Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Building the 1/48 Hasegawa Skyhawk

This blog entry will focus on building the 1/48 Hasegawa A-4 and TA-4 kits as RNZAF post Kahu aircraft. However some of the information below will be of use when building the Haseagwa Skyhawk kits in general.

I have detailed article on  modelling the RNZAF Skyhawk here. This explains all the subtleties of the RNZAF aircraft throughout their RNZAF service.

Which Kit(s)?

Any of the A-4E/F kits and TA-4F/J can be used for a RNZAF Skyhawk. For these builds I'm using 

  • 1/48 A-4K Skyhawk 'RNZAF' - Kit No. 09441 released in 2002. This boxing contains five (5) white metal parts for the upper VOR/ILS antennas, Forward under wing RWR antenna fairings and High Intensity Strobe light. there are all pretty easy to scratch build. 

  • 1/48 TA-4J Skyhawk - Kit No. 07243 (PT43) released in 2009

Kits marked A-4F only may not be suitable due to the different intakes in those kits. That said the difference in the intake profile is really hard to see. If in doubt take a look at this page . It lists the sprue's in each of the Hasegawa A-4 boxing's. The intake sprue that is correct for the RNZAF aircraft is Sprue J. Some A-4F's  (Super Fox) had the up-rated engine of the A-4M and thus those aircraft need the same intake sprue as the A-4M (sprue Q).

Some Comments on the Hasegawa Skyhawk Kits

People often remark that this is one of Hasegawa's better kits.  But after building 3 of these now I disagree. It may of been when it was first released but IMHO the fit is far from good in many places. And like many Hasegawa kits of it's vintage the panel lines are for me at least to fine / shallow. 

Fit Issues

The main fit issues I've found  are as follows:

  • The intakes and 'engine front' parts do not meet up
  • The RH rear fuselage insert requires filler to match the fuselage contours.
  •  Inserts for the guns/no gun fairing in the forward wing root to fuselage join don't match wing contours. 
  • Left hand wing to fuselage join has a gap
  • The hump to fuselage join needs some filler.
  • The speed brakes don't match the contour of the fuselage when closed. And posing them fully open, unless the aircraft is flying or landing is just plain wrong IMHO (yes I know there are exceptions but they are that, - exceptions). A saving grace is that speed brakes tended to open slightly after shutdown when the hydraulic pressure bled off so you can get away with not making them fit perfectly.
  • If you're not using the hump I found the top of the fuselage, under where the hump would be needs a bit of filler to smooth it off.

Other Comments

Some things I've noted
  • The panel lines are quite shallow in a lot of places.
  • The slat wells on the wings are just plain wrong. There is no step.
  • The left main landing gear receptacle is approximately 1 mm longer that the left one. If you don't reduce this your model will sit left wing high.
  • The underside of the tail section (under the hook) pinches up. Luckily there is a panel line here and the Arrester hook covers most of it.
  • If doing a A-4F onwards the line that represents the lift spoilers on the upper wing needs to be scribed. This is sometimes not shown on the instructions. Do this before you put the wings together.
  • The nose wheel is not moulded separately.
  • The slat tracks are moulded on the wings so get in the way throughout the build.
  • The lower edge of the front windscreen has to be glued directly to the kit, there is no lower windscreen frame for the sprue gate to attach too. This can lead to damage tote h clear part.
  • The instructions don't tell you to drill out holes for the fuel dump port on the lower wing.
  • There are lots of ejector pin marks in annoying places.
  • The plastic is very hard which makes scribing difficult. 

Sadly all the issues are equally applicable to the newer TA-4 kits despite them being released nine or so years later. As the kits share most of the same sprue's this is understandable. 

I will attempt to show I address some of these issues in the following sections.


Some of the aftermarket I used on this build. In the image below there are 

  • Quickboost 48-496 - A-4 Skyhawk ejection seat belts
  • Quickboost 48 422 - A-4 Gun Barrels
  • Quickboosr 48 316 - A-4 Refuelling Probe
  • Eduard ED 648214 - A-4E/F Skyhawk Wheels Set
  • Eduard ED49458 -  TA/4J Upgrade set
  • Airscale PE 48MOD - Jet  Cockpit PE Set
  • Rons Resin Kahu upgrade et
  • Steel Beach A-4 Intake blanks
  • Phase Hangar Resin 48021 400 Gallon Drop Tanks

Not shown above are 
  • Phase Hangar Resin 48021 - 400 Gallon Drop Tanks
  • Eduard ED 48851 - A-4E/F Upgrade set
  • Quickboost QB48887 - A-4 Skyhawk FOD Covers 

Part I - The Wings

One of the major issues with the Hasegawa Skyhawk kit is the slat well moulded onto the leading edge of the wing. This doesn't exist in real life. 

