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A-4K "Kahu"

Part One - Construction

by Anthony Papadis


A-4K "Kahu" Skyhawk


Hasegawa's 1/72 scale Skyhawk is still available online from Squadron.com




This conversion of Hasegawa’s 1/72 A-4E/F kit (B9) to a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) A-4K was carried out as a warm-up to their latest 1/48 effort.

I used the now old kit (even though it is re-boxed with new art by the ever inspiring Koike Shigeo) because I wanted a cheap kit and the excellent Fujimi kit is as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. I managed to buy this kit for approximately USD$5 at K-Mart.

I wanted to build a model of the A-4K in its latest and sadly, last colour scheme, overall green (FS 34079) with black noses. In the early 1990s, RNZAF A-4’s underwent a modernisation programme, with the resultant aircraft re-designated A-4K, or “Kahu”, an indigenous bird of prey. The aircraft differs externally in that the aircraft ‘lost’ their avionics ‘hump’, which had never carried the additional avionics anyway. The aircraft were fitted with a deriviative of the F-16’s attack radar, the APG-66. this menat the insrument panel was signifigantly different to the standard scooter (or ‘model’ as they were affectionately known here in Oz), having two large TV screens dominating the instrument panel, and a larger HUD. The aircraft also feature an underwing ECM blister at each wingtip, as well as at the tail above the tailpipe. The fin was increased in size and took on the squared shape of later scooters. The aircraft was going to be depicted in flight with gear up so all the undercarriage components were also sent to spares.

The kit shows its age, being of the raised detail type and with very basic and crude cockpit detail. the seat is little more than a lump of plastic and the tub is just a shell, although decals are provided. All that aside, the basic outline is correct, and includes a wide variety of ordnance. The kit has a full complement of three drop tanks, 12 500lb bombs (very crude), a couple of bullpup missiles and two AIM-7’s, who says Hasegawa kits don’t include weapons!

Apart from the drop tanks, all the underwing stores were consigned to the spares box. The kit fetaures a separate avionics ‘hump’, which was also not required.




I began with the cockpit.

After some test fitting, it became obvious that with a pilot and canopy installed, very little could be seen of either the seat or insrument panel, so I didn’t bother to improve these further other than to add an ejection handle to the top of the seat from fine wire.



I used a Matchbox pilot figure as these figures depict the British helmet and flight gear, which is closer to RNZAF gear than the US types.




The tail alterations now took place. I cut along the top of the fin, along the top horizontal line on the left fuselage half, as far back as the rudder hinge. I then cut down vertically following the rudder hinge as a guide. A piece of plastic sheet was then glued in place and left to set overnight.

After the exhaust exterior was painted with metalliser steel. A piece of clear acrylic rod , which had been pre-bent using heat from a hair dryer, was epxied into the exhaust. this would form the mounting for the aircraft.

The tail was shaped to an aerofoil section and the front edge of the fin was used as a guide to sand the fintip leading edge. I also added the rear ECM blisters at this point, using some plastic rod and mounted them on bases made from aluminium from a soft drink can.

The top of the fuselage should have a square opening for the bleed air duct. As this would be covered by the avionics hump, Hasegawa never bothered to include this detail. I cut open a square apeture and bixed it with some plastic sheet. Kiwi A-4’s also feature a second , clear nav light directly in front of the red rotating beacon. I used some shaped sprue for this.







Work now shifted to the underwing area. The main gear doors were glued in place after cutting off the mounting tabs, and these fitted withno problems. I decided to leave off the arrestor hook as well as all stores and pylons until after painting and weathering were complete.


I noticed in my research that RNZAF scooters have the lower rotating beacon (normally on the lower left undercarrige fairing) fitted to the lower right undercarrige fairing. icarefully shaved this off and glued it to the opposite side. There si also an underwing fairing on the lower left wing, which looked alittle too thin, so this was also removed and a replacement was made from re-shaped plastic sheet
I needed to manufacture the wingtip ECM blisters and was rummaging through the spares box when I came across a couple of ECM antennas from an old Hasegawa F-16N (Top Gun ) kit. After a bit of filing, they became the wingtip ECM blisters. There is also a light flush mounted to the wing just outboard of the ECM antennas. I drilled small depressions in the wings to represent these.

Once the wing halves were attached, they were then offered up to the fuselage. There was some filler required at the lower forward wing join. I then glued in the nose gear door and at this point I noticed that the small rear nose gear door opening was actually too short by about half! I cut away some plastic until it fit. The main nose gear door is very flat and some filler was reqired to blend in the underfuselage contours in.

I drilled out the wing cannons, and put these these aside until the end.





I wanted to give the kit a fairly tough looking load so I had to rob the spares box. I used the following items, all of which came from the Hasegawa weapons kits:

  • 6 x Mk82 500lb LDGP’s

  • 1 x MER

  • 1 x AIM-9L

  • 1 x LAU 7 (rail for the AIM-9)

  • 1 x AGM-65

  • 1 x AGM-65 launch rail

  • 2 x wing drop tanks (from the kit)

In addition I had to build the adapters (ADU 292) which fit between the wing pylons and the launch rails. I used some strip plastic, although Ron’s Resins do make an A-4K conversion set, which includes the wingtip blisters and the LAU-7 and adapters.

Click here to go to Part Two - Painting and Finishing

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Anthony Papadis
Page Created 08 March, 2002
Last updated 04 June, 2007

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