June 10th. Rockets and bombs along with the internal armament (4 x 7.62 machine guns and 2 x 20 mm cannons) were the usual armament, thought an attack with Napalm took place on May 28th and another one was planned when the garrison surrendered on June 14th. A testimony of the sturdiness of this plane is the fact that only 3 Pucarás were shot down in combat: A-511 (Mj. Tomba) shot down by the Sea Harrier of “Sharky” Ward, A-531 (Capt. Benitez) by a Stinger missile, A-555 (Lt. Cruzado) by multiple small arms fire hits. One Scout helicopter was shot down by Lt. Gimenez (A-537) but the pilot crashed in small clouds against Blue Hill on the return leg. During the same mission, Lt. Címbaro in A-532 claimed hits another Scout that had landed trying to avoid the attacks of his Pucará. Due to its low speed and high maneuverability, the Pucarás were able to follow every single evasive action the helicopters were taking. Jeff Nibblet, having survived Címbaro’s attacks, later stated that the Argentine planes were skillfully handled and used their great speed range and maneuverability to attack the Scouts from all angles, altitudes and speeds. They proved to be more difficult to evade than jet planes.

In total, the Pucará Squadrons flew 103 sorties, suffered 3 planes shot down, 4 captured in flying condition on June 14th and the rest (18) were destroyed on the ground by air attacks, the SAS raid on Borbón/Pebble Island or shelling by the ships of the Royal Navy.


In Foreign Service, the Pucará served in the Colombian and Sri Lanka Air Forces and is still in service in the Fuerza Aérea de Uruguay and the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina). Failed sales include Iraq and Mauritania.

In total, besides 3 prototypes, 105 units were produced. It can probably be said that it has been one of the most successful design of the Fábrica Militar de Aviones, along with the Pulqui II and the Pampa.



Max speed: 520 km/h

Ceiling 10,000 mt

Range 3040 kg.

Engines: 2 Turbomeca Astozou XVIG of 1022 shp.

Armament: A ventral station for up to 1,000kg and 2 stations on the wings for 500 kg of bombs, rockets, Napalm (for a grand total of 2,000 kg)



The Heritage kit is a multimedia one, with Photoetched, resin and vacuum formed parts. Panels are incorrect in some areas; a little bit erratic I would say sometimes, but overall a good starting point. It’s important also to state that there were some areas broken in the left side cockpit wall in the fuselage, too thin in others, and a couple of big bubbles close to the tail area. There is lots of cleaning to do, specially to remove the resin pouring stubs.

I bought the kit from a Uruguayan friend who lives in Toronto (thanks, Gabriel!), who in turn had bought it from an American, who in turn had purchased it from the manufacturer in the UK. No overprice!



First step was to remove all the excess of resin using a power drill (small one). It took me some time to finish it (face mask, lots of dust in the air and the floor). Once this was accomplished, I left the parts in water with detergent for a day, to make sure the parts were as clean as possible.

One of the fuselage halves was slightly warped and would not match the other half so I dip it in hot water to correct it but to no avail. I then contacted the manufacturer by email, but he was not able to tell me what water temperature would work best, or for how long to leave it in the water (“don’t use too hot water and try several times”).

Then I moved to the cockpit. I brush painted everything. Some considerable sanding was done to the backseat instrument panel. Rudder pedals are fine; details in the cockpit are acceptable. One thing that is missing in the back part of the cockpit is the correct wall that would make the seat sit correctly. Using plasticard, I scratch built this area and painted it in gray.

To make the front instrument panel fit and have the right profile, I sanded out HALF of the piece (top and bottom)! Lots of sanding, dry fitting and sanding again took place until this part fit in the cockpit and achieved the correct profile, with the right amount of panel area protruding from the sidewalls.

Before gluing the fuselage halves, I filled the nose with nuts and bolts, “created“ some legs using screws, close the fuselage and attached the wings using tape and tried to see how much weight I had to add to the nose (forced to use this method as here again the manufacturer was not able to give me an answer…There is no information in the very basic and sketchy instructions). The tail is so heavy that not even putting more metal on top of the seats the plane would sit on its front leg. So I decided not to add any, and glue it to a base once finished. More of this later…

I glued some plastic inside the cockpit walls and then used two-part epoxy glue to make up the broken/missing areas.

