Thursday, June 28

Zotz 1/32 A-4E Skyhawks of the Vietnam War Review

Zotz from sunny Mexico have already released one set of decals that go along with the A-4C conversion in 1/32 (while another to come of "M'" skyhawk very soon) now Zotz have released their latest decal sheet in 1/32 scale – this time their subject is the Excellent A-4E Skyhawk in the Vietnam war – four different schemes are represented in colours not yet seen in 1/32 scale we will review the sheet for you here...

Subject: A-4E Skyhawks in the Vietnam war
Sheets supplied: 2
Scale: 1/32 reviewed here

Available from: Zotz Site where you can buy directly - Squadron, Sprue Brothers, Mid-Ten Hobbies , Stevens International , Hannants & Scott’s Model Workshop
1/72 US$30 + P&P / 1/32 US$30 + P&P

Eli from Zotz has sent us the new decal sheet for the A-4 Skyhawks of the Vietnam War in 1/32 scale. With the help of research from Thierry Laurent this sheet looks to be a great addition to your next build. A new set of decals featuring not done before schemes for these early scooters is much anticipated. so we will examine them pretty closely with comparisons to the original aircraft. (and some close relatives) 

This decal set comes in he usual (more like always different) style of individually catering to each sheet with a different cover and artwork approach - the card cover sheet features the "hero" image and the small data placement sheets showing locations of the plethora of common warning and national markings as well as the colour guide.

Here is the sheet layout for both sheets - the main sheet with markings and the smaller one for unit and aircraft numbers that couldn't fit on the main sheet.

The lettering decal below
These four aircraft are from two units of the US Navy (VA-46 & VA-155) along with two aircraft from the USMC (VMA-211) there are some very well-known and just as highly anticipated aircraft depicted here. You get a coloured card sheet here with all of the aircraft and some interesting history surrounding each of these aircraft - there is some good light reading in there.
Below is the useful data placement page which neatly folds down from the coloured cover sheet. This sheet provides you with a stencil and national markings positions as well as a colour guide for these little jets..

 The decals are printed in Mexico and come on two sheets of regular coloured paper – one covered with colourful schemes while the second sheet is the black stencil lettering. Things i always look for in decals are the carrier film and how much is in excess, the finish and the artwork. You will be pleased to know the artwork is very well done, we will compare it to the real aircraft later - the finish is of a thin satin decal and not too thick at all which is promising, and the carrier film is used intelligently and not when not needed - obviously some decals need to be joined but there isn't large slabs of clear decal sheet to deal with at all - top marks.
All of The writing, especially the smaller letters on the data and warning signs looks great - some you can read and some so small you can work out what they say still - so good work there - everything is printed within proper register and there was no miss-printing that I could see.

Let’s look at the aircraft depicted here in this release - along with pictures of the real thing and the decals an how they compare..

The first Skyhawk depicted is the A-4E of the as yet to be politician John Sydney McCain III from VA-46 “Clansman”

Below is the long tartan strip which matches the patch up on the right hand side for that time-frame. Well done to Thierry for picking this correctly as there were many changes and well done to the people who rendered the decal to get it spot on as well. There are of course tartan decals for the tail as well.

This was the Skyhawk which was hit accidentally by a rocket from a parked jet which caused the massive fire on the USS Forrestal, many lives were lost and McCain barely escaped from the conflagration. This is an interesting choice as most decal makers would go for the aircraft McCain was shot down in. The "AA"  Tail code is here on the decal as well and is the right size and shape in scale of this aircraft. "Forrestal" and the BU number are there in evidence on this sheet as is the white printed "416" to go on the red flaps. 

The AA with a lightning flash is one decal and cleverly joined so that carrier film won't be visible

These images from other aircraft in
VA-46 - show you close ups of detail "De-tail" (sorry) and the tanks with VA-46 on them

The decals for the aircraft are a pretty extensive tartan marking which stretches right around the fuselage.

An aircraft from the same squadron gives a good representation of the markings on McCain's Aircraft

Zotz give you the option of the decals for the “416” on the inside flaps and the VA-46 on the long droptanks are both included.

  A restored A-4E bearing  the markings of McCain's aircraft (which was destroyed in the Forrestal fire of '67 )
The next choice is from VA-155 - Skyhawk BuAer no 151073 from the USS Constellation piloted by Commander Wesley.L.McDonald who you can see was the CAG by the “Double Nuts” on the 500 on the nose.

This aircraft is notable by the large 500 and the Silver Foxes tailcode of “NL” both large on the starboard wing. This kite – like all of the others here is finished in a Gloss gull grey uppersides/white undersides. Below is the aircraft in real life

 The decal placement sheet showing the large "NL" (Reversed on the other side) with the aircraft's unit markings and brilliantly coloured rainbow style wrapping around the fuselage. You can see from the picture of the aircraft above how the placement sheet from Zotz matches the aircraft right down to the warning signs that little the aircraft and the white "500" on the flaps.

Here are the colourful decals to match - first the tail section (including tail top green markings) then the large coloured rainbow -like markings

This will be a colourful bird! This is my fave on this sheet.

 There are two planes from the USMC VMA-211 “Wake Island Avengers” next - one with and one without the hump option.
VMA-211 completed four tours between 1965 and ’73 and so became one of the most experienced and well known Skyhawk units in the Marines.

The first aircraft was the A-4E Bu No: 151147, Piloted by Lt.L.Rivers who received the Silver Star for gallant and intrepid behaviour as a VMA-211 pilot in 1969.

This individual machine was marked with a white node cone and a “20” with a striped refuelling probe and – like all of the aircraft in the unit – the squadron emblem of the red Wake Island on a yellow background on the side of both fuselages as well as the “CF” tailcode in large letters on the horizontal stabilizer. 

Though not  151147 - you can see the colours and markings of this unit's aircraft clearly from this A-4E taken at the same time period

The decals for this are notably the Wake Island Avengers insignia on both air intakes, The large "CF" on the tail and the red and white striped tail section - you can see many pictures below of the real aircraft and some in this unit - Thierry has looked hard into this to research. The decals of these markings are below and to the left - the artwork is very good considering how much larger this image is on the screen

These decals wrap around the vertical stabilizer over some white to make the desired effect

The second aircraft from VMA-211 is piloted by Lt. Art Brostrand in 1968 and was identified by the Bu No 149658

The decal sheet showing all of the numbers and tail code letters - Very little carrier film between these make for a great set of figures(...Pardon the pun!)
This aircraft much like its squadron-mate in most aspects of its markings accept there is no white nose cone and there is a large “24” on the nose.The exact aircraft waiting to go "in country" bombed up in Chu Lai is pictured below. There is also a long red decal to wrap around the refuelling probe. in the "Barber Pole" fashion!!

This picture is a period shot - showing the aircraft without the avionics "hump"

 This is the aircraft after the Hump avionics were attached in '71
This Skyhawk was captured afterwards in 1971 with the upper fuselage "hump back" avionics pod. This additional avionics area carried the Electronic Counter-Measures equipment.
I am very happy with these decals - for me the quality of the printing (there are some pretty tiny words able to be made out here) and the artwork as well as the lack of excess carrier film and the excellent research really make this a great set for A-4E fans looking to jazz up their own scooter. 

Well done Zotz for a great sheet - yet again unique and top quality.

You can get these decals from the Zotz website amongst other places Thanks to Eli for these to review.