Platz 1/144 A-4E Skyhawk VMA-211 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||July 2011||Manufacturer||Platz|
|Subject||Douglas A-4E Skyhawk VMA-211||Scale||1/144|
|Kit Number||PD-20||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (Yen)||¥1575|
The A-4 Skyhawk was first designed in the mid-1950s as a lightweight, agile attack aircraft. In its numerous versions, the Skyhawk served the US Navy and Marine Corps in peace and in combat into the 1970s. While the Navy transitioned into the A-7 Corsair II, the Marines opted for a new version of the Skyhawk as a stop-gap until the next generation of attack aircraft was available that could meet the unique mission needs of the Marines.
The A-4E was the first in the series to be designed with five external pylons versus the earlier three, thanks in part to a switch in engines from the Wright J65 to the Pratt & Whitney J52 rated at 8400 lbs of thrust. The A-4F was was an updated A-4E with 900 lbs more thrust and the introduction of an avionics hump (which was retrofitted to the A-4E and other models).
The A-4E/F would serve as one of the primary strike aircraft for the US Navy and Marine Corps during Vietnam, and even after the Navy transitioned out of the Skyhawk in favor of the LTV A-7 Corsair II, Skyhawks remained in service in a variety of support roles, not the least of which was serving as a surrogate to the MiG-17 in Top Gun and then as a general dissimilar adversary aircraft for many years. The A-4F remained with the Blue Angel team as a low-cost performer for 12 years before the team transition into their current F/A-18 Hornets.
Here is a beautiful little kit. Actually two complete kits in one box. This is Platz Models' latest release, the A-4E Skyhawk in 1/144 scale. Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on three parts trees, plus a single small clear tree containing the canopy. With two kits in the box, there are six trees plus two clears.
Considering the petite size of the model, this kit is rather nicely done. The cockpit detail is limited to the ejection seat that goes under the one-piece canopy and in this scale, that is quite fine.
The kit comes with the avionics hump molded integral with the fuselage. The wings have drop tanks for the inboard pylons and empty pylons for the outboards and centerline. The landing gear should be stout enough even in this scale.
Painting instructions provide FS numbers as well as the equivalent GSI (Gunze Sangyo), Tamiya, and Model Master colors. The instructions are in Japanese, but relavant information is translated into English as well. I found the interior color interesting as in Japanese it is FS 36231 whilst in English it is FS 36440. Something lost in the translation I suppose...
The flaps are molded into the bottom of the wing, but you can see on the decal sheet that the insides of the flaps are provided in red with the Modex, so with a little careful surgery, you can drop the flaps and use these markings.
Markings are provided for four aircraft:
- A-4E, 151988, VMA-211, CF/11
- A-4E, 150076, VMA-211, CF/1
- A-4E, 159651, VMA-153/VMA-311, WL/00
- A-4E, 150050, VMAT-102, SC/5
The decal sheet includes a nice set of maintenance stenciling as well as the primary markings. The decals are printed by Cartograf and I'm impressed that I can read the data quite clearly in this scale.
This is a nicely engineered kit of the Skyhawk and will be a nice addition to the small-scale modelers' flight lines. With two complete kits in the box, you can choose your two favorite schemes on the sheet from the two examples of VMA-211 'Wake Island Avengers', one VMA-311 'Tomcats' and one VMAT-102 'Skyhawks'.
For more information about this set and the other releases from Platz Hobby, visit their website at http://www.platz-hobby.com.
My sincere thanks to Platz Hobby for this review sample!