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Marines A4M Skyhawk


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Hi guys,

I know its a bit late but im joining the gb  :yahoo:

What lead to this is i had made a poll on what my next wip would be and it ended up with the a4m skyhawk (which i had a slight penchant to building, to start with lol  :whistle: ) and Loic suggested i did the wip as part of the gb...Thanks Loic !!

Anyways thank you for all who voted btw...As this will be my second work in progress, it will be done like i did the first one. The build will be an out of the box build with just added scratchwork like the piping and other little details -but mostly OOB. On the other hand i have ordered three days ago the eduard biged set for the a4e but im sure i wont be recieving it before a while so i will start the build oob and once that gets here we'll see how we can always incorporate it into the build.

The kit is the trumpeter a4m (yes the one with inaccuracies and issues lol) still boxed and bagged.

I have gathered quite a volume of reference photos from the net for the problematic areas and for the extra detailing required and have printed them into a booklet format. Also, and foremost, i would like to thank Thierry Laurent for the fantastic a4m tweak list which i have also printed and i will use as guidance in order to get the kit up to standards ( i will try doing every correction my skills allow me to lol  :whistle:  :P  hoping it will be enough!)

On the other hand i ran across a little issue...my references say that vma-214 blacksheep flew during the vietnam conflict on the a4m type but i read somewhere something conflicting regarding that...Im sure some of the guys out there will enlighten me and if vma-214 didnt, then i would have to pull out of the gb since i do not have access to am decals (and thats a definite fact  <_< ) but we'll see how it goes...fingers crossed :shrug:

The build will be updated on a daily basis like my previous su25a wip as i have a couple more weeks on leave from work and i intend to finish the build before i run out of 'modeling' time  :rolleyes: so i hope you guys tag along and enjoy the wip...

Please point out any inaccuracies you find and post your comments be they good or bad it always helps improve and/or correct mistakes i make  :thumbsup:  :thumbsup:

Im sure you guys all know the subject matter better than me but im digging through my references to catch up lol  :lol:

So there goes a couple of shots of the ceremonial 'opening' of the box and some zoomed out photos of the actual aircraft sprues and weapon sprues 












I guess the real hands-on work will kick off tomorrow morning ill just finish setting up myself tonight and see what i can get ticked off from the tweak list before starting the actual build phase...


Guys please advise me on the vma-214 issue as soon as you can...i hope my references are right  :D


Till then stay safe and happy modeling





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Loic, seems to be one hell of a party lol  :party0023:  im glad to be aboard  :yahoo:

Mike thank you  :thumbsup:


Related to the previous post i made regarding vma-214 i came up with the following from 'a4skyhawk.org':


1963 deployement to vietnam

63-64 cvsg 57 cvs12 southeast asia

65-67 mcas chu lai in vietnam


Homeport was MCAS El Toro in CA from 1967 to 1987


Starting the 25th of september 1972  Aircraft in use was A4M


Fall of saigon was april 30 1975


So we're in for the GB  :yahoo:  :yahoo:  :yahoo:  :yahoo:

Decals might not be very accurate but oh well  :thumbsup:


Im going to start working on the kit straight away...

Ill get the tweak list things i can do tonight out of the way, like sanding some of the panels that need to be sanded, rescribe what needs to be rescribed and open up the naca vents on the fuselage. I will also fill the engine oil breather and rearrange it as it is supposed to be a vent that is flush with the surface and not a teardrop shape indent...

ill see what i can get done tonight....i was pondering whether to fix the infamous stepped slats on the upper surface of the wings tonight or to wait until we get the wings joined up later down the road. I still havent really taken a look at how the fit etc is... i just want to get going on it tonight lol  :lol:


Ill update you in a while on what i got done tonight



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Back with the first update...

Got this show on the road proper  :frantic:

Basically the pit, build wise, is almost done... what i did in tonight's session was to finish some of the tweak list items on the fuselage and work on the front office.

For the fuselage i opened up most of the naca vents by scraping them with the reverse side of the xacto blade (only the big vents) in order to get them to look open. I also sanded down the aft static sensors on the right side of the fuselage nose as the mike version had the bent ifr probe and had the front static port only on the right side ( experts out there bear with me if im mistaken lol  :lol: ). I also filled in the indent on the right side mid fuselage which is supposed to be the oil breather ( in the trumpeter kit it is shaped like a bullet and it is supposed to be a pipe flush with the fuselage) tomorrow ill drill an appropriate hole to represent the vent and scribe a circle around it if my ham fists allow me such delicate scribing  :lol:  :P

Relating to the front office. I got the seat done in sections. Added all the wiring to it as per references including the wiring (that will be invisible when the seat is set) from the handle to wherever it goes. The yellow handle the wire goes from is to deploy the survival kit. There is also supposed to be a hole in the right seat pad next to the handle in order for the pilot to check the o2 gauge in the survival pack but i think it would be a waste to drill it as it wont be visible anyways - I left it alone -

I added some wiring to the right console backside as per reference too.

For the back rest ( which is supposed to be a parachute with a ballistic canopy spreader charge) i added padding to it with putty then diluting it with lacquer thinner as it looked too 'flat' and dull.

