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1/48 Kinetic Pucará IA 58AGuerra de las Malvinas (group build)

The IA-58 Pucará is an Argentine ground attack/counter-insurgency aircraft manufactured by Fábrica Militar de Aaviones (FMA) and capable of operating from less than ideal airstrips that were too short or rough for jet fighters. Pucarás could carry an impressive number of mixed weapons fitted to the wing pylons and had specifically designed low pressure tires to handle rough ground. Pucarás were produced in three different models from 1974-1993 with 110 total built. The IA-58A saw action during the ‘82 War and the 1983 Sri Lankan Civil War.

A Little History First:

By the time the Falklands/Malvinas War was gearing up, about 60 Pucará A models had been delivered to the FAA (Fuerza Aérea ) ready for action. It was one of the few aircraft in the Argentine inventory capable of flying operationally from dirt airfields like those on the Falkland islands where runways were not long enough and often littered with rocks and pot holes making them unsuitable for use by FAA Skyhawks and Mirages. It was decided to send a small number of Pucarás to the Falklands a few at a time, with the first four arriving at Port Stanley in April 1982 with the final total capping off at 24.

Once they arrived at Port Stanley, the Falkland Pucarás were painted on the field by ground crews using thinned FIAT car paint sourced from the FIAT Argentine factory. No two paint jobs were the same and were beat up by the harsh weather in no time. These Pucarás were used primarly to attack British ground troops and flew a total of 103 sorties, May 21st thru June 10th.

For my contribution to the iModeler Falklands/Malvinas group build, I chose to model Pucará A-532 piloted by an FAA Lt. Russo on May 28. Russo took off on a follow up mission from the strip at Puerto Argentino as wingman for leader Capt Grünert (A-533) and the two Pucarás attacked the British base at Goose Green coming in from the sea position. Grünert fired his load of rockets first, just as a blast occurred under his plane. Thinking his leader was in serious trouble and might eject, Russo didn’t not fire his and instead doubled back to make sure Grünert was ok. Then Russo was ordered by the FAA to turn around and attack the British a second time, which he did successfully. With some armament still left, Russo was again ordered to attack yet a third time. Capt. Grünert told Russo to disregard those orders because he doubted Russo would be lucky to get away unharmed again. Russo escorted Grünert back to Puerto Argentino through extremely bad weather with low visibility. As they returned, the two Pucarás unintentionally flew by an unseen British Harrier according to later radar reports. Grünert’s A-533 was indeed shot up but both Pucarás delivered their pilots home safely, a testimony to their sturdiness.

However, all 24 Pucarás that served in the Falklands were eventually destroyed on the ground or captured by the British. In that regard, the Pucará’s tenure in the Malvinas was a total failure.

Now…the Kit:

’s FMA IA-58A Pucará is one terrific model right out of the box. It’s thoughtfully designed with precise fitting of the parts just snapping in place. However the instructions are a bit poor and there are no paint call outs once you get past the front office stage. However there are painting instructions at the end offering two exterior color schemes that appear to be very accurate, one for the Falklands AAF (A-511 flown by Maj. Carlos Tomba) and the other an upgraded D model Pucará used by the Uruguayan Air Force. Kit decals are very good but I opted to use the excellent and extensive Pucará sheet by Two Bobs that allows one to model all 24 Falkland Pucarás as well as other quite interesting schemes.

Kinetic’s Pucará kit provides two under wing and one centerline gas tanks but no weapons, so you have to source those yourself. I used Hasegawa’s Aircraft Weapons A & B sets to model the 4 LAU canister rockets that most Pucarás carried in addition to a center rack holding 6 Mk 82 bombs.

The only aftermarket goodies I used were the more accurate resin wheels by ResKit and Uschi .03 fine rigging for the antenna wires. Paints used were Vallejo and Tamiya acrylics and Alclad Klear Kote Flat.

I chose to take my time (in addition to 4 months of no modeling at all due to family health emergency in Costa Rica that required my presence) and my nit picks are minimal. The clear wing tip lights needed a little contour sanding to achieve a flush fit, no biggie. The two part canopy pieces are somewhat fidgety to position and hold into place while waiting for white glue to set up. The positioning of the main wheel door parts is incorrectly depicted in the instructions. Just reverse the locations for parts C4 and C5 and that takes care of it. The main gear is extremely detailed and well done, but needs reinforcing at its base as it’s a tad on the fragile side. It would be very easy to accidentally snap one of these along with the nose gear, so be extra careful when working in the area. Too bad Kinetic didn’t provide any under wing weapons designed to fit this kit. One last thing: install the Pucará props absolutely last or you’ll knock those off as well for sure.