Then, I finally was able to close the fuselage halves. Because of the warping (fixed by sanding one of the halves), then one side is shorter than the other one. I decided to leave this gap in the nose area, easier to fix with epoxy and sandpaper.

The dark yellow and gray (putty) areas are the epoxy. You can also note some missing panels and correct size of the 20 mm gun ports written with pencil. Also, the bumps in the machine guns access door are not present, just some oval marks (3 of them)

After modifying the machine cannons, I also extended the machineguns ports. The putty and part of the epoxy are seen in this picture of the opposite side of the nose

Lots of putty and epoxy was required to fill gaps here and there along the fuselage. New panel lines were made, and some others corrected. The oval antenna under the fuselage was scratchbuilt with plasticard. To make the 3 bumps covering the machine gun access panel, I took some of the surplus engine cowling bumps from the 1/48th Bloch 174 kit by Battle Axe, shaped them and glued them covering the oval marks mentioned above. Some sanding and more putty were used to make a smooth union.

More sanding was required to attach the central section of the wings, and of course, more epoxy and putty (plus sandpaper!). The engines were attached as well. Look at the areas where putty was required. The panels to access the top portion of the engines had to be scratchbuilt, as they were also missing.

Next I moved to the windshield. The shape of the 3 sections is wrong. It looks more like a Me109 than a Pucara (the side windshields should be rounded at the base, not straight as supplied in the kit). As there are two vacuum formed sets supplied, I decided to fix the shape of the 3 sections. Carefully, I cut out the plastic, leaving only the frames, now with the correct profile. As this clear plastic is soft and some areas in the central section are somehow straight, I added a couple of photoetched pieces in order to improve the shape.

I gave the frame a coat of black with the airbrush, and then one of aluminum. Using clear plastic from the box of a toy, I made again the side windshields and carefully glued it from inside. The central one, as it is colored, was made with plastic taken from the tabs you’d use for your office for hanging folders.

With some sanding of the mating surfaces, I attached the external parts of the wings, taking care of achieving the correct dihedral. I was forgetting: the circular panel under the fuselage had to be moved forward, as the location in the kit is not correct. The tail had been attached by then (vertical and horizontal, of course, with putty, epoxy and sandpaper in high demand). Some panel lines were added in this area as well.

To relax a little bit after so much cutting, putty, epoxy and sanding, I moved to the external armament. Here I used as a base the rocket launchers from an 1/48th Italieri A4-M. As the planes during the war did not have the frontal cone, I cut it out and made two more extremes using rubber molds and 1-minute resin (Araldite). Once they were put together, I gave them a coat of light gray to check for imperfections.

Next were the seats. Pretty nice straps and details, except for the fact that the wider area close to the shoulders is missing. I made some squares with plasticard, glued them in place, and used Putty to smooth the union. Here also a coat of light gray was used to check for imperfections.

The pylons were glued in place and the landing lights imbedded in them were made using pieces of clear plastic from plastic sprue. I airbrushed in black some parts of the plane. And then gave it a coat of Acryl RAF Interior Green to check for defects in the union of parts, sanding, etc. This is also the color I picked for all internal areas of the landing gear doors and bays.

To attach the windshield and have a step less union, I had to carve out resin. Only then I was able to have a nice mating of the parts. Later I still had to use some putty to hide some gaps in this area.

I now gave the whole kit a hand of Acryl Aluminum. With 2 coats of paint already, some of the panels I had marked were starting to get lost. Here you can see the nice union of the windshield I was able to achieve.

The propellers blades (white metal) were sanded to remove some imperfections, and some areas painted in black, tips in yellow. The propeller hubs are supplied in resin and white metal, but the resin ones are much better so I drilled 3 holes with a pin after painting them in black. Using instant glue, I added the propellers to the hubs.



There are plenty of pictures of A-533 in Internet, as she was displayed several times during her time in the Museum in the UK. Nevertheless, the top of the left wing was hard to see in those, so I used some guessing using pictures of other captured airplanes.

