Italeri 1/48 A-10C Thunderbolt II Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2013||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||A-10C Thunderbolt II||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||2725||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Still the nicest A-10 in 1/48 scale||Cons||Not an A-10C|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$66.95|
In 1967, the Air Force went to industry for the Attack-Experimental (A-X) program, a new close air support to replace the A-1 Skyraider. The two contenders were the Northrop YA-9 (which bore a strong resemblance to the Sukhoi Su-25 developed later) and the Fairchild Republic YA-10. The YA-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, some Air Force senior staff wanted to retire the A-10 in favor of high tech fighters and believed that the F-16 could carry on the mission. After a series of tests with the F-16 (in one case renamed the A-16), the A-10 remained in service. More recently, some senior staff again wanted to push out the A-10 in favor of the F-35, but so far the A-10 has been slated for additional service life updates for the foreseeable future.
In 2007, Italeri released a new-tooled A-10 kit which is still my choice of best A-10 in 1/48 scale. It was molded without the LASTE updates so the aircraft could be built in an earlier configuration (like the JAWS Hawgs) though you need to replace the ACES II ejection seat in the kit with a Stencil seat. The kit provided LASTE and even the later updates that included GPS. The kit has been updated and reissued as the A-10C - let's take a look:
The model is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.
As before, the instrument panel and side consoles are detailed with decals, but one of the most of visible differences of the A-10C is in the cockpit with a new instrument panel and its two multi-function displays (MFDs) as well as some new features. If the decal artist had updated these particular decals, this would be close enough to an A-10C but the instrument panel decal remains the original A-10A.The stick and throttle were also replaced to provide HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) controls like the F-15 and F-16. The rest of the cockpit still isn't bad including the ACES ejection seat and the canopy lift mechanism.
The engine pods look to have separately molded engine access doors, though there is no TF34 under the hood. Italeri followed up on this feature with a detail set (#26001) which provided the TF34 in resin along with a detailed GAU-8 Avenger cannon system and a set of color photo-etch from Eduard to replace the decals in the cockpit (A-10A).
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.
External stores included in this kit:
- 1 x ALQ-184
- 1 x ALQ-131 (short pod)
- 2 x AIM-9L/M on twin-rail launcher
- 2 x rocket pods (OA-10A)
- 2 x Rockeyes
- 4 x SUU-30A cluster bombs
- 2 x AGM-65
- 1 x external fuel tank
The other new additions provided on sprue tree C are the ALQ-131 pod and the UHF SATCOM antenna while one additional cluster bomb was added to sprue tree D where only one was provided in the A-10A release (with two D-trees in the kit, you now get for cluster bombs instead of two).
The kit decals provide three options:
- A-10C, 82-0661, 163 FS 'Blacksnakes'/IN ANG, IN, Fort Wayne ANGB, 2012
- A-10C, 81-0975, 107 FS 'Red Devils'/MI ANG, MI, Selfriridge ANGB, 2012
- A-10C, 79-0084, 190 FS 'Spudbangers'/ID ANG, Boise ANGB, 2012
A full set of maintenance stencils are also included on the decal sheet.
With this kit, you can model the A-10A early or LASTE, but we'll have to wait for some aftermarket options to get an A-10C cockpit update. What's also missing are the A-10C's new external stores such as Litening or Sniper XR designator pods and modern weapons to replace the cluster bombs such as the JDAMS and laser-guided bombs. All of these stores are widely available in the aftermarket or your spares box. The kit's new ALQ-131 pod is a nice addition but was also used on the A-10A.
I am happy to see this kit as it features my home Air National Guard unit (go Blacksnakes!) but it is a shame that Italeri missed the cockpit and external stores changes. Despite the above this is still the nicest A-10 kit available in 1/48 scale.