HobbyBoss 1/72 A-4F Skyhawk

KIT #: 87255
PRICE: $47.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  2019 tooling


Ed Heinemann's Skyhawk is one of the world's success stories. A small, light attack aircraft designed for operation from aircraft carriers. In addition, it had to carry a sizeable amount of ordnance and have fairly decent range as well. At the time, it seemed to be an impossible task, but the result speaks for itself. The aircraft was able to exceed expectations and became a mainstay of light attack craft for the USN and USMC for decades.

Even after its retirement from the USN, the USMC flew the type well into the 1980s and it enjoyed considerable overseas success as well. Even today, sixty years after its first flight, the type is serving military air arms.                 


I was quite pleased to see Hobby Boss release this kit in 1/72 scale. I was not pleased at the $48.00 SRP, so I waited until it was on deep discount before picking one up. I expected it to be pretty much a downsized version of their 1/48 and for most intents and purposes that is what you'll get.

It has a nicely done cockpit with a fair seat shape that lacks belts, decals for the main instrument panel and side consoles and a proper stick shape. This all fits atop the nose gear well as is the norm. Now I am not sure how many of you will build up the landing gear before painting, but this kit has you do that for both the nose and main gear.

The intakes will lead to a short intake and stop at the first compressor stage. You have to do a little bit of trimming of molded on bits that are not needed. There is no indication of nose weight needed, but I always add a bit just in case. The instructions have you install a parabrake housing once the fuselage is closed. However, photos of all three of the units' planes as provided in the kit's decal sheet did not show this. So leave it off.

When building up the wing, no need to open holes as HB has already done that for you. The gear look nicely done. Now for the pylons. you get two pylons per wing and one centerline. The centerline pylon has an odd looking rack molded on it with a large, square brace near the front. Rather suspect to me. For the very outer pylon, HB wants you to put a missile rail on it for a Sidewinder. I was quite unable to find a photo of any early A-4F as is so kitted with this feature. It is quite common on Australian A-4s, but I'd not use it for this build.

You are commited to doing an early A-4F with the markings supplied as it only comes with the straight refueling probe. Like the 1/48 kit, no aggressors unless you find the proper bent probe. The inner wing racks each have a multiple ejector rack for a bunch of small Mark 80 series bombs and the centerline carries a fuel tank. The weapons sprues come from their 1/72 A-7 kit for the bombs and the missiles. You do get two fuel tanks, so despite what the loadout diagram shows, you may well be able to so equip your A-4 and two wing tanks were fairly normal.

Instructions are well done with Gunze paint references. There are full color exterior paint and decal pages that offer other paint options. The decal sheet is nicely done, but as usual, there is a glitch or two. One is that the fin markings for the VA-22 option are smeared so replacements have been included. Another is that 'Lady Jessie' was with VA-164, not VA-16 as on the decal sheet. the third option is with VA-94. A nice selection for building out of the box. There are aftermarket sheets if you so wish to use those.


When one makes a list of available 1/72 A-4E/F kits, the list is fairly short. Even more so when one reduces it to kits developed in the last 30 years. In fact, this is it. Looking at the parts in the box and the reputation of Hobby Boss for kits that construct well, I'd say this is a winner. The caveat being that you need to know your airplanes to some extent to keep from adding stuff that is inappropriate to this variant.

March 2020

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