1/48 Indonesian A-4E Skyhawk

Gallery Article by Alex Sidharta on Aug 17 2012

Indonesia Independence Day 



Indonesia received 35 A-4/TA-4 Skyhawks, consisting of 31 ex-Israeli A-4E Skyhawks (serial TT-0401 to TT-0414, TT-0417 and TT-0431 toTT-0446), 2 ex-Israeli TA-4Hs (serial TL-0415 and TL-0416), and 2 ex-US Navy TA-4J (serial TL-0418 and TL-0419). Serial 0420 to 0430 were never used.

As Indonesia never has any diplomatic connection to the Israel, the purchase of these Skyhawks is considered as one of the biggest covert operation Indonesia ever did. It was called "Operation Alpha".

Delivered between 1980 (phase 1) and 1982 (phase 2), TT-0401 toTT-0417 (including TA-4H TL-0415 & 16) went to Skadron Udara 11 in Madiun, East Java (later moved to Makassar in Sulawesi), while TT-0431 to TT-0446 went to Skadron Udara 12, also in Madiun (later moved to Pekanbaru, Sumatra). Both ex-US Navy TA-4Js were delivered in 1999 (phase 3) and went to SkadronUdara 11.

All SkadronUdara 11's Skyhawks were painted in blue camouflage while her sister squadron sports SEA (brown and 2 tone green) camouflage. Bothhave hi-visibility insignias, Indonesian flag, squadron badge, English standard stencils and in some period of time: wing badge, which was painted on fins. Both has same camouflage pattern (only the colors was different), dimension and placement of insignias, serial numbers, etc.

In 1997, all remaining Skyhawk were joined under Skadron Udara 11 in Makassar and received a new low-visibility 3-tone blue/grey camouflage until its retirement in 2004. This camo has smaller size insignias, squadron badge and "paler" colors although the camo pattern somehow looks similar.

During the service, as I believe happened to other countries, aircraft were re-painted several times and sometimes sported patchy "service marks" like different colors on certain parts, or even different shade of colors, like darker or lighter tone of standard colors. Indonesia has own painting standard and doesn’t use FS paint system.

However, only moments before retirement, some Skyhawks have "Ops. Alpha" logo on their fins and black insignias/markings, although the dimension remains the same.


Click on images below to see larger images

The Model
This is a Hobbycraft A-4H Skyhawk version in 1/48 I bought long time ago. Simply because it has all the features of an Israeli A-4E (with new designation as A-4H) which fits perfectly to be built as Indonesian Skyhawk. The only modifications needed are the base for blade antenna near the front wheel bay, some small antennas, an oval-shape antenna on spine and 2 chaff/flare buckets between the flaps. 

Not as nice as the Hasegawa one, but this Hobbycraft kit is certainly not a bad kit. I built it smoothly although some filler required on some joins. Certainly there’s no drama at all here. The shape is OK to my Mk.1 eyes although perhaps some experts will not agree…

There was no decal for Indonesian Skyhawk for a loooooong time. Although there were several decal brands contacted me asking for help, but none were released after that. Finally, there came FCM decal of Brazil early this year. In surprisingly 3 months-time, here’s now we all have the most accurate decal of Indonesian Air Force’s Skyhawk in latest camouflage. Thanks to Felipe for the amazing collaboration.

I painted the model using Gunze Lacquer #C338 (FS 36495), Gunze #EC-20 and Testors #2132 while waiting for the decal. Just after finishing the painting, the beautiful FCM decal came to my house directly from Felipe of FCM.

Decaling process went smoothly and the lightest color match perfectly to the Gunze FS 36495 as the real aircraft used the light grey camo color as the insignias color. This is the most breathtaking process during decaling.

I chose serial TT-0431 because this was one of the last 3-flyable Skyhawks on their last flight on August 5, 2004 (the other were TT-0440 and a dual-seater TL-0416, also included in the FCM sheet). The aircraft is now stored as a monument in Madiun, the original place they were based.

The rest was things we all do: Futuring, washing, weathering and flat coating. I put the finished model into my roof for photo session under natural lighting using my trusty Lumix pocket camera and enjoy the result….:)

This model is dedicated to all Indonesian Skyhawk Jockeys, Ground Crews, and everybody who loves it…

Alex Sidharta


Photos and text © by Alex Sidharta