Adelante Halcones!: A-4C in 1/48 scale
by Giovanni Galvan
If you want to build an Argentine example, an A-4B or C in scale 1/48, it's necessary a conversion of a Monogram or Esci kit. Our choice has fallen on the Italian box, in spite of the low detail respect to that of Monogram, because however we should made heavy changes to obtain an A-4C, and then it was not worth to "kill" an excellent kit like the American one.
It's known that the kit of the Italian firm reproduces a "crossbred" Skyhawk good to make A-4G, K and H, with the small canopy of the B, C, E, F versions, but with the squared fin adopted by the M.
The conversion kit
For the conversion we used a rare kit by War Eagle, which gives the two half fuselages and the dorsal drop shaped radome, all vacuformed, obviously for the Monogram kit. There is no problem in adapting these pieces to the Italian kit specially if, as we did, instead of using the complete half fuselages, we used the vacuform nose only. In fact they don't offer a particularly better detail than Italian model, and we preferred to work more comfortably on the injection plastic. If you want however do to this conversion without the War Eagle kit, the difficulties are not insuperable, because to rebuild the nose you need only good sketches, plasticard shapes and epoxy putty.
The choice of the base kit gave us some problem about the cockpit, needing very extensive interventions. We had to scratchbuild the instrument panel using the following method: we applied the decal furnished in the kit to a plasticard shape; on this assembly we fixed, using Kristal Klear on the edges, a similar shape of acetate painted with of the Dark Gull Gray FS 36231 (Gunze H317); putting all under a bulb, which allowed us to see the instruments in transparency, we scraped the color with the edge of a tooth-pick, opening a series of windows in correspondence of the instruments' noses. At this point the usual interventions of detail with stretched sprue and retouches with a thin brush, allowed us of finish all. On the lateral consoles we applied the gas handle and the other handles, all scratch built with sprue. The seat is fairly good, we have only widened the stuffing with thinner-softened plasticard, and added the ejection handle done with metal, the belts in adhesive paper and the etched buckles.
Once fitted the fuselage halves, we cut the parts to make the conversion, more precisely the nose and the small portion of the tail fin necessary for the rounding. For this purpose we used the disk of a drill, finishing all with abrasive paper, and closing the gap on the nose with a piece of shaped plasticard. In the meantime we cut the nose of the vacuform kit and assembled it gluing the two halves to a central plasticard shape. On the left half we had formerly abstracted with a cutter the burglary for the small seizure of present air in that point, closing the background with plasticard.
More, you must work on the front part, which has a shape that seen of outline creates a squared "C", instead of having a rectilinear outline. Abundant putty has been necessary to finish the flat dorsal zone. The kit doesn't give triangle for the fin root, allowing to build only the "buckle", so we reconstructed it with plasticard. Immediately in front of the fin we mounted the flat drop radome given by War Eagle, characteristic feature of the Argentine Halcones. The refueling probe has been remade in brass to make it straight, and not angled like that in the kit.
After having practiced the holes and opened the air intakes on the fuselage, typical of the model "C," and after we assembled the wing, that we scribed before, having the panel raised, instead of the fuselage, with recessed panels. As on the Monogram kit, also the slats could be fixed open and are very well done.
Also the landing gears, the hatches, the pylons and the loads have been fixed after painting the model; the front gear has been modified adding the small "semaphore" on the right hand, the "handle" on the left hand, scribing the wheel brackets, adding a raising in Copper thread on the front cylinder and applying after the Gloss White painting the red strips typical of the Argentine Skyhawks. On the hatch of the front gear we added a little blade antenna. The pylons were altered eliminating the rails on those exterior, and replacing the joint pins with metal sheet. The only war load consists of an 500 pounds English bomb (irony of the fate!) rebuilt from our spare parts.
The example selected for the painting, is depicted in a photo done during the in flight refueling during the mission of May 24 1982, during which the "Jaguar Flight" of the detachment "Escuadron A-4C San Julian" attacked the English ships "Sir Lancelot" and "Sir Galahad" in the waters of San Carlos, hitting both without the bombs exploding and losing one of the aircraft. The photographed aircraft has the Yellow recognition bands on the wings, fin and lower surfaces of the underwing tanks.
After giving a coat of Gloss Xtracolor, we have applied the badges, obtained in many ways. The national roundels and the flags on the fin were from the Superscale sheet 48-435, dedicated also to a Salvadorian A-37B; we have hand painted the Argentine Sun on the center of the flags. The badge of the Grupo 4 on the left side of the nose, was designed with the computer, and with the resultant masking was painted a decal with the color of background, a Zinc Chromate Green (Gunze H58), on which we have then hand painted the rest of the symbols in Blue and White. The arrows with the "rescate" and "peligro" inscriptions were done in the same way, while the White script "Fuerza Aerea Argentina" and " IV Brigada Aerea" on the left side and "Fuerza Aerea" on right side have been taken from the sheets R41 E2-2 (2,1 [mm]) and E1-2 (1,5 [mm]). The codes in Black on the right side and on the hatch of the front landing gear are from spare decals.