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1/32 Electric Intruder - Grumman EA-6A Conversion


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Several weeks ago I started work on converting Trumpeter's 1/32 Grumman A-6A Intruder into an EA-6A "Electric Intruder."


For some reason, I have always been interested in this aircraft. There’s a certain mystique surrounding it; very few were produced; its role, electronic warfare, was not particularly glamorous; and, since the early 1970s, it has been largely overshadowed by its successor, the four-seat EA-6B Prowler.


Finally, the EA-6A is one of the few U. S. military cold war era types I've not viewed close-up, despite lots of airshows and museum visits over the years. 


There's a certain design elegance to the Electric Intruder. It's most distinguishing feature, the large aerodynamic tail pod, gracefully complements the rest of the airframe - blunt and rounded toward the front, tapering smoothly to a sharp angular backside.




And despite limited production (only 28 were made including the prototypes), they sported a wide variety of paint jobs and squadron markings. From the plainly marked Vietnam War era designs...




...to the more flashy and colorful schemes of the 70's...




...and ending its days, appropriately, grey and weathered in the ubiquitous “tactical paint scheme.”




Although I've been a model airplane enthusiast for most of my life, I'm not a prolific builder (I've amassed quite a stash of unbuilt kits and aftermarket accessories over the years, however - sound familiar?).


Despite the appeal of the project, I was a bit irresolute in the beginning, especially given my lack of recent experience. So I decided to start with the most challenging items - the conversion pieces. That way, if I came across anything insurmountable, my investment was minimal and I could "un-convert" the kit back to an attacker.


So far, so good. I'm happy to report that the "hard part" is mostly behind me now, although I still have a long way to go. And who knows what challenges unforeseen lie ahead?



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Guest Peterpools


terrific project and anything Grumman's peaks my interest. With the hard work behind and sounds done, how about some in=progress photos?

Surely would be greaty appreciated

Keep 'em coming


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Here's the starting point.




The base aircraft is Trumpeter's  A-6A Intruder 1/32, certainly one of the firm's better offerings - lots of detail, nice surface features, and good fit of parts. Most important, it appears to be very accurately patterned, at least to my eye - none of the obvious shape and proportion issues that have dogged other kits by this firm. Well done Trumpeter.


Although my reference library might look impressive, most of the books devote scant coverage to the Electric Intruder. Even the ones that focus on the electronic variants tilt heavily in favor of the four seat EA-6B Prowler. But taken together, the documentation is sufficient, especially when combined with information and photographs available on the internet.



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It would seem that you are well "armed" for this build, with plenty of reference material and a good kit. You'll find even more on your way through it, be it by searching the web, or from members here (I'm always surprised at what some of these guys know!). Don't let a lack of experience, or any preconceived notions about your skills get in the way. You just have to dive in and go for it. Take your time and treat each part or sub-assembly as a model on it's own. Pretty soon you'll have something in front of you that you didn't think was possible. I have a lot of kits and projects in my stash that kind of make me nervous when I look at them or think about them and seeing the work of a lot of people on this forum can be downright intimidating. However, I've also learned a ton from watching the guys (and gals!) on this forum and getting their advice and input. It's made me a better modeler and someday I may even graduate to the "big boys" club. :D The first step, however, is telling myself, "I'm going to build this, come hell or high water". You're taking that step and I can't wait to see where it takes you. I've always thought the Intruder was a cool plane ( I like stuff that other people say is "ugly", but I prefer the term "purposeful looking" and the Intruder qualifies, for sure!).


Rock on with it!



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I'll begin at the end, the tail section, that is, and the distinctive aerodynamic pod, which housed numerous antennas and sensors.




Referring to drawings, photographs, and a detailed station diagram for the EA-6B (the tail pods are almost identical...more on this later), a plastic skeleton was assembled, separated into right and left halves, each comprised of seven pieces. To this framework I applied Aves Apoxie Sculpt, a two part putty (similar to Milliput).


This was left to harden overnight. The next morning I began the shaping and finishing stages. Several hours later, having gone through lots of sandpaper, the plastic framework reappeared and I was done, save for some fine finishing work with Mr. Surfacer.




These pieces were used as molds for vacuum form copies, .030" white styrene being used over a Kingston Micro vacuum forming table. This was my first experience with this format. But after three or four attempts, I had an acceptable draw.




The molded halves were cleaned up and joined using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement. A piece of flat styrene sheet formed the end plate of the pod. Here it is after a coat of Mr. Surfacer.






I mentioned earlier that the Prowler's tail pod was nearly I identical to that of it's predecessor. But in comparing photographs, it's clear that the tail ends differ. Notice in the following pictures how the -A model tapers to a narrow, rounded triangular cross section while the -B sports a broader five sided section.






Note also the cylindrical  ALQ-126 "beer can" antenna housing on the Prowler. EA-6A's that went through the RECAP improvement program in the mid 1980's received these too.


Only after having achieved success with the pod, did I take a knife to the kit's tail, lopping off the fin cap at the top rudder line.




Finally, a shot of the pod temporarily perched atop the tail.




That's all for now. Next up, scratch built under wing stores, beginning with the ALQ-76 jamming pods.


Thanks for looking.



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Thanks everyboby for your support and encouragement.


John: You were right on in describing the necessary "mental approach" to projects such as this.


Lee: Good point about reusing plastic after a failed vacuum forming attempt.


Mike: You asked about the planned markings...like there's really any other choice ;)




Work continues on the electronic countermeasures stores. The scratch built ALQ-76 pods are nearly done and the ANE-32 chaff dispensers are well underway.


I'm tackling the main conversion specific items first: tail pod, nose extension, and ECM stores - not your typical build sequence for sure. But, as I explained in the beginning, I have my reasons. Besides, it will be nice to have the load-out done early, before any self induced pressure to complete the project sets in. In past work, I have too often treated external ordnance, fuel tanks, etc. as an afterthought, rushing their completion in the end (or omitting them entirely).


Next week I'll continue with another, more detailed, update - hopefully with better quality images, as I plan to switch to a new digicam (I've been using my iPad to this point).


A preview of the nearly completed ALQ-76 pods...





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  • allthumbs changed the title to Electric Intruder - Grumman EA-6A Conversion (Update 21 FEB 2021)
  • allthumbs changed the title to 1/32 Electric Intruder - Grumman EA-6A Conversion

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