Matchbox 1/72 A-4M Skyhawk

KIT #: PK-29 (1976)
PRICE: $Currently out of production
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Victor Scheuerman


During the Korean War the Douglas Sky Raider proved very successful, but the U.S. Navy realized that it would need a faster aircraft to replace it. Although jet aircraft were becoming more complex and heavier, the Douglas engineering team headed by Edward H. Heinemann submitted a design which exceeded the Navy requirements but weighted less than half of the 30,000 lb specified.  This was achieved by keeping everything as simple as possible and its small span meant that the complicated wing folding mechanisms were avoided. A contract was placed in June 1952 for 2 prototypes and ten pre-production aircraft as the XA4D-1. First flight was on June 22nd, 1954 only 4 weeks after the scheduled date; the aircraft being an immediate success. A continuous development programme resulted in a number of variants including 2-seat trainers. By the spring of 1970 2,400 aircraft had been produced, with some being sold to Australia and New Zealand. (Thanks to the kit history summary.)


Matchbox’s cleanly molded kit has 41 parts molded in white and grey plastic plus one clear one-piece canopy. The surface is a combination of engraved (a little too deep) and petit raised panel lines. Engraving is limited to all control hinge lines and some panels on the fuselage and wing-tip lights. There are vortex generators on the wings and the proper stiffening ribs on the rudder. The usual basic cockpit of a well molded pilot on a seat shape is offered, though there is a little bit of an instrument panel molded below the coaming.

Gear bays are framed in with the nose bay the usual too shallow but the main bays do have some ribbing. All the gear struts look a little ‘chunky’ with the main gear aft retraction arms looking a little too bulky also. Not surprisingly, the nose tire is molded with its leg though the main tires have some decent raised detail on their wheels. All gear doors would look better sanded somewhat thinner.

External details are the two Bullpup missiles and their pylons, arrestor hook, nose ESM (?), cannon barrels, and refueling probe. 

Matchbox’s well drawn assembly guide clearly shows the 10 steps recommended with their usual detail colour notes offered separately at the end. Thankfully, both decals options are Marine high-viz examples that are painted Gull Grey over white. A black and yellow tailed Skyhawk from VMA-331 also has a colorful fuselage unit insignia while the Marine from VMA-324 has a bright red tail with a large colorful squadron insignia of a winged red wolf(?).  I was somewhat amazed that the decals still look good and useable!


Fujimi makes a much better A-4M in this scale though with some minor work a decent kit can be had.

Victor Scheuerman

October 2008

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