This work in progress update is very much over due! This is a Hasegawa 1/48 Skyhawk A-4P of the Argentinian Air Force, built as it appeared during the Falklands War in 1982. (Or as near as I can be certain of its appearance.) As the Dagger before it, this will be a gift for the pilot who flew it during the war, and also made his first A-4 solo flight in this particular aircraft.
The A-4P is basically an export version of the U.S. Navy’s A-4B. The major external difference is the ‘hump’ fairing on the spine. I’ve had an Aconcagua conversion set that provides this detail on the shelf for years, so it’s a good time to use it. (The Hasegawa A-4B has been hard to find for a long time, so al Aconcagua’s sets also provide the -B style intakes. Luckily I managed to find one second hand so those intakes can be kept back to build another exemple for my own collection.) The kit itself is absolutely lovely, with fantastic surface detail and exemplary accuracy of fit. It practically pushes together like Lego in places.
The only failing is the way that Hasegawa have represented the leading edge slats. It’s good that they’ve shown them open, as you will only VERY rarely see them closed on the ground. They are spring loaded and retract automatically as airspeed provides enough pressure to push them back in to place. Hasegawa, however, give the builder the option to show them retracted, but this necessitates having a space for them to be placed in, giving a step at the back of this area on the main wing. This should be an uninterrupted, smooth curve. The first step therefore is to correct this, simply enough with plastic card, a little bit of filler and some sanding. Here you can see the white plastic card in place.
Because I’m not having the back date the intakes it’s a much simpler process. However the method Hasegawa have chosen leaves a small gap on the side of the fuselage just inside the intake. I cut the inner part of the intake away and used it as ‘plug’ for the gap in the fuselage, leaving two small parts at each end to help locate the part when placing. You can see this on the right in the image below.
The kit goes together so quickly that I forgot to take any more photos before I got to this stage. Here you can see the fairing on the spine, and the remnants of the locating hole for the intake mouth just back from the cockpit opening. The intake warning marking have a red stripe just inside the trunking, which would be the thick end of impossible to paint with the intakes in place. I used a trick I came up with for the A-4Q I built a while ago, and painted the red very roughly, before adding a small strip of masking tape. The intake is then fitted and the red protected from the spraying of the camouflage colours.
Once the main construction is done it’s time to spray the main colours, but only after adding a pre-shade to give some tonal variation. The aircraft were painted in a light blue on the under sides, so this was sprayed first and then masked off.
The main colours of the FAA Skyhawks during the war are a controversial as the Pucara colours (in the right company, of course!) They were repainted before the hostilities, with locally available paints, and not always to proper FS code standards. Using the Aztec decals sheet as reference I’ve settled on two suitable colours from the Hataka orange range of paints. These are a pure joy to spray, and my new default paint. Here is the rather colourful airframe with its yellow ID bands applied.