Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Tamiya's 1/48 A-10A Thunderbolt II
Warthog Times Two

by David W. Aungst


A-10A Thunderbolt II


HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron



Question: What is the best way to learn to use a new double-action airbrush?

Answer: Use it! And, I mean REALLY use it!

Back in 1982, I bought my first Badger 150-IL airbrush. This is a great airbrush and is the airbrush model I still use today (although I have worn out two and now am on my third brush). After tinkering with the brush for about a year, I decided that a baptism of fire would be helpful in learning to use the thing. To that end, in 1983, I set out to build two of the JAWS camouflaged A-10A "Warthog" aircraft. Trust me, there is no better way to learn to use your airbrush than to dive in and attempt a camouflage as found on these "Warthogs".

I was relentlessly picky about the size, location, and shape of all the assorted spots in the JAWS camouflages. I repainted the tail sections of the kits three or four times until I felt I was getting the camouflage I wanted. Through all this repetition, I learned all about my airbrush and its usage, inside and out. I feel I can trace much of my painting technique and ability today back to these two JAWS "Warthogs".

When I started my "Warthogs", there was not much information on them. All I realy had were the diagrams in the SuperScale decals. Unlike many SuperScale releases, the instructions in this particular A-10 decal sheet were at least a little helpful. They provided topside and left side drawings of two of the JAWS "Warthogs". Using some additional diagrams from an old Koku-Fan magazine (01-1981) and the few pictures I could locate in books and other magazines, I got the right side and some of the bottom details. I felt I was as armed as I could get with documentation for the time.

Since I originally painted these two models, much more information has come out on them. I now have nicely detailed Koku-Fan magazine articles providing four-view diagrams for even better camouflage coverage. I have also found many more pictures of the aircraft. Perhaps the single best source of information to come out in recent years was from Dana Bell on HyperScale. Click the following to view these references.

Dana's references are invaluable for anyone wanting to attempt these camouflages.

Believe it or not, in the end I actually did not complete the two JAWS "Warthogs" that I started. I finished them up until the very last steps of adding canopies, weapons, and ejection seats, then I lost interest. I even had all the associated parts painted up and ready, but I just never felt like doing the last little bit of gluing to finish the models. The two of them lived for many years, mostly unseen, on top of my model display shelves in the living room. Eventually I gave them to my friend, Skip, just to get rid of them. He completed the last 2% of work on them by gluing on all the assorted already paint detail items. They now sit on the display shelves in his parent's basement.


Model Picture


Model Picture


I recently borrowed the two models back so I could take the pictures for this posting. Please excuse the dust still on the models and visible in some of the pictures. When I borrowed them back, they had nearly a scale foot of dust on them. I litterally ran water on them in the kitchen sink to attempt to clean them up some. I was reluctant to use a brush to scrub them because of the age of the paint. Without a brush, many nooks and crannies retained a base layer of dusty grime.





At the time I started building these kits, there was only one choice for 1/48th scale "Warthog" kits -- the Tamiya A-10 kit. This is one of Tamiya's oldest aircraft releases in 1/48th scale, and I was building a couple of the original release kits. Being the original release, the kit has some issues. I understand that Tamiya has revised the molds for later releases to fix some of these issues.

  • The panel lines was raised. Imagine that -- a raised scribing Tamiya kit!
  • The kit was really one of the original FSD airframes, not a production A-10A. This implies several things about the airframe:
    • The model was missing the flare and chaff dispensers under the wingtips and behind the main landing gear.
    • The model had flap guides that extended beyond the trailing edges of the wings. The extended flap guides were due to the FSD airframes having thirty degree flaps while production airframes only have twenty degree flaps.
    • The ejection seat was an ESCAPAC, not an ACES II.
  • The wheel sponsons are too squared and bulky looking. This is more of a kit flaw as the shape of the sponsons did not change between the FSD and production airframes. Tamiya just got it wrong.
  • The weapons in the kit were simplistic and inaccurate. They also reflected options that were never cleared for use on the production aircraft (such as MERs for the inner weapons pylons).

