Fujimi 1/72 A-7D Corsair II
KIT #: F-11
PRICE: 800 yen when new (1986)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Initial 1986 boxing


The United States Army has not been permitted to operate fixed-wing combat aircraft since the establishment of an independent United States Air Force (USAF) in 1947. To meet its need for close air support of its troops in South Vietnam, the Army pressured the Air Force to procure a specialized subsonic close air support fixed-wing aircraft that would suit its needs better than the general-purpose supersonic aircraft that the USAF preferred.

The Vought A-7 seemed to be a relatively quick and inexpensive way to satisfy this need. However, the USAF was initially reluctant to take on yet another Navy-designed aircraft, but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was insistent. On 5 November 1965, Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown and USAF Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell announced that they had decided to order a version of the Corsair II, designated A-7D, for the Tactical Air Command.

The A-7D differed from the Navy's Corsair II in several ways. For one, the Air Force insisted on significantly more power for its Corsair II version, and it selected the Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan engine, which was a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Spey. It offered a thrust of 14,500 lbf (64,000 N), over 2,000 lbf (8,900 N) greater than that of the TF30 that powered the Navy's Corsair IIs. Other changes included a head up display, a new avionics package, and an M61A1 rotary cannon in place of the two single-barreled 20-mm cannon. Also included was a computerized navigation/weapons delivery system with AN/APQ-126 radar and a head-up display.

Two YA-7D prototypes were completed with TF30-P-6 engines, and the first of these flew on 6 April 1968. The first Spey-powered A-7D (67-14854) flew for the first time on 26 September 1968. The seventeenth production aircraft introduced a provision for boom flight refueling in place of the Navy's probe/drogue system, with the boom receptacle being on the top of the fuselage behind the cockpit and offset to port.

The USAF quickly rid itself of the A-7D once the A-10 came into production, foisting its aircraft on the ANG, where they served until 1993.

It would not be too far fetched to say that Fujimi started the use of a basic airframe with numerous inserts to different variants with kits. Their A-7 line-up is a prime example of this as they have multiple interchangeable bits and pieces that are needed to do the different types. In 1986, this was a big deal and while it did what it was supposed to, it also made the model more fiddly to build. To say that the parts fit perfectly would be a stretch as pretty much every Fujimi kit of this ear has needed modeling skills of some sort.

The kit provides an adequate cockpit with decals for instruments and the ability to pose the canopy open, though without any actual support mechanism. The intake is fairly long though there is a major seam that takes a bit of work to remove. This section is different depending on the armament of the version being built. No indication of weight is mentioned, but I always add some.

There are pylons for the fuselage missiles and for six underwing hard points. Holes for the fuselage and four of the wing pylons need to be drilled out. The outer wing pylon is a butt join. A-7s rarely flew without all the wing pylons, even if empty. There are also holes in the fin to drill out for the RHAW antenna and fairing. A myriad of scoops, exhausts, antennas and the refueling receptacle are to be added and the instructions show just where they go.

For weapons you are provided a pair of Sidewinders for the fuselage, two MER, two TER with snakeye bombs to put on them and a pair of fuel tanks. The kit has the proper USAF main wheels. Decals are for four aircraft. Three of them from 23rd TFW, Colorado and Virginia ANG are in SEA wraparound camouflage. A Pennsylvania ANG plane is in Euro 1. Decals are somewhat thick and pretty old so take forever to come away from the backing. Go with aftermarket if you buy this initial boxing.

I began this kit in a standard way. That means I built up the cockpit. Due to the age of the kit, it took a long time for the instrument decals to come free of the backing, but they worked fine. They are oversize, which is better than too small, I guess. I also prepainted things like intakes, wheel wells and wheels. I used white for the first two and silver for the front with black for the rear wheels. I have photos of this combo so it isn't unusual.

Assembling the intake was next. This is not the best fitting item as removing the intake interior seams took some effort using first a motor tool and sanding drum followed by sandpaper rolled up over a dowel. There are also some sink areas that need filled in the intake and fuselage halves. I used super glue for all my filler needs.  The wings had the holes drilled out for the pylons and the inserts installed.

Once the interior was done, I installed the cockpit and later added about 3 grams of weight behind it 'just in case'. Then the fuselage halves were glued together. For some reason, in the nose section, the left half is larger than the right. This produces a major lip that has to be sanded down. Motor tool to the rescue followed by total eradication of the offending lip. This is not unique to this exact kit as another has the same issue. With that done, the intake assembly was snapped in place. One of the down sides of building this up to remove the seam is that sometimes it is a bit narrow in the back. Such was the case here and a goodly amount of filler was needed to take care of the step.

The A-7D has more external bits to add to the fuselage than the earlier A-7s so I spent some quality time attaching those. The instructions are not real precise on some of these but the markings guide was helpful in placement. The large fairing just behind the nose gear well needs to have holes opened up for it prior to closing the fuselage halves. The instructions make no mention of this need so I had to cut the attachment pins and flush mount it. The under nose Pave Penny pod was not used on USAF planes and was only added after they'd been transferred to the ANG.

The wings were then attached followed by the installation of the seat and attachment of the already masked canopy and windscreen. Care needs to be taken when attaching the windscreen as there is a stress crack in every Fujimi A-7 windscreen I've ever used. The fin antennas were added and then it was time for some painting.
I first painted all the gear wells with gloss white and when dry filled these areas along with the intake and exhaust area with Silly Putty. I've used the same 'egg' for this for over 10 years and if you are not using this to fill wells, you should. The nose and fin tip were then painted black and masked. I decided to use Superscale sheet 72-567 which has a Euro 1 painted A-7 from the 4450th Test Group. These planes were used to help train F-117 pilots as the aircraft has similar flying capabilities. I don't think they were modified, but am not sure. These aircraft were somewhat unique in being an active USAF unit with A-7s in this scheme. The USAF had transferred all its A-7s to the ANG while in the SEA or SEA wraparound camouflage.

The two colors used for this are 34079 dark green and 36081 engine grey. They are very close to each other and unless you have a lot of light on the aircraft, look like an overall shade. The Superscale sheet calls for 36118 for the grey, but this is incorrect. I started with overall 34079 and then used Tamiya German Grey as I didn't have any 36081 and various charts on the 'net stated this was an acceptable substitute. I had to use a very bright LED flashlight while painting the grey as it was difficult to see the grey. All the pylons and the drop tanks were also painted grey. During this time, I also painted the inside and outside of the gear doors.

Once painted, the putty was removed and the landing gear installed. The nose gear well on these kits is pretty lame, but it will be hidden unless you turn over the model. Then everything was given a clear coat. I had no issues with the decals and used several of the kit decals, also with little issue, though they took a long time to come free of the backing.

With that done, the wheels were glued on and the gear doors attached. Then the pylons were glued in place. The tanks had been glued to the inner pylons prior to painting, which made things easy. These planes did not normally carry ordnance so I left the outer pylons empty. With everything on, I then sprayed on a matte clear. The masking was removed, the tail hook and nose probes were installed. I used E 6000 to attach the nose probes. This is a gel type of glue that dries hard in 24 hours and works very well with small, light parts like this when they have to be butt joined. Some touch up painting was done and that was it.

I built this and an A-7A at the same time since construction is basically the same. This one lagged for a few weeks as I concentrated on finishing a couple of other kits. It is not a throw together kit and does show its age in several ways. However, it is considered by many to be the most accurate in this scale and can often be found for $10 or so, which will appeal to the frugal modeler. It is a great addition to a growing collection.



13 September 2019

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