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Minicraft/Hasegawa's 1/72 scale
TA-4J Skyhawk

by David W. Aungst


TA-4J Skyhawk


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The A-4 Skyhawk has always been in my top ten favorite aircraft.

This model is the 60th model I ever built. Being completed in May of 1982, it is also the oldest built model that still sits on my model display shelves in the living room. It is also the fifth Skyhawk model I ever built and the second one in 1/72nd scale.

Yes, I am perverse enough to know and track all this information.





Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, Minicraft was a US outlet for Hasegawa model kits. This was similar to how Testors is an outlet for Italeri kits, today. This model is the Minicraft release of the Blue Angels TA-4J Skyhawk in 1/72nd scale.



Even at this early stage in my model building, I recognized the potential for some extra detailing to this otherwise ordinary kit. Since I was still in my "move the control surfaces just because you can" phase, I decided to do some extra detailing, including cuting and repositioning the wing flaps and slats. I did the following to the kit:

  • I cut and repositioned the wing flaps in the lowered position. This included erroneously treating the "hell hole" door between the wing flaps as a flap and opening it, too. At the time, I did not know better.

  • I cut and repositioned the wing spoilers in the raised position. This positioning of the spoilers can not occur without the aircraft being powered, but again I did not know better at the time.

  • I cut and repositioned the wing slats in the lowered position. This was an easy change that greatly effected the look of the completed model. Most all Skyhawks (except Blue Angels) have their wing slat deployed on the ground.

  • I enhanced the detailing on the two ejection seats, adding ejection handles to the seat bottoms and headrests. The seats are still nowhere near to being accurate representations of the ESCAPAC seats found in the Skyhawk, but the detailing helped.

  • I added rear view mirror details to the forward portion of the canopy.

  • I added the instrument training hood in the open position on the rear portion of the canopy. This is nothing more than some carefully shaped aluminum foil, bunched up at the rear of the canopy. I then added the guide wires for the hood using stretched sprue.

  • I added an aerial refueling "buddy tank" to the centerline weapons pylon. The refueling tank was fashioned out of an F-4 Phantom centerline fuel tank. I cut off the tail end of the F-4 tank and scratch built a representation of the refueling drogue.

A few years after I did all the work to detail out this Skyhawk model, Fujimi issued several new kits of the Skyhawk in 1/72nd scale using new molds that provide most of these details right in the box. I guess I was just a little ahead of my time.



Painting and Markings


To paint the model, I used all Testors "Little Bottle" enamel paints. These were applied entirely by paint brush as I did not yet own an air brash back then. The dark green trim is Beret Green. I custom mixed the cockpit interior gray color. The top coat over the decals is Krylon spray satin clear paint.

The decals come from SuperScale on decal sheet 72-210. The unit markings are for VA-45 "Fightin' Black Birds". While the majority of the markings are accurate, I applied some artistic license to the vertical tail and added a "rainbow" on the rudder where none existed on the real aircraft.



I highlighted the engraved flight control surfaces using a pen and India Ink, but did no other weathering to the model.





This was a fun little kit when I built it. It has nice detailing, was easy to build, and gave me a chance to stretch my "plastic surgery" abilities. The kit has since been outclassed by the newer Fujimi A-4 kits with these later releases providing in the box most all of the details that I modified into this kit.

I very much like these markings. If (when) Hasegawa releases a 1/48th scale TA-4J, these will be the markings I build it in first.



Additional Images and Project Summary


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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

May, 1982

Total Building Time:

34.0 (estimated)





Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):


Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):


Extra Detailing / Conversion:


Model, Description and Images Copyright 2004 by David Aungst
Page Created 28 September, 2004
Last Updated 28 September, 2004

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