The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was an attack aircraft originally designed to operate from United States Navy aircraft carriers. The aircraft was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company (later McDonnell Douglas) and was originally designated the A4D under the US Navy's pre-1962 designation system.
The A-4E Skyhawk model stood as a vast improvement over previous models and served the US Navy featuring an overall heavier airframe and a Pratt & Whitney J52 power plant.
A successive model for the US Navy, the A-4F, proved to be the last model and featured further improvements on the A-4E, most notably the avionics-housing "hump" just behind the cockpit and running along the dorsal spine of the fuselage. Some A-4E's were also retro fitted with the avionics hump.
The A-4E and F saw considerable action in the early years of the Vietnam war. The Scooter saw extensive service with various US Marine units doing short range bombing in support of troops in country, while the Navy versions took the war to the North. The Skyhawk served well in the front lines in Vietnam until replaced in the late 1960s by the A-7 Corsair II. Even after being replaced, the A-4E/F went on for dozens of years as aggressor aircraft, as the mount of the Blue Angels, and with the reserves.
Fifty years after the aircraft's first flight, and having played key roles in Vietnam, the Falklands and Yom Kippur wars, some of the nearly 3,000 Skyhawks produced remain in service with several air arms around the world, including active duty on a carrier.
The eight light grey sprues are bagged together and the one clear sprue are bagged on their own inside the standard Hasegawa lidded box. Also in the box is the instructions sheet and the decals.
Flash is non-existent, but pin marks are plentiful, with a few which will have to be taken care of during building. The plastic is quite glossy with a few scratches on the plastic where the parts have rubbed together during transit. You would think that Hasegawa would have realized that fewer parts per bag would eliminate this problem. OK its only a minor gripe, but you would think one of the "majors" would address this problem.
The part count is in excess of 180, but quite a few are marked as "not for use", but this is still leaves a lot of parts for this little kit.
The kit has some delicate engraved panel lines adorning the fuselage and wings. Rivet and fastener detail for the kit is very fine and is some of the best I have seen on a injection moulded kit.
Cockpit detail is fairly standard with the instrument panels having raised details. Decals are supplied for the instruments, so you have a choice of painting or using the decals. The ejection seat is pretty mundane with very basic seat harness's moulded on.
Undercarriage detail is quite superb, with brake/plumbing lines and some nice rib detail in the bays. The undercarriage legs themselves are quite detailed, but do look to be very delicate. The nose undercarriage leg has the wheel moulded onto the leg which is a little disappointing.
Engine detail is adequate, with moulded on fan blades and exhaust detail. How much you will actually see inside the intakes and exhaust is pretty debatable.
The avionics hump is made up of three parts and fits into a recessed hole on the fuselage. If you are modelling a E version with A.M decals, a little research should be done to see if that particular aircraft had the "hump" installed. Part A-13, which is a insert instead of the "hump", can be used for "hump-less" aircraft, but this part is only shown on the instruction sheet as a "not for use" part.
Weapons, or should I say the lack of them. Only two wing drop tanks are included in the kit, so if you wish to fully load your "Scooter", you will have to buy the additional weapon sets. Hasegawa have adopted this approach with most of their aircraft kits and it does annoy me, as you then have to spend more money getting various weapon sets, when every other manufacturer includes them in the kit.
The clear parts are blemish free, thin and have some nice detail moulded onto the canopies.
The typical Hasegawa instructions are in the form of a A5 type size, foldout strip pamphlet. The build sequence is pretty logical, with internal and some external paint colour numbers are given along the way in the Mr Color/Gunze Sangyo range.
Painting and decals
Two schemes are given, both of which are Gloss white lowers and control surfaces with Gull grey uppers. Scheme 1 (and the box name and art work) is for a CAG bird of CVW-21 VA-55 "War Horses" U.S. Navy. The second scheme, and probably the most interesting, as it has a large red hawk either side of the fuselage, is for VMAT-102 "Hawks" U.S. Marines.
The decals are in register, pretty matt in tone and with little carrier film. The beauty of Hasegawa decals is that they include not only the stencils, but also the red intake, the red area inside of the flaps and the black wing walk and anti glare panel, very handy if you really don't want to paint these parts.
Hasegawa's A-4E/F Skyhawk was kindly provided for review by HobbyLink Japan. Visit HLJ for Japanese kits at Japanese prices.
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