A-6E TRAM Intruder, plus Cockpit Detail Set
- A-6E Intruder kit – Stock No. K48023, $49.99
- A-6E Intruder photo etch – Stock No. K5015, $12.99
A much anticipated new-tool kit from Kinetic supplied to IPMS by Lucky Model – this is a great day. Add to that the excellent colored PE set designed for the kit (also from Kinetic but produced by Eduard) and I am in plastic heaven.
First, let’s look at the kit. There are ten light gray sprues with nice panel lines and no flash. There is also a clear sprue containing the windscreen and canopy. One thing noticed immediately is that the windscreen and canopy are both split down the middle. Also included are three sets of markings for VA-115. Two are different build numbers of the CAG plane with a black tail and spine. The last decal offering is a line bird with the same marking but in overall gray. After examining the kit, I found some ejector pin marks in the wheel bays and landing gear doors. To remedy this, I bought the Eduard set 48731 which replaces a lot of the internal undercarriage parts and covers the marks as well as adding great detail to the part.
The photo etch set from Kinetic is designed for the cockpit and contains detailed belts and markings for the seats and all instrument panels. These are pre-colored and have great detail, especially for the seats. To start the build, the cockpit and instrument panels have to be sanded smooth to accept the photo etch parts. These are built up in layers and provide a great and busy look to the cockpit, and install with no issues. The same goes for the seats, which are very basic without the photo etch belts and details. All of these were completed and weathered and flat-coated.
Once the cockpit was done, the fuselage was closed up and the bottom attached. Fit was good, but a little putty was used. Don’t forget to trap the arresting gear hook bay in place. Next, the intakes and the nose were added. I elected to use FOD plugs from Steel Beach in the front and they worked great. There is full intake truncking and a compressor face if you want it open. There are two choices of speed brakes to add, also, and I chose the one correct for my choice of planes (CAG bird all the way). I also cemented them closedm as it is hard to even find a picture of the brakes open.
One great advantage of the kit is that it can be built with wings folded as US Navy planes usually are when not flying. I added both the inside wings and then used the Eduard undercarriage set to dress up the wheel wells. I built the stabilizers and the outer wings and added the wing folds. Fit is excellent on all these parts and minimal to no putty was used. There are still lots of antennae, probes, and small add-ons left, but I held these until after painting.
I added the instrument panel and coaming and fit was great. Before starting to paint, I needed to get the canopy and windscreen done. The windscreen seats into the fuselage and is much different than the previous Revell kit. The parts are superbly thin, also, but tricky to fit. Being two parts makes this difficult, and the seam runs up the middle of the front. A little gentle sanding and away it went. I faired in the sides with white glue and it looked good. The canopy was another matter. Again, it is superbly thin, but that also means little to no gluing surface; I used Tenax to glue it together and it was still so fragile I could barely handle it. After the fourth time it separated, I stole the canopy out of a friend’s A-6 and used it. Both were masked with Eduard’s great masking set, which worked flawlessly.
Time for paint – in this case, the Intruder carried a scheme of FS36375 on the fuselage bottom, bottom of the wings and part way up the sides. The top is FS36320 and was feathered in around the sides, tops of the wings and stabs, and the entire nose. Lastly, the leading edges, spine, intakes and top center were painted FS36237. The intake plugs were painted red. I also created some exhaust plugs from card stock and added handles, then painted them red per some pictures on the internet. Last, the tail was shot yellow, then masked and sprayed gloss black. A couple coats of Alclad gloss clear, and we were ready for decals. The decals from the kit went on without any issues and settled well.
Sound like we are coming down the home stretch? Nope – there’s still a lot left to do. First, the plane, stabs, and wings were weathered with a wash and pastels and sealed. I then started adding the antennas and clear parts and weapons. I used the three fuel tanks and the bomb racks, which all fit well. There is also a set of AGM-84D missiles, but very little markings for them. Here, the instructions are a bit vague and books are needed (or the internet). Landing gear doors and retraction struts were added.
Before I added the outer wings to the wing fold (a friend with a second set of hands would help), I used brass tubing to build two braces; I saw pictures with and without, and I like having them for added stability, especially for toting to contests and meetings. These were painted and the stabilizers added first, then the wing folds and all the joint pieces. Fit is great but take your time and check alignment. With the braces, they are sturdy. Last would be my cannibalized Revell canopy, which fit perfectly.
This was a great build and I recommend the kit it those with a few kits under their belt, as some experience helps when adding the folded wings and small bits, as well as the photo etch. Also, the canopies being split makes that part very difficult, along with the somewhat vague instructions, so references and a canopy from a castoff Revell kit would help. I can definitely recommend the Kinetic fret and the Eduard mask, also. For Navy fans, this is a must-have with the built-in wing folds and engraved lines; it is far superior to the Revell kit.
My thanks to the excellent people at Lucky Model for the chance to review this kit, and to IPMS/USA for the review space.