The A-6 Intruder was designed by Grumman Aircraft Corporation in
answer to the US Navy's 1956 request for proposal for an
aircraft that could attack ground targets in any weather, at any
time, day or night. Out of twelve design proposals submitted by
eight companies, Grumman's was the winner and awarded a contract
in 1959. Originally designated the A2F-1, it's first flight took
place in 1960 and when it was publicly rolled out in 1962 the
Navy had standardized designations and the Intruder's was
The A-6A entered service in 1963
and the A-6E was retired in 1997. Through three decades it was
the US Navy and Marine Corps' medium attack mainstay, a
testament to its ruggedness and capability! Over those thirty
years of service it underwent a number of upgrades and
enhancements, which enabled it to remain the world's premier
long range, all-weather attack aircraft. It carried an
impressive payload of ordnance, which only could be surpassed by
aircraft such as the B-52 and B-1 bomber.
The A-6E and A-6E TRAM (Target
Recognition and Attack Multisensor), which are the subject of
this kit, was an improved attack version of the A-6A aircraft
and was much upgraded in it's radar systems, computers, and
weapons release. Well over half of the A-6Es built were
converted from A-6A airframes. It entered service in 1971. A
sensor turret beneath the radome just forward of the nose gear
identifies a TRAM configured aircraft.
There are two large trees of light gray parts and one small tree
with the clear parts. The parts have recessed panel lines and
details (some of which appear too heavy for this scale) with
little flash. There are seam lines and ejector pin marks on most
of the parts that will need to be fixed and some parts where the
pin marks eliminate some of the details (landing gear doors in
There was also a "wave"
flaw molded into the clear forward windscreen that doesn't
appear to be correctable by polishing, so I just left it be; the
larger part of the canopy looks just fine.
The instruction sheet is a
typical Italeri fold out exploded view that is printed in
several languages. Painting instructions and decals are provided
for two aircraft. Both are "lo-vis" gray TPS (Tactical
Paint Scheme) schemes, one for VA-36 US Navy 1993 and one VMA
(AW)-332 USMC 1993.
I chose to build this kit "out of box" with no major
changes to the kit. You are offered the option of building it
with wings folded (which I did), boarding ladders open or closed
(I chose open), and canopy open or closed (I chose open). You
can also position the tail hook down if you want (I didn't) and
this does open up possibilities for a carrier landing diorama….
HMMMM the future possibilities. No figures are provided in the
Ordnance provided in the kit is
limited to a centerline droptank, HARM (high speed
anti-radiation missile) missiles on the outboard pylons, and
MERs (multiple ejector racks) with four CBU (cluster bomb units)
bombs each for the inboard pylons. Sounds like this aircraft is
going hunting for SAM (surface to air missile) sites!!
Assembly was by the numbers with
only a few problems. First of all, the engine faces attach to
the insides of the fuselage halves and after the intakes are
installed there is an obvious gap, when you look down the
intakes, between the bottom of the engine face and the bottom of
the intake. I left it be but next time I'll install intake plugs
or correct the gap. Fit between the fuselage halves and fuselage
bottom was fairly poor and much of the underside detail was
eliminated when sanding the seam out (this is a common problem
for all A-6/EA-6B models, all scales, in my opinion). This
detail had to be scribed again (to the best of my limited
abilities in this area of modeling; I'm still learning how to do
this). Fit between the fuselage halves and rear edge of the
cockpit required filling and sanding. The control column in the
cockpit is too tall and when the cockpit is installed it will
touch the edge of the glare shield. Fit of the inboard wings to
the fuselage was okay but there will be some filling and sanding
needed at the joining seams forward of the forward landing gear
doors and the aft edge of the wing where it meets the upper part
of the engine exhaust. The kit provides two jury struts to help
hold the wings at the folded position (which is nice) but take
care in removing them from the trees. I broke one of mine and
used the other to guide the cutting of two replacements out of
evergreen scraps. Also handle the wings themselves with care,
they have little interlocking tangs at the fold point, which can
break off pretty easily. Loss of these tangs will make the
joining of the wings a bit more difficult (believe me, I know).
Painting was done using Model
Master enamels and Tamiya acrylics. Several light coats of
Future Floor Wax (another item I'm still learning to use…)
were used for the gloss coat.
The kit decals depicting a USMC
VMA (AW)-332 A-6E TRAM were used. For the most part, they
behaved well but I did use generous amounts of Solvaset to
ensure adhesion, particularly on the wingtip formation lights.
Another coat of future to seal the decals and after let dry for
48 hours, I did a wash of thinned watercolor paints to bring out
the panel lines (Crayola "washable" watercolors).
Results here were average to poor… When I went to do the clean
up with Q-tips wet with water, some of the wash wouldn't lift
very easily or at all and the aircraft has a more dirty
appearance than what I was going for. This is probably due to my
failure to get enough Future to provide a smooth gloss surface.
I need more practice in this area!!
A flat coat of Testors Dullcoat
Lacquer was applied to the aircraft and canopies, with only some
very slight silvering of a couple of the decals showing up. The
canopies were unmasked and installed along with the refueling
probe with white glue. Fit was okay, with some filling in along
the front seam with white glue needed. After this, I added some
touchup paint and then called this model completed.
All in all, this was an okay kit!
It has a couple of problems but they're easily fixed and you're
provided with a pretty nice looking A-6E Intruder. What I've
learned here will definitely help when I start Italeri's 1/72nd
EA-6A kit (which is almost an identical kit) in the near future.