1/48 Hasegawa A-7E (VA-25 Early 1970’s)

by Greg Leszczynski (lgl007)



I wanted to build an A-7E from the Vietnam era and more specifically an A-7 from the VA-25 ‘Fist of the Fleet’, one of my all time favorite squadrons.  My expectation of the Hasegawa kit were high as I have read many good things about it.  But rest assured this is not a shake and bake kit.  It does require quite a bit of TLC to get it looking really good. 

Project itemized:

1/48 Hasegawa A-7E Corsair II 'Valions' #7014

48-015 Superscale A-7E decals (x2)

X48-1 Hasegawa Weapons:  A – for the twelve Rockeye’s and Triple Ejection Racks (TER’s)

48-086 Two Bob’s US Air-to-Air Missile Markings for the AIM-9G/H

Something must have happened during the manufacture of my kit as it had a bunch of broken off pieces on the fuselage, yet the pieces were nowhere to be found inside the sealed bags.  So these broken off fuselage pieces had to be replaced/corrected during the build process with Plasticard.  The clear canopy pieces were also too wide for the fuselage.  I rectified this by dipping the clear pieces in hot, almost boiling water, for a few seconds then gently pressing on the canopy sides to reduce the width.  Take your time doing this as you will have to dip and gently squeeze a few times to finally get the right width.  You don’t want to crack the canopy or leave pressure marks on the inside of the clear plastic.

If you do wish to build an early 1970’s bird then you have to make a few changes for it to be accurate:

  • Do not glue on the right side wiring conduit (photo etch)
  • Do not glue on the left side ECM waveguide (photo etch)
  • Do not glue on the right side nose pitot tube and fill and sand the hole
  • Do not glue on the large belly blister between the rear landing gear doors

All of these additions were part of an upgrade that happened in the mid 1970’s, so if you are modeling a Nam bird then just leave them off.

  • Leave off Pt. E16 – this communications antenna is not seen on early 70’s A-7E’s
  • There are 2 ejection seats that come with the kit, for an early 70’s A-7E use the A30 seat

I started the build with the cockpit.  This kit has a very nicely detailed cockpit but I wanted to add a bit more detail, as I wanted it to be open, and wanted to include the pilot.  A little bit of Plasticard here and there, a little bit of wiring behind the ejection seat and on the side panels and some detail to the dashboard top panel made the pit that much busier and more accurate based on reference photos.

I also took the time to paint the pilot, as well as some patches on his shoulders.  I was fortunate to get Mike Grant from Mike Grant Decals to make some custom decals for me for my Pilot’s helmet.  I painted the forehead visor protector in Dark Green to go with the squad colors, the rest of the helmet white and put tiny lightning bolt decals on the helmet that Mike was kind enough to make for me. The helmet then got about 5 coats of Future to really bring out a nice shine to the helmet and the visor. 

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Next came work on the air intake… This is the most tedious part of the whole build.  When you glue the two intake halves together you get two very nasty seams on either side.  First, I cut the back of the intake off so I could get access to both sides.  Then liberally spread putty on the joints.  Then I took Q-Tips and glued sandpaper to one rounded end (with the cotton), removed the cotton from the other end, inserted them into my Dremel tool and on VERY LOW speed sanded the sides smooth.  I then airbrushed the inside white from both sides and glued on a black plate to the back.

The fuselage halves went together without much trouble, with the obvious seam lines that need sanding and panel lines that need re-scribing.  The one area of difficulty that needed some attention with some minor putty and re-scribing are the various avionics bays that you can model either open or closed on either side of the A-7 just below the cockpit.  I wanted these closed but the fit of the doors is very poor and leaves large uneven gaps that need to be dealt with accordingly.

