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A-4G Skyhawk
Royal Australian Navy

by David W. Aungst

 

A-4G Skyahwk

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale A-4G Skyhawk is available online from Squadron.com

 

Background

 

Just when you thought you were safe from Scooters, I am back again with another Skyhawk.

This time it is a non-US machine from Down Under. Richard Chafer from Gekko Graphics in Australia contacted me to see if I would be interested in building a Skyhawk using his new decals.

Richard wanted pictures of models built in his decals to use on his web site. Since the aircraft in this posting is one I wanted to build anyway, I agreed. It saved me the trouble of creating my own decals for this aircraft.

 

 

The Kit

 

I have no review of the kit to write here. See my previous writings on the Hasegawa Skyhawk for a review. What I do have here are the changes I made using pieces already in the kit to make an Australian A-4G from the Hasegawa A-4E/F kit. All the necessary parts are in the box. All you need to do is know which pieces to use. Built like this, does the model qualify as out-of-the-box, since the instructions do not mention these parts? I am sure the IPMS would have an opinion on this.

 



To convert the A-4E kit into an A-4G, I did the following. Again, note that all these changes use parts that are already present in the kit. Some of the parts are "grayed out" on the instruction sheet as being not used (on the A-4E/F), but they are the right parts to use to update the A-4E/F to an A-4G. The step numbers relate to the Hasegawa A-4E/F kit instruction steps.

 

Step 5:

  • Remove the small antenna on top of the fin cap fairing (part A15).

  • Do not use the lower fuselage piece that includes the chaff dispenser fairing (part A8). Instead, use the part with no dispenser fairing (part A6).

  • A-4G Skyhawks do not have the avionics hump. Follow the instructions in the main diagram (for scheme #1) and ignore the directions in the inset labeled for scheme #2.


 

Step 8:

  • Do not use the ECM antennas (parts D19 and E31 or F22) under the nose. Do not use the other 2 antennae (parts F22) under the fuselage adjacent the nose landing gear bay.

  • On the nose landing gear strut, apply the pieces that are labeled as going with scheme #2 (parts E21 and E25). These parts are the nose wheel steering fit that all A-4Gs had when delivered.

  • Check your references for the wing cannons. Some A-4Gs have them while others do not. Use the appropriate wing roots for your needs, either kit parts D8/D9 for cannons or D6/D7 without cannons.


 

Step 10:

  • Do not paint the hook ends of the catapult hooks (parts F23) yellow as directed. On RAN aircraft, these were white.


Step 11:

  • Do not fit the ECM antennae (parts E19, F21, D17 and D18).

  • When attaching the cover plates (parts A3 and A4) over the chaff dispensers, fill the gap around them to make them disappear. A-4Gs were built prior to the retro-fit of the chaff dispensers and did not have the dispensers or the cover plates.


 

Step 13:

  • Do not fit the radio antenna (part F4). Use the alternate antenna (part E11) instead and paint it flat black. Do not attach the pitot (part F24) immediately in front of the cockpit.

  • Attach the temperature probe and pitot (parts E32 and F24) as indicated in the inset labeled for scheme #2.


Depending on the time period of the particular aircraft being modeled, either the straight refueling probe (part E8) or the bent probe (part E7) can be attached. The straight probe was used on early aircraft while painted in the Gull Gray over White camouflage. Most RAN aircraft had bent probes installed before the air superiority camouflage scheme was applied to them. As I was building an air superiority camouflaged aircraft, I use the bent probe.

 

 

I got many of these conversion notes from Richard at Gekko Graphics. Other parts I figured out through my own research. I was not paying attention on my model and started building it with the cannons. Just before I started applying decals, I happened to notice the lack of cannons on the specific aircraft I was building. I contacted Richard on this point and he found pictures with and without cannons for this aircraft, so I left the model with the cannons on it.

The out-of-the-box qualifications of the model are broken for sure by the use of an after-market ejection seat. While adequate, the kit provided ejection seat is a bit simplistic. I replaced the seat with one from Cutting Edge.

I originally wanted to build the model with Sidewinder missiles since the Australian Navy was the first air arm to fly the Skyhawk routinely in an air-to-air role. It was not uncommon to find Sidewinders hanging from the wings. As the kit provides the missile rails and pylon adapters in the kit already, I painted them up and hung them on the outboard weapons pylons. In the end, I did not feel like digging out some Sidewinders and left the missile rails empty. Perhaps I will build some missiles at a later time and attach them.

 

 

Camouflage and Markings

 

As I wrote at the beginning of this posting, this model was built at the request of Richard Chafer from Gekko Graphics. Richard supplied me some of his new decals to build the model in return for having me provide him some pictures of the completed model to display on his web site. For a model I wanted to build anyway, this seemed a fair trade.

I helped Gekko Graphics with the research on the painting instructions. I used all Testors Model Master enamel paints. The camouflage colors are Light Admiralty Grey (BS 381C-697) and Aircraft Grey (BS 381C-693). This is the air superiority camouflage applied to all of the Australian Skyhawks in the last few years of Australian service. Eventually, all the surviving Australian Skyhawks were sold to New Zealand where they retained this camouflage for some time. When the aircraft were updated to the A-4K standard, this camouflage was removed.

