Monogram 1/48 EA-6B Prowler Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Best EA-6B in any scale
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was a versatile all-weather carrier-based attack bomber for the US Navy and had sufficient room within its airframe to allow for incremental improvements in capability. Like any versatile airframe, that room can be adapted to meet other mission requirements. When the Marines needed to replace their aging EF-10 Skyknights, Grumman modified the A-6 into the EA-6A electronic warfare aircraft that served the Marines during Vietnam and a few of which served into the 1990s.
When the Navy wanted an airframe to replace their aging EKA-3B Skywarriors, that was a step too far for the EA-6A. Grumman stretched the airframe to accommodate a four-place cockpit and the additional avionics. Like the EA-6A, the EA-6B's J52 engines could only generate so much electrical power. In order to generate enough electricity to perform its electronic warfare duties, it resorted to wind power. Using the same principles that dates back to the 1930s, each of the electronic warfare pods are equipped with wind turbines (ram-air turbines or RATs) to generate the additional power needed.
Through most of the EA-6B's career, the aircraft could only employ two of the three types of jamming mission: passive (chaff) and active (ECM). Only after ICAP II update did the aircraft obtain the third type - terminal jamming. The aircraft received the capability to employ the AGM-88 HARM missile that could reach out and terminate threats on the battlefield.
The first EA-6B entered service in 1971 and has undergone numerous capability upgrades to keep the Prowler effective against the ever-changing threat environment. After the US Air Force abandoned its own dedicated electronic warfare aircraft, the EF-111A Raven, some Prowlers were operated for a time as joint-service squadrons to meet the EW needs of both services. Today, the EA-6B is slated to be phased out as the new EA-18G Growler (EW variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet) gradually enters the fleet.
Surprisingly enough, there have been two EA-6B Prowler kits produced in 1/48 scale. One was from Airfix, which is an old tooling reflecting the early aircraft, and this one from Monogram that represented an ICAP-1 Prowler. While the kit looks great in the box, it was clear that Monogram reused parts from the A-6 and EA-6A kits to create this version. While many modelers won't care about these details, you can read Jim Rotramel's notes on tweaking the Monogram kit to bring it up to shape. Look here at Jim's article on Hyperscale.
As large as this model is (the assembled kit is 15 inches long), you can see that it isn't overly complex. As with any model this size, care will have to be taken to glue the larger parts together as these are more prone to distortion or warping. Nothing radical mind you, but just enough to require a little filling after assembly.
The model is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts. My example actually had two sets of clears in the box. Thanks!
The kit comes with lots of detailing as is typical of Monogram's designs and the modeler will have fun bringing out those details with paint and weathering. There are a variety of aftermarket items out there that will address some of the issues Jim Rotramel addresses as well as simply dressing up the stock kit further.
The kit's intakes are reasonably done, though the ducts are noticeably shallow.
The kit offers both the early solid fuselage speed brakes as well as the later perforated speed brakes for the A-6, though neither are used on the Prowler.
The kit provides the following external stores options:
- Wing external fuel tanks (2)
- EW Pods (3)
Markings are provided for one aircraft:
- EA-6B, 158649, NH/621, VAQ-131, USS America
The markings are definitely typical of the high-visibility schemes that used to be applied to US Navy aircraft. The USS America was decommissioned in 1996, so you'll need aftermarket decals to render a more contemporary Prowler.
I didn't have much interest in building a Prowler until Scott Brown of Afterburner Decals released this sheet. A sharkmouthed Prowler is cool. A mottled camouflage Prowler is also cool. One that has an editorial cartoon rendering their opinion of the EA-18G, priceless. To have all of those on one subject makes the project too irresistible. Check out this scheme.
This kit remains the best Prowler kit in any scale to date. While it was created through a bit of mixing and matching existing tooling, a nice Prowler can be build with a little modeling skill and Jim Rotramel's notes.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!