A-4B Skyhawk by Fujimi

1/72 scale
Kit No. 72139
Cost: $25.00
Decals: Two versions – U.S. Navy (VA-152 “Mavericks” aboard U.S.S. Forrestal) and Argentine Navy
Comments: Engraved panel lines; centerline 300-gallon drop tank; option for underwing drop tanks or Bullpup guided  missiles; option for one- or two -piece canopy; separately molded leading edge wing slats; optional open or closed dive brakes

History

The A-4B, initially designated the A4D-2, was a modification of the A4D-1/A-4A Skyhawk.  It made its first flight on March 26, 1956 and entered fleet service with the U.S. Navy in 1957.  The A-4B saw the introduction of a straight refueling probe on the starboard side of the nose (probes on later versions were angled), a single-piece rudder reinforced with ribs on both sides, known as the “tadpole” rudder, and additional ordnance and navigation equipment.  It was the first Skyhawk to carry the Bullpup air-to-ground missile.  As the A-4B’s in fleet service increased in number, their capabilities expanded to include APG-53A radar, developed specifically for the Skyhawk, the TPQ-10 blind bombing system, the AJB-3 low-altitude bombing system, and an all-altitude, automatic flight control system.  The APG-53A radar extended the A-4B’s length by 9 inches, and entered service with Marine Air units in March 1960, and U.S. Navy in December 1961.

A-4B’s played a crucial role in many episodes of U.S. naval aviation history during the Cold War.  It was the most numerous variant of the Skyhawks manufactured — at least 640 out of a production run of 2,960 A-4 and TA-4 variants between 1953 and 1979.  A-4B’s were deployed for the limited naval air support allowed by the Kennedy Administration during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961, and took part in retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam following the August 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident, signalling the beginning of ultimately large-scale U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia.  The Skyhawk went on to become a workhorse of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps throughout the Vietnam War, and remained in service for over four decades until the final A-4 squadron was decommissioned in 2003.

For more detail on the history of the Skyhawk, click here.

The Kit

Fujimi’s A-4B Skyhawk is molded in grey and consists of 85 injection molded parts.  Immediately noticeable is the fact that the fuselage is broken up into four parts, with two halves for the nose section, going from the nose tip to a point just aft of the cockpit, and two more for the remainder of the fuselage.  There is raised detail on the main and side instrument panels, and an unusual effort has been made to engrave seat straps onto the seat – the markings here are somewhat faint but definitely distinguishable.  There are separately molded leading edge wing slats, and excellent engraved detail showing perforations on the interior of both the dive brakes and the main landing gear doors, and the same is true of all the weapons and auxiliary fuel tank pylons.  For ordnance, there are two Bullpup missiles and three drop tanks, one for the centerline and two for under wing hard points.  There are boxed-in wheel wells featuring good engraved detail.

Also of note is a very thin arrestor hook that is already attached to the underside of the tail — care will have to be taken with this to be sure it is not broken during construction.  The engraved panel lines are evident on the fuselage, wings, the underwing hard points, even the drop tanks.  The decals should be of excellent quality as they are by Cartograf, printed in Italy.

An excellent kit.  Highly recommended.

References

  • Douglas A-4 Skyhawk by Peter Kilduff; Osprey Publishing Limited, London, 1983
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