Revellogram A-4E Skyhawk
The classic Monogram A-4E/F Skyhawk still lives 36 years after its initial release. Yeah, the Hasegawa kit may offer finer details and cleaner moldings, but you can do a lot with the Monogram kit too. Revell’s most recent repop of this classic gives you decals for several Blue Angels birds and markings for one of the more notorious Scooters – John McCain’s 416 on the Forrestal on the morning of July 27, 1967.
Contrary to all the politically-motivated comments on the web, McCain had nothing to do with the Forrestal fire except being in the wrong place that morning off the coast of North Vietnam. A chain of events that started a few days earlier when some very unsafe WW II bombs were loaded onto the Forrestal came to a head when a rack safety pin loosened in the deck wind on an F-4B Phantom. As the Phantom’s engines started, an electrical surge armed and fired a Zuni pod into a Skyhawk parked feet from McCain’s plane. The resulting fuel spill and fire spread to other aircraft and cooked off one of the bombs loaded on the first A-4.
That explosion killed several of the ship’s firefighters and deck crew and at least one pilot and other pilots tried to taxi away from the fire or, in McCain’s case, escape their parked jets.
At the time I started this project, the Naval Historical Center still had several photos and documents relating to the fire and the after-incident investigation. McCain’s 416 shows prominently in some of the photos, and useful information on 416’s configuration showed in the incident diagram and report.
The kit isn’t far from stock, with just a few detail bits added to he cockpit and a frame liner, rear view mirrors and a canopy support strut added. Steve Ginter’s book on A-4E/Fs showed that a few of the kits ECM antennae should be left off the model.
The wings and fuselage were rescribed (all sorts of fun when doing the upper wing inspection panels).
After wading through the NHC documents and a couple of video clips of Forrestal deck activity that day, I found the loadout for 416: a centerline droptank and two 1,000-pound bombs with what appeared to be postwar swept-fin kits. I reworked the kit wing racks with recesses for the rack mechanism and sway braces. The bombs came from a Monogram F-8E Crusader kit, with scratchbuilt fuses and arming wires.
Photos suggested that the centerline tank had a rounded cone instead of the finned cone installation. I cut of the kit tank’s rear cone, carved and sanded a master for a replacement cone, and cast a few in Alumilite resin before installing a replacement.
Paint is Testors Model Master enamels with Tamiya White Primer for the undersides, gear doors, struts and gear wells.
The kit decals match well with photos of VA-46 A-4E’s shot just before the squadron’s 1967 cruise. While the kit’s fin tartan stripes appear short, they match photos and there does not appear to be a Corugard metallic strip on the fin leading edge. The upper wing national insignia and aircraft number needed the usual slicing and extra decal solvent because of the vortex generators, but they conformed and needed just some touchup paint to be right again.
Rack and landing gear safety pins were made from plastic discs and red-painted paper and installed accordingly.
It’s a four-decade old kit but still fun and economical. Maybe one day I’ll finish my EA-4F from the old Monogram OA-4M … heh heh.
9 additional images. Click to enlarge.