Sheet #

 Third Group




VA-22 & VA-55

Review By:

Scott Van Aken



Third Group Decals has produced only a few sheets over the years, but those have always been of interest to the enthusiast. This sheet is one of the last ones produced back in 1996 and is for the A-4F Skyhawk. There are two subjects on the sheet, both from the smaller Essex class carriers that operated in the late 60s and early 70s. Both aircraft are in the standard light gull grey over white scheme that was prevalent from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s before being replaced by the horrible Tactical Paint Scheme of basically flat greys.

The sheet is designed for the long out of production Monogram A-4 Skyhawk. One wonders when this kit will be rereleased if it ever gets done as Hobbycraft is scheduled to release their series of early Skyhawks around the end of 2000. If not, then I'm sure the sheet will fit the new Hobbycraft or the older ESCI Skyhawk kit as none of the decals are really form fitting.

The first aircraft is from VA-22, the Fighting Red Cocks. Like the other aircraft, this one has the dorsal spine that included a UHF radio, UHF/DF antenna and IFF transponder. As a young sailor around those times, I was often called upon to repair the UHF radio that was in this pack; the hump being removed as a unit and brought in for repair. The radio in there was the ubiquitous AN/ARC-27 unit, which alone weighed 65 pounds and produced a whopping 9 watts of output power! So old was this radio that it was standard equipment on the F6F Hellcat of WW2, and was full of vacuum tubes and other ancient components!

But I digress. The VA-22 aircraft is from the USS Bon Homme Richard, circa 1969, which was decommissioned soon after VA-22's last cruise on it and the air wing, CVW-5, was eventually transferred over to the USS Midway. When the Midway was moved to Japan in the mid 1970's the air wing went with it and is still there, now flying off the Kitty Hawk. Markings include a colorful blue fuselage band and the blue rudder stripes. Last I knew, VA-22 was VFA-22 and flying F-18 Hornets.

The next aircraft is from VA-55, the War Horses, flying off the USS Hancock circa 1974, again just before the ship was decommissioned as the last of the active Essex class carriers (though the Lexington sailed on for many more years as a training carrier). I keep thinking that VA-55 transitioned to the A-6 Intruder, but the unit had been disestablished by the time Desert Storm occurred.

VA-55's main color is green and this is prominent in a hump flash and tail flash. There are also green stripes for the drop tanks. There are enough common markings to do one of the subjects and Third Group even includes a set of pre-cut insignia if you want to open the speedbrakes. Also included are wing walk areas, tail hook stripes and both styles of intake warning stripes.

Overall it looks like a great sheet and one to be recommended for the Skyhawk modeler.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has over 800 visits a day, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.