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Classic Airframes 1/48 TA-4J Skyhawk Kit First Look

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject TA-4J Skyhawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4147 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


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.

The Skyhawk has been a popular subject in all scales and in all its guises. Well, almost all. In 1/48th scale nobody has ever made a TA-4. There was the 1/50th scale (or so) Fujimi effort, but that was all. Some modelers tried to hack the Monogram OA-4M and convert it to a TA-4J with varying degrees of success. C&H made a conversion in resin but it was never widely available. Hasegawa was the logical choice for the maker most likely to make a two seat Skyhawk but their single seat Skyhawk variants were regurgitated for ever and there never was an announcement for a TA-4J to the displeasure of all of the modelers that enjoy the family models, present company included.

Well, Classic Airframes steps in and announces the aggressor variant of the TA-4J in a surprise release that is supposed to hit the shores sometime in June. This is great news and what is even greater is that the specific supplier to Classic that created the TA-4J has a soft spot for US Navy subjects. If Jules ever sees potential in doing US Navy subjects we will be in hog heaven!

I just received an early production copy of the TA-4J, courtesy of Classic Airframes, for the little help I could offer for the project. So what is in the box? We get two sprues of gray plastic, one bag of resin parts and one sprue of clear parts ( I do not have the clear parts yet because they are just being produced).

The parts look very nice and very much like what we have come to expect from the high end low pressure injection molding companies. The plastic is shinny, the details crisp and panel lines consistent and of equal depth. Very little flash is present and it looks like it would clean up easily and fast.

Two things came to mind when I got the kit in my hands. How does it compare with the Fujimi kit? No comparison there and thank goodness for that. This is true 1/48th scale kit. How does it compare to Hasegawa's kit then? I can say that the two kits are very compatible and that the modeler can mix and match some of the Japanese and even aftermarket parts if they so choose.

The resin parts are very nicely molded with no imperfections other than the exhaust tube in my sample which I am sure was an early production fluke. I like the resin cockpit tubs and the ejection seats. The instrument panels are done in plastic and maybe they could have been done in resin for consistency. Yet with nice painting and some dry brushing, they will look the part.

I’d like to note that there is an ACMI pod included together with its pylon. Very important as the aggressor Skyhawks carried various tank combos for ferry flights but always had the ACMI pod on when playing the adversary role during exercises on the training ranges.

The kit provides markings for four aggressor TA-4Js:

So what do we have here? We have the first true TA-4J (or TA-4F if you like). Can you imagine the possibilities with all the schemes that can be done in aggressor or straight Navy trainer/support colors?

What would I have liked to see? Maybe flaps and speed brakes. There is a great solution for that though. Aires has come up with a magnificent upgrade resin set for the Hasegawa Skyhawk. All the Aires parts should fit the Classic kit with minor fiddling. I intent to prove that very soon!

This kit is very much recommended to all the boys and girls that have been waiting so long for a two seat scooter!

My most sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample.