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Trumpeter 1/72 scale A-6A Intruder plastic model kit review

A complex aircraft build with lots of posing and weapons options
Kit:01640 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$44.99
Trumpeter (Kit courtesy of Model Rectifier Corp.)
Fine exterior detail; excellent fit; posable parts; optional folded wings; several weapons options
Little cockpit detail; instructions for positioning control surfaces are confusing; missing forward main landing gear covers; undersized GBU-8 bombs; incorrect weapons loading instructions; poor weapons/pylons attachments
Injection-molded plastic; 323 parts; canopy masks; decals
Trumpeter’s new 1/72 scale A-6A Intruder plastic model kit shows fine exterior detail and lots of options. The cockpit features a pair of six-part ejection seats with no harness detail. There’s a surprising lack of detail on the instrument panel and consoles; only a few dials printed onto four decals dress up the flat instrument panel, and you’ll find nothing on the center and side consoles.

Each main landing gear strut has seven parts plus a one-part wheel. But strangely, the forward main gear doors are missing. They should be opened when the gear is down, and there isn’t any indication of the closed doors molded into the fuselage halves.

The canopy can be posed open, but the instructions show it only in the closed position. There are strange mold seams on each side of the canopy that I had to remove with fine sandpaper and polish. Trumpeter provides pre-cut, self-adhesive masks for the canopy, but they don’t fit perfectly on the complex curves.

Early in the Intruder’s service, the perforated rear-fuselage speed breaks were deemed problematic, and most were fastened shut. But the instructions have you mount the brakes open, and there are no perforations molded on the outside.

The kit’s major highlight is the wings. You can build the wings folded or extended as well as position the leading-edge slats, trailing-edge flaps, spoilers, and “butterfly” wing-tip speed brakes deployed or retracted. The instructions’ use of “open” and “close” for all these features gets confusing. There are separate flap-retraction rail covers for the raised and dropped positions, but these are simply labeled “option” — the longer angled ones are for the dropped flaps. Rails are molded onto the leading-edge slats and allow you to attach them in either dropped or retracted positions. The spoilers also have hinge arms molded on, but these should be cut off if you want the spoilers retracted. The fits of the slat, flap, and rail parts are extremely tight. I posed my spoilers and “butterfly” brakes open, but they would normally be closed on an idle aircraft.

The wing-fold feature is a bit tricky. Understand that folded wings always have the flaps and slats retracted. The kit provides hinge detail parts for each wing section. If you don’t want to fold the wings, these parts must be modified a bit or left out.

For the underwing items, Trumpeter provides three drop tanks and a host of weapons. The instructions have you load the pair of multiple ejector racks (MER) with three Mk.82 500-lb. and three Mk.81 250-lb. bombs, but a mixed load on an MER is incorrect. Also provided are eight Mk.20 “Rockeye” bombs and a pair of GBU-8 “HOBOS” TV-guided bombs. The latter was a U.S. Air Force weapon, and I can’t find evidence that it was ever carried by the A-6. Also, the kit’s GBU-8s are way undersized. Oops.

All underwing pylons and every station on the MERs have separate, tiny stabilizer parts that serve as attachment points for the weapons and fuel tanks. While these add to the detail, they don’t provide sufficient purchase area for gluing the ordnance.

Finishing up, I posed the boarding steps on each intake in the lowered position — a feature unmentioned in the instructions. Also, I left off the intake (Part E10) on the rear fuselage — a mod made on later A-6Es. I painted the model with Mr. Color lacquers and used the kit decals for VA-145 on the USS Ranger. Reference photos guided my ordnance choice of four Rockeyes on each MER attached to the outboard pylons and three drop tanks.

I spent 33 hours on my Trumpeter 1/72 scale A-6A Intruder plastic model kit. Because of the many tiny parts and unclear instructions, I recommend it only to experienced modelers. Apart from the missing gear doors and cockpit details, this is a great starting point for a beautifully detailed A-6!
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