If you choose to fix this there are two (2) methods that I've seen used. Either cut the piece out and reposition it, or fill it. Either way you'll be up for some re-scribing. I've not tried the cutting method. I have always always filled and sanded to fit, either with a two part epoxy like Magi Scuplt or , as I did in these builds, plastic strip and various Mr Surfacer fillers. 

This works quite well however as the plastic card is considerably softer than the Hasegawa plastic a bit care is needed when re scribing across the transitions between the materials. I used a Galaxy Models rivet tool to redo the screws 

While working on the upper wing pieces the missing line for the edge of the wing spoiler should be scribed. You can see it in the image below circled in red.

In the mid 1980's the RNZAF moved the lower Anti Collision light to the right hand side (Refer here) As these are both Kahu aircraft I need to move it. As it's moulded on the wing piece you need to slice it off with a razor saw.  

The height of the left hand main gear locating point can also be reduced now. You can clearly how much taller it is in the images below.

For some reason Hasegawa didn't note that the holes for the fuel dump fairing need to be drilled out.


This image shows the changes described above. I also opened up the fuel dump.

I also wanted to have the aft hell hole door open as it was nearly always open when on the ground. Some scratch building will be needed.

Part 2 - The Cockpits

The kit cockpit is pretty good for a pre Kahu (A-4F) from the box and I've had good success just laying the Hasegawa Instrument panel and sidewall decals over the raised detail. But for a post Kahu aircraft there needs to be some significant changes, particularly to the instrument panel. See my other article on  Modelling the RNZAF Skyhawk .

Now you really can't see the front instrument panel on completed model so it's debatable how valuable spending time recreating a post Kahu instrument panel is. The aft cockpit will be  quite visible so this time , for me,  it was worth the time spent.

For the instrument panel I used various Airscale PE details for the DU's and instrument bezels. These were OK although there are some differences in the sizes of the PE for DU's that are supposed to be the same size. 

The kit ejection seat is typical of its era so it worth replacing with a resin seat. There are a few Escapac seats on the market. For me the best are probably the Phase Hangar ones but I had already purchased a number of Quickboost ones which are also nice. None of these actually lay the belts the way we used to but I wasn't going to try and simulate that.

The Quickboot seats require some very minor surgery to fit but nothing worth explaining in detail. 

The rails for the seat in the kit cockpit are way to small so I replaced with them with some evergreen strip glued into the proper channel shape.

For the TA-4K I used the PE bits in the Eduard TA-4J upgrade set. 

For the TA-4 Cockpit, against my better judgement, I used the PE consoles. I wish I hadn't as they loo to flat, although once in the model they are definitely better. 

I added some details from my reference photos, these included the video recorder box, various levers , a pouch and  the oxygen hose. These won't be that visible but I know they are there. The Oxy hoses was made from 0.010 copper wire coiled around some 0.020 thou copper wire. The other details form scrap card.

For the A-4 seat I tried using the Hasegawa decals over the consoles but these wouldn't settle so in the end I just painted the various knobs etc with a fine brush/ toothpick and Vallejo acrylics. I reckon this looks much better. 

On the right side of the cockpit the RNZAF aircraft have a pouch which is used to store the seat pins, HUD cover and other bits and the pilots carry on gear. I used some magi sculpt to create these.

Lead shot held in place with white tac and then secured with white glue was used for the nose weight.

Paint used was Gunze MR Color C306 FS 36270. Like a lot of US jets the real cockpit is FS36231 (Mr Color C317) but this looks far to dark in a cockpit in this scale . I find C306 looks better. A wash of thinned oil paint was applied to bring out some of the detail. 

To be continued 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Modelling the RNZAF Skyhawk


The purpose of this blog is to describe the RNZAF A-4 and TA-4 Skyhawk as a modelling subject. It will cover the original T/A-4K aircraft, the T/A-4G aircraft acquired from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Post Kahu T/A-4K aircraft.

