I bought this kit from Graham Endeacott (Relish Models) who makes a regular appearance at our Branch meetings. I’ve had two A-7Ks on pre-order from Hannants since they were announced but this was a good price and clearly the kit contained all the major parts to build a K. Also, with a couple of exceptions, I found the moulding and surface detail very seductive and combined with reviews I’d read on Britmodeller, ARC and 72ndscaleUSmilair @ yahoogroups.com thought it well worth a tenner.
I just wasn’t sure when I would get around to building it what with the ongoing F-4 50th Anniversary build and our own Adversary & Aggressors theme. As I was off to Fairford the next day with Chris to see Raptors this kit looked destined for the stash. But Fairford was cancelled, Belinda was out all day – how could I cheer myself up ? Build an A-7K of course !
My interest in A-7Ks centred on the two aircraft I had known to be operated by the 4450TG and I had already built one of them using a Fujimi A-7D and the Maintrack conversion kit (this was 73-1008, the very first A-7K which was converted from an A-7D) so this one was to be built as 79-0456 which carried colourful unit markings and a red fin stripe.
This kit literally flew together. Fit of parts is excellent throughout and very little filler was used (mainly around the intake lip and the base of the tail fin). You just have to be careful to use the A-7K parts – these are identified in the instructions as not for use (and don’t incorporate the catapult launch bar, parts E26 and E25, into the nose gear).
Construction was going too well so I decided to replace the kit cockpit and open up the boarding steps. The kit cockpit is very sparse with decals providing the switches and dials. I forced in two of the AIRES A-7D cockpits instead. These are clearly not intended for this kit and not for a two seater but I thought the resulting ‘busy’ look was worth the struggle involved especially in the rear cockpit. Before joining the fuselage halves I painted the inside of the rear fuselage zinc chromate yellow and the tail spout (buy the kit, you’ll see what I mean !) burnt iron.
The wings were added very easily having first slightly drooped the ailerons. The build up of major components was complete. I decided to sand off the ‘half an hour-glass’ shaped VHF antenna on the tail fin – the real thing was flush and is more convincingly portrayed by a decal (the decal is provided in the A-7D kit but not in this Boat Army version). Also, while you have a sanding stick in your hand, you need to sand off the ‘air starter receptacle’ which does not appear on any USAF A-7s (they have an internal self starter) and as it stands out quite proud it will interfere with placing the star & bar marking. I removed the "Boat Army" version air starter receptacle (highlighted in red in the picture below left).
The LOX bottle was added (painted green in picture below right) - this was a painted fishing weight! I also removed the moulded-on air data probe cover (the lump below the cockpit in the picture below right).
I also used resin seats adding canopy breakers to the front one. The seats are painted black which maybe a way of separating them from the seat used in the A-7D which is grey. The cockpit was painted overall dark gull grey as a base but it is mostly matt black above the tops of the consoles.
I did replace a couple of the kits ‘weedy’ items: main wheels with a pair and TISL pod for under the intake came from an old Esci kit. Ideal candidates for resin copies if you intend to make several Hobby Boss A-7s ! Also ranked in the weedy category are the stores – the bombs and fuel tanks are completely useless, undersized and the wrong shape. The LANA Flir pods look okay though and these were carried by some ANG A-7D's and k's. The only other additional work was to reproduce the three floodlights behind the cockpit ( I wonder if they will appear in the A-7K kit?) and add a fuel vent mast behind the left main undercarriage bay – this was fashioned from one of the Sidewinder fins in the kit. I should have added the pitot probes that appear at either side of the windscreen however they are not in the kit and experience shows they don’t stay on for long ! Overall this is a lovely kit to build and I would recommend it. And if you are into SLUFs I would also highly recommend the A-7 Detail & Scale book by Bert Kinzey.
Model, article and photographs by Haydn Hughes