The IAF received a number of Skyhawk II aircraft to replace the first versions of the Skyhawk they received in 1968. The Skyhawk II was developed for the United States Marine Corps and was designated the A-4M. The IAF essentially got the same aircraft, but it was designated A-4N. I say “essentially” because some of the differences included a HUD and 30mm gun pods rather than the A-4M’s standard 20mm pods. One other significant modification was made to all IAF Skyhawks after 1973, an extended tailpipe which helped them survive attacks from shoulder fired surface to air missiles that became prevalent during the Yom Kippur war. The A-4N served with the IAF until the early 1990’s.
The box contains nine sprues, two sprues of clear parts and some white metal 30mm gun pods. The plastic is typical Hasegawa light gray and is fairly soft. Detail is crisp on this model with no flash. Sprue attachment points are relatively small and in good locations for some of the very small parts needed. One annoyance is the release marks in various places that will be visible. An oversight IMO with the kit is it does not include the longer tailpipe installed on all post 1973 A-4Ns.
Two sets of marking options are given; both are for pre-1973 A-4N aircraft with the short tailpipe - so in that regard Hasegawa is correct.
The instructions are very complete and concise.
Cutting Edge Resin
Also part of this review is the addition of the Cutting Edge resin upgrade set # CEC48323. This set has 19 parts and is designed to upgrade one of the earlier Hasegawa Skyhawk kits. It will however, work quite well in this project as well for a number of reasons.
The set is done crisply in grey resin and has some of the best surface detail I’ve seen on a resin upgrade set. The parts included are all also included in the Hasegawa A-4N kit (with one major exception) so the modeler will ultimately need to decide what to do. Included in the set are:
Extended Tailpipe (this part IS NOT in the Hasegawa kit and is necessary if modeling a post 1973 A-4N).
Sidewall detail for fuselage halves in front of the intake, these accommodate the different N canopy
Clear resin canopy and windscreen
Clear resin strike camera
30mm gun pods and barrels
Saddleback avionics hump
Blade antenna (triangular blade antenna NOT included but is in the Hasegawa kit.)
Braking parachute housing
Larger air intake on aircraft with the J52-P-408 engine upgrade
Early warning radar for the nose and tail
Black Magic masks for the clear resin canopy and windscreen
The kit goes together fairly easily, although Hasegawa has made things a little fiddly with their parts breakdown. My guess is this accommodates the other versions of the Skyhawk they make, but it is still something the modeler has to deal with and creates extra construction time and the opportunity to loose or break some of the smaller parts that could have been molded onto a larger part, such as the six parts that go into making up the rudder. Yup, just the rudder. The addition of the Cutting Edge resin set also added significantly to the construction time, but more on that later.
Assembly starts with cockpit and it was OOB here. The detail is adequate and this looked good. At this point in the build I compared the Cutting Edge sidewall pieces with the Hasegawa fuselage and decided that for the little bit of added interior detail it was not worth cutting up the front of the kit fuselage as I could tell no difference in the outside. There are a few other things to be done before closing the fuselage halves, but not much. One thing to note is I elected to cut out the tailpipe opening for the CE resin extension before putting the two halves together as this seemed easiest to me.
After closing the fuselage I filled the nose section with white glue and bird shot and set it aside. While this was setting up I installed the intakes which fit quite well and then began prepping the CE resin avionics hump. This goes easily if you assemble the Hasegawa hump and dry fit it, drawing a light outline around it. The detail on the resin bit is far better and also there is no seam to deal with. The difficult part is cleaning up the part and getting it to fit properly. This took a couple careful hours with a Dremel and lots and lots of dry fitting. The trouble is the bottom of the CE part is flat, but must fit the contour of the fuselage. Also the front the CE part has a distinctly different shape than the contour above the intakes and immediately behind the cockpit. This area will require filler. It sounds more troublesome than it is really, just take your time and be careful and you will have a nice very accurate avionics hump.
With this done I added the CE air intake that belongs on aircraft with the J52-P-408 engine upgrade. I also went around the fuselage and added all the other little bits at this time. These included the CE resin braking parachute housing and nose early warning radar. Both parts are superior to the Hasegawa parts, but again they require contour fitting to the fuselage. After painting the resin tailpipe extension I added it as well.
At this point all seams on the fuselage were cleaned up and the surface prepped for paint. One thing to note is the speed brakes would probably be closed on the ground unless the aircraft sat for quite some time or was being inspected. For this reason I closed mine even though the instructions call for them to be open.
The wings go together quickly and I assembled mine flaps up for the same reason as the speed brakes were left closed. Wing to fuselage join is excellent and the trailing edges are nice and thin. I also added the tail planes during this step. Next I had to decide between the CE gun pods and the white metal kits pods. These two parts have nothing in common. To me the white metal Hasegawa parts seemed too big and the CE resin parts too small. I looked at what photos I had and decided on using the CE resin parts for two reasons. First, the actual gun pod bit on the real aircraft is a faired in panel and the smaller CE part better represents this because it allows the rivet detail to be seen around the pod, more like the real thing. Second, the length on the CE part seemed closer to the real thing. It still seems short, but the Hasegawa part is too long by far. So I added the CE pods and surrounded them with a little filler to fair them in as suggested in the CE instructions.
With the wing attached all remaining small bits were put on and the model was prepped with light gull gray for painting. Canopy was attached in the closed position and drop tanks assembled. Before painting I cleaned up the landing gear parts and put those aside.
I chose to model an aircraft from 1978 from the Flying Dragon Sqn. If you want to model any post 1973 Skyhawk you will need to do some research and probably source some other decals. I was able to source squadron insignia and plane number from Isradecals sheet for the Skyhawk. I used the IPMS Stockholm site to obtain the proper FS colors matches for my paint and off I went. Weathering was kept light with a simple sludge wash. I had not used one in a while and wanted to try it again. Decals went on well and once settled they were glossed and then a flat coat with a couple drops of sand added was applied over the entire model.
The final bits were the clear parts. I left all these off until the end, but I suppose you could put them on and mask them as well. I find it easier to put them on later and touch them up with the camouflage color where required and blend with a flat coat than all that masking.
This kit is fairly time consuming when factoring in the resin, but it is worth it. Out of the box Hasegawa provides a basic very early A4-N and I think most modelers will at the very least want the extended tailpipe. For those wanting to model a later A4-N the Cutting Edge resin goes a long way to improving the already decent Hasegawa kit and allows a far greater range of Skyhawks to be built. Particularly useful are the avionics hump, extended tailpipe, parabrake housing, early warning nose radar, blade antenna, large fuselage air intake, and gun pods. All of these parts are more accurate and make for a much better IAF A4-N model.
Modeler take note, there is a fair amount of cleanup and dry fitting involved in using these parts, they are definitely not a drop-in replacement. Again, that takes nothing away from the detail and value added to the overall model; it is simply something the modeler needs to be aware of. Overall I’d recommend the combination to anyone wanting to spend some time making a more accurate post 1973 IAF Skyhawk.
Thanks go to Dragon USA & Meteor Productions, via Saúl García, for the review sample.
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