Hasegawa 1/72 EA-6B Prowler 'VAQ-136 Gauntlets'
|PRICE:||2400 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2004 Limited Edition|
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Grumman) EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, four-seat, mid-wing electronic-warfare aircraft derived from the A-6 Intruder airframe. The EA-6A was the initial electronic warfare version of the A-6 used by the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy. Development on the more advanced EA-6B began in 1966. An EA-6B aircrew consisted of one pilot and three Electronic Countermeasures Officers, though it was not uncommon for only two ECMOs to be used on missions. It was capable of carrying and firing anti-radiation missiles (ARMs), such as the AGM-88 HARM.
The Prowler was in service with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1971 until 2019. It has carried out numerous missions for jamming enemy radar systems, and in gathering radio intelligence on those and other enemy air defense systems. From the 1998 retirement of the United States Air Force EF-111 Raven electronic warfare aircraft, the EA-6B was the only dedicated electronic warfare plane available for missions by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force until the fielding of the Navy's EA-18G Growler in 2009. Following its last deployment in late 2014, the EA-6B was withdrawn from U.S. Navy service in June 2015, followed by the USMC in March 2019.
To my knowledge, there have been but two 1/72 EA-6B kits. One was by Matchbox and the other is this one by Hasegawa. A number of other companies in China have done knock-offs of the Hasegawa kit. This kit was originally released in 1979 and back then I built the Minicraft boxing, the only time I've done a 1/72 EA-6B. The molding is raised panel lines and is nicely done.
Cockpit is typical with seat shapes and decals for instrument panels. Typical of A-6 kits, there are two fuselage halves with a lower insert for between the engines. The radome is separate so you can wait until near the end to install weight (which it will need).Both the intakes and exhaust are quite shallow. The port side intake has a boarding ladder that you can pose lowered if you so desire. There is also an additional step plate which can also be done lowered.
Wings are upper and lower halves with the control surfaces on the upper half. The holes for the wings and cenerline pylon are already opened for you. Landing gear is nicely done for the scale and properly robust. Both fore and aft canopies are separate and can be posed open. Unlike early releases, the clear bits are not smoked plastic so you'll have to do that prior to installation as they are not clear on the real deal. You are provided five jamming pods and three fuel tanks so you can set things up any way you wish. The Prowler was also able to fire HARM missiles, but you'll have to get those from somewhere else.
Instructions are standard fare with Gunze paint references. You get the standard boxing instructions with a couple of additional sheets. One is so you can change the antenna arrangement to one that matches the box art aircraft. The other is the paint scheme for the single markings option. This is the CAG bird with black areas one a standard TPS camouflage. The decals are nicely done and should still be viable, depending on how the previous owner stored the kit. As you can see, these include the walkways, which is a nice touch.
I am quite surprised that none of the various Chinese companies have chosen to do a new tool kit of this aircraft in this scale. This isn't a bad kit by any means, just that the tooling is part of a former era and an updated kit would be welcome.
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