Hasegawa 1/48 TA-4J Skyhawk Kit First Look
|Date of Review||May 2009||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||07243 (PT43)||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$56.95|
Like many tactical aircraft in service with the US Navy and Marine Corps, the Douglas A4D Skyhawk entered service as a single-seat aircraft. Training naval aviators in high performance aircraft was the job of the Grumman F9F-8T (TF-9J) Cougar. However, as the Cougar was getting old, the decision was made to make a training version of the Skyhawk by simply adding a cockpit behind the pilot. The TA-4F became the first of the two-seat Skyhawks and this version retained its combat capabilities.
The TA-4F was a highly successful trainer and the Navy opted for another production batch - the TA-4J. The TA-4J was also based upon the A-4F airframe, but this version lacked the weapons systems of the A-4F and TA-4F. These aircraft became dedicated training aircraft while the TA-4F could be a dual role platform that also served as a good training platform for learning weapons delivery skills. Eventually, many of the TA-4Fs were converted to J-models as well.
A number of TA-4Js were pressed into adversary duties in Top Gun as well as other special training venues and many wore very unique camouflage schemes, not the least of which were several that retained their basic gray colors, but then had the silhouette of a MiG-17 painted over the aircraft. Others served in other training support roles and were also adorned with great color schemes including the squadron in Hawaii that is the subject of the box art above.
Hasegawa has produced a wide variety of Skyhawk variants in their 1/48 scale series from the A-4B to the A-4S, but all were single-seat scooters. Many were certain that Hasegawa would eventually release a two-seat version, and here it is.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on eight parts trees (duplicates not shown) plus a single tree of clear parts. Most of these trees have been seen before as with the full-scale version, this kit is essentially an A-4F with a second seat. The new sprues include the top image with the new-tooled fuselage and the fifth image with the new nose and extra cockpit parts. The sprue diagrams in the instructions show that many of the other trees will have extra parts that aren't needed for this release.
As with the previous releases, this kit has the following features and options:
- Positionable canopy
- Nicely detailed cockpits
- Extended leading edge slats
- Positionable flaps
- Positional speed brakes
- Optional boarding ladder
- 2 x external fuel tanks
If you note the fuselage external layout, there is a separate part for the forward portion of the vertical stabilizer filet and another under the tail just ahead of the tailcone. These two parts, plus the leading edge filets where the wing and fuselage join, and the separate tip of the vertical stabilizer all indicate that we'll be seeing the TA-4F as well as an OA-4M sometime in the future! Hasegawa did not tool a one-trick pony with this two-seat release.
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- TA-4J, 154373, VC-1, UA/00, USN
- TA-4J, 158094, VT-7, A/745, USN
The decals are nicely done and include maintenance stenciling, walkways, nose glare shield, and segmented national markings for the open speed brakes.
This is a beautiful kit straight out of the box and the colors worn by this aircraft will make for an eye-catching model. If you want an adversary aircraft, you can wait for one of Hasegawa's future releases, or grab Afterburner Decals' TA-4 sheets produced for last year's Classic Airframes kit. You can see the markings available here.