January 2020

A-4M Skyhawk II

OA-4M Skyhawk

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Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II

VMAT-102 “Skyhawks” - USMC Aviation, MCAS Yuma, Arizona, 1980s.

Italeri 1/72  with markings from  Hasegawa and spares box

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Have a look at many more of my USN and USMC models on my Friends & Allies pages

The USMC continued to use the Douglas Skyhawk for some time after it was withdrawn from naval service.  After years of successful service in Vietnam, the Marines decided to retain the Skyhawk instead of adopting the USN’s replacement A-7 Corsair.  In part this was because the basic design remained sound for USMC purposes, with the wide availability of surplus USN stocks making it a very low cost option, but also allowing a period of grace during which the USMC was able to procure the preferred AV-8A Harrier as a longer term replacement.  

The Marines also initiated a new variant, the A-4M (marketed by Douglas as the Skyhawk II), with modern avionics and bombing systems optimised for close air support as well as a far more powerful engine, making it the fastest A-4 variant.  At long last, the A-4M overcame the tiny cockpit limitations of the original design, marrying the wider trainer wind screen with a larger bubble canopy for better ergonomics and much improved visibility.

The final A-4M of 158 built was delivered in 1979 and they remained in active service with the USMC until the mid 1980s.

VMAT-102 “Skyhawks” was the USMC Skyhawk training squadron, base at MCAS Yuma in Arizona.

Background: 2020 marks the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, sure to feature in my modelling projects this year!

Building the Italeri Kit:

Italeri’s A-4M shares sprues with the same company’s A-4F, providing an alternative fin top for that version. It has a marginally more detailed cockpit than the Hasegawa version, as well as more appropriate and better detailed weaponry and a better shaped avionics “hump”.  It is a very easy build, requiring only a little filler in the after underwing joint area and it sonly real weakness are the intake lips which highlight the very simplified inner trunking arrangements.

This one cost me all of £2 from the 2019 Telford kit swap, and was missing decals. In any event the kit supplied set are rather plain and boring grey, so I took advantage of the second option in the Hasegawa A-4E/F kit which provides much more colourful USMC markings for VMAT-102, who also used the A-4M.

Douglas OA-4M Skyhawk

H&MS-12 “Outlaws” USMC Aviation, MCAS Yuma, Arizona, 1988.

Italeri 1/72  OOB

Twenty-three former two seat TA-4 trainers were updated to approximately the same avionics standards as the main A-4M variant and used by the USMC in the Forward Air Control role until the early 1990s

After extensive combat service in Vietnam, H&MS-12 (Headquarters & Maintenance Sqn - 12) provided close air support and undertook FAC duties for Marine Air Group 12 in the Western Pacific area until it was eventually combined with Marine Air Logistic Sqn 12 in 1988.

Building the Italeri Kit:

Italeri’s OA-4M uses the same basic sprues as the A-4M above, but with an elongated twin cockpit and different weapons fit (tanks and Shrike missiles).  Decals  are provided for H&MS-12 and H&MS-13 in slightly different grey schemes. The larger canopy increases visibility of the cockpit interior, meriting a little more effort to detail.  

Once again, this is an easy build, with minimal need for filler. However, trying to blend the various greys using a brush wasn’t entirely successful and left it looking rather dirtier at the end than I had intended!

Finally, a picture of all of my Skyhawk Models to date: