November 2019

Douglas A-4F Skyhawk

Douglas A-4B Skyhawk

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Douglas A-4F Skyhawk

VA-55 Warhorses, Carrier Air Wing 21, USS HANCOCK,

Yankee Station, Vietnam 1973

Hasegawa 1/72

The Douglas Skyhawk was a remarkable aircraft, bucking the Cold War trend toward ever larger and more complex designs.  Lightweight, small and simple, it was nevertheless able to carry the same weapons load as a WW2 B-17 bomber, at more than twice the speed.

Although its range was a great deal less than a B-17, the ability to operate from an aircraft carrier close to the action made this irrelevant.

Skyhawks, or “Scooters” as they were affectionately known, took the brunt of the US Navy and US Marines’  initial efforts in Vietnam, with over 326 lost to combat.   

I have always thought of the Skyhawk as an exception, a simple but effective aircraft in an era of ever growing size and complexity.  Although I have already built models of Argentine, Australian and New Zealand aircraft, the Skyhawk’s real moment of glory came during the Vietnam war.  My preference has always been for the later model, with its extended nose and avionics hump.

Hasegawa’s kit hails from the late 1960s, and whilst it is well engineered with precise fit, some of it seems to be overscale and it is really a very simple kit.  Simple and effective!

The kit was built out of the box with one exception - I varied the weapons load to be a more representative set of Mk.81 bombs and a Shrike missile (the kit provided ones, but with rear fins trimmed)

Model Pictures © by  

The initial A-4 models were superseded by the advanced A-4E/F with longer nose, more powerful engine, additional weapons pylons and improved avionics  (including a distinctive hump on the top of the fuselage). Over 2,960 were built between 1954 and 1979, with many remaining in service into the 21st  Century.

More USN and Vietnam aircraft on my Friends & Allies pages   

Douglas A-4B Skyhawk

VA-15 Valions, Carrier Air Wing 13, USS INTREPID,

Dixie Station, Vietnam 1966

Airfix 1/72

The earlier Skyhawk had a much shorter nose, less engine power and fewer underwing weapon pylons.  

This is the current (2019) issue of Airfix’ superb little A-4 kit, built out the box.  The kit has been issued in 2 USN Vietnam war markings, plus Argentine Navy and Argentine Air Force markings from the Falklands War.

The kit assembles very easily, with a well judged balance of detailed features for this scale.   Decals are superb and have been applied over brushed Humbrol enamels (129 & 130), a sealing coat of Klear, then a final top coat of Windsor and Newton matt acrylic varnish.

As with the A-4F, I have varied the weapons load to be more representative of Vietnam, with two Mk.82 bombs from the spares box replacing the twin Airfix Mk.81 Snakeyes.

The real thing - USN Photo

The real thing - USN Photo


My collection of “Scooters” - so far!