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HobbyBoss 1/72 scale A-4M Skyhawk plastic model kit review

A well-engineered Bantam Bomber
Kit:87256 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$55.99
Hobby Boss (Sample courtesy of Model Rectifier)
Excellent surface detail and fit; well-engineered; decent selection of underwing stores
No option for open canopy or position of control surfaces; no detail color callouts
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear), 163 parts, decals
Developed in the 1950s as a replacement for the Skyraider, the A-4 Skyhawk is arguably one of the most successful light attack aircraft. The A-4M, designed specifically for the Marines, features advanced avionics, a more powerful engine, and a slightly larger canopy for better visibility. Only 158 were built in total.

HobbyBoss’ A-4M scale aircraft model kit is a modified version of the company’s 1/72 scale Skyhawk introduced in 2019. It comprises 163 parts, featuring finely recessed engraving and excellent surface detail. All sprues were bagged separately, and the clear parts were protected with thin foam. Decals provide markings for two aircraft in three-tone gray camouflage, one from VMA-311 “Tomcats” and the other from VMA-214 “Blacksheep.” The instructions cover the construction in eight clearly illustrated steps, which lack color callouts for detail painting, so you’ll need references.

The straightforward cockpit includes decals to enhance molded detail on the instrument panel and side consoles. The model kit’s ejection seat looks good but lacks seat-belt detail, so you will need to source your own. I attached the nose gear as instructed, though I left the gear off until the final assembly to avoid breakage. The completed assembly fit snugly into the aircraft model’s fuselage with the engine intake, and I glued the halves together with Tamiya thin cement. The fit is excellent, with only minor filling needed on parts of the seam. It’s not noted in the aircraft kit’s instructions, but I did add a small amount of weight in the nose to ensure the model wouldn’t sit on its tail. I left the exhaust off so I could insert a rod to serve as a handle for painting. Check the position of the instrument panel shroud (Part D5); mine ended up slightly forward, which interfered with the fit of the windshield.

The scale model aircraft’s upper wing parts mate with the full-span lower wing along panel lines eliminating any filling. None of the control surfaces are separate, including the leading-edge slats that are normally deployed when Skyhawks are on the ground. Holes for the five pylons were open, and the wing fit the fuselage perfectly.

The avionics hump on the scale aircraft model’s spine is a single part covering most of the upper fuselage seam, but it needed a little filler to blend it into the airframe. A hole on the portside is designed to attach the boarding ladder, but I filled it since I wasn’t fitting the ladder. I left off most of the “sticky-outy” bits until the final assembly.

I airbrushed the camouflage using out-of-production Model Master colors — FS36495 Light Gray underneath, FS36375 Light Ghost Gray on the sides, and FS36320 Dark Ghost Gray on top. The difference between the topside colors is minimal, and if I did another, I would probably use a harder-edged mask and maybe slightly alter the tint for more contrast.

The decals laid down perfectly over a light coat of Pledge Floor Gloss. After a flat coat and light panel wash, the scale aircraft model was ready for final assembly.

Underwing stores include a pair of drop tanks, AIM-9B Sidewinders, and Mk.82 bombs. If you use the kit’s multiple-ejector racks (MER) on the inner pylons, don’t fit the inside front bombs because they interfere with the main gear doors.

According to references, my Skyhawk scale aircraft model measures out just a hair short in length, but the span and height are spot-on. I’m not enough of an expert to comment on the accuracy of the shape, but detail-wise, it is certainly better than the older Fujimi kit I have. I spent about 30 enjoyable hours building this model. If you’re looking to add a “Scooter” to your model aircraft collection, I thoroughly recommend giving this model kit a try.
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