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HobbyBoss A-6E Intruder

RELATED TOPICS: REVIEW | AIRCRAFT | MILITARY
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It’s hard to believe it has been almost 20 years since the U.S. Navy retired the Intruder. The twin-engine Grumman A-6 all-weather attacker carried out missions in Vietnam, Lebanon, Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, and Bosnia during a 34-year career.

HobbyBoss’ detailed A-6E kit is packed with features and options, including: posable canopy, radome, tail hook, ram air turbine (RAT), wingtip speed brakes, slats, flaps, rudder, and crew ladders. The wings can be modeled folded, and the intake and exhaust ducts extend to the engine fans. There’s a nice selection of underwing stores: Mk.82 and Mk.117 bombs, two multiple-ejector racks, and three external fuel tanks.

Surface detail on the light gray plastic consists of engraved panel lines. A small photo-etched brass fret and white-metal landing gear inserts round out the parts.

Barring a couple of errors in the instructions and some fiddly assemblies, construction was straightforward.
 
The cockpit features two GRU-7 ejection seats with PE belts, controls, and detail for the canopy.

The first fit issue I ran into was the intakes; despite careful test-fitting and sanding, I ended up using filler on many of the seams. The exhausts are awkward with strange bends, but it’s difficult to see into them on the finished model.

HobbyBoss shows details inside the speed-brake bays on the fuselage, but according to my research those brakes weren’t used on the A-6E TRAM.

The nose radar comprises almost 20 parts and looks terrific. Displaying it means leaving the radome open, which doesn’t leave much room to hide the considerable weight (not mentioned in the instructions) required to keep the nose down.

The parts to build the flaps down are mislabeled: M12 and M11 should be M25 and M26.

I love HobbyBoss’ approach to the landing gear: a metal strut clad with plastic details. The nose gear alone consists of 14 parts.

Decals provide markings for two Intruders, one in two-tone desert brown over gray, the other in low-viz gray. I chose the latter, painting it with decanted Tamiya spray paints. The instructions don’t show it, but I painted inner flap and slat surfaces red as seen in photos.

The decals looked glossy on paper, but dried with a nice, flat finish. The thin markings conformed to recessed details without decal setting solutions.

I enjoyed building HobbyBoss’ A-6E TRAM, and the detail trumps all previous 1/48 scale Intruders. However, because of the kit’s complexity, I recommend it to modelers with some experience.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2016 issue.

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