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A-4 Kit

Hasegawa 1/32 A-4E/F Skyhawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Douglas A-4E/F Skyhawk Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08002 (S2) Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look

A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit
A-4 Kit

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 gem that has yet to be 'replaced'. This is Hasegawa's 1/32 scale A-4E/F Skyhawk kit, which is almost the oldest 1/32 scale tooling developed by this company. The first was the F-104G/J Starfighter. While the Starfighter has had at least one attempt to unseat it as the best F-104 in 1/32 scale (unsuccessfully so far), the Skyhawk has remained unchallenged. Trumpeter has announced plans for a 1/32 A-4E/F sometime in the future, but for now, after decades of production, this kit remains at the top of the heap in this scale. The contemporary 1/48 scale tooling of the A-4 from Hasegawa remains the best Skyhawk in any scale.

If you look at these parts versus the 1/48 scale kit, it isn't surprising that there are lots of similarities. The main difference (aside from scale) between the two is detail style. When the 1/32 scale kit was first designed, raised panel lines were the industry standard and this kit has them. The 1/48 scale kit reflects the current style of scribed detailing.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Parts are included to produce the A-4E (hump-free), A-4F (w/hump), or whatever combination you choose.

The detail options of this kit also reflect a less sophisticated time where the flight controls were molded in place in the neutral position, though the aerodynamically activated leading edge slats are provided separately so you can position these open or closed.

The cockpit detailing in these kits weren't bad, just a little Spartan. If you opt to use the supplied pilot figure (or an aftermarket one), much of the detail will be obscured anyway. If you prefer an empty front office, you can opt for an aftermarket cockpit. TAC Scale Dynamics produced one many years ago and this may still be available under Squadron's True Details series. More recently, Avionix (formerly Black Box) produced a nice resin set that will take a bit of work to fit into the Hasegawa kit.

Among the features provided in this kit:

  • Optional pilot figure
  • Optional avionics 'hump'
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Straight or angled air refueling probe
  • Positionable leading edge slats
  • Positionable canopy

External stores include:

  • AGM-12 Bullpup (2) on the outboard pylons
  • External fuel tanks (2) on the inboard pylons
  • Mk.82 slicks (6) on a centerline MER

Markings are provided for three aircraft:

  • A-4E, 150044, VC-1, UA/05
  • A-4E, 151112, VC-1, UA/10
  • A-4E, 208, Israeli Air Force

The decal sheet includes a nice set of maintenance stenciling as well as the primary markings. Note that my decals are a bit yellowed as this kit has been on my shelf for 'a while'. If you acquire one of the more recent releases from Hasegawa, you'll get the same parts and new decals.

While this kit is, shall we say, a classic, it remains the best A-4E/F in this scale. Hasegawa also released the TA-4J and the OA-4M in 1/32 scale as well, and are all based upon the older raised detail tooling standard. With Trumpeter's upcoming Skyhawk, we might have a better kit as far as details are concerned, but this kit build with an aftermarket cockpit will still be a lower cost, easier build option for many modelers. Perhaps Hasegawa will 're-invent' this tooling as they have done with their 1/32 Bf 109 and Fw 190 series, we shall see, but until then, you're looking at a fine model right here.