A-7A Corsair II VA-153 “Blue Tail Flies”
This is my first ARC A-7 Corsair build; it won’t be the last, as I’ve been enamored of the Corsair II since I saw it at an air show several decades ago. It played an important role
in our Vietnam combat experiences, serving as a much-needed bomber to provide pinpoint destruction of enemy positions; it never was designed to dogfight
This kit was rather enjoyable to build. My alternatives in this small scale were offerings by Fujimi (ca. early 1990s),
Italeri, and Hasegawa. All were dated as for molded features and scale accuracy. It was the new kid on the block, Hobby Boss, that beat the others for overall quality, although it, too, had limitations (read below).
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The kit mainly fell together with little putty and sanding necessary. Even the wings were molded with an angle on the end that matched the curvature of the fuselage where the wings matched up. That was a most appreciated engineering design. Also unique were the molded open access panels on the fuselage sides, even though it took extra painting time to get the panel inside details covered.
Where the Hobby Boss kit was found wanting compared to the other makers was: 1) the design of the drop tanks, which were too long and angular (Italeri’s tanks were the most accurate); and 2) the design of the MK. 82 bombs, which to scale would have been equivalent to pixie 100 lb. bombs. I left off the multi-bomb racks and bombs because of this appearance problem. Finally, the kit came with two AIM Sidewinders, which had decent detail. I wanted to depict an aircraft returning from a mission, so I left off all ordnance.
With small scales such as 1/72, I tend to save a few cents and omit buying a lot of after market parts for the cockpit. Besides, the kit’s decal sheet had adequate decals for the arm consoles and front instrument panel. I did, though, fashion seat belts and harness for the supplied cockpit seat.
Wanting to use the distinctive “Blue Tail Flies” markings, I obtained a Micro Scale after market decal sheet containing the VA-153 markings for the early 1970s period. I knew I’d have trouble, however, had I tried to apply the long tailpiece decals, with the blue background (it would have stretched or tore at the small taper section). Luckily, the decal sheet had unit letters (“NM”) and special visual unit effects, so I masked the model and airbrushed on the dark blue color the unit wore at the time. To be totally honest, I used a mix of MicroScale and Hobby Boss decals: the Hobby Boss sheet had the unique canopy piping/sealant around each pane, which also was to scale.
Elsewhere, I fashioned my own intake duct cover, made from Tamiya masking tape. I spray painted the tape red to accurately reflect the color of such cover used by the unit on board the aircraft carrier when stored.