Completed : Hasegawa 1/72 Grumman EA-6B Prowler

Gallery


Build Report

Kit Info
Manufacturer: Hasegawa
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection Plastic

The Subject
The Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a four-seat electronic warfare aircraft designed to jam and deceive enemy radar and communications facilities. The Prowler requires 4 crewmembers: 1 pilot and 3 Electronic Weapons Officers (EWOs). In 1980, the latest modification called the ICAP II was done on the existing airframes.

ICAP II upgrades included more evenly distributed tasks and duties for the EWOs, additional chaff dispensers, an upgrade in the the primary search radar, improved cockpit displays, the ability for two or more Prowlers to work together on an electronic suppression mission and most importantly, the ability for the Prowler to not just jam radars, but to shoot them down too. To accomplish that, the Prowler was rewired to carry the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile).

The EA-6B is currently operated by 14 active VAQ squadrons, one Fleet Readiness Squadron, and the Electronic Attack Weapons School totaling over 70 aircraft and 3,000 personnel. 14 squadrons are based out of NAS Whidbey Island while 1 is permanently based out of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. With the retirement of the US Air Force’s EF-111 Raven, The EA-6B is now the only dedicated tactical airborne electronic warfare asset in the US armed forces.

The Kit
This is my first completed 1/72 aircraft kit done with an airbrush. Before this one, it was always with spray paint and hand brushes. Some scratchbuilding was involved to mod the Prowler up to ICAP II configuration as per the instructions in the box.

Hasegawa has a tendency to rebox old molds and pass it off as modern versions of the aircraft. This one is no different, which was why an insert was included. The Prowler also was unique in that individual birds could conceviably be modded in different ways. Research I poured into modeling the correct aircraft for the correct markings I wanted to do burned me out so much I stopped modeling for a while six months after that. Heh.

Construction
My kit came as an early production block Prowler (this is the only version of the Prowler that’s offered IIRC) so with the extra info provided by Hasegawa, I proceeded to add and cut the antennae to make the ICAP II mods. The hump on the bottom fuselage was also cut and filled with epoxy putty (the hump was hollow). I also did some research on the ‘Net to see how accurate the Hasegawa information was. I gave up after seeing about a dozen photos of actual Prowlers, with different antennae configurations. In the end, I just followed the Hasegawa sheet verbatim.

As per my usual practice, I put together as much of the plane as possible before attempting to fill the seamlines and painting. Because of that, I tend to deviate somewhat from the instructions. In fact, for the Prowler, I did the seats last (for reasons I shall explain later).

Overall, the kit fit OK with the following nitpicks:

Intakes
The kit allowed you to leave the boarding ladders down, so the intakes come with openings for the ladders to fit into if you wanted to model the ladders in the up position. Normally not much of a problem except, when you look inside the intakes, you’ll see flat plastic plates covering the interior. AMSers need not apply here.

Bottom fuselage
Because of the way the fuselage is shaped, I guess Hasegawa was forced to mold the fuselage into 3 pieces: left, right and bottom. This creates ‘opportunity’ for unnecessary gaps to popup. Nothing that some putty wouldn’t fix though.

ALQ-99 fan blades
The unique jamming pods have propellers attached to the front but the way Hasegawa molded them, it’s hard NOT to break a blade when you try to cut the propellor off the tree. I managed to wreck 2 of them but lucky for me, I was only planning to mount 3 ALQ pods anyway.

Canopy
The front canopy came as two separate pieces (left and right) which is weird because there is no reason for it to be that way since he old Hasegawa boxing’s front canopy came as 1 piece. Hasegawa also decided to remove the brown tint of the old canopy for this new reboxing which is another weird move because the actual Prowler’s canopies ARE tinted. If you looked at photos of the real aircraft, there appears to be a coppery tint at certain angles.

Seats
Oh man… where should I begin? The whole kit was ruined by the seats Hasegawa provided. It was as if they were put in as an afterthought. They look so generic they aren’t even funny.

To fix the canopies, I decided to do an experiment. I mixed a half bottle of vanilla essence with Future and then dipped the canopies into the concoction. I did it three times with 24 hours in between for the Future to dry completely. The end result was a very very subtle shade of coppery brown tint. A bit too subtle for my liking, if I ever do it again, I’d find another way to achieve the effect.

As for the seats, I settled with adding some simple ejection handles on the headrests. I wasn’t about to try to find the OOP True Details seats through the ‘Net. Too much hassle. The handles were done by some simple bending of brass rod and painting.

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