Build review: 1/72 Hobbyboss A-7C #87203
Decal Versions: Ohio ANG or 353rd TFG/254 TFW, Thailand 1972
The Hobbyboss A-7’s are some of the best-detailed kits available in any scale. The company produces both the single and tandem seat versions in US Air Force and US Navy, Danish, Spanish, and Portuguese Air Force markings. Indeed, other than the fuselage, canopy, and cockpit tub, versions to build either a US Navy or US Air Force aircraft are present in the parts. And those parts are outstanding.
I will be using aftermarket decals for my project. I chose the A-7D of the 4450th Training Group, Nellis AFB from the mid-1980s. This squadron provided a cover story and training for pilots flying the F-117 Nighthawk before the aircraft was made public. Super Scale International sheet #72-587 supplied perfect markings for my plane. The aircraft also carried unique colors of the common Air National Guard pattern.
There are 5 sprues of gray parts, plus glass. There are 2 sprues of just underwing stores. There are eighteen Mk. 81 250 lb bombs with options for either standard length fuses (5) or extended fuses (5), If desired the extended bomb fuses can be cut down to the standard length. There are two fuel tanks and two optics pods for Laser-Guided weapons. For the A-7D there is a chin pod that took the place of the underwing pod. There are also 2 of the best detailed AIM-9 Sidewinders you will ever see. I really wish Hobbyboss would release just a selection of their weapons in 1/72 scale as Hasegawa has, it would be a big seller.
Other notable items are the presence of the parts to make the 2 seater, even if you have the single-seater. Remember, always save your extra parts! On the glass sprue there are 2 different HUD plates, the glass for the targeting pod and canopies.
The first step is the assembly of the cockpit. It’s pretty straightforward with very nice detailing. This kit did not have any cockpit decals so please do any painting of the panels when you put the cockpit together. There are separate ejector seat rails, a detailed stick, and separate rudder pedals. The seat itself isn’t well detailed but it will look just fine with a good paint job. The main landing gear box is also nicely detailed. PLEASE make sure the box is installed in the correct direction (consult the instructions), I did make an error with this model in getting that box reversed. I had to make a slight gear modification but I managed an acceptable fix for a non-contest model. Even guys with 50 years of modeling can still make mistakes. 🙂
The cockpit sits above the curved intake, which also mounts the nose gear and gear well. There are parts that are distinguished between the AF and Navy aircraft so pay close attention. Installation of the cockpit and intake into the fuselage is critical, in building several of these kits I always put the intake in first and let it dry completely before installing the cockpit. Make sure the lip of the intake mouth fits flush with the opening. If necessary put the two fuselage halves together and secure them with tape for proper alignment. Afterward, the cockpit fits neatly above the intake. After installing the main gear box and the jet exhaust tube the fuselage halves can be put together.
Fuselage fit can be troublesome, I started at the tail and moved forward, making sure to secure each section with tape before moving down. The fit for the forward fuselage may require careful pressure to close the seams. Don’t be afraid to use all the securing tape you need. At this point, you can go get some food, a nice beverage and watch a few nice A-7 videos on YouTube, or enjoy some light reading here on 1-72depot.com.
Time to move onto the wings. Carefully drill the holes in the wings for the pylons. In my research, nearly all of the A-7’s I looked at had all the pylons mounted even without stores hanging from them. Be careful on the outermost pylon as one of the holes is quite near the edge of the wing. Don’t damage the wing with an oversized hole. Pay attention to the order in which the pylons go on, each pylon pair is slightly different than the others.
Wing to fuselage fitment is actually better than average, I have only had to use the smallest amount of filler to hide any seams. Same with the Fuselage halves. On the Hobbyboss A-7’s there are two open avionics bays that are superbly detailed. With a little effort and consulting images of other finished models it’s not hard to do them justice. I, however, chose to button my aircraft up due to the model being handled on occasion by younger fingers. Just fewer things to break off, you understand.
The Air Force A-7’s have a different refueling port, targeting pods, and a few antennas than the Navy version. All of these small parts are what make this series a great addition to your display, especially when AF and Navy are sitting next to each other. There are also the different wheels for the AF and Navy versions, the appropriate wheel half can be chosen when ready for main gear assembly after painting.
I airbrushed my model in Vallejo Acrylic Medium Gunship Gray FS36118 and Gunship Green 71.014. Again, the pattern is the same as the Ohio Air National Guard version of the kit, the colors are just different. After the paint dried I shot 2 coats of acrylic gloss clear over the entire model. The gloss clear will give the decals a nice, smooth finish to adhere to.
For underwing stores I chose an ACMI pod and a small practice laser-guided bomb. Since this squadron was used to train Stealth Fighter pilots the ability to practice dropping the type of ordinance the Nighthawk would carry made sense to me. Both the ACMI pod and bomb came from the 1/72 Hasegawa weapons sets (Hasegawa – 35009 (X72-9) – AIRCRAFT WEAPONS V : U.S. MISSILES AND LAUNCHER SET for the ACMI pod and Hasegawa – 35011 (X72-11) – AIRCRAFT WEAPONS VI : U.S. SMART BOMBS for the guided bomb).
After decaling the model I shot the entire aircraft with 2 coats of acrylic flat and let it dry. I had considered weathering the aircraft, however, I had no good research of how they looked in a distressed state. I carefully painted the green area around the canopy pieces and installed the yellow outline decal. Again in my research there were a few aircraft with, and without, that yellow outline. I have my canopy closed to keep it from being broken off when handled.
The finished model looks great! Other than my mistake with the main gear well box everything else went fine. My construction time was about 8 hours over the course of 3 days.