A second (future) part will cover building the 1/48 Hasegawa Skyhawk family although there may be information in that that is useful to modelling Skyhawks in general.

Readers notes

  • Where I write T/A-4 I am referring to both the A-4 and TA-4 as the point is applicable to both the single and the two seater. Where I refer to the A-4 or TA-4 then that point is only applicable to that variant.
  • Unless otherwise attributed all photos are mine. 


  • Don Simms for providing me with far more information than I'd expected. It's his fault this is so long.
  • Bruce Anders for proof reading.
  • Glen Turner for some of the photos. 


New Zealand received 14 brand new Skyhawk's (ten A-4K and four TA-4K's) in 1970. In 1984 Australia sold their ten remaining Skyhawk's (eight A-4G’s and two TA-4G’s) to New Zealand. This allowed the reactivation of No 2 Sqn. Whilst the A-4G's also underwent a few simple  modifications to make them more similar to the A-4K fleet but they were still known as T/A-4G's. 

In the late 1980’s the remaining 21 RNZAF Skyhawk's were given an extensive avionics and weapon systems update. This was known as Project Kahu. All aircraft were also re-winged. This also resulted in all aircraft now being the same configuration. Post Kahu the RNZAF referred to all aircraft including the T/A-4G's as T/A-4K's. 

More details on RNZAF A-4 history is here

Modelling the RNZAF TA-4K and A-4K Skyhawk  - Pre Kahu

The ten (10) original A-4K aircraft were identified NZ6201 to NZ6210. The four (4) TA-4K  were NZ6251 to NZ6254. As a modelling subject the RNZAF Skyhawk Pre Kahu is simply a A-4F (with the hump) or a TA-4F.

Paint Schemes / Colours / Markings

The South East Asia (SEA) Scheme 

The aircraft were delivered in the South East Asia (SEA) paint scheme of Medium Green (FS 34102);  Dark Green (FS 34079); Tan (FS 30219) and Light Grey (FS 36222). The Slat wells, underside of the slats, insides of the wing spoilers and flaps and inside of the speedbrake (but not the fuselage) are bright red (FS31166) . The undercarriage is gloss white (FS17875). T

The roundels were first a simple RAF style with a vertical fin flash.  One (1) roundel was one the upper left and lower right wings along with the speed brakes on each fuselage side. Roundels were 18 inches in diameter. 

Initially the fin flash was equal parts of red , white and blue six (6) inches wide. Aircraft serial numbers and type are in light grey (FS 36222) The serial is 8 inches high by 5 inch wide with 1 inch thick. The Aircraft type lettering is four (4) inches high and half an inch wide by half an inch thick.

NZ6201 and NZ6251 on Pre delivery flights in the USA - McDonnell Douglas ( Boeing) Photo

The aircraft flew briefly in New Zealand with these roundels before the Silver Fern roundel was applied.

NZ6205 with Silver Fern Roundel mid 1970 - RNZAF Official 

This appears to have only lasted a few months. By the end of 1970 the Kiwi Roundel was applied. 

75 Squadron Formation 1973 - RNZAF Official

Around 1980 the fin flash changed to the slanted one. The bottom of the colours in fin flash are the same dimensions as the original straight style. Black was applied around the gun areas 

NZ6208 Nosewheel Retracted 1980 - RNZAF Official 

The Euro 1 Scheme 

In the mid 1980's the Euro 1 scheme was introduced. This is Medium Green (FS 34102);  Dark Green (FS 34079), Grey (FS 36081).

The Roundels and Fin Flash were red and blue and warnings were in yellow. 

Concorde and Euro 1 A-4K Skyhawk's 1986 - RNZAF Official

The Hump 

From 1987 onward, the hump began to be removed from the original RNZAF A-4K's. I think this was done as part of the formation of "Kiwi Red" the No. 75 Squadrons aerobatic team. Kiwi Red was formed for the Australian Bicentennial airshow in 1988. The image of Kiwi Red below shows a number of the original RNZAF pre Kahu A-4K's without the hump.

Kiwi Red 1988 - RNZAF Official

Lower Anti Collision Light 

The aircraft was delivered with the light on the left but this was moved to right forward of the fuel dump, in the early to mid 1980's . This was done to accommodate a mini-pan camera which was fitted in the rear of the left hand undercarriage fairing. The Image below shows the anti col light still on the left.

75 Sqn Aerobatic Team 1981 - RNZAF Official 

By 1984 it is starting to show up on the right 

RNZAF A-4K Cope Thunder 1984 - US DOD image

Close up of the Lower Anti Collision Light 

Pitot Probe and Static Vents

The T/A-4K and T/A-4G aircraft had the forward static port on the right hand side of the nose as per this image. Note raised area where the aft one would have been.

T/A-4K and T/A-4G Static Ports

The T/A-4K and T/A-4G also had the nose pitot probe not the tail mounted one,

Pitot and Total Air Temp Probes 

Refuelling Probe

On delivery the T/A-4K fleet had a straight refuelling probe but like all other A-4 operators the straight probe was replaced with the cranked version. For the RNZAF this occurred around 1974. 

NZ6252 Over Mount Cook 1974 - RNZAF Official

Vertical Fin Shape

The T/A-4K fleet were always fitted with the squared off Fin. I believe there is an antenna under here. 

Forward ECM Antennas and Radome

The A-4K's were fitted with the standard USN lower forward facing ECM antenna fairings. This comprised of two antennas under the fuselage just near the rear of the front landing gear bay, and the one in the underside of the radome. Unfortunately the equipment was never purchased so these were useless.

NZ6206 in 1973 with the original ECM Antenna Fit -  RNZAF Official

In the late 1970's the nose fairing starts to disappear. Generally this coincides with the appearance of the black radome. But there are images, like the one below, of A-4K's fitted with camouflaged radomes but not having the under radome fairing. 

NZ6202 at RMAF Butterworth 1978 - RNZAF Official

In the image below you can see the lower antennas fitted but not the nose antenna.

NZ6207 Cope Thunder 1984 - US DOD

The TA-4K aircraft weren't fitted with either lower fuselage or under nose antenna fairings at build. However as the radome is interchangeable it could end up fitted to a TA-4K. The image below shows NZ6251 with the under nose fairing and NZ6209 without one but still with a camouflaged radome.  

NZ6209 (No fairing) NZ6251 Fairing) 1970's  - RNZAF Official

Tail ECM Antennas and Light Configuration

The A-4K had the tail fin ECM antennas fitted. These were removed during the Kahu upgrade (with the exception of NZ6205 which had it for while post Kahu). The RWR fairings on the side of the tailpipe eyebrow fairing were also fitted pre Kahu. Images show these on the delivery flights in the USA in 1969/70

The TA-4K did not come with the tail ECM fit. They also didn't have the RWR fairings on the side of the tailpipe eyebrow fairing (until Kahu). But noting this part is interchangeable, aircraft could conceivably be fitted with either panel.  

Glens image below shows the pre Kahu tail antenna configuration as well as the pre Kahu position of the formation light . The light was moved as part of Kahu. Not the lack of smoke pipe as well (see next section). 

Pre Kahu Tail Antenna Configuration - Glen Turner

The image below from a Cope Thunder exercise in 1984 shows a TA-4K in the foreground. The subsequent aircraft are A-4K's.

Skyhawk Tails - Cope Thunder 1984 - RNZAF Official 

Drag Chute Cover and Smoke Pipe

For most of its RNZAF career the drag chute cover was a conical shape. These got pretty beat up as they hit the runway when dropped. The image below shows the conical drag chute fairing and the RWR fairings in the eyebrow fairing.

NZ6202 in flight 1972 - RNZAF Official

In the late in 1980's a modification to spray diesel, held in the 150 gallon drop tank, in the jet blast was introduced. The only visible indication is a small curved pipe above the drag chute fairing that protrudes into the jet blast . This was retained on the Kahu aircraft. 

In the Late 1990's the Drag Chute cover was changed to the flatter style shown here. These were only seen in aircraft in the all green scheme. The image below shows the smoke pipe with the late Drag Chute fairing. 

Late Drag Chute Fairing and Smoke Pipe - RNZAF Official

The T/A-4K Main Communication  Antenna

The main communication antenna for T/A-4K is located on the upper fuselage behind the cockpit. I believe the RNZAF T/A-4K was fitted with both a VHF and a UHF radio and this large rectangular one was a dual V/UHF antenna.  On aircraft in the Euro 1 scheme the antenna was black. On SEA painted aircraft it was white. 

When the Hump was removed from the A-4K aircraft this antenna was retained as both the radios were still fitted. The image below of Kiwi Red in 1987 shows a mixture of A-4K's with and without the hump. All have the original large rectangular antenna. 

Kiwi Red 1987 - RNZAF Official


The RNZAF also removed the carrier bridle hooks from the undercarriage bays as these were a hazard to personnel. 

The pre Kahu  aircraft were not fitted with any Countermeasures Dispensing Systems (CDS) so these were blanked out. 

Modelling the RNZAF TA-4G and A-4G Skyhawk  - Pre Kahu

The ex RAN T/A-4G aircraft were allocated sequential numbers to the RNZAF's original T/A-K fleet.  So the A-4G's were NZ6211 to NZ6218  and the two seaters were NZ6255 and NZ6256.

As a modelling subject  the RNZAF T/A-4G Skyhawk is basically a A-4E and TA-4F/J. The most visible difference between the A-4G and A-4K , apart from the colour schemes,  is the lack of hump on the A-4G.

Pre Kahu T/A-4G Paint Schemes / Colours

When received by the RNZAF all the A-4G's and TA-4G NZ6255 were painted in the RAN's attractive Air Superiority Scheme of Aircraft Grey (BS 381C-693) and Light Admiralty Grey (BS 381C-697). The last aircraft , NZ6256 was painted in all over light grey with 724 Sqn fin flash

Ex RAN 880, 881, 884 and 885 on their Delivery Flight - RNZAF Official 

The T/A-4G fleet initially retained the RAN camouflage schemes, But as time wore on fitment of spares meant that colours from the T/A-4K appeared on the T/A-4G. Eventually the T/A-4G's ended up in the Euro 1 scheme.

The image below is a good example. Here are 3 A-4G's (no humps) and 2 A-4K's (humps) . The radomes on the two (2) A-4G's nearest the camera are black. The RAN A-4G radome was painted in the aircraft camouflage scheme. Black radomes mean these have been fitted post delivery to the RNZAF.

The rear most A-4G has a white rudder from ex RAN stocks whereas the forward A-4G has a square fin. The A-4G in the background, in the new Euro 1 scheme, retains the original A-4G curved fin tip. Also of note are the different styles of  main communication antennas (behind the cockpit) on the A-4G's.

RNZAF A-4 Fleet in 1986 - RNZAF Official
RNZAF's Multi Coloured A-4 Fleet in 1986 - RNZAF Official

The image of the T birds shows a black radome on TA-4G NZ6255 and the original colour on TA-4G NZ6256. NZ6255 carries tanks and a buddy store in the SEA camo which will make for a colourful model.

RNZAF's Multi Coloured TA-4 Fleet in 1986 - RNZAF Official

The G to K Conversion Program

The RNZAF began a program to bring the T/A-4G's  closer in configuration the T/A-4K fleet. The changes of interest to the modeller are the addition of the Drag Chute housing under the tail, the, Vertical Fin shape and the Main Communications antenna . I beleive the RNZAF also removed the carrier bridle hooks from the undercarriage bays at this time. 

Drag Chute

As part of the G to K conversion program the RNZAF fitted a drag chute to the T/A-4G Skyhawk fleet. So depending on your time frame the aircraft could be fitted with or without the drag chute housing. 

Vertical Fin Shape

The T/A-4G fleet arrived  with the curved Fin. The G to K conversion program added the square fin.  I assume this is because the same avionics (antenna) that the T/A-4K had was fitted during the G to K conversion. 

The T/A-4G Main Communication Antenna 

When received from the RAN the T/A-4G had a narrow UHF antenna located in the same place as the T/A-4K. 

From 1985 onward, the T/A-4G's underwent the the G to K conversion program. This either replaced the original RAN UHF radio with a combined V/UHF set or introduced a VHF radio. The result was the small rectangular UHF antenna was replaced with the same large rectangular antenna as the RNZAF's original T/A-4K's . This is a combined V/UHF antenna. 

Glens photo from 1985 below shows two (2) A-4G's and a A-4K. The middle jet, NZ6217, has the original A-4G antenna, rounded fin tip  and no drag chute. NZ6213 has the larger combined V/UHF antenna (same as the A-4K on the left), square fin tip and a drag chute. 

