Classic Airframes 1/48 TA-4 Skyhawk Kit First Look
|Date of Review||July 2008||Manufacturer||Classic Airframes|
|Kit Number||4148||Primary Media||Styrene, Resin|
|Pros||Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings||Cons||Instructions do not explain the new parts included in this kit|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Skyhawk was the first jet aircraft to succeed the Skyraider in the close air support and interdiction role in the early 1950's. The Skyhawk was intentionally kept light and simple in its design, earning cool nicknames like "scooter" or Bantam-bomber (small domestic chicken)! In all, 2960 Skyhawks were built of which 555 were two seat variants.
The TA-4F first saw active duty in 1966 to train Navy and Marine pilots for the war in Vietnam. The TA-4J was the advanced flight trainer and was introduced in 1970 to replace the TA-9J two seat Cougar that was getting long in the tooth. In 1998 the TA-4J was retired from the Navy at NAS Pensacola, however the TA-4J continued flying for the US as an adversary/aggressor and for launching aerial target drones. 40 years later the Skyhawk officially retired from the inventory in April of 2003. The Skyhawk's replacement is the T-45 Goshawk.
This is Classic Airframes' second release of the TA-4 in 1/48 scale. Is it the same kit with new decals? Not exactly. But first, rather than repeat our earlier review of this kit, I would refer you to this review of the previous release for a look at the basic kit in the box, and this review of that kit built-up. So what's different about this kit? Let's take a look:
First, there are two new bags of resin parts included in this set over and above the same parts included in the previous release. The first bag contains a different set of ejection seats which I assume are used in the Israeli version, but unfortunately the instructions do not provide any reference to these new parts.
The second bag of parts contain separate flaps and wing speed brakes (the upper sections of the flaps) as used on the A-4F and TA-4J, the angled air refueling probe used on the Israeli TA-4H, wingroot gun fairings, and a few smaller details that would be more useful had they been mentioned in the instructions.
The kit provides markings for four TA-4s:
- TA-4J, 154685, UA/01, VC-1, NAS Barber's Point, HI, 1977, color profile here
- TA-4J, 154290, NJ/601, VF-126, NAS Miramar, 1976, Bicentennial Colors, color profile here
- TA-4J, 158722, Blue Angel 7, 1978 season, color profile here
- TA-4H, 145, Valley Sqn, IDF, 1969, color profile here
A note on these decals. One thing that has been a pet peeve of mine has been the trend to create decals that require the modeler to layer one atop another ro recreate the intended art. This is done to compensate for one famous US decal printer's problem with maintaining print registration across multiple layers of colors. Rather than deal with the hassles of sending out of register decals back for reprinting, it is easier for some to simply let you do the job of stacking decals.
Classic Airframes had been using this same decal printer for the many of their previous releases, but recently switched to Cartograf as they seem to have better quality printing. Look at the decals in this set for example. There are lots of colors on this sheet and most of the decals are multi-colored. Not one of them require you to stack decals one atop another. One marking - one decal, just as it should be. Kudos to Classic Airframes for this significant improvement in their decal quality.
One of the 'truths' of the model business is that trainers do not sell. I honestly don't know how true this really is, but it is a strong belief throughout the hobby industry. Classic Airframes released this kit with four aggressor schemes in their first release, and while there is a trainer on the cover of this box art (and wearing one of my favorite colorful Skyhawk paint schemes), this is the only 'trainer' in the box. The VF-126 aircraft is an aggressor wearing Bicentennial colors. The Blue Angel 7 aircraft is the aircraft used by the announcer and observer to travel to each show site and serve as a spare should one of the six demonstration aircraft break right before show time. And of course the Israeli Air Force may have two seat trainers, but even these aircraft are used in combat operations and are fully armed.
So even though you might have snagged one of the previous kits, the additional resin parts and the magnificent decals would make it worthwhile to snag one of these as well.
My most sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample!