15 years ago
A-7A from Hobby Boss. Seven days to be delivered from Japan to the UK - that's
I've been rather excited over this the thought of this kit and I've been
pouring over it all day. Sadly, I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed by
it all. The word which sums it all up is "meh!"
The kit comes in a box that is very reminiscent of those provided by
Academy. In fact the whole product has a very Academyesque feel to it: the
instruction sheet, the decals, the painting sheet, even the colour of
The box top claims there are 186 parts on 8 sprues. There are 186 parts, but
there are only 6 sprues. The aircraft itself consists of 90 opaque parts on
three sprues, with a further 6 transparent parts on one sprue. However, not
all the parts will be used for this version. The remaining 90 parts are used
to provide the weapons load on two identical sprues. More on this later.
The plastic, as I stated above, is the same light grey-green colour as used
by Academy kits. The surface finish on the parts is excellent with no
ejection pin marks on visible surfaces. Panel lines are engraved, but I feel
that they are a little too deep. The Academy F-8 had deep panel lines that I
felt were acceptable after priming with cellulose car primer and sanding.
The Hobby Boss panel lines are even deeper. However, they may well look good
under a coat of paint. The surface is given texture by a number of raised
panels which look quite nice. The big problem that I can see is that
Trumpeter's phantom riveter has been moonlighting at Hobby Boss. There are
lots and lots of indented rivets that stand out like sore thumbs. Although I
could get to live with the panel lines, I really don't like the looks of
these rivets and I would fill them as a matter of priority.
Ten parts make up a nicely detailed cockpit - tub, rudder pedals, control
column, ejection seat rails and rear bulkhead all have detail and the
cockpit sidewalls are detailed on the inside of the fuselage halves. The
instrument panel and side consoles are flat with the detail provided by
decals. This seems perfectly acceptable, in this scale, but there is plenty
of scope for the aftermarket companies. The panels seem to be a challenge to
Eduard to provide some pre-coloured PE components.
There are two seats supplied, which are both slightly different. As there
are two sets of rudder pedals supplied as well, I think this is intended to
provide for both seats of the forthcoming TA-7C and A-7K, rather than
different seats for later variants. Sadly the seats have no detail
whatsoever and are best replaced with aftermarket resin items.
The fuselage is moulded with the electronics bays on both sides open for
inspection. The detailing here is excellent and with a bit of added wiring
and some careful painting will look stunning. Likewise, the undercarriage
bays are well detailed and once again are very reminiscent of those in the
Academy F-8. There is a complete nose gear bay, which makes a nice change
from the Fujimi kit.
The intake trunking is well engineered with a lap effect over the joint
which will prevent any cracks appearing. A dry fit shows that the joint line
won't be too obtrusive and will probably be easy to clean up. There are two
sets of intake lips - with and without cannon troughs, to provide for the
This brings me to the first problem. The early A,B and C variants had twin
20mm Colt Mk12 cannons on either side of the lower forward fuselage. The D
variant onwards had a single 20mm Vulcan cannon on the port side. The kit
provides for the early cannon troughs but it is quite clear that the mould
has an insert that will be changed for the later variants. Sadly the panel
that is produced by this mould insert has a very pronounced sink line around
it. It can be filled but some of the nice detail in that area will be lost.
There are other areas that also have sink marks, notably on the base of the
The wings are moulded in two parts: complete upper surfaces and outer
sections, with lowersurface inner sections. The flaps are moulded integrally
with the upper surfaces. This is slightly disappointing as, given the high
parts count, I was expecting separate flaps and slats and maybe even outer
wings which could be assembled in the raised position. It was not to be.
The outer wing sections are easily as thick as the rudder but this time
there is no evidence of sink marks. The wing is ingeniously engineered with
the location tabs on the lower half while the upper half laps over and but
joints to the fuselage. This is intended to provide the slightly faired look
seen in this area. It's a good idea in principle. Sadly, it doesn't work
and there is a gap of at least half a millimetre which will need to be
filled, with again the prospect of losing detail in this area.
Having assembled the kit using masking tape and blue tack, I can say that
apart from the aforementioned wing fit problems, the rest of the main
airframe fits together perfectly.
The transparencies are thin and clear, however there is a vary prominent
mould line down the centreline of the canopy which will have to be carefully
sanded away The rear section of the canopy, which is metal on the real
aircraft, is lightly etched. There are two HUDs provided, presumably one for
later variants, as well as two transparent panels intended for the FLIR pods
included in the stores.