A-4G's -Pre and Post G to K Conversion Program - Glen Tuner

Eventually the Kahu style Shark Fin style (another combined V/UHF antenna) appeared on the T/A-4G's .

The image of TA-4G NZ6256 below in it's Anniversary scheme in 1986 shows the combined V/UHF antenna.

NZ6256 with V/UHF Antenna - RNZAF Official

Lower Anti Collision Light and ECM Antennas

The lower anti collision light remained on the left hand side unlike the T/A-4K fleet. They also came with no ECM antennas and had no countermeasures dispensing system. 

Weapons and Stores - Pre Kahu

Air to Surface

Pre Kahu RNZAF weapons were limited to Mk 80 series bombs (MK 81, 82 and 83). Both High and Low drag variants were used with the MK 82 (500 lb) being the most common. The bombs were dropped from Multiple Ejector Racks (MER), Triple Ejector Racks (TER) as well as directly from the aircraft's five stations.

Two types of practice bombs  where extensively used, these were the BDU 33 (low drag) and MK 106  (High Drag). These were most commonly mounted on a Practice Multi Bomb Rack (PMBR).

Zuni rockets were used until the late 1980's when the CRV-7 rocket was introduced. 

The Guns

The two (2) Colt Mk 12 20 mm cannons were always fitted.

Air to Air 

The RNZAF only used the AIM-9G pre Kahu. The T/A-4K could only carry the sidewinder on Stations 1 and 5 (the outer ones). The T/A-4G could carry sidewinders on all 5 stations. The Captive Air Training Missile CATM-9G was common.  Usually just the body was carried for training.

The AIM-9 and CATM-9 were carried on LAU-7 rails. 

CATM-9G on NZ6204 in 1981- RNZAF Official

Drop Tanks and In-flight Refuelling Store

Drop tanks were fitted on most missions. To my eye the jet looks naked without at least one. 

300 Gallon Tanks

300 gallon drop tanks were a common sight on the inner wing stations (stations 2 and 4). At delivery these were painted all over white. In 1974 the top half was camouflaged in the SEA scheme. When the aircraft went to the Euro 1 scheme the tanks were also painted in those colours. 

400 Gallon Tanks

A 400 gallon tank could only be carried on the centre-line station (station 3). At delivery these were painted all over white. These started to get the top halves camouflaged in 1977 but the bottom section, to my knowledge, remained white and didn't get painted Light grey (FS 36222). When the aircraft went to the Euro 1 scheme the tanks were painted all over Dark Green (FS 34079).

150 Gallon Tanks

The RNZAF only received the 150 Gallon tank with acquisition ex RAN T/A-4G fleet. The 150 Gals were used for a short time as fuel tanks with Kiwi Red in 1989-1990. They were fitted on stations 2 and 4 . Generally the 150 Gallon tanks were only used as a "smoke tank " for aerobatic displays and carried on the centreline station. The smoke tank was first used in 1987.

The In Flight refuelling or "Buddy" Stores

The buddy store was only carried on the centreline station.  On delivery these were painted all over white. Like the drop tanks,  the buddy stores were painted in the SEA scheme around 1974 . 

That said some of the Buddy stores do appear to have remained white right up until the Euro 1 Scheme was introduced. These could have been the ex-RAN buddy stores. The image of the four ship TA-4 formation above shows NZ6255 with a camouflaged Buddy Store whereas NZ6256 has a white buddy store. 

When the fleet went to the Euro scheme all were painted all over Dark Green FS 34079.

Minipan Camera

On the T/A-4K a minipan camera could be carried in the  fairing behind the left hand landing gear bay.

Minipan Camera Installation - RNZAF Official

Modelling the RNZAF TA-4K and A-4K Skyhawk  - Post Kahu

Post Kahu all aircraft are designated T/A-4K's. The post Kahu configuration doesn't introduce any significant external physical changes that are beyond the capability of most modellers to address. The however cockpit is significantly different.

Paint Schemes / Colours / Markings

Euro 1 Scheme

For most of the post Kahu service the aircraft was painted in the Euro 1 Scheme of Medium Green - (FS 34102);  Dark Green (FS 34079), Grey (FS 36081).

The roundel and fin flash were red and blue. The warnings were yellow and the aircraft serial number remained in the original location.

The 75 Sqn markings were located on the intakes in low viz black . 2 Sqn's winged Taiaha  located n both sides of the tail. This was usually coloured with a Gold 2 and black Taiaha although there were variations on this.

The Squadron markings weren't immediately changed when the aircraft changed squadrons so it was common to see a aircraft with a 2 Sqn markings being operated by 75 Sqn and vice versa. 

T/A-4K NZ6256 at Nowra in 1999

The Trial Green Scheme 

In 1997, whilst trialling the all over green FS 34079 scheme, NZ6201 was painted with markings in a lighter green. Obviously this was not adopted but NZ6201 retained this scheme for quite a while.

NZ6201 with trial green markings 1997 - RNZAF official 

All Over Green Scheme

From about 1997 the RNZAF started to paint the aircraft in all over dark Green FS 34079. The 300 Gallon drop tanks were also painted in this colour. In this scheme the 75 Sqn Tiki was applied to the left side of the fin and the 2 Sqn Taiaha  on the right. 

The aircraft serial number was moved to the fin, the roundels and warnings were black. There was no fin flash. Initiall the slats in this scheme seemed more susceptible to paint flaking. Les Stockley recalls "that testing revealed that plastic media used for paint stripping was still under the paint in a microscopic layer hence the poor adhesion. Better scrubbing and cleaning after blasting improved it quite a bit."

A-4K NZ6216 at Nowra in 1999

The aircraft operated by Draken today are still in this scheme.

The Cockpits

Both the front and rear cockpits were updated to a modern (for the late 1980's) cockpit. In some respects the systems were better than that in the RAAF Hornet. The best way to describe the cockpits is via images.

The only difference between the Front cockpit of a A-4K and TA-4K , systems wise, was the addition of 2 Eaton switch/annunciators adjacent to the top right hand side of the Right display unit  fuel gauge INT/EXT selector switch.

TA-AK Cockpit  - RNZAF Official 

TA-AK Forward Instrument Panel  - RNZAF Official

TA-4K Rear Instrument Panel -  Norm Tse

TA-AK Rear Instrument Panel  - RNZAF Official

A-4K Instrument Panel - RNZAF Official 


Kahu also introduced a Head Up Display (HUD) . This is quite visible from outside the aircraft.  when on the ground the HUD was nearly always covered in a orange cover. This was removed as the pilot entered the aircraft and replaced shortly after they got out.


TA-AK Cockpit  - RNZAF Official

A No 75 Sqn A-4K with some modified artwork showing the HUD cover

Side Consoles 

The side consoles were also modified with new equipment , The most visible difference being the introduction of a Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) throttle grip. Whether this difference is even visible in 48 scale is debatable. 

Throttle Quadrant  - RNZAF Official

Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) Antennas

A modern Radar Warning System (AN/ALR 66)  was fitted with four (4) antennas covering 360 degrees. These were covered with fairings. The forward aspect antennas were located under each wing tip. The aft aspect antennas were located on each side of the panel above the jet pipe.

Left Wing RWR Antenna Fairing 

Right Rear RWR Antenna Fairing

The Main Communication Antenna

The AN/ARC-182 V/UHF antenna post Kahu T/A-4K was the Shark fin type as below.

Post Kahu V/UHF Antenna

The UHF Antenna

The AN/ARC 159 UHF antenna is a simple rectangular blade antenna . On the prototype TA-4K (NZ6254) the UHF antenna was located under the aircraft under the aft cockpit. 

AN/ARC 159 Antenna  location at NZ6254 Prototype Handover - RNZAF Official

This was found to be a poor location so it moved forward to a point under the nose just aft of the Doppler panel (flat panel under the nose) The TACAN antenna in this location was moved to the original AN/ARC 159 antenna location described above . 

The prototype A-4K (NZ6205) and the early production aircraft, which were mostly TA-4K's, also had the AN/ARC 159 antenna located aft of the Doppler panel.

NZ6256 AN/ARC-159 Antenna Location 1991 - Unknown

This location was also not suitable so the antenna  was moved to a point on the lower edge of the tail fin. Aircraft with the antenna in the under fuselage location were eventually modified to move the antenna to the final tail.

Don's photo shows two aircraft with the AN/ARC 159 antenna under the nose and one with it in it's final location on the lower part of the fin. Again - check your references depending on the timeframe. 

NZ6209, NZ6254 and NZ6205 over HMAS Creswall 1991 - Don Simms

Lower Anti Collision Light 

On all post Kahu Aircraft the lower anti col is on the right hand side. 