Fortunely, the JAWS "Warthogs" were mostly all FSD airframes. Thus, many of the kit issues played right into my hands for what I wanted to build. The brown aircraft that I built, 75-0262, was the only JAWS aircraft that was not FSD, being the first full production aircraft. I did not know this when I built the models, so I made no attempt to fix anything.

The kit cockpit was decals! Oh, the horror! I was not up to the challenge to fix this and used the provided decals in the cockpit. I toyed briefly with scratch-building some cockpit updates, but a stoke of sanity took a hold on me and I refrained from the madness.


Model Picture


That is not to say I built the models out-of-the-box, though. Before I had decided even on which exact aircraft I was going to build, I started doing some updates to the kit. I scratch-built new cannons for the nose using aluminum tube and brass wire. I wrapped sheet styrene into the engine intakes to better represent the ducting. I also played around with opening up some of the assorted intakes and exhausts around the airframe.

Once the airframes were fully assembled, it was time to paint.



Painting and Markings


The JAWS Warthogs were painted in five colors - Field Drab (F.S.30118), Sand (F.S.30227), European Green (F.S.34092), Medium Green (F.S.34102), and D.Gull Gray (F.S.36231). I did not have a source for the Sand color (F.S.30227), so I used Tan (F.S.30219) as a substitute. From my Federal Standard color chart, these two colors were close enough to make this substitution acceptable.


The Green Aircraft - 75-0259

A-10A 75-0259 is the only one of the four JAWS Warthogs to use all five colors. The entire aircraft is painted in a base coat of Medium Green (F.S.34102). The other four colors are used in an overlapping spot pattern over the entire airframe.


Model Picture


I started by painting the whole model in Medium Green. Then I worked my way through the various colors of the spots. Based on the diagrams in the SuperScale decal instructions and Koku-Fan Magazine diagrams, it was apparent that the spots were not all applied in the same sequence. I took care to correctly overlay the spots to capture the correct effects of which spots were painted over top of others. Spots on the bottom of the airframe and weapons pylons are guess-work as I had very few pictures that showed these areas.


The Brown Aircraft - 75-0262

A-10A 75-0262 is painted in four of the five colors. The D.Gull Gray (F.S.36231) is not used on this aircraft.


Model Picture


I started by painting the entire model in Tan (F.S.30219). Like the green aircraft, I worked my way through the rest of the colors to apply the spots. The "feel" of the spot pattern is different on the brown aircraft as compared to the green one. The green aircraft has lots of overlapping spots. Alternately, the brown aircraft has mostly discreet spots that do not touch. This makes for a different "feel" in the pattern.


Markings and Finishing Touches

Decals for both aircraft were available from SuperScale on sheet 48-069. I messed up some decals while trying to apply them, so I needed to buy a second sheet to replace the messed up markings. It is a shame I did not yet have the ability to make custom decals back then. It would have saved me some time and headache to just whip up a couple new decals using the SuperScale sheet as a guide.

During the JAWS evaluation, from what I have seen in pictures, the aircraft were so camouflaged that even their weapons got a coating of the spotted camouflage. When I was building and painting the weapons, I painted them over in spots to match the aircraft. Since the Tamiya weapons were pretty poor, I replaced them with Hasegawa weapons taken from the weapons sets.


Model Picture


For weathering, well, there is none. I never got that far in my working on the models and Skip did not weather them when he finished them by attaching all the already completed details.





There you have it, the best airbrush painting lesson I could have ever dreamed of. Over the years since I worked on these two models, Monogram has released an A-10 kit that is superior to Tamiya (IMHO). I would like to someday remake these kits using the Monogram kit as a starting point. I think it would be easier to back-date the Monogram kit to an FSD airframe than it would be to fix all the issues in the Tamiya kit.



Additional Images and Project Summary


Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
Click the "Back" arrow on your browser to return to this page.

Project Statistics

Completion Date:

December 1983

Total Building Time:

40 40


5 5


12 12


15 15

Decals / Markings:

3 3

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

5 5

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2005 by David Aungst

Page Created 30 August, 2005
Last Updated 30 August, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page