1/72 Italeri A-4F

Gallery Article by Don Weixl

 

I was attracted to this little kit by the excellent box art and the price. I think it was $9.00 Canadian in 1999. I put about 15 hours into the building of this kit from June to October 2000. 

The kit  has a combination of raised and recessed panel lines. I decided to re-scribe the fuselage raised lines and leave the wings as is. I used a common straight pin chucked into a pin vise for the scribing. I used Dymo tape and a Verlindin scribing template to guide the scriber. I still managed to slip up several times. I used ACC glue to repair the damage from my errant scriber.

This was one of my first re-scribe attempts. Looking back, I was a little too aggressive with the scriber. I made "Matchbox" like lines, not Hasegawa ones. Live and learn.   

 

Click on images below to see larger images

The kit went together well. The weakest part of the kit is the canopy, which is pretty thick and full of distortion. I polished it with toothpaste and then gave it a Future "dip". It was an improvement, but any detail in the cockpit is pretty much wasted if you leave the canopy closed.  

One of my favorite things about US Navy jets is the way they paint the areas under the slats red. I decided to "drop" the slats on my A-4, as this is how they look when sitting parked (except for the Blue Angel's version, which had their slats pinned closed). I used a new X-ACTO #11 blade to carefully cut out the slats from the wing. I used sheet styrene to fill in the area under the slat. With my X-ACTO knife, I carefully carved the curved profile of the wing under where the slats rests in the closed position. I used a razor saw to make the slots in the wing where the rails that attach the slat to the wing slide into. Pieces of floral wire were ACC'd to the slat which fit into the slots in the wing. 

The model was airbrushed with automotive primer sprayed through my Pasche H airbrush. Next the white undersurfaces and upper control surfaces were airbrushed with Tremclad gloss white sprayed through my airbrush.  Model Master Acrylic Gull Gray was airbrushed onto the top surfaces after the white was masked off using Tamiya masking tape.

I used an ancient Microscale decal sheet #72-114 for a VA-144 CAG (Commander Air Group) aircraft. CAG aircraft usually are extra colourful and kept in pristine condition. Before the advent of  the present extremely matte paint schemes, US Navy aircraft were much easier to keep in excellent condition. Because my panel lines were too heavy, I didn't use a wash to highlight them. I did use a wash of synthetic turpentine and oil paint to add depth to the landing gear and wheel wells. 

After the decalling was complete, I over-sprayed the model using Future mixed with 20% Tamiya Flat Base to give a semi-gloss sheen. 

To my dismay, I discovered that the canopy had a poor fit to the fuselage. Since I had already finished painting and decalling the kit, I didn't want to use putty to fill the oversize seams between the canopy and fuselage. A solution I discovered worked well. I mixed the Model Master Gull Gray with white glue. This mixture was carefully brushed into the seams around the canopy. Any extra was wiped off with a wet cotton swab. No damaging sanding was required and the seam was reduced considerably. 

The photos were taken by me using a Canon D-30 digital camera and a Canon16-35 2.8L zoom lens. The lighting used was a single Elinchrom studio flash unit bounced through an umbrella. The camera was hand held. Apertures of F-16 to F-22 were used. 

Don Weixl

      

Photos and text by Don Weixl