The escapac seat looks okay out of the box and when you can spice it up with the wiring and all it should look fine after being painted and weathered... we'll see tomorrow i guess

Regarding the throttle, i used a piece of sprue cut and sanded and another peice of styrene to represent the linkage from the main throttle body to the console. i think it looks okay. dont really have the material required to be able to add the friction andjuster and lock of the throttle and i think to be honest it would also be a waste of effort as it would be too small to notice

Thinking about it, most of the cockpit is not going to be visible once the IP and fuselage halves are closed up, the biggest 'part' that will be visible i guess will be the seat so this is where i will focus most of my efforts in my opinion....

Anyways im going to call it a night i guess....Below some photos for your viewing pleasure :lol:  :P 




Right side console with reference photo behind




The new throttle body




The seat back padding with the putty to give it a nice texture instead of the flat styrene piece you get in the kit






Right side of the escapac seat with the wiring and the reference photos behind






Some of the tweaks. Top photo the oil breather filled. Lower photo the aft static port sanded flush 


Tomorrow we'll get some paint on and hopefully by mid day get the front office done

Ill post an update around lunchtime let you guys know where we got  :clap2:


Till then,

stay safe and happy modeling



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Hey Harv im glad youre tagging along  :D  :D

Bill it a really nice airplane and a nice little kit too


Sorry guys for the late update today...this one is going to be long ill condense all i did in one post. and i did ALOT today....dunno why i kept pushing on and pushing on then i realised in surprise where we got... Got half of it done - well almost -

General overview: Got the pit painted and weathered and fully assembled, then got the gearbay done and assembled, then got the big intake scoop and the two side intake scoops done sanded and painted. Moved on got the engine done got it set in the fuselage. Mated both halfs together close her up, puttied sanded puttied sanded till she was starting to look okay (we'll see tomorrow with the primer on what needs to done further in that regard) then worked on rescribing. Moved on to the horizontal stabs did those and did the rudder. Polished the canopy, masked it then got it glued shut (first time i am going to build an aircraft with a close up pit, either i leave the canopy in the open position or i keep it unglued - and this i decided for multiple reasons we'll discuss below)

Anyways along the way bumped into quite a number of headaches but nothing really major, ill expand on those below...


So to start with, Ill split this posting in two in order to be able to fit the 20 photos for today  :clap2:

We'll start with the cockpit. Since this was supposed to be an out of the box build this is exactly what i did. i wanted to see how deep the rabbit hole would go  :mental: and what would come out of this kit with some tlc... The IP is a decal but since the ip is so recessed under the ip coaming it did the job...components fit well concerning the cockpit. In the post i did yesterday i showed you guys some of the wiring added to the escapac and to the cockpit, so all that got painted today using a mix of tamiya acrylics to get the dark gull grey. The seat was painted black as per a couple of photos i have. The harness trumpeter gives you is, in my opinion, utterly useless to say the least :fight: but i had no harnesses in the spare box so that had to go on (one of the reasons im keeping the canopy closed  :whistle: ). For the weathering of the cockpit, i used a lead pencil to give a metallic sheen to some areas of the seat where you would have frequent contact with the frame. Also used a grey wash for the black areas and a brown wash for the grey areas in order to get those details out. The side consoles btw were supposed to be decals but i didnt fall for that lol i preferred doing it the good old way by painting them.

Some photos of the cockpit below

IMG_20141027_150437_zpsea8d0220.jpg  IMG_20141027_162738_zpsf686a53c.jpg


IMG_20141027_162845_zpsf40da408.jpg  IMG_20141027_162821_zps62bbd561.jpg


IMG_20141027_162509_zps4d4f2c31.jpg  IMG_20141027_162042_zps42fd3ba7.jpg



Moving on, I painted the nose wheel landing bay (photo above) in flat white and put on a brown wash to simulate the grime that accumulates with time. Ill come back for another round of weathering on the bay after the painting of the whole aircraft is done and i can get a feel of where and how the weathering should look but i did find that the kit provided nose wheel bay is pretty nice and busy. There still is plumbing missing when you compare to the references but i think that should do for this build...


Moved on further and i build the first stage compressor fan for the engine. nothing worth nothing there, except maybe the blades are a bit on the thickish side but its fine since youll need to shine a light down the intakes in order to see it. also painted the intakes white. The front part of the side intakes come as separate parts so i kept those unglued and painted them red because i dont intend further down the line to use the kit provided decals (in red and on a contoured part?!?!?  :fight:  :doh:  :mental:


Ill continue the post below 

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So we set those aside and worked on building the engine. The engine i think looks good but i dont know how accurate it is relative to the real thing... and i dont know who would like to display the skyhawk cut in half with the engine out (the kit comes with the fuselage split in two longitudinally probably for modelers who want to display the engine...) I closed all the engine maintenance hatches on the port and starboard sides of the fuselage, although you could have them open, because i didnt plan on adding the extra wiring and plumbing in those areas nor did i want to go around drilling little 'screw' holes to mimic the attachment points of those panels on the fuselage. I did the same for the nose avionic panels that are molded in the kit to be posed open and this for two reasons. The first being the avionics bays in the nose well are inaccurate and second i worry since ive had a couple bad experiences with tail sitters lol  <_<  <_<... I added the biggest fishing weight i could find around - and beleive me it looks ridiculous and how much it weighs is even more ridiculous  :rofl: - but this way im sure she wont be a tailsitter although i worry the nosehweel might crack under the strain of the weight looool

After that i got the engine and the tail pipe glued in. No fit issues there at all neither at this stage nor when i mated the fuselage halves together with the egine and intake sandwiched inside.

