|KIT #:||07014 (P14)|
|PRICE:||$50.00 or so when new|
|NOTES:||Still an excellent (though not “shake and bake”) kit|
The A-7 Corsair II is an American carrier-capable subsonic
light attack aircraft, developed during the early 1960s as a replacement for the
A-4 Skyhawk. In many respects a simpler, cheaper and subsonic F-8 Crusader, the
so called SLUF (Short Little Ugly Fellow) first flew on 26 September 1965 and
entered squadron service with the USN on 1 February 1967. By the end of that
year, the type was being deployed overseas for the Vietnam War.
Initially adopted by the USN, the A-7 proved equally attractive to other services, soon being adopted by the USAF and the Air National Guard (ANG) to replace their aging Skyraider and Super Sabre fleets. Improved models of the A-7 would be developed, typically featuring more powerful engines and increasingly capable avionics.
American A-7s would be used in various major conflicts, including the Invasion of Grenada, Operation El Dorado Canyon and the Gulf War. The type was also used to support the development of the F-117 Nighthawk.
The type would be exported to Greece in the 1970s and to Portugal in the late 1980s. The USAF and USN opted to retire their remaining examples in 1991, followed by the ANG in 1993, the Portuguese Air Force in 1999 and, finally, the Hellenic Air Force in 2014.
It was the year 1987 when Hasegawa decided to treat the
modeling world with a state of the art quarter scale A-7 that would by far
supersede the older Aurora/Monogram and Esci offerings, not only in details
offered, but also in overall accuracy. The kit was offered in the standard "E"
and the Air Force ”D” version, the latter featuring different main wheels, no
nose gear launch bar and piston and some other differences, which were taken
care of the usual Hasegawa approach by providing common sprues fo the “base”
model, with extra sprues to cater for the different versions.
Typically for Hasegawa, the kit has been regularly reissued ever since (another 15 times so far) with very nice schemes (one being a Revell reboxing), with the 2010 issue containing all sprues to make either versions. The specific kit was the initial 1993 "E" Vallions edition, bought around 2003 from my usual hobby shop in Athens, the usual beloved way, i.e. bargain the price and pay cash. It came in the excellent Hasegawa-style (big) top opening box, featuring an extremely attractive box art by Koike Shigeo, portraying VA-15's #157586, seemingly the CO’s bird.
Upon opening the box, I was greeted with 200 light gray styrene parts, arranged in 10 sprues of various sizes, all of them bagged together, meaning potential scratches. At least the clear sprue is separately bagged. Molding is crisp with minimal flash. Detail is mostly engraved (raised where "needed", i.e. door innards rivets), looking very convincing. I found a few ejector pin marks at visible places (something not unexpected back in 1987), with some of them not too easy to remove.
Cockpit is well appointed with a nice instrument panel and side consoles, all featuring molded-on details, two types of very convincing seats (early Escapac 1G-2 or late SGU-8A) for the two different kit schemes, stick, rudder pedals and a busy looking rear bulkhead. A good looking pilot is also provided, together with the distinctive ladder and steps that can be posed extended. Though one can never super-detail too much the prominent, spacious and busy-looking A-7 cockpit, the kit provided will be sufficient for a good number of us, the only thing really missing being the seat belts (if you decide not to attach the pilot).
Landing gear is very well represented, with the bays looking pleasantly busy and the wheels looking realistic. I would not mind having brake lines, either molded onto the main legs or separately provided.
The air intake, a most prominent feature of the A-7, is provided as 2 pieces longitudinally split. While it looks nice and deep, the modeler will have to address the inevitable seams (or go for a seamless aftermarket one, which, typically, will require an amount of effort to fit). The tail pipe looks good, with an equally good looking turbine face to be affixed at its rear end. Its lack of depth, compared to the real thing, will practically be hard to notice after receiving its blackish burned metal color.
The distinctive air brake is equally well represented and can be posed open (this happens only in flight, though, as it is always closed when on the ground - it is too long to deploy, anyway). The equipment bays side doors can be attached “open”, so the very nice internal details provided can be seen and the same is true for the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), which can be posed “deployed”.
The wings feature separate slats and flaps that can be attached “down” (rarely seen on the ground this way, though) and outer wing sections that can be posed folded with believable hinge detail.
A PE fret is provided, containing base plates for the probe and some external plumbing bilaterally of the fuselage. It is of the hard stainless steel type and does not seem too easy to use.
Regarding external stores, the (practically always carried) six underwing and (not that often attached) two fuselage mounted pylons are provided, looking very nice. Two realistically looking Multiple Ejector Racks (MER) are supplied, together with an equally good looking pair of wing tanks, a Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) pod (rarely carried but very distinctive looking) and two Sidewinders for the fuselage pylons. Nothing else is provided, with the builder who will decide to load the prime candidate for loading A-7 having to buy the ordnance separately, per the, again, usual and, at this case, not too favorable Hasegawa practice.
Clear parts are superbly molded and crystal clear. Instructions come to the usual and excellent Hasegawa pamphlet style, containing a short history of the type, a parts list, with the construction spread in 14 followable and logical steps with all positionable items options clearly indicated. Color callouts are thoroughly provided during assembly, in Gunze Sangyo /Mr Color codes and also in generic form.
Two overall gray schemes are provided, for the boxart VA-15 “Valions” and a VA-147 “Argonauts" bird. Though overall gray might sound monotonous, I personally find the particular schemes attractive, emphasizing the Corsair's distinctive looks. Decals are tad thick but very well printed and contain a vivid amount of maintenance sencilling, however the white is represented as “ivory”. They seem to be in excellent condition despite being old. Typically for Hasegawa decals of the era, they are expected to take ages to detach from their backing paper, but to behave well afterwards.
Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit, pilot included, where you have to choose the correct seat for your chosen scheme. The intake with the nose bay attached underneath is then to be assembled, followed by the tail pipe, with all above subassemblies, plus the main instrument panel and shade, trapped between the fuselage halves onto which some holes must have been beforehand predrilled.
The distinctive air brake is then assembled and attached, followed by the rudder base, bay doors, RAT, refueling probe and fuselage plumbing. Landing gear assembly and installation is next, with the fuselage mounted Sidewinders with their pylons to follow. Construction then moves onto main wing assembly and installation, followed by the elevators and transparencies.
Last step includes assembly and installation of the six wing pylons, the two external tanks, the FLIR pod and the two MERs, with an external stores diagram provided should you wish to load your A-7 (after, of course, having bought the separately sold ordnance...). Obviously, the build presents a certain level of complexity, requiring more than novice skills.
As of 2022, this is still a very comprehensive kit of the
iconic A-7. Molding, especially in my initial release, is excellent, general
shape looks correct and details are generously provided with many parts
optionally posed "open" or "deployed". Clear parts look great, decals are
relatively thick, with the white represented as ivory, but are well printed and
look still in excellent condition, instructions are clear and the box offered
schemes are appealing.
Though not "shake and bake", it is definitely a buildable kit and probably still the most accurate representation of the real thing, with the final result being very charming, as you can admire the completed models at the MM archives reviews. If you are not a novice modeler, this is a kit worth tackling.
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