1/72 Fujimi A-4KU

Kuwait A-4KU Skyhawk

by Mike J. Idacavage

--------------------

 

Prior to the Gulf War, Kuwait purchased a quantity of both single and dual seat Skyhawks based on the A-4M and OA-4M. With modifications which mostly resulted in the addition and deletion of various antennas, the Skyhawks gained the designation A-4KU (TA-4KU).  When the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait August 2, 1990, twenty Skyhawks escaped from their base at Ahmed al Jaber and reformed at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. While not close to the most advanced fighter used during Desert Storm, the “Free Kuwait” Air Force served very well in daylight attack missions throughout the campaign. Although tasked with some of the most dangerous missions during the war, only one Skyhawk was lost in combat. Their only loss was their squadron commander who was shot down and captured on the first day of the air war.

Click on images below to see larger images

The model used for this project is the Fujimi A-4M Skyhawk. While boxed as an A-4KU, the plastic in the kit is the typical A-4M kit. It is a good kit but does suffer from having the basic Fujimi mold represent too many versions of the Skyhawk. There are a few sections, most notably the intakes, which require more than a bit of putty to even out the fit. To convert the kit to an A-4KU, various bumps and antennas were removed on the nose and aft section. The highly visible upper blade antenna was cut from a spare brass fret. The two antennas on the tail are from sheet plastic.  The cockpit was detailed with a Technics ESCAPAC ejection seat, otherwise it is stock.  I had quite a bit of trouble trying to cut the guns from the sprue and clean them up. I ended up making the gun barrels from steel tubing which was a big improvement. The top position light was added using clear red plastic from a Cutting Edge detail set. To prevent damage during assembly, I removed the tailhook at the start, and only added it back at the final step after painting it separately. The airbrakes were slightly “popped” open to give the model a more candid appearance. The flaps were cut out from the lower wing and positioned in the typical dropped state.

This A-4KU is seen in the typical colors and markings from this period, along with the common loadout of 3 Mk. 82 Snakeyes on the centerline TER and 2 Mk. 82 LDGP bombs on the outer stations. The differently painted 450 gallon inboard fuel tanks shown on this model can be seen in several photos of Free Kuwait Skyhawks taken during the air campaign. The landing gear and bays were painted gloss white, then washed with a sludge of gray/brown acrylic paint mixed with dishwashing soap. This turned out to look even better than I expected!

Click on images below to see larger images

The paints used for the three color camouflage are from Xtracolor. I really like using Xtracolor paints whenever possible as it eliminates the need for a gloss coat before decaling as these paints dry with a high gloss. The actual colors used, DN9529 Lt. Grey, DN9530 Sand and DN9531 Brown, were specifically color matched by Xtracolor to the colors used on a Kuwaiti A-4KU. I made patterns from an A-4KU drawing in a FineScale article published soon after the Gulf War ended. I photocopied the camouflage diagram, then cut out the individual color sections and loosely attached them to the model using the standard light to dark progression. This is the “Soft Camouflage “technique described in the “Tool N’Tips” section on ARC. The end result of soft edge camouflage looks good to me. Decals are from the base Fujimi kit, a Superscale Gulf War decal sheet and the spare decal box. After the decals had time to dry, the model was washed, then given an overcoat of PollyS flat which had a few drops of PollyS Dust added to tone down the colors and give the impression that the aircraft had been exposed to the sun for a few years. A PP Aeroparts boarding ladder and a Kuwait Skyhawk patch were added to the base for a little more color.

Mike

Photos and text © by Mike J. Idacavage