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Classic Airframes 1/48 scale TA-4J Aggressor

Kit: No. 4147
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Classic Airframes, 773-883-8888,
Price: $55
Comments: Multimedia, 246 parts (123 injection-molded, 108 photoetched-metal, 15 resin parts) decals
Pros: Fine engraved detail; nice decals
Cons: Lots of flash; no locating pins
Issue Published: December 2008
To my knowledge, the only 1/48 scale TA-4J kits previously produced were by Fujimi and Minicraft (and the latter is closer to 1/50 scale). Classic Airframes' kit changes that. I built two right away to begin a TA-4J aggressors collection.

The kit is molded in blue-gray plastic with nicely engraved panel lines. The plastic is a little soft and the attachment points on the sprues are a bit thick, demanding extra muscle to cut off the parts. You also get a bag of well-molded resin parts, including wheel bays, cockpit tubs, wheels, and the engine intake fan. The clear sprue is OK, though the main canopy had blemishes on the inside; a dip in (Pledge Future floor polish minimized them). Markings depict four different aggressors.

Step 1 involves the nose-gear bay. Be careful detaching Part R13 (gear bay) from the sprue: I filed too much off, so when I super glued Part R12 to the bay it left a gap when the fuselage halves were joined.

Flash can be a problem with limited-run, low-pressure-injection kits, and such was the case with this one. Nearly all parts had to be cleaned up before assembly. But most of them fit well with minimal filler.

In Step 4, Part A28 (the intake "funnel") is too narrow, leaving a gap on one side when the fuselage is joined. In steps 5 and 6 (the intakes), slightly enlarge the openings in the fuselage for a better fit. The right intake needs extra work to seat properly. Sand down the mounting face on the fuselage to eliminate a gap at the top.

In Step 8, a vent directly behind the cockpit is molded in a triangular shape on the right side and not very well molded on the left side. Turns out, it's the wrong shape; it should be square. So I cut and filed a square opening after the fuselage halves were joined, inserted a piece of strip stock, and sanded it smooth.

The only real fit problem was where the wing assembly joins the fuselage; that gap was easily filled with super glue.

In Step 13, assembling the nose-gear fork, make sure Part A44 is filed and trimmed so it squares up.

The front instrument shroud doesn't fit properly. Where I had to mount it to obtain a gluing surface, it was too far forward and interfered with the windscreen. Of course, the instructions weren't too clear about the location - maybe I had it wrong. If you close the canopy, you'll have to do some filing and fitting; the canopy sits high at the rear where it meets the fuselage.

The kit provides a centerline and two underwing fuel tanks. You also get a TACTS pod used by aggressors for identification and telemetry.

The decals went down well; all I had to do was apply them, roll them out with a cotton swab, and they were done. No setting solution was needed.

The kit scales out about right. It took me 22 hours for one plane, six of which were spent on parts cleanup and flash removal. You'll need a little experience for this kit but, if you like aggressor paint schemes as I do, it's a welcome change of pace.

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