A-4F Skyhawk "Lady Jessie"
The A-4 Skyhawk is one of the longest serving ground attack aircraft ever designed with its first flight in June of 1954 and many are still in service with several countries today. Designed as a carrier capable ground attack aircraft for the US Navy and US Marine Corps it has served in wars and conflicts for several countries. Over 3000 of these planes were built.
The “Lady Jessie” aircraft are aircraft named in honor of Jessie Beck, a woman who was a close acquaintance of one of VA-164s pilots killed in action in Vietnam; who continued to send care packages to the squadron long after his death. The first plane to display her name was Lt Cdr Dick Perry’s (the pilot killed in action) but later, the CO’s aircraft would bear the honor until the squadron’s disestablishment in 1975.
Platz continues its excellent line of 1/144th scale aircraft kits with the A-4F Skyhawk. You get two aircraft in this kit with a choice of three Vietnam era decal options. Two of the options are for VA-164 aircraft that wear the Lady Jessie paint scheme, one in 1969 and the other in 1972. The third is a colorful VA-163 Blue Tail Fly from 1969. Each aircraft is made up of about 30 pieces. The detailing is very good with fine recessed panel lines and crisp clean moldings. You get two drop tanks for each plane along with three other hard points but no other weapons. A single piece canopy is provided. The small simple 4 page instruction sheet is entirely in Japanese with only the color callouts in English but still easy to follow.
Assembly was quick and overall fit was very good!! My only trouble spots were the intake to fuselage joints that needed some sanding, and the drop tanks which also needed some filing and sanding. For variety I chose to model one aircraft as depicted with two drop tanks and the other with just a centerline drop tank. The instructions call out for 5 grams of nose weight and you’ll need it. I used a .177cal. lead pellet for each aircraft and still got models that want to tail sit. I left the horizontal stabilizers off till after decaling to ease decal placement, particularly for the Blue Tail Fly aircraft. I used Tamiya and Testors paints for the Gull Gray over White schemes. A color guide is provided on the back of the box as well as the instruction sheet. Each model was coated in future after painting was completed.
The decals turned out to be the biggest challenge. They’re colorful, well printed, and enough are provided. But they were small!!! I managed to drop each model during this process and one of them twice. Both suffered broken fuel probes and one a broken landing gear. The big blue tail decal was a bit oversized and required some trimming along the vertical stabilizer leading edge. I put wet Future underneath each decal and after had cured, a flat coat of Testors Dullcoat, I can’t find any silvering. I’ll also recommend cutting some of the larger decal groupings down into smaller individual decals to ease placement, particularly around the refueling probe.
I hand painted the canopies. They fit very well, and were good enough that I didn’t glue them in place.
Overall, I was very pleased with these two little scooters. Fit was very good and detail is excellent! I guess my only negative was the lack of ordnance. It would also be nice to see some US Marine markings but I’m sure the aftermarket people out there are on top of both of those negatives as I type this… hint, hint. I wish to thank Platz (www.platz-hobby.com) for the review sample!!! I imagine that soon we’ll be seeing some 1/144th aircraft carriers with air wings aboard show up at model shows…