On two the stores. There are two identical sprues which each have two MERs,
one tank, one Sidewinder, one FLIR pod and no less than nine 500lb MK82 iron
bombs. The bombs are each in three parts - two halves and optional fuzes.
Sadly, the two halves don't fit well and so there will be an awful lot of
very tedious filling and cleaning up involved. Given the fact that there are
some hideous trenches masquerading as joint lines (where there really
shouldn't be any) I have to wonder whether it's worth all the effort. The
MERs are built from three components, the main assembly with the two lower
Ejector Release Units as separate components. The main bar of the MER ooks
to be far two flimsy to carry the weight of a full bomb load. Even worse is
that there are only three of the ERU components on each sprue, when there
really should be four. I wonder if the original intention was to have one
MER and one TER on each sprue.
The fuel tanks look dreadful. They are far too slim and there are some bands
around them that stand at least half a millimetre proud of the surface. The
Sidewinders are each in five components. They are acceptable (if a little
skinny) as an AIM-9L, but they are certainly not the 9B variant as described
in the instructions. Again there are some raised bands on the missile body
that really should be sanded off. There's also a spurious and deeply etched
panel line around the seeker head that should be filled. in The FLIR pod is
of a design that I've never seen so I couldn't comment as to whether it is
The decals provide for two aircraft: 153228 NG/312 of VA-147 operating from
USS Ranger (CVA-61) in 1968 and 153214 NJ/201 of VA(F)-122 "Corsair College".
The sheet provides all the main markings, but very little in the way of
stencilling. In addition, the red is far too bright and is out of register
on the national insignia. On the positive side, the decals appear to be very
thin and are again very Academyesque. Whether they will have the same
adhesion problems as Academy decals remains to be seen.
So. that's an overview of the kit. Rather nice it looks too on first
inspection (if you can ignore the hideous rivets and the abysmal stores). So
let's deal with the major problem with this kit. There are some quite
dreadful shape errors.
I have compared the parts against photographs and plans in "US Navy A-7
Corsair II Units of the Vietnam War" by Norman Birzer and Peter Mersky. I
also compared the shape against the old Fujimi kits, which may or may not be
a reasonable comparison.
The length seems to be just about spot on, but the wingspan is a scale foot
too short. The wing shape is actually very good but the tips provide the
problem. When seen in plan view, the rear fuselage has the slightly bulbous
look reproduces quite well - slightly better than Fujimi's effort. The big
problems are at the nose. The forward fuselage is wide - at least 15% too
wide. It then tapers rapidly until it is too narrow ahead of the cockpit,
again about 15% too narrow. This gives the forward fuselage an almost
pointed planform. The radome is subsequently far too small and skinny. In
fact it looks more like the radome of an F-8 than an A-7. The shape problems
(with the exception of the radome) are masked somewhat in the side view due
to the effect of the intake. In plan view, they are very noticeable.
The problem will be highlighted on the finished model by the canopy,
especially if it is left open. The canopy is so wide that it almost looks as
though it could fit on an F-111. In fact, the canopy from a Fujimi kit
actually fits inside the Hobby Boss canopy! As it is a transparency, there
is nothing that can be done about this. Even if the modeller replaces it
(and the pointy windscreen) with a vacformed part, it will look odd because
a correctly shaped canopy will not fit the fuselage.
The dry assembled model looks somewhat like a caricature of an A-7. You can
see what it is meant to be, but it just looks odd. If you were going to
build a collection of A-7s, then it would be worthwhile sticking with Hobby
Boss ones, because you certainly cannot display this next to a Fujimi one. I
did and had to say "Ewwwwwwwww!"
Overall this is a nicely engineered and presented kit which is badly let
down by the shape problems. The detail is excellent, would I would still
prefer the older Fujimi kits, even with ther lack of detail in the
undercarriage bays. In fact, I've had an outrageous thought. It may well be
possible to graft the gear bays from a spare Esci A-7 on to the Hobby Boss
fuselage, so saving the nicely detailed HB bays for use in a Fujimi kit. How
naughty is that?!?
So.. good try, Hobby Boss, but I'm afraid you've missed the mark by quite a
wide margin. I will be building this kit, but I won't be displaying it with
any Fujimi models and I won't be buying any more - apart maybe from the
If Hobby Boss had a school report card for this kit, it would read "Must try