This is the famous Jet Provost trainer, a rare venture for me as I usually concentrate on weapons of mass destruction as you have probably noticed if you are a follower of my site! However, it was later developed into a ground-attack aircraft under the name Strikemaster and developed by BAC (British Aircraft Corporation). The Jet Provost served in the RAF from 1955 to 1993, quite a longevity! Of course now the RAF uses the Hawk trainer instead.
‘The Jet Provost was introduced in the late 1950s and quickly became the RAF’s premier jet basic trainer. The T3 model, introduced in 1959, featured an uprated engine and an improved canopy design, offering the side by side seated pilot and pupil a much improved view. The Provost was a joy to fly, forgiving and easy to learn on, with many of the 1960s and 70s RAF front line pilots learning their trade on its un-swept wings. Its reliability and strength also added to its suitability as a jet trainer and the addition of wing tip tanks on the T3 also added to its endurance. The T4 model was visually identical to the T3, but featured a more powerful engine again, and both variants served with a wide variety of RAF squadrons and training colleges. The T4 even served with the RAF’s Red Pelicans display team. Today a few ex RAF Jet Provosts remain flying, their suitability as training machines making them highly suitable for civilian jet operations’.
This kit was a breeze to put together which was as well, as the painting was quite tricky. The upside is that you really don’t need to add a varnish finish and can get straight on with the decaling.
This is my second venture into the Skyhawk 1:72 realm from Airfix and again it is an Argentinian version from the Falklands conflict but this time in the more standard grey camouflage. I chose deck tan shade from the Vallejo paint range to depict the colour as opposed to satin light gull grey as it appeared to be closer to some of the photo references I have seen but who really knows!? Truth, as they say, is all shades of grey! Anyway, I particularly liked the markings on this aircraft which is why I chose the subject.
All of the information about this aircraft is identical to the previous version so I will just take you through the build instead.
This is an old model from my ‘archive’ that I recently restored. I had made it many years ago when I resumed modelling in my middle-age (was it really all those years ago!?). At the time I wasn’t so adept with the airbrush but somehow I did manage to airbrush all those yellow and blue stripes towards the tail and the red tail fin itself. No mean feat with a single-action airbrush and Humbrol enamels, which was like spraying treacle! This time round I accented the panel lines and gave it a bit more of a weather beaten appearance, but not too beaten up as the aircraft depicted by this model probably wouldn’t have seen much action. I am presuming this particular aircraft took part in the Pearl Harbour attack where it distinguished itself along with the Mitsubishi Zeros and Nakajima Kates.
I have always regarded the Aichi D3A, known as ‘Val’ by the Allies as one of the most beautiful looking aircraft of all time, along with the Spitfire and P-51 Mustang.
Influenced by German designs on dive-bombers, the Aichi D3A1 was a low-wing monoplane which could carry a single 550-lb bomb. The fixed spatted undercarriage betrayed the influence of the Heinkel organisation, which was secretly advising the Imperial Navy in aviation design in 1936. It was slower than many of the other aircraft at Pearl Harbour, but it was manoeuvrable, powered by a single 1,0875 h.p. Mitsubishi Kinsei 44 radial engine.
The Val first flew in August 1936 but by August 1942 only 478 had been built, proving the lack of Japanese resources. Still the Val is credited with sinking more Allied ships than any other Axis aircraft of the Second World War.
It has been quite a while since I had made a modern jet, so I thought to start again with something small. And they don’t come much smaller than the diminutive A-4 Skyhawk, especially in 1:72 scale!
I rarely make models in 1/72 scale these days, mainly because of my worsening eye sight, but they do have the benefit of not taking up so much storage space!
This is a recent release by Airfix and the quality is very good with fine recessed panel lines and details. I chose the Argentinian option just to be different though I hope eventually to make an American version. Another Argentinian version should also eventually appear on my site but in gull grey camouflage.
Here is the Airfix information about the Skyhawk:
The A4 Skyhawk was a carrier-capable light attack aircraft, developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company for a US Navy specification that called for a replacement to its versatile, but vulnerable piston-engined AD Skyraider.
‘The new Douglas aircraft was a diminutive design, with a wing so compact it did not need to be folded for stowage, thus simplifying the aircraft. The wing itself was a conventional low wing delta design, which, with its small area, gave excellent manoeuvrability. The Skyhawk also introduced the concept of buddy refuelling, able to refuel other aircraft of the type from a centrally mounted ‘Buddy Store’.
The A4B was the second variant of the Skyhawk and one of the first to see combat in the skies over Vietnam where it was involved in the early stages of the conflict, with later versions serving throughout the campaign. Due to its small size the A4 was able to operate off the smaller World War Two Essex carriers, but could still carry a useful payload to its target.
Used by other nations in conflicts across the world, such as Argentina and Israel, the A4 has proven itself to be a tough, nimble and useful attack aircraft, with later versions continuing to see service many years after the prototype flew.
Airfix would like to extend its thank to the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York for their assistance with this project: www.intrepidmuseum.org’.
Range 2,000 miles, Wingspan: 8.4m Length: 13m
Armament 2x30mm cannon. Various stores up to 9,000lb
THE FALKLANDS CAMPAIGN 1982
Some of you might remember the Argentinian Skyhawks attacking Royal Navy ships in ‘bomb alley’ in the Falklands. Although the Argentinian Army and Navy were reckoned to be pretty poor in this conflict, the Air Force, or Fuerza Aerea Argentina, was a different story.
On paper at least, the Argentinians appeared to have two crucial advantages-vast superiority in numbers and land bases. However, these advantages were almost wholly negated by the fact that the nearest base, Rio Gallegos, was almost 400 miles away from the mid point of the islands, Falkland Sound. That meant that the Argentinian pilots were always operating to the extreme limits of their range and therefore had precious little ‘loiter time’ i.e. time to find a target or engage in a dogfight-rather like the Luftwaffe pilots in the Battle of Britain!
The Argentinian pilots were well trained, some of it done with France some with Israel, but the training had almost exclusively been done over land and, as the pilots were to quickly find out, over sea they were much more vulnerable to radar.
The Argentinian Skyhawks were well over 20 years old, refurbished models of one of the earliest versions of the plane; formidable in their day but now obsolete. They were sold to Argentina by the US Navy in 1966. They had since been fitted with a more modern weapon aiming sight, but that was distinctly inferior to the Head Up Display (HUD) that the Harrier pilots had to aim them in a dog fight. And, in low level flight, the Skyhawks were 100 mph slower.
The Argentinian Skyhawks also had the further disadvantage of using the old style Sidewinder air-to-air missiles which, because it seeks the heat from a jet exhaust of the target, needs to be fired from behind. The RAF, in contrast, had in great secrecy equipped their Harriers with the new generation AIM9L, which has a guidance system sensitive enough to be fired from any aspect.
Finally, the Harriers had the ability to jump, not merely off the ground but also in mid-air. The technique known as ‘viffing’ (vectoring in forward flight) is possible because the Harrier’s jet nozzles rotate downwards to give vertical thrust for take-off. Early on in the plane’s career pilots discovered that rotating the nozzles downwards in flight caused rapid deceleration but also a gain in altitude. The advantage this gives in a dog fight is not hard to imagine: a Harrier pilot who finds the enemy on his tail, simply viffs, is very rapidly overtaken-and the hunter becomes the hunted.