Testor's 1/48 A-6A - Part I
The A-6 Intruder is a fairly unsightly fellow, somewhat out of proportion. With the intakes so close to the nose, it resembles a chipmunk that has stuffed its cheeks with nuts. Its been given several nicknames, none of which are overly flattering, like "Double Ugly", or "Iron Tadpole". Despite its appearance, the A-6 packs a heavy punch and saw service from 1963 to 1997 when it finally retired. Having spent some of my youth in Washington State, I recall seeing this homely aircraft on numerous occasions, flying out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Being the first warplane I had ever seen in flight, it struck a chord with me that has resonated ever since. Plus, it drops bombs like whoa!
My father grew up during the Vietnam War era when the Intruder first came into service. He virtually grew up along side the aircraft, reading about its exploits in the news as well as through fiction like Flight of the Intruder. So, for those reasons both my father and I developed an affinity for the A-6.
If you don't know this from following my blog yet, then I should tell you that my father and I have a deal when it comes to modeling. Although he got me involved in the hobby, he isn't as active in it any more as I am. Now, he prefers to build them, or as much of them as possible, and send them to me to finish with paints, decals, weathering, etc. Its a fun exchange and we both win - he gets to build without the added time and money expense, and I get to paint (my favorite) without having to build.
It can best be described as old.
It was boxed by Testor's/Fujimi several decades ago but despite its age, builds into a pretty nice model.
It was purchased for several dollars from a vendor table at a show up in Wayne, New Jersey. As far as my dad was concerned, it was worth every penny. It went together well, only noting one or two fit problems before passing it off to me.
The only disadvantage to this deal we share is that it can be difficult to correct any issues in fit. There are some seams that can be filled and sanded, but several "steps" caused by slight misalignment is a more difficult problem to resolve. Never the less, for an older kit he did a very good job.
This is where it stands, waiting for me to take over...
Looking at this picture, it appears as though there isn't much room for the wing tanks to fit along side the main landing gear doors. I wonder if I'll have to alter that a bit...
He did some fine work on the 'pit, creating his own RBF tags and ejection seat handles. You can see I accidentally knocked one of the handles off the seat back so I'll need to replace that...
The A-6 Intruder
The A-6A was Grumman's answer to the request for an all-weather carrier based aircraft to replace the A-1 Skyraider. Crewed by two, both men sat side by side behind an unusual double pane windscreen - part of what gives the Intruder its unique appearance. Having a crew of two, each having separate responsibilities, facilitated execution of low-level attacks in all kinds of weather conditions.
A total of 480 A variants were produced that boasted the advanced Digital Integrated Attack/Navigation Equipment which was the most promising navigational and attack system of its time. It utilized multiple radar systems and ballistics computers to ensure a high degree of accuracy on target.
The aircraft entered squadron service in February 1963 and became the principle medium attack aircraft for both the US Navy and the US Marine Corps well into the 1990's.
The A-6 soon saw action in Vietnam, utilizing its immense payload of 18,000 pounds with deadly efficiency. However, in eight years of fighting in Vietnam, 84 Intruders were lost, 68 of which were combat losses, highlighting the fact that its low-level approach to striking ground targets made it vulnerable to all kinds of anti-aircraft weapons.
The Intruder would go on to support operations in Lebanon, Libya and Desert Storm where it would participate in over 4,700 combat sorties.
I've decided to build the model sporting colors of VA-85, the "Black Falcons". During Vietnam, four of the squadron's commanding officers were shot down flying A-6's, three of whom were killed. The unit would go on to perform well in the first Gulf War, dropping 850 tons of ordnance over the span of 585 combat sorties.
The kit provides a decent amount of weapons, including a center line 2000 pound bomb, and a good mixture of 250 pound to 500 pound bombs. Also included are two Bullpup missiles. I am going to do my best to put as much ordnance on the model as possible, because really, who doesn't love the look of a fully loaded Intruder?
Thanks for reading!