I then went to work on the wheel wells, adding more detail using Plasticard and wire based on reference photos.  All the other pieces fit together beautifully with no warped piece or huge divets to fill.  The wheel-wells were then painted, washed, dry brushed (as per below) and masked off along with the cockpit and front air intake in preparation for the body painting…

The Rockeye’s from the Hasegawa weapons set were a real pain in the butt to say the least.  I really wanted to load up this bird with an accurate weapons load and I knew that this load, with the large Rockeye’s, would show the A-7E to be a real workhorse and would certainly be eye catching.  But again with 12 of these there was hours of sanding and prep work involved before they could be painted.  The AIM-9’s that came with the kit are the usual Hasegawa good quality, but be sure to paint them to either AIM-9G or AIM-9H scheme to ensure accuracy for early 1970’s.  The Two Bob’s US Air-to-Air Missile Markings decal sheet thankfully has appropriate decals for these schemes.

Just a word of caution.  The decal sheet from Superscale is very nice, although the instructions for placement are a ‘dogs breakfast’ and look like they have been photocopied at least a thousand times. But they are very thin and do go on nicely with Micro Set and Micro Sol.  However, the yellow decal on the tail when applied to the dark green background became a light green.  Thankfully I had another one of these Superscale sheets (thanks to Simon Love) and I applied another one of the same decals over the first.  This brought out the right shade of yellow.  The Superscale decals are thin enough that even after a double decal application, it still looks painted on.

The painting, decaling and detailing process I followed was:

1) I airbrushed on the base color(s) (I used Gunze Sangyo Acrylics - Acqueous Hobby Color)… pre-shading first…

  • I put in about 5% Tamiya Acrylic Paint Thinner to each batch of Gunze Acrylics I airbrush on.

2) I airbrush on clear gloss (again Gunze Acrylic) - not too heavy because I don't want to seal too many of the panel lines with too much paint;

3) I use Citadel acrylics and mix my own panel wash (approx 80% water 18% black Citadel paint and 2% dishwashing detergent - I kinda eye this bit and add more paint if the panel lines are not coming up as vividly as I like)…

  • I don't apply the wash too liberally in fact I try to get it in the panel lines as much as possible... let dry for 2-10 minutes then I rub of excess with paper towel (Citadel paints dry very quickly)... apply a bit of moisture to stubborn spots on the paper towel... you may need to re-apply wash if you rub it out of panel lines. The clear gloss coat ensures that the excess panel wash comes off quite nicely;

4) Apply another thin coat of clear gloss to seal panel lines in preparation for decaling;

5) Apply decals with Micro Set and Micro Sol;

  • You can also put another quick thin coat of gloss once the decals are on and use the same method of wash on panel lines that run through decals.

6) Apply matt coat (Gunze acrylics again)... actually I applied 3-4 coats. But I let the model dry at least 24-48 hours between any coats… again I was going for the painted on look of the decals.

I used a slightly different technique for the landing gear to get a different effect.  The landing gear was just aibrushed matt white (Gunze) then panel washed (Citadel - as above) into crevices, then dry brushed with Citadel white... allowing maximum control of the amount of darkness coming through the white. The effect is quite good for landing gear on aircraft that are for the most part relatively clean… the resultant shading looks grey... more like layers of dust as opposed to dirt and grime.

Once all the major painting was done and just before the final matt coats, I used Tamiya’s Weathering Master sets to give the A-7 some wear and tear especially around the air intake in front (as this is a point of access for maintenance crews and gets mucked up quite a bit), the boarding foot hold plates just under the canopy, and on the underside especially around the rear where the panels are removed to gain access to the jet engine.  Again good, clear, reference photos from the early 70’s are hard to come by but they are out there ;-)

I just want to thank Gerry (aka Reddog) for all his help with this build.  His intimate knowledge of the A-7 really helped tremendously to fill the information vacuum that exists in terms of good references for early A-7E’s.  From ordinance, to stencil placement, to weathering, his help is tremendously appreciated.  And, a big thank you to the ARC community for all their help and guidance during the build process.  

To view the in progress build thread with tons of photos: http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=158768&hl=lgl007

To view all my photos from the build and completed photos:   http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l249/lgl007/Hasegawa%20A-7E/


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Photos and text © by  Greg Leszczynski