Hasegawa 1/48 TA-4F Skyhawk 'FAC' Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2013||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Subject||TA-4F Skyhawk 'FAC'||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||07327||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||Unarmed FAC|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$59.95|
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 US Marine Corps put the TA-4F into combat during Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC). The role of the FAC is to coordinate with friendly forces on the ground, identify enemy positions/targets, and to direct strike aircraft onto those targets. Typical FAC missions are flown with a two-man crew, one to fly the aircraft while the other can keep eyes on target. While the FACs didn't usually carry bombs, they did employ rocket pods to mark reference points on the ground to provide precise directions to the strike aircraft sometimes operating close to friendly positions.
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. While the TA-4J has been on the market for a while, I believe this is the first boxing representing the TA-4F. Externally the TA-4F and TA-4J are nearly identical except that the TA-4J had no weapons capabilities and the TA-4F retained its weapons, especially the cannons in the wing roots.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on eight parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. 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
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- TA-4F, 143491, H&MS-11/MAG-11, TM/00, Da Nang AB, 1969
- TA-4F, 143508, H&MS-12/MAG-12, WA/00, Iwakuni MCAS, 1971
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. It would have been nice to have the FAC's rocket pods in this kit though these are available in Hasegawa's weapons sets.
My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!