The Tale of two Skyhawks Part 2 
USMC A-4M Skyhawk

by Everett McEwan

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    The second half of my final contribution to my IMPS chapter's A-4 project was the A-4M, the last and the ultimate Scooter in US service. I started building it for myself since someone else in the club had already chosen to build the M, but after I built it that person fell through. So now my M will now be the center piece of our display at Nationals this year with a spread of all the weapons carried by the A-4 in front of it (like you see at air shows).

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   Again I started with the 1/48 Hasegawa A-4 E/F kit and the Cutting Edge A-4M conversion set, cockpit set and the Super Fox intakes and dug in. The cockpit set is really a nice improvement on the kit pit (which is very nice by out of the box standards) but it is also essential if you are doing a later ARBS A-4M as I was (Angle Rate Bombing System- the glass eye in the nose, also found on the AV-8B), you need to front panel found in the CE set since it contains the correct display for the ARBS. After the cockpit the next step was the A-4M exterior conversion set, it goes in well if you cut wide and then sand back to the panel lines, DO NOT CUT ON THE PANEL LINE, you will come up short, see David Aungst's article about the conversion and while I am on the subject anyone building an M must read his other article I left the nose conversion till after I had joined the fuselage halves to make sure that it would line up. I cut out the tip of the new nose and detailed it with a MV light (model train item) that I lighted tinted blue since under certain light it appears blue, and added some plastic card and wiring around it following the reference photos in David's great article.  

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     I made a new clear nose cone by heating some acetone (clear plastic film from my exacto blades packaging) and smashing it over the second nose cone in the CE set to have the correct shape, cut it out and then glued it on. The other parts of the conversion set are the ECM antennas on the tail and the new hump, you need the new hump because it is different from the F hump found in the kit and more accurate. Other than that it built up like any other Hasegawa A-4 kit. I added the same details found on my AR to the CE resin canopies on this kit as well.

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     The pant scheme I wanted to do was the Low vis grey common on the Ms in their latter ears of service, I started with a Super scale sheet that I thought would work but after some research I found that the sheet was for two experimental schemes that were never applied to more than just those aircraft. I then got a hold of the Hobbycraft kit decals for their M kit (don't buy it- it'll never look right the canopy is the wrong shape) and decided to that bird since the decals looked nice (and they were). I noticed that the decals matched an aircraft on the ARC reference pages for the A-4M and decided to contact Garry Campbell who took the pics to ask him a few questions. He was an awesome resource in my project since he new this aircraft well and helped me to get things right, things like telling me the flaps/slats on this aircraft were red not grey (he told me just in time since I had already painted the jet all grey). Thanks so much Garry! This actual plane was the last A-4M in US service (except aggressors) to fly in 1994, and now resides in the Delaware Valley
Historical Aircraft Association Museum
by the way in the picture on their website you can see a part of tail missing, this was from a bird strike but the tail was repaired before it's last flight.

The Hobbycraft decals are really very nice (too bad the rest of the kit is not) and provide all the needed decals except for the modex numbers on the flaps, I made these by cutting up the Hasegawa decals to be the correct numbers (Garry also told me what numbers to
put here).

After that I weathered to plane using some of the pics Garry had and the photo on the Hobbycraft box which showed the wing walks to be very dirty. Finish was  with Testor's flat coat over the Future laid down for the decals.

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     For the load out I used the big 300 gal fuel tanks left over from my OA-4M kit (this was the most common tanks on the M not the 200 gal tanks in the Hasegawa kit) and the Revell snakeyes and MERs from my A-6E kit. As I mentioned in my other article the MK 82s are undersized but I was ready to finish the project and in the end they look fine. 
     This plane is not that hard to build once you have the right parts thanks to Cutting Edge, I built both of my kits (together at the same time) in 2-3 months so the work is not that difficult. I recommend these kits to anyone who wants the ultimate super scooter. A-4s forever! 

Everett

 

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Photos and text by Everett McEwan