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1/48 Canadian Skyhawks 

by Shawn Phantom Weiler

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Silly Week 2007

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These were built for the A-4 Skyhawk group build.

In the early 1960's Canada looked at buying some Skyhawks to use on HMCS Bonneventure in  the fighter attack role. Two USN airframes from VA-43 were tested and found to be just ducky. But the Bonneventure was getting long in the tooth. After all she started life as a WW2 British carrier.

Canada was to build 2 carriers HMCS Bluenose for the east coast fleet and HMCS Crossbow for the west coast. 300 single seat airframes were to built under licence by Canadair in Quebec. Many of these went to other NATO forces which were also buying built in Canada carriers. Later 45 dual seat attack planes were built just for Canada. (This will happen in the up-coming Monogram GB). Briefly Canada was back up there with the big boys. Unfortunately successive left leaning governments in the late 60's and 70's did more damage to the Canadian military then Black Friday did with the Arrow back in 1959. As it turned out only 75 single seaters made in to the Canadian Armed Forces.

When first delivered the planes wore the Standard Royal Canadian Navy Markings. They were also built top as top of the line F style Skyhawks including the avionics hump, just like the US used.

Due to the massive cuts faced in the late 60's all of the proud navy squadrons were disbanded and had to pick up the unused air force numbers. In the case of VFA-801 they became 434 squadron. The cuts were so massive the new Canadian Forces could not even afford to repaint the entire fleet in a timely manner. 4206 would remain in Navy markings until early 1975.

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With the merging of the Navy, Air Force and Army into one big happy family also came the renumbering of all aircraft in all 3 services into the new scheme. Also as Canada had to retire her one remaining carrier in 1968 there was not much point continuing with the naval colours.  The left leaning government went with the 70's standard of big colourful markings and just like the former Sea King and Tracker fleet the slightly naval colour scheme shown here.

The 1976 example had once been known as VFA-800 on the west coast based at CFB Comox.  With all the cuts they moved to CFB Cold Lake as 419 squadron as a Fighter squadron with a light attack back up role.

By the late 80's the Skyhawks were getting hard to maintain. They lost the attack capability and the hump back in 1986 after Canada bought the CF-188 Hornet. The cockpit windshield was also enlarged in a modification known as the "Hobbycraftmod". By 1990 they were used as lead in trainers for the Hornets and as Aggressors. 116274 shows one of the schemes which was popular with people who build models.

The remaining airframes, after a costly upgrade which took millions out of the defence budget, were not used by Canada. Nor replaced, just sold....at a buck each ....to Bottswana. They continue to work just ducky in their new home.

4206 and 116230 are both Revell Pro modeller (Hasegawa) A-4E/Fs. Using a combination of Belcher Bits and Leading edge CF-5 (CF-116) decals. 116274 is a HobbyCraft A-4E Aggressor. Just using Belcher Bits CF-5 decals as opposed to the missing kit decals.

Shawn

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Photos and text by Shawn Phantom Weiler

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