Italeri 1/48 A-10A Thunderbolt II Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||January 2007||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||A-10A Thunderbolt II||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||2655||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$35.95|
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, and 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, and 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.
In the history of the A-10 in 1/48 scale, we had early Hogs from Tamiya and ESCI/ERTL, which were rough interpretations of the early aircraft. When Monogram released its 1/48 A-10, this kit remained the best A-10 in any scale until Trumpeter came along with its 1/32 kit. Nevertheless, Monogram's 1/48 Hog retained the best in scale up as it nicely captured the details of the aircraft in a relatively easy-to-build model. Things have now changed.
While I was visiting the MRC booth at the Chicago Hobby Show last October, Italeri had rushed a test shot of their new A-10 in 1/48 scale. Many folks refused to believe that this could be a new-tool Hog and dismissed it as a re-box of the ESCI/ERTL kit. This is definitely not the ESCI/ERTL kit!
Like the Monogram kit, this new A-10 captures the look and detail of the A-10 quite nicely. I am hoping that it doesn't share some of the kit problems of the Monogram kit, but Italeri has been good about the buildability of their kits.
So what is new/better about this kit?
The model is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. When I saw a few of the trees in Chicago, it looked like it was a pre-LASTE airframe which would put it equivalent to the configuration of the Monogram kit. Not so fast! Italeri did something rather interesting in this kit. None of the LASTE mods are molded into the surface of the kit parts. This allows you the option to build the aircraft in its pre-LASTE configuration AND still have seamless intakes and closed speed brakes (two of the bugs in the Monogram kit). The LASTE parts are provided separately. Nice!
The instrument panel and side consoles are detailed with decals, so an AMS modeler will want to find an aftermarket resin and/or Eduard color photo-etch detail set for this cockpit. The ACES ejection seat isn't bad and the kit does a nice job on the canopy lift mechanism as well.
The engine pods look to have separately molded engine access doors, though there is no TF34 under the hood (yet). If someone does come up with a resin engine, the kit is ready to show that off.
The ailerons are molded in three parts each, allowing you to pose the speed brakes open or closed. These are the only flight control surfaces molded separately as the rudders and elevators are molded into position.
The landing gear is nicely detailed as are the gear wells. The access door on the front of the port gear fairing is molded separately so it can be positioned open to reveal the single-point refueling port.
The boarding ladder access bay on the port side of the nose and an avionics access bay on the starboard side are molded into the fuselage halves with doors provided separately so you can pose the bays open or closed.
- 1 x ALQ-184
- 2 x AIM-9L/M on twin-rail launcher
- 2 x rocket pods (OA-10A)
- 2 x Rockeyes
- 2 x SUU-30A cluster bombs
- 2 x AGM-65
- 1 x external fuel tank
One interesting touch in this kit are a pair of styrene wheel chocks and a section of thread to replicate the rope used to tie the chocks together.
The kit decals provide four options:
- A-10A, 80-0186, 74 TFS/23 TFW, EL, King Fahd AB, Saudia Arabia 1991, Desert Storm
- A-10A, 80-0258, 172 FS/110 FW/MI ANG, Battlecreek MI
- A-10A, 78-0621, 118 FS/103 FW/CT ANG, 'Black Lightning'
- A-10A, 81-0979, 511 TFS/10 TFW, RAF Alconbury, UK, 1991
A full set of maintenance stencils are also included in the kit.
Judging from the early reactions to announcement of this kit last October, folks are eager a more up-to-date A-10 kit, and this one seems to fill that bill nicely. With a reasonable MSRP and even better street price, you can afford to dress up the cockpit of your Hog with some aftermarket parts, and there are most certainly an abundance of aftermarket decals to choose from. With this kit, you can model the aircraft early or LASTE, and with the help of some aftermarket, you can get the latest updates and perhaps an A-10C cockpit update. You're going to have fun with this one!