I masked the parts that would remain aluminum (spinners, rudder, inferior surfaces of the moveable parts). The first cammo color was applied to the undersides. It was a mix of white and RLM 78, following the directions found in a very nice article of Air Wars, sponsored by Testors. With blue tac I masked this area and sprayed the top sides using Radome Tan (4722 Acryl)

I masked the tan areas using more blue tack and sprayed the green (RLM 84).

The yellow ID bands were added.

I added the landing gear, minus the wheels, and dry brushed some black in the area around the machine guns, cannons and exhausts.

With a nice coat of several layers of Future, I was ready to apply the decals.

The screens in the engine cowling are missing, and Heritage instead supplies decals. Once put in place, they don’t look too bad. Probably a little bit too marked (overdone), but fine for me.

Decaling continued, adding some stencils, roundels and other details. The indicators on both sides of the engine “shaft” were cut from strips of decals of different colours and shapes.

Thanks to Fabian Vera, I was able to get the correct sized numbers and letters for my A-533.

The seat was completed adding Tamiya tape to create some of the missing straps, especially in the top part of it.

Other details:

Before finishing with the decals, the following bits were added:

  • Pitot on the right side of the nose (L shaped metal tube and plastic scratchbuilt base)
  • Antennas on the tail (one of the two was supplied with the kit, so I used it as a template to make a second one in plastic)
  • Venting tubes under the front part of the engine (the two largest ones in plastic, the pipes with metal)
  • Red formation light on top of the tail using a clear red disposable fork, sanded to shape.
  • Red and green formation lights on the wingtips were painted with a brush.
  • Two ejection handles on each seat (scratch built for the top, photo etched from Heritage for the lower ones)
  • Supports for the antenna running alongside the bottom left side of the fuselage.
  • Scratch built gun sight (two parts) on the top right side of the front instrument panel
  • Clock on top of the left side of the instrument panel.
  • Two white little “horns” behind the canopy, made with engine rods from a 1/144th engine, modified to shape and painted in white.

I gave the kit a coat of satin clear varnish. Painted the navigation lights with Future to make them shiny. Painted the two white formation lights behind the top of the tail (a couple of blobs of glue were added first to give them some volume). Added the scratchbuilt brake lines to the main landing gear (2 on each) and then added the wheels.

Some structure was added inside the main nose wheel wells.

Heritage supplies very nice white metal armament points of attachment. With these, I placed the rocket launchers under the pylons.

Then I made the base, using wood, drywall compound to give it some “waves” and “dioramas grass” (3 different types mixed in some areas). I made some “streaks” on the ground to simulate the plane braking to a halt. These areas were painted in dark brown. Some Future was added here and there to add some shininess (presence of water on the ground).

I cut some holes thru the drywall compound, where the wheels were going to sit, and added epoxy glue. The plane was finally glued in place and I left if overnight with a support under the tail until it was dry.

The epoxy and wheels were painted in the same dark brown mentioned above (mud). Fishing lane was used for the antenna that runs under the fuselage, and the one that goes from the tail to the top of the fuselage. They were then painted in aluminum with a brush.

The canopy (with 2 scratch built mirrors) was glued, adding some internal attaching points to the frame, like in the actual plane. A couple of plastic pieces made the actuating arms.

The windshield wiper supplied with the kit (photo etched) was painted in black and glued in place.

And to finish almost 8 months of work, I added the two propellers. At last…my 1/48th Pucara project was over!


It took me many months to improve the basic kit. I am very happy and satisfied with the end result. Of course, like it always happens, once I was about to finish with it, a new kit from a different manufacturer was launched (Mirage, which is superior to the Heritage one in several aspects).

LOTS of work but a nice looking Pucara added to my collection of my recently built kits. 

Thanks to Gabriel Bensusan, JMR, Rodolfo Hub and Fabian Vera.  To Charlie Vernall for the picture of the plane in the UK

To Rodolfo Hub, a Pucara pilot in the war, new Chief of Staff - III Brigada Aérea, Reconquista. And in him, to all the “Pucareros”


IA-58A Pucara by Cettolo, Mosquera & Nunez Padin (1997)

Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina. Volumen 6, Tomo 1

Falklands Air War, Hobson

FMA IA-58 Pucara, 30 anios en Servicio by Mosquera, Claria, Cettolo, Gebel, Marino y Posadas

 Pablo Calcaterra

March 2010

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