In Scale: 1/48 Hasegawa A-4F Skyhawk (Naval Air Test Center, NAS Patuxent River, 1969)

For the first installment of my In Scale series of scale model aircraft builds, I’m pleased to present my just-completed 1/48 scale Hasegawa A-4F Skyhawk, wearing the colorful test livery of BuNo 154175, assigned to the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, circa July 1969 (reference photo).

1/48 Hasegawa A-4F Skyhawk

Build Overview

The venerable Hasegawa A-4 tooling has been around for nearly a quarter century, first debuting in 2000 and re-released, in Hasegawa’s inimitable way, with new parts and decals over forty times since. This build comes from the A-4E Skyhawk “Top Gun” Limited Edition (2023), which contains parts for both the E and F variants of the Scooter. The kit’s various foibles have been well documented over the years, the most notable being the step in the front slat wells on the leading edges; the real aircraft has a continuous slope from the well to where the wing resumes. I chose not to fix the error, as my scratch repair job would have been far more noticeable than a subtle geometry error that one has to know to look for.

1/48 Hasegawa A-4F Skyhawk

The build itself posed few tricky situations, with more-than-acceptable parts fit in keeping with the “TamiGawa” reputation from Japan’s two major kit makers for effortless builds. I did have some difficulty with three specific areas.

The engine exhaust piece failed to fit snugly once the fuselage was sealed, possibly owing to an imprecise seating of the exhaust trunking, necessitating a fair bit of filler (and, eventually, an aftermarket exhaust cover) before I was satisfied.

1/48 Hasegawa A-4F Skyhawk

The engine intakes, with their red banding and white interiors, turned into a mini-model of their own, needing to be painted, assembled, and masked before they were faired into the fuselage. I removed the molded stiffening plates, in keeping with my prototype, which made matters easier, as the plate, split between the intake piece and the fuselage piece, wasn’t going to match up no matter my sanding or a (mostly) judicious application of force. I added aftermarket intake covers, but mostly for visual interest; rest assured that the intakes are a paragon of precision painting…

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