HobbyBoss 1/48 A-7E Corsair II
KIT #: 80345
PRICE: ~$42.00 delivered from China
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 release

HISTORY

The Navy was sufficiently impressed with the increased power offered by the A-7D Spey engine used by the Air Force, and decided to use this engine for its own version of the Corsair II. The designation A-7E was assigned, and this version was to succeed the A-7B in production. However, there were delays in the deliveries of the TF41-A-2 engine specified for the A-7E, so the first 67 aircraft of the order were delivered with the TF30-P-8 engine. These aircraft had all of the other improvements planned for the A-7E, including the improved avionics and the M61 rotary cannon, and were re-designated A-7C after delivery.

The first Spey-powered A-7E flew for the first time on 9 March 1969. The A-7E differed from the USAF A-7D in retaining the probe-and-drogue midair refueling system of the earlier A-7A/B. It entered service in Southeast Asia in May 1970 with VA-146 and VA-147 deployed aboard USS America. The A-7E participated in numerous close-air support missions over both North and South Vietnam, with its state-of-the-art bombing and navigation system being particularly reliable and accurate. Most air wings operating A-4 Skyhawks and early A-7s were re-equipped with A-7Es. The A-7E participated in the mining of Haiphong harbor in 1972, and played a vital role in Operations Linebacker I and Linebacker II that led up to the formal end of US involvement in the Vietnam War on 24 January 1973.

On 15 May 1975, A-7E aircraft operating from USS Coral Sea, in conjunction with A-7D aircraft assigned to the 3d TFS at Korat RTAFB, provided air cover in what is considered the last battle of the Vietnam War, the recovery of SS MayagŁez after it was hijacked by Khmer Rouge gunboats.

THE KIT

Hobby Boss has produced a full series of A-7s in both 1/72 and 1/48. Like most Hobby Boss kits, the detailing is very good and they provide a lot for your money. Also like some Hobby Boss kits, there are some major shape issues. It seems they used both the Hasegawa and the Monogram A-7 kits as a basis for this one. By that I mean you get features found on the Hasegawa kit, like the open avionics bay doors and features found on the Monogram kit like the too wide intake and canopy/windscreen. Why things like this happen is quite beyond me as there is no lack of reference photos and even museum aircraft that can be used for reference to get the shape right. Fortunately for the modeler, there is a replacement upgrade for the intake and the nose from Cat 4 in Ukraine though it means cutting away the lower forward fuselage to install the set. There is no fix for the upper fuselage yet. What makes it so irritating is that the box art has all the dimensions correct.

The cockpit is niely done with a properly shaped, though rather bare bang seat. Instrument panels and consoles have raised detail though decals are also supplied. Nose gear well is a single piece that attaches to the bottom of the intake. The instructions would have you build up the nose gear and attach it at this time. I'd do some dry fitting to see if one could postpone this until after painting is done. Main gear well is seven pieces and can be installed without the gear in place. Holes need to be drilled for the fuselage cable ducts and then all the various bits can be trapped into the fuselage halves. No indication is given as to if nose weight is needed.

Moving to the wings, there are separate flaps and the inner portion of the wing has an insert. Holes need to be opened for the pylons. The A-7 may not always carry weapons, but it did always carry pylons. These are shown being attached prior to attaching the wings. Your choice on this, but I'd leave them off until after painting. Next, all the flight surfaces are attached. This is followed by the main landing gear. Note that you are provided USAF spoked main wheels and not the slotted ones used by USN A-7s so you might want to invest in some replacement wheels from Resi-kit.

As I mentioned earlier, the avionics bays are provided with doors that are molded to be open. Note that these bays will not be chromate green but chromate yellow. If you want to have the doors closed, you'll have to cut away the mounting tabs. They will probably not fit all that well.
A lot of weapons are provided along with other things that fit under wings such as fuel tanks and a FLIR pod. A paint of MERS are also included. For weapons you have Mk 82 bombs, Rockeyes, Mavericks, and GBU-10s. Pretty sure Navy A-7s did not carry the Mavericks, though not sure about the LGBs. A pair of Sidewinders are also included and the Corsair did carry those or at least the pylons for them.

Instructions are nicely drawn and provide some color info along with a loadout diagram. Two markings options are provided. One is the box art plane from VA-86 in 1975. The other is a VA-195 plane in an experimental two greys scheme from 1982. Decals are nicely printed and include stencils for the weapons. There is no lack of aftermarket sheets for the E model A-7 should you want something a bit different. As a note, A-7s still in service had the Escapac seat replaced by a Stencel version around 1985/6. If you are modeling an E after this time period, you need to look into a new seat if you want to be accurate as the kit provides what looks like the Escapac seat.
CONCLUSIONS

As you may have guessed, as nicely done as this kit is, the various shape issues means that the Hasegawa kit is still the best one in this scale, even though it is still a fairly pricey kit. However, even with the aftermarket bits, the HB offering, which includes weapons the Hasegawa version doesn't, might just be the way to go.
REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTV_A-7_Corsair_II#Improved_A-7E

January 2023

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