 



The colors in this camouflage proved to be a bit elusive. I had three sources that tried to match the closest FS number to these BSC numbers. All of them disagreed with each other. I found light color matches including Duck Egg Blue (F.S.35622), L.Ghost Gray (F.S.36375), and Aggressor Blue (F.S.35414). I found dark color matches including Air Mobility Gray (F.S.36173), Medium Gray (F.S.36187), and Graish Blue (F.S.35237). These pretty well plastered the spectrum of choices.

The source with color matches that looked closest to what I saw in pictures was the instruction sheet from the 1/72nd scale Fujimi A-4E/F/G kit. Fujimi matched Duck Egg Blue (F.S.35622) as the light color and Graish Blue (F.S.35237) to the darker color. The few color pictures I had on hand of A-4G aircraft seemed to match these colors. Hence I test painted the horizontal tails to see what they looked like on the model.

After drying, I was not happy. The Duck Egg Blue was too light and the Graish Blue was too dark. This caused the contrast of these two colors to be too great. So, I substituted Flanker Pale Blue (Model Master #2130) for the Duck Egg Blue. This is basically the same color as Duck Egg Blue, only slightly darker. To further reduce the contrast of the colors, I substituted D.Ghost Gray (F.S.36320) for the Graish Blue. These two new colors had a nicer contrast and better matched the aircraft I saw in the color pictures I had on hand.

Now seemingly happy with the camouflage colors, I painted the rest of the model to match the colors I used on the horizontal tails. After these dried, it became apparent that the Flanker Pale Blue was too green. Richard had cautioned me that the light color does have a slight green cast to it. The greenish Flanker Pale Blue seemed like it would be good. Only after seeing a larger area of the model painted did the color look too green. Time to repaint the model.

I had nothing else in my paint collection that came close to the right color, so I broke out some paints and started mixing. The mix that finally captured the light color in the camouflage (IMHO) was as follows:

  • 20 parts Flat White (Model Master #1768)

  • 10 parts Flanker Pale Blue (Model Master #2130)

  • 1 part Flat Sky Blue (Testors "Little Bottles" #1162)

The White and Sky Blue, by themselves in this mix, create a light powder blue that is about the same darkness as the Flanker Pale Blue, but has no hint of green. Adding the Flanker Pale Blue to the mix added a slight green content to the color.

 

I am sure these colors are still probably up for grabs. The matching I was doing for these colors is based on photographs which introduces all sorts of variables into the equation -- color balancing of the prints, lighting of the day the pictures where taken, "scale effect", fading, etc. Note the different colors exhibited by the two images to the right. Both show the same aircraft on different days with different lighting. Can you tell what the right color is? Feel free to mix your own colors, but I feel what I have here is a pretty close representation.

This was the fourth model in the last year where I had to go "above and beyond" to get the colors to look right to me. Of the four, three required me to repaint them to fix the issue. I think I will just build models that get simple Gull Gray and White camouflages or S.E.Asian camouflages for a while ... ;o)

Interestingly enough, the decal sheet from Gekko Graphics is actually for New Zealand aircraft, not Australian. The single Australian aircraft on the sheet is provided essentially because it was easy for them to do it. They provide markings for the same aircraft in New Zealand service, but the only change in the markings is to the national insignia from its previous Australian service. Hence, they could provide two versions of this aircraft merely by including the Australian national insignia. Whatever works is fine by me.

The sheet provides markings for 19 New Zealand aircraft and one Australian. The Australian and five New Zealand aircraft are in the gray camouflage pictured in this posting. Five more aircraft are in the original S.E.Asian style camouflage of two greens and a tan over a light gray bottom. One aircraft is presented in two forms representing a trial camouflage of all dark green with medium green markings. One aircraft is in bare metal and carries very interesting markings. The final five aircraft are in a wrap-around European-I style camouflage of two greens and a dark gray. There is enough data stenciling and national insignia present for four complete aircraft, one in each camouflage option.

 



I used Solv-a-set as a decal setting solution. The decals responded quite well to this. They are printed by Cartograf, which worried me at first as I have had bad experiences with Cartograf printed decals in the past. This printing was good, though, and I had no problems. The decals responded so well that I was able to get the national insignia to go over the wing vortex generators with no slicing, ripping, or bubbles. That really impressed me.

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. I finished the weathering with some dry brushing to pop out the surface details. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".

 

 

Conclusion

 

As if I did not already have enough Skyhawks to build on my own, Richard at Gekko Graphics has given me a few more. Several of the New Zealand A-4Ks on his decal sheets look quite interesting. I surely will be building some of them. Stay tuned for another posting in the future where I will discuss the conversion of the Hasegawa A-4E/F kit into a New Zealand A-4K.

 

 

Additional Images and Project Summary

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Project Statistics

Completion Date:

25 June, 2002

Total Building Time:

38.8

Research:

2.8

Construction:

10.5

Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):

19.2

Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):

6.0

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

0.3

Gekko Graphics' 1/48 scale A-4 Skyhawk decals are available online from the Gekko Graphics website.


Model, Description and Images Copyright 2002 by David Aungst
Page Created 30 June, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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