Hasegawa 1/48 A-4SU Skyhawk Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2007||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Subject||Douglas A-4SU Skyhawk||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||09735||Primary Media||Styrene/Resin|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||Represents the ultimate Scooter|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$34.98|
There's been plenty of history published over the years on this versatile attack aircraft, so let's start with a trivia question instead. Which version of the A-4 Skyhawk (Scooter) was the hottest variant to see service? If you guessed the A-4F Super Fox, you'd be close. The Super Fox started off as an A-4F aggressor aircraft powered by the J52-P-8A/B rated at 9,300 lb.s.t., but as the engine became increasingly expensive to maintain, the Fox was upgraded with J52-P-408, rated at 11,200 lb.s.t., used by the A-4M/N Skyhawks. This engine upgrade required enlarged intakes to provide the required airflow to feed the -408. Since the aggressors limited their external stores to just an ACMI pod, and perhaps an AIM-9 simulator, the A-4F Super Fox had a thrust-to-weight ratio nearly 1:1!
The hottest Scooter award goes to the A-4SU. The A-4SU is a textbook example of continuous improvements to an airframe to extract the most bang for the buck. In this case, the A-4SU started life as A-4C Skyhawk that was surplused as the US Navy upgraded to the A-4E/F. The surplus A-4C was remanufactured into the A-4L for the US Navy Reserves, the A-4PTM for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, and into the A-4S for the Republic of Singapore Air Force. These A-4S airframes served well in the Singapore AF, and when the engines and avionics started getting difficult to keep in service, Singapore did what every other Air Force does - they weighed the cost and benefits of replacing their Skyhawks against upgrading them. When they decided to upgrade their airframes, they replaced J52 with the F404 turbofan - the same engine that powers the F/A-18 Hornet. The variant of the F404 installed in the Singapore aircraft was not equipped with an afterburner and was rated at 11,000 lb.s.t. While this doesn't sound like an improvement over the Super Fox, the resulting A-4SU Super Skyhawk was about 1,000 pounds lighter (empty) than the A-4F and the F404 was far more fuel efficient. In an aggressor configuration used by the A-4F, the A-4SU could achieve a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1:1.
Until Hasegawa released their first 1/48 A-4 Skyhawk, Monogram had the distinction of 'best' 1/48 Skyhawk ever produced. Monogram remains the only company to produce the OA-4M in 1/48 (so far). The distinction of best Scooter in any scale still rested with Hasegawa with their A-4E/F, TA-4J, and OA-4M releases in 1/32 scale. With the release of their 1/48 scale series, the best Scooter in any scale still rests with Hasegawa, but now among their 1/48 scale releases. If they ever scaled up these 1/48 scale designs/features into 1/32, watch out Trumpeter!
In this latest release of the A-4 Skyhawk, Hasegawa has given us the Republic of Singapore Air Force A-4SU Super Skyhawk. Out of the box, the kit is molded in light gray styrene and is presented on eight parts trees, plus a tree containing the clear parts. A small tree of cast resin detail parts round out this release.
The cockpit isn't bad in the Hasegawa Skyhawk series and this one is no exception. One of the nicer features of this kit is the open intake ducting so you can see an engine face when you peer down the intakes.
The leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps are positionable, though the rest of the flight controls are molded into place. The wing speedbrake is also molded closed, though some careful surgery can change that. The fuselage speed brakes are positionable.
As is standard practice with Hasegawa, the only external options you have on the pylons is a pair of external fuel tanks. Any weapons you might want to arm your Skyhawk with will have to come from your spares box or one of Hasegawa's weapons sets. A boarding ladder is included with the kit.
The resin parts and the two small trees in the kit render the distinctive details of this variant including a new nose, new intakes, dorsal antenna hump, and blade antennas.
There are a number of parts in this kit that aren't used in this project that will go nicely into your spares box.
Three examples are provided in this kit :
- A-4SU, 928, 150 Sqn, RSAF, 2002
- A-4SU, 938, 150 Sqn, RSAF, 2002
- A-4SU, 957, 150 Sqn, RSAF, 2002
This is still a nice kit from Hasegawa. With this version, you have a Skyhawk wearing almost a USAF Vietnam-era camouflage scheme which will look interesting among your gray/white Scooters and colorful aggressors. You can ask your friends the question - which of these was the hottest Scooter ever?