Ted Taylor built Trumpeter’s 1:32 scale A-7 kit out of the box. The result was a superb model, but the build had its problems, in terms of fit and design, as he describes here.
Yet another big bird from Trumpeter recently arrived on my desk and its box was opened with great expectation after making the company’s Me 262 kit (SAM 27/12, February 2006). My first impressions were that this was another well detailed model kit and while it isn’t up to the standard set by the Me 262, it isn’t far short.
The plastic comes in the usual grey colour, very close to the US Navy’s Light Gull Grey. There are ten frames to make the aircraft and a further 13 for the weapons. A large fret of etched brass, alternative metal undercarriage legs, rubber tyres and a film sheet for the instrument panel make up the rest of the contents. The clear parts are separate, with a nicely detailed windshield. The glazed part of the canopy, which seems awfully thick to me, has to be glued into a narrow framework, which in my opinion is not a good move since it is most difficult to use liquid cement without marring the clear part. On the whole the fit of the parts is good, but there are some areas where you need to use just a little filler.
The instruction sheet is pretty comprehensive but could be more explicit about decal use on some of the parts during construction. The decal sheet is huge, with two sets of markings. One of these covers a VA-82 ‘Marauders’ aircraft in USS Nimitz in 1978, while the other subject is a VA-192 ‘Golden Dragons’ machine in USS Kitty Hawk in 1972. A large colouring sheet gives painting and decal placement instructions, with four-view drawings for the VA-82 markings but only a side view for VA-192. A weapons marking guide is provided on the other side of this sheet, but some decals are not shown, while others are shown but are not present on the decal sheet. All in all the markings and painting guide represents a rather slipshod piece of artwork.
The first thing I did was scan through the instructions to see what parts could or should be built up before painting began. This meant that a number of items could be assembled and cleaned up, such as the wheel bays, the missiles and bombs, the cockpit and the six-barrelled cannon, ready for a big spraying session. Step 1: The seat has a join to clean up on the top of its head box, so I trimmed a small sheet of 10-thou Plasticard to size and cemented it in place to give a nice flat surface. When the seat was fully painted I added the etched-brass seatbelts. Step 2: The seat rails, parts D26/27, were placed in position and cemented. Before they harden off I placed, but didn’t cement, the seat in between them to ensure that it could be mounted later, after painting. The gas bottle, part D21, if fitted as shown, will interfere with the canopy fit later, so 1 cemented mine on the edge of the side rail not behind. I painted the throttle levers, part D23, white, as well as part Dll, as a background for the film instrument panel. All the raised details on the consoles and panel were lightly dry brushed white to pull out their details and coloured accordingly with red and yellow,
There are some excellent photographs of the bays in the Detail and Scale book on the A-7. They were then painted white and given a light brown wash to highlight some areas, but not too much, since these areas were kept clean to show up any fluid leaks. The port main undercarriage bay is shown in Photo 2, with the starboard bay in Photo 3. Steps 5 and 6: I used I lumbrol 81 for the zinc chromate interiors of the avionics bays, before detailing the boxes. This colour was also used at the rear end of the fuselage; the ribbed area. The port avionics bay is shown in Photo 4, with the starboard bay in Photo 5. Step 7: The intake provides a small problem. Its interior seams need to be sanded, but only the forward half of he intake interior can be reached. However, cutting the rear wall away allows the seam to be sanded with ease and allows access for white paint to be sprayed. A piece of Plasticard can be cemented over the aft end when the work is complete. At this stage 1 found the tabs on the left side of the intake a tight fit into the fuselage slots, so I trimmed them down to a loose fit. This helps to line up the front of the intake with the lip part, A4, when it is added, Photo 6.
Steps 8 and 9: All the pre-assembled sections are now fixed into the fuselage. Needless to say don’t cement the intake,
etc, where needed, before being put aside to dry, Photo 1.
Steps 3 and 4: After the undercarriage bays had been constructed 1 added more piping from fine flower-arranging wire.
just locate it and when everything else is aligned the nose wheel bay can be cemented to hold it all fast. Steps 12 and 13: These steps involve using etched-brass strips which are attached along the sides of the fuselage with superglue. I think this operation is unnecessary and that these could have been moulded on; I used the brass to cut out the shape in 10-thou Plasticard and used ordinary cement.
The refuelling probe hinge plate is a loose fit and will sink below the outer surface. I solved the problem by cutting a length of sprue frame just over the width of the fuselage and cementing it to the inside surface of the hinge plate. I left it overnight to harden. I then placed the probe in position and adjusted the fit by sanding away the end of the sprue until the plate was level with the surface. You will still need a slice of 15-thou card to fill the gap on the top edge, Photo 7.