Lower Anti Col Light forward of Fuel Dump under the Right Wing on NZ6255 ex T/A-4G

VOR/ILS Antennas

T/A-4K's post Kahu had two (2) VOR/ILS antennas on the fin.

VOR/ILS antennas and AN/ARC-159 Antenna Final Location

Tail Antennas and Lights

This image shows the post Kahu tail TACAN antenna and formation light.

Post Kahu Tail Antenna and Formation Light

NZ6205, the prototype Kahu A-4K aircraft, retained the pre Kahu Tail Fin ECM antennas and Formation light for a period of time after the upgrade. You can see it on the photo below of the Maverick trial in 1990.

NZ6205 about to launch a AGM-65B - RNZAF Official

Marker Beacon Antenna

T/A-4K's post Kahu had a marker beacon antenna under the right hand wing tip.

Marker Beacon Antenna under Right Wing Tip

High Intensity Strobe Light

The High Intensity Strobe Light was not part of the upgrade so the prototypes and initial production aircraft weren't fitted with it until later. However most aircraft came out of the upgrade with it fitted. It is located forward of the original upper anti-collision light.

High Intensity Strobe Light

Radar Computer Cooling Scoop

A cooling scoop for the radar computer wasn't part of the initial Kahu modification but was added as the operational trials found the radar computer was prone to overheating as it was located near the hot section of the engine.

Radar Computer Cooling Scoop

Carrier Landing Light System

These lights weren't fitted so the clear fairing on the leading edge of the left wing was usually painted over. 

Leading edge of the wing showing the painted over fairing

Nose Cooling Vents

On the prototypes and some of the early production aircraft, cooling vents were cut into the left hand side of the nose. Aircraft NZ6254, NZ6255, NZ6205, NZ6215, NZ6218 and perhaps NZ6252 had these vents for a time. 

A small nose cooling scoop was also fitted to under the nose to improve cooling 

Neither the scoop nor the vents improved cooling so they were not continued on subsequent production aircraft. On the aircraft that had them they were eventually patched when the aircraft underwent a major servicing, Don's image below shows the location of the cooling vents and the nose scoop

Lee Majors and NZ6254 Nowra 1991  -Don Simms

Elevator, Aileron and Rudder Static Wicks

Static wicks were fitted to the trailing edge of the elevators, aileron and rudder on the prototype NZ6254. These kept falling off and didn't resolve the interference issues so they were removed and not fitted to the production aircraft.

You can just see them on this photo of NZ6254.

NZ6254 with Elevator Static Wicks - RNZAF Official

Weapons and Stores -  Post Kahu

Air to Surface

The AGM-65B TV guided and AGM-65G IR Maverick missiles were the primary air to surface weapons. Training versions of the Sidewinder and both Mavericks variants were commonly carried. The Mavericks are carried on LAU 117 rails and could be carried on Stations 1, 2 and 4 and 5. TGM missiles were not fitted the control fins (rear ones) that a live missiles would have.

TGM 65G IR Maverick

The MK 82 and Mk 83 series of bombs were the main dumb bombs. Both High and Low drag variants of the MK 82 were used. The MK 83 was primarily dropped in the low drag configuration.  Bombs could be carried on MER's, TER's or dropped directly from any of the five (5) aircraft racks. 

The GBU -16 1000 lb Laser Guide Bomb (LGB) bomb could be carried.

Rockets were the Canadian CRV-7. These were either the Six (6) shot reusable ones or 19 shot one-use-only type. Multiple pods could be fitted when used with a TER. The six (6) shot type was common for weapons training. 

Air to Air 

Post Kahu RNZAF Skyhawk's could carry the AIM-9L sidewinder.This could be fitted to Stations 1, 2 4 and 5. The Captive Air Training Missile CATM-9L was common.  Generally the fins were only fitted for static displays. These were carried on LAU-7A rails.

ACMI pods were occasionally carried in overseas exercises in the late 1990's.

Drop Tanks and In-Flight Refuelling Store

The external tanks and the Buddy store were the same as the pre Kahu aircraft. The 300 Gallon tanks were painted in the Euro 1 scheme until the aircraft moved to the all over green scheme.  

The 400 gallon tank was painted all over dark green (FS 34079). The 400 Gallon tank will have the Bob Tail removed if the countermeasures were