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A-10C Kit

Hobby Boss 1/48 A-10C Thunderbolt II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2022 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject A-10C Thunderbolt II Scale 1/48
Kit Number 81796 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Excellent detailing inside and out Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $60.95

First Look

A-10C Kit
A-10C Kit
A-10C Kit
A-10C Kit
A-10C Kit

During WW2, one of the premier close air support aircraft in Europe was the P-47 Thunderbolt. Its ability to carry a significant weapons load to a distant target, strafe with its eight 50 caliber machine guns, absorb significant damage from air defenses, and still return its pilot safely home is legendary. The P-51 Mustang tried to fill this role in WW2 and Korea, but it was unable to take the battle damage that the P-47 could due to its liquid-cooled engine. By Vietnam, the Air Force had forgotten the lessons learned in Korea and continued to pursue the high-tech, all-jet fighter and bomber inventory. Once again, the need for a rugged close air support aircraft was realized and this time the Air Force had to turn to the Navy for their A-1 Skyraider and A-7 Corsair II.

This time the Air Force went to industry for the AX program, the new close air support aircraft. The two contenders were the Northrop A-9 (which bore a strong resemblance to the Sukhoi Su-25 developed later) and the Fairchild Republic A-10. The A-10's winning design embodied survivability, boasting that it could fly with one engine shot out, one of the two tails blown off, 1/3 of one wing missing, and still bring its pilot home. Throughout its early career, skeptics scoffed at these claims, but in combat over Iraq, this capability was not exaggerated!

Even after proving itself in Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force still wanted its high tech fighters and believed that the F-16 could carry on the mission that the A-10 was designed to fulfill. Nevertheless, the Hog continues to soldier on within the USAF and Air National Guard. Nobody has ever (to my knowledge at least) been successful at counter-insurgency (COIN) at high airspeeds, which is why aircraft like the T-28, A-37, OV-10, Pucara, AH-1, AC-47, AC-130, etc., have been the most popular in the COIN missions. In Iraq and elsewhere during COIN operations, there is nothing like being able to keep your eyes and guns on target, and today there is no other aircraft (save the Su-25) that can fill that mission like an A-10.

There are a variety of A-10 kits now in the various scales, one of which was the Trumpeter 1/32 A-10A Thunderbolt II. The Trumpeter offering was one of the most detailed versions of the kit ever produced though there were a few design flaws as well. Nevertheless, nobody has topped the Trumpeter kit in 1/32 scale. In 1/48 scale however, there have been several offerings that appeared that rival the Trumpeter kit in a smaller scale and the most recent example is this one from HobbyBoss. Given that Trumpeter/HobbyBoss are the same company, you wouldn't be surprised to learn that this kit is based upon the Trumpeter design, though there have been a few adjustments offered to render the A-10C version including an updated cockpit, updated antennas, etc.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 11 parts trees plus three small trees molded in clear. The kit is not over-engineered and the instructions only go through step 11 to complete the project. While much of the kit is scaled down from the 1/32 Trumpeter offering, there are a few other differences besides the new parts for the A-10C. One of the most distinctive is the two-part fuselage (left and right halves), whereas the Trumpeter kit has four parts to its fuselage. Another covers the engines which are redesigned and nicer than the originals.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Reasonably detailed cockpit tub and ejection seat
  • Positionable canopy
  • GAU-8 Avenger cannon (nearly complete)
  • Separately provided landing flaps
  • Separately provided ailerons
  • Rubber (vinyl) tires
  • Optional boarding ladder
  • Optional wheel chocks

Armament includes:

  • 6 x AGM-65 Maverick
  • 2 x AIM-9L Sidewider
  • 2 x ALQ-119
  • 2 x ALQ-131
  • 12 x Mk.20
  • 12 x Mk.82 slicks
  • 2 x MER
  • 2 x GBU-8
  • 2 x GBU-10 LGB
  • 1 x external fuel tank
  • 1 x AAQ-14 LANTIRN
  • 1 x AAQ-33 Sniper

With the exception of the targeting pods, the weapons trees are the typical fare for most A-10 kits, including the GBU-8 HOBOS which was never used operationally on an A-10A (much less an A-10C). The six Maverick configuration (three missles per launcher tree) was used in the early days of the A-10A but was soon replaced by only two AGM-65s (one on each single-rail launcher) after the A-10A experienced electrical issues with the three-rail launchers. You'll also want to replace the Mk.82 slicks and Mk.20 cluster bombs with far more modern guided weapons instead.

Markings options include:

  • A-10C, 82-0658, 53rd Wing
  • A-10C, 81-0994, 107 FS/MI ANG, 100 Years scheme
  • A-10C, 80-0244, 100 Years Indiana ANG
  • A-10C, 78-0693, 104 FS/MD ANG, 'Spirit of Chuck Norris'

The decal options provide three special schemes and one standard 'test jet'. The decal quality is typical Trumpeter/HobbyBoss (find alternative markings) and expecially beware of some of the 'standard' markings such as the old Tactical Air Command badges in place of the current Air Combat Command badges.

The construction of this kit is straightforward, though since this kit is also capable of rendering the A-10A as well, I would check your references to ensure all of the correct details are rendered on your example.

My sincere thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review sample!