1/32 Hasegawa A-4E Skyhawk

using Two Bobs decals

by Mike Phillips

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This is the Hasegawa 1/32 scale A-4E Skyhawk "Lady Jessie" kit. I saw this kit built in these markings a couple of months ago. I already had the kit, so I picked up the Twobobs "Top Gun Tinkertoys" sheet and went to work. This is one of the best building kits that I have ever seen. Test fitting showed that the kit was going to go together well. The pieces lined up together with virtually no gaps or ledges. There were a few mold seams to clean up on the parts, but not much flash. The only places that I used any putty was on the pieces that go on the lower fuselage just behind the wing join and on the front wing join.

Starting with the cockpit, I had to use a Cutting Edge seat. The kit seat comes in several parts, but mine was broken when I opened the box, creating several more! This would actually turn out to be beneficial later. To use the CE seat, you have to cut the seat pan on the kit cockpit tub. I put a piece of thin sheet plastic on the bottom of the tub to have some place to glue the CE seat. The instructions have you put the nose gear strut on early in assembly, but you could probably put it in later. I kept worrying that I would break it off while I was handling the plane. The fuselage halves were joined and sanded. This kit has pretty fine raised detail, and some of it was lost when I sanded. I re-scribed some of the lost panels, but mostly just access hatches and stuff. The intake pieces went on smoothly. These are hard to paint, as they are closed on the back end. 

Click on images below to see larger images

The wings were assembled next. I waited until they were done to put on the leading edge slat guides. This proved to be a major pain, because they were hard to line up. This particular plane didn't carry guns, and here's one problem with this kit. There is only ONE wing root plug included. Why, I don't know. Anyway, I acquired  a couple via the net, and forged on. This is one of the few places where putty was used on the kit. The front join between the wing and the fuselage showed a little step as well that took some work to smooth out. The lower fuselage parts were also somewhat difficult, and required some putty. I left the speedbrakes closed. The fit is ok, but they probably would look better open. They seem to be a bit thicker than the surrounding fuselage area. 

Once everything was masked off, I sprayed the pattern on using Model Master Acryl straight from the bottle. The blue I used wasn't quite the right color, being a little grayer, but the right color doesn't exist in the Acryl line, that I could find. The Twobobs decals went on without any problems. This is the first scheme that I have done with markings done "positive/negative", and I was surprised I was able to get the pattern to match up with the markings as well as I did.  

When putting on the clear parts I ran into the only problem that I really had with the construction. The support rod for the main canopy is just a hair too short in my opinion, so the canopy didn't sit as high as I would have liked. I tried to put a little glue in there to help hold it up, and when I was pulling the little metal tube for the glue bottle out. it touched the inside of the canopy, which, of course, was already glued on the kit. We all know what glue does to clear parts. Luckily it was just in the corner. I tried to sand it and clean it up, but you can see it. If I had it to do over, I would make a new one out of a piece of rod using the kit piece as a guide and making the new part just a hair longer. 

Click on images below to see larger images

I added a Sidewinder missile rail from the spares box on the centerline. The kit looked like it needed something though, like a boarding ladder. I didn't have one, but the ones I had seen before looked pretty simple, so I decided to make one. I had some pieces of plastic rod, so I cut a few pieces for the sides, rungs and supports. The platform for the ladder is the seat back piece from the kit piece! ( I told you using the CE seat had an extra benefit!) I took about 15 minutes. The chocks and the helmet on the canopy rail came from the spares box too.  

Overall, I spent about 30 hours on this kit, most of that painting the camo pattern on it.  It was a joy to build. If you want a Scooter on your shelf, I would suggest this one!

Mike

Photos and text by Mike Phillips