The Monogram 1/48 A-4 Skyhawk is now over 20 years old. It is a GREAT model for the time it was molded but ....... all good things must come to pass!! Bring on the Brand New Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/F Kit number PT21. I am sure everyone reading this preview knows Hasegawa's quality and reputation. This one is no different and it almost made a grown man weep at its sheer perfection!
When the kit arrived I was met by a Great Box Art Painting by the incomparable Koike Shigeo of a "Scooter" and his wingman from VA-192 gracing the box top. Upon opening the box I saw 156 pieces of Hasegawa's Standard Grey and Clear Styrene looking at me. The kit has superb recessed panel lines and excellent detail. There are markings for two aircraft included...One from VA-192 "Golden Dragons" Commanders aircraft (Box art jet) and one from VA-22 "Fighting
Redcocks" (no jokes please) Commanders Aircraft. Both are VERY colorful 1960's US Navy jets that would do any model case justice.
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Now on to the kit. Starting with the cockpit. The pit consists of 13 parts and is up to Hasegawa's usual good standard. While the cockpit is nice, the 5 piece ejection seat is rather uninspiring and could use a new and improved resin one. The tub is a one piece affair which is mounted directly to a FANTASTIC Nose wheel well. The detail in the nose well is excellent. Lots of tubes and wires in there. The fuselage halves also have great detail replicating the fabric detail on the sidewalls. All in all a nice cockpit for the out of the box type but there is as usual room for improvement
The intakes and exhaust come next. The intakes are very nice with a great fan section and nice depth in the one piece interior intake area. When dry fitting, everything fits Great!! After the fuselage halves are joined you need to make some choices. Depending on the jet you are modeling, you can add or leave off the big Avionics hump on the spine. Dry fitting the hump sure makes you appreciate Hasegawa Engineering....PERFECT FIT!!
Now on to the wings and stabs. On the wings you get positionable Flaps and leading Edge Slats. Hasegawa has you model them open as would be normally seen on the Scooter. The flaps and leading Edge slats were gravity loaded so after Hydraulic bleed off, they would drop automatically. The detail on the tiny wing fences is Splendid!! The Horizontal stabs also dry fit PERFECTLY!!
Next comes the Landing gear and along with it, My only complaint of this otherwise beautiful model. WHY OH WHY did Hasegawa mold the nose wheel to the nose strut?? It makes for a very goof looking nose wheel strut and it is NOT an easy fix. Thank the model Gods that Monograms strut and nose wheel can easily substitute. I am sure we will se a Turned Brass nose gear for this kit soon. Other than the rather cheaply designed nose wheel assembly the landing gear is beautifully molded and only needs a bit of wire and plastic card to make it stand out a bit more. The brake calipers on the main struts are particularly impressive!
Now to the minor points. You can position the Speed Brakes and canopy open or closed. You also get the straight or even cooler bent refuel probe. There is also a crew access ladder to add if you so desire. As far as weapons go you get well.....NONE!!! All you get are two wing drop tanks. Why cant Hasegawa include at least something in the way of ordnance on their models??? Oh yeah, I know why!!! You wouldn't be forced to buy Hasegawa Weapons sets if they did!!
Overall after all is said and done, I give this little gem 8 out of 10 possible points. The ONLY things that reduce the score is the the crappy nose strut assembly and the total lack of weapons!! For those of you that paid a lot for the Monogram kit recently, you threw your money away. This kit is a winner period!! It also happens to be one of my favorite jets of all time! Thank you Hasegawa for getting me a kit that lazy ole me doesn't have to
My thanks to Steve Stohr of
North American Hobbies
for the review sample. Keep an eye out for my full build review on this kit soon....very soon!
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