I was also worried regarding the tailpipe messing up the alignment of the two fuselage halves lenghtwise but it turned out the alignment was good (more on the fuselage mating in a bit)






Now came the horrible part  :crying: the mating of 4 fuselage halves

The two front ones joined together well no issues there, the two back ones joined together well too but the 'no issues there' stopped when it was time to join those two together. The fit was to say the least not very good. I ended up with a 'step' to fill and sand on the right side that was pretty big. On the top of the fuselage you had a couple of seams to fill but since those would be covered by the avionics hump i didnt worry alot about that. The upper part of the nose needed filling sanding and rescribing as did the vertical stabilizer but i think the gaps on the vertical stab was more due to some rough cutting of the parts from the sprues ... anyways got all that sorted out and rescribed




IMG_20141027_184800_zps575036c5.jpg  IMG_20141027_184811_zps5678f572.jpg


The bottom part of the nose did not need as much filler as the top by the way...

Moving on to the horizontal stab section, didnt get any problems there got them set and glued with the leading edges dropped as i read most of the time on the ground they would be like this. I also read that when they were in that position there was a hole that would show in the back part of the vertical stabilizer and that through that hole you could see straight through to the other side but since i didnt get to see where it was positioned in my references i preferred to leave it alone lol :whistle: 

On the other hand the rudder has an issue that alot of other guys shined a light on...theres a big gap at the bottom of the rudder between the rudder and the fuselage. To remedy to this i got a piece of sheet styrene and cut it to shape to fit between the rudder and the fuselage


IMG_20141027_185059_zps057707fc.jpg  IMG_20141027_185105_zps6045cb57.jpg






So that was another problem solved

Ill continue on a post below only two more photos left and not too much blabbing  :whistle:  -_-  :rolleyes:

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Got that done and dusted too...

I also finished adding the mirrors and the little controller box to the main part of the canopy no problems there. The clear parts are pretty clear i just need to polish them a little bit before i moved on to the masking. Masked both canopies and i found they fit pretty well together in the 'closed' position




Two little things i meant to mention before 

When i cut the bottom part of the wings off from its sprue to check the fit against the fuselage i noticed something weird in the light so i looked closer. It seems the texture of the styrene on the fuselage is completely different from the styrene of the fuselage. i dont know how this will affect the painting stage well see once we got the primer on...but i was wondering is this something proper to my kit or did anyone who built the a4m from trumpeter also found this issue ??




The other thing i wanted to tell you about it beware when you glue the airbrakes shut on the sides of the fuselage as the fit is terrible and there is nothing under them to get them to fit properly without sinking into the fuselage and making them look recessed... i had to use a toothpick through the hole in the fuselage (where the airbrake actuator for the open position should be glued)to push the airbrake door out flush with the fuselage until it was proper glued...

And lastly, since i was still waiting on the eduard biged to get here i checked the shipping and apparently eduard hadnt dispatched the sets yet so i called them in czech and they said they would dispatch them this week...so the a4 Biged set will be used on the other a4m i have in the stash and this one will be finished without any aftermarket stuff  :hmmm:


Tomorrow morning ill start work on the wings - still havent made up my mind on if i fix the slat issue before or after gluing the wing halves - and continue work on what i can finish.

I think the biggest hurdle in this whole kit is going to be the nosewheel issue since at this scale i think it would be a no-no to have a singly molded wheel strut and noswheel... Ill have to really scratch my head for that one so guys if you have any advice or solution regarding that please drop me a post here and share  :D  :clap2:  :clap2:


Tomorrow ill try to get the posts twice daily instead of a single huge monster post like tonight, but i got carried away working on the model


As always 

Stay safe and happy modeling

And sorry for the long boring post  :closedeyes:


Karim  :P

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Karim, I hadnt had time to do much but reply to your PM's, but I wanted to officially welcome you to the GB and tell you we are  happy to have you aboard.

 My real life job has had us VERY busy so returning PM's and posting on LSP has had to take a back seat a bit.

  Keep up the great work on your Skyhawk and it looks like your have it under control nicely.

 On the rudder, there should be one more hinge at the  bottom edge of the connected to the tail itself.

 I just used some more plastic and made the part and faired into the tail, leaving a slight gap for the rudder to swing freely .




 Keep up the great work!


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Just catching up, as I've been fully.....um... "immersed" in my own Trumpeter build. :rolleyes:

Wow, I can't believe how fast you work, Karim. And, with great results! I know how it goes, though. When you get "in the groove", you just have to roll with it! At this rate, you'll be able to build all the kits on your poll list, before I get done with my current project! :P :lol: 


Seriously, great work!



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