The instrument coaming is nicely done. 1 bent the etched brass I HID frames using the Hold & Fold tool and I replaced the rather thick transparent part, L8, with a piece of 10-thou clear Plasticard. As soon as this was added I masked and glued the windshield in position with Testor Clear Parts Cement to protect it. Step 14: I deviated from the instructions here, since 1 didn’t put the pylons on until the wing parts were joined and added to the fuselage. You will also find that the flaps and ailerons will pop in after all these major pieces are assembled, making it easier to paint these parts without masking. The same applies to the rudder.
If you want folded wings (Photo 8) then ignore this next section, but if you want the wings in the flying position then assemble the outer wing panels at the same time as you make up the main sections. This gives you a chance to adjust the ‘thickness’ of each part to match its mating section. I arrived at this stage and found that the outer wings were too thick for their inner sections and as the cement was hard it was too late to adjust them; be warned, Photo 9!
Steps 16 and 17: I used the metal legs for my model, but the tiny pin, part F30, that holds two of the three legs together is so fragile that I replaced it with some fine Slater’s plastic rod, which I heat treated to form a rivet head on both sides to stop it falling out, Photo 10. 1 left all the wheels off until the spraying was finished. In fact the undercarriage legs were not added until after the airbrake had been fitted. Step 20: The airbrake can be assembled open or closed, but unless you want the model in a flying configuration it should only be open across a small fraction of its travel. 1 chose to close it up. It is unfortunate that the fit of the parts here is not so good, Photo 11; I had to use small amounts of filler and some 15-thou card to fill the gap between parts A17 and A16, Photo 12. When the area had been tidied up 1 added the undercarriage legs but not the doors.
Step 23: The canopy frame parts, D4/D10, can be cemented and left to harden before cutting the etched brass interior from the sheet, I rolled this over a large piece of tube to get the beginnings of a shape. I then placed the etched brass in the frame and adjusted accordingly. Once the shape was established to my satisfaction I used superglue to attach it; there is a central locator on the brass to guide you while fitting, Photo 13.
The frame was sprayed inside and out before adding the clear part, which was carefully fixed using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement; if you don’t trust yourself with this method then you can use Testors Clear Parts Cement which will not harm the clear plastic.
Painting and decaling
I painted the matt black framework on the windshield and the anti-glare panel on the nose before masking these and the cockpit (minus the seat). To mask the avionics bays their doors were held in the closed position with blobs of Blue Гас, then the flaps, ailerons, tailplanes, rudder, tanks, missiles and launch rails were mounted on cocktail sticks to be painted white, Photo
14. One whole tin of Humbrol satin white, No. 130, was used to cover all these items and the underside of the model. I used very thin paint and applied two coats. Next day I used flumbrol 129, F. S.36440 Light Gull Gray, to spray just one coat on the upper-surfaces with a freehand lower line, Photo
15. While the main colours were drying all the other tiny parts were painted, including the sway braces, crew ladder and the many assorted weapons, Photo 16.Now the model could be sprayed With lohnson’s Klear (Future) ready for decal-ing. A couple of light coats was dusted on, then a heavier coat and the whole thing was left overnight to dry.
Of the two choices on the decal sheet I preferred the VA-82 markings and these were applied with care and a good soft brush. There are a couple of points to watch out for. The ‘Marauders’ name band on the fin should be higher than shown and the front edge of it should meet on the leading edge of the fin, but leaves a gap. I found a matching paint in Revell No. 51 gloss blue and covered the gap. The pilot’s name below the windshield is wrong. Instead of ‘Col Springer’ it should read ‘CDR JUDD SPRINGER CAG’ in US Navy font. 1 made up some artwork on the computer and printed a new name strip on Experts’ Choice white decal paper.
All the decals laid down nicely and I close-trimmed the large letters of’NAVY* to avoid any problems with silvering later. A final coat of Klear was sprayed to seal them all in and then some dirtying up around a few panels was done with very thin Tamiya Smoke for a lived in effect. The final finish coat was a mix of four parts Klear and one part Tamiya Flat Base to restore the matt finish, then the masking was removed.
Now the avionics bay and gear doors were added, the wheels cemented on and the tailplanes fixed in a slightly deflected position. The flaps, ailerons and rudder were pushed into place; you don’t have to cement them, but I did.
All the steadies, launchers and pylons were made up and a choice of weapons had to be made. I chose a FLIR pod, plus one fuel tank and the bombs. This load-out is too heavy for a take-off, but I wanted to show what is in the box. There is a loadout diagram on the back page of the instructions. I wanted an open canopy so I left mine loose, but it fouls the seat rails when lifted or lowered.
In summary this kit is definitely not in the class of T rumpeter’s Me 262, but it is not bad on the whole. I found the intake lip a little flat at the bottom and the canopy similarly flat at the top, but for all that this large model still looks like an A-7E.
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