Final Thoughts:

Kinetic’s FMA IA-58A/D Pucará is one terrific model that goes together smoothly. No wonder TC and other styrene critics put this one at the top of their “2021 Kit of the Year” lists. A total delight. You can check out my complete Pucará build thread right here.

Many thanks to Tom Cleaver and Pablo Calcaterra for their technical and historical support.

Comments always welcome.

13 additional images. Click to enlarge.


33 responses

  1. @eb801, Your finished model is really terrific Eric! 😃 The hard work that you put into her definitely shows and the result is a beautiful scale model. I've always liked the type and would love to have one in my cabinet too. Good show EB! 👍

  2. Brillinat! May ask what colours did you use? Or are they "homebrew"? I found a Hataka set specially designed for this sceme, but I hesitating buy it just for one model and never use again (I have ton of paints at home and frankly I don't need more especially from an another "vendor"). Thanks!

  3. Eric, your accomplishment does justice to the high praise of the kit...NICE JOB!

  4. Eric, @eb801
    I remember the war and how it was on the TV set each night as part of the evening news. I was almost finished with high school at the time, and I had plans to join the US Army as soon as I turned 18. What I remember the most from the news was the stories about the Exocet missiles and how they had struck a British warship setting it on fire. The Harrier jet was making the headlines too, and I was amazed by the ramp at the end of the deck on the British aircraft carriers. I had never seen anything like this before. I was also very impressed by the way the British Army was doing their job as well. I don’t remember much about the coverage the Argentina Forces received on the news other than the occasional mention of the Skyhawks they flew. Looking back at this time now I realize that the news coverage we were getting was more or less one sided and we didn’t get the whole picture of what was really happening there. A lot more information about this stuff has now surfaced over the years.

    You have done a magnificent job with your model. It looks extremely realistic and I commend you for your abilities. I was watching your build journal but I didn’t comment at the time. Sorry.
    I also compliment you on your photography skills and your article was very good too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the model and for posting this beautiful plane in the headlines section for us to see.

    What is really impressive is how crystal clear the canopy is and how nice the cockpit looks. The ordnance you added under the wings are equally as impressive.

    Two thumbs up 👍 my friend and I definitely checked the “like” button. Take care and stay safe.

    • Thanks for the kind words Louis@lgardner. Regarding the photos, I just used my iPhone, hand held most of the time and a tripod. So much easier than setting up my uber expensive Sony and uber complicated digital camera.

      I didn't dip the canopy in Future this time around. Lately I prefer to just polish clear parts using the Novis system. The ordinance was a bit of a pain and and took a lot of build time. Lot's of pre-assembly required work on this Pucará.

  5. Fantastic build Eric. That thing is quite a truck with all those stores loaded... which look perfectly detailed, btw! Great job on the camo as well, looks the part indeed..

    • Andrew@pb_legend. Thanks. Yeah...that is quite a load isn't it. Take a look at this Pucará photo:

  6. (Your usual) amazing result out of this very good kit, Eric!
    Great write up as well.
    Loved your build thread.
    Congratulations!

  7. An excellent result on this Pucará, Eric @eb801
    The supporting article as well.
    Thanks for sharing your progress in a thread, a very helpful one.

  8. Great read on the history of this plane at the Falkland Island War and your build is pretty amazing. The paint scheme also came out looking great!

  9. Terrific build Eric! I liked your WIP very much

  10. Bob @v1pro and Pedro @holzhamer: Much appreciated guys. It was great fun building this.

  11. Superb work, Eric@eb801 . A fine build with careful attention to detail painting and assembly at every stage. Kinetic kits are challenge with all the super tiny parts. Just getting them off the trees requires some careful thought and a steady hand with a razor saw. The Super Etendard I am trying to wrap up in the Falklands/Malvinas GB is another example. Anyway, you have pulled this one off beautifully and it was fun watching this come together in the GB. I really like the camo colors you chose and your airbrush technique is outstanding. Seamless decal application also. Did you use any of the kit decals or was it all Two Bobs? I am curious what to expect with the SuE as I have no alternate set

    Thanks for drawing attention back to the F/M GB - the anniversary of the conflict is coming up and it will be nice to get some more builds done in time to meet that milestone. Happy modeling.

  12. Beautiful work Eric. The detail is amazing. The cockpit looks like 1-1.

  13. She's a beauty! I'm going to have to get to mine soon - I really like the Pucara.

  14. Lovely work Eric !

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