Kinetic 1/48 A-6A/E Intruder Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2013||Manufacturer||Kinetic|
|Kit Number||48034||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Well engineered and lots of options||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$74.95|
The A-6 Intruder was one of many aircraft off the Grumman production lines that was designed with the pointed end of the aircraft on the rear. The A-6, like the S-2, E-1, E-2, C-1, C-2, and others, were all purpose-built to meet the requirements of the mission. In the case of the A-6, the US Navy wanted an all-weather, carrier-based, precision attack platform. Initially developed in the early 1960s, the A-6A was a platform for the next generation of precision attack avionics - the Digital Integrated Attack/Navigation Equipment (DIANE) with required quite a bit of space for the black boxes and a sizable radome for the radar antennas.
The aircraft was powered by a pair of J52 turbojets, the same engine used by the A-4 Skyhawk. This made engine logistics at sea much easier.
The A-6A had early teething problems with its new avionics making its introduction into service troublesome, but not unique in the history of sophisticated aircraft. As the bugs were worked out, the A-6A would provide the best targeting information, even in bad weather, which would lead to A-6s leading multi-service air strikes over Vietnam.
The A-6B consisted of 19 A-models that were modified into Wild Weasels during Vietnam to parallel the Air Force's new mission and provide a Navy capability to suppress the new enemy SAM sites.
The A-6C consisted of 12 A-models that were modified with TRIM pod with FLIR and Black Crow sensors to interdict supply lines along the infamous 'Ho Chi Mihn Trail'.
The KA-6D was designed as a dedicated air refueling platform to top off aircraft heading off on air strikes as well as refuel returning aircraft so they can wait their turn in the marshal stack to return aboard the carrier.
The A-6E was a new-build airframe (though a number of A/B/C models were also upgraded to the E configuration) that incorporated new radars, updated avionics, and greater mission capabilities. In 1979, the A-6E fleet was again updated with the Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor (TRAM) turret under the nose.
Kinetic released the first installment in the A-6 Intuder series with the A-6E (TRAM) which represents the attack Intruder in its final configuration. That kit is now followed by this new A-6A/E release and for those of us that 'assumed' that this would be a reboxing of the previous kit without the FLIR turret and some different decals, we are wrong!
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on thirteen parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The detailing on the kit is very nicely done with a good combination of raised and scribed details, just like the full-scale aircraft. Like the first release, this kit is based upon the Revell-Monogram kit of old, but also corrects a number of detail issues in that original kit.
The first thing that surprised me with this release was the new wing. The Kinetic A-6E (TRAM) kit had the outer wing panels molded separate so you could pose the model with the wings folded or use the adaptor to pose the wings in flight position. Kinetic came at this release the other way around. The wings are molded in flight position and cut lines are finely molded into the insides of the wing halves to fold the wings with the included wing hinge parts. Another new feature of the wings are the separately molded flaps and slats so you can pose the kit taking-off or landing. Nice!
Let's take a closer look at the new features and options in this kit:
- Scribed panel lines
- Correctly shaped canopy and windscreen
- Very nicely detailed cockpit
- Properly shaped intake ducts
- Properly shaped and routed exhaust ducts
- Choice of fuselage speed brakes (like the R-M kit)
- Wings can be folded or deployed
- Positionable flaps and slats
- Positionable stabilators
- Wheel hubs are molded separately from the tires (easy painting)
- Positionable tail hook
- Separate TRAM turret
- Separate radome so you can add ballast in the final steps
The weapons mix is revised in this release with new choices representative of Vietnam-era loadouts:
- 4 x MER
- 12 x Mk.82 Snakeye
- 12 x Mk.20 Rockeye
- 1 x centerline tank
- 2 x wing tanks
This kit provides markings for five examples:
- A-6E, 155704, VA-115, NF/500, USS Midway
- A-6E, 151781, VA-85, NH/801, USS Kitty Hawk
- A-6E, 155637, VA-52, NL/500, USS Kitty Hawk
- A-6E (TRAM), 159899, NL/512, USS Kitty Hawk
- A-6E (TRAM), 162196, AC/506, USS John F. Kennedy
The decal sheet provides a really nice set of markings produced by Fightertown Decals and printed by Cartograf. The markings provide the key airframe stencils as well as walkways, national markings, and weapons stencils.
It is interesting that while the kit is billed as both an A-6A and an A-6E, only A-6E markings are provided. I'm sure the aftermarket will take care of that minor bit. The decals do provide two TRAM examples though the instructions doesn't provide the step for the TRAM parts installation. If you or a friend have the original release, you can get that information there.
This is a really nice update/revision to Kinetic's original A-6E kit which in itself was an outstanding update/revision to the old Revell-Monogram tooling.
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!