Skyhawks forever! Airfix’s newly tooled A-4 features excellent moldings, good surface and wheel-well detail, plus an optional avionics saddle for an Argentine A-4P.
The elevator and aileron hinge scribing and the accesses for the aft fuselage attachment bolts are missing, however — I used small decal rectangles to represent those. Reinforcing plates around the starboard oil vent appear to be peculiar to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s A-4B, which Airfix used for reference. The interior tub has decals for the instrument panel and consoles, and the ejection seat is a good basic representation of the later Douglas seat; I added a face-curtain handle to its head box. Extra wing racks and flashed-over holes in the lower wing indicate A-4 variants to come.
The engine intake part numbers are reversed in the instructions. But, overall, the parts fit is outstanding. I cut off the pitot tube, UHF antenna, and upper anti-collision light to ease sanding of the upper fuselage seam, then replaced those after the model was complete. I drilled two missing holes in the fuselage, one for the port oil vent and one in the tip of the nose for equipment cooling. The separate speed brakes may be posed open, but the actuators are a little too long. Four Mk. 82 bombs and one larger bomb, as well as three 300-gallon drop tanks — which look a little skinny to me, and have no fin-attachment access slots — are provided as stores. In combat, VA-95 carried MERs and TERs on the stores racks.
I’d liked to have seen a gun/bomb sight and taxi light with the clear parts. The canopy can be posed open, but needs a support to bolster it; I glued a shim behind the cockpit. There’s a big hole behind the cockpit that should be blocked off and detailed.
A minor error in the painting guide shows the VA-95 aircraft’s aileron and elevator balances painted gray, not white. It also calls for the speed brake interiors and wells to be painted white with red outlines. I think that’s incorrect, but I couldn’t prove it. So I painted mine as directed.
Decals are terrific, with markings for the Intrepid Skyhawk during its fleet days, and alternate markings for an Argentine A-4P. Most VA-95 aircraft also carried the Green Lizard logo — or at least a green stripe — on the drop tanks.
With most of my A-4 flight time in B models, I was really looking forward to Airfix’s new offering. What I got was a mostly-great, excellent-value-for-the-money kit with a few features needing refining and detailing. Personal note: the pilot whose name is on the aircraft was an acquaintance back in my Navy days, and another close friend has several combat missions over Vietnam in this very aircraft. Now there’s history you can model!
I spent about 15 enjoyable hours building this kit, and I enthusiastically recommend it for all skill levels.
A version of this review appeared in the February 2013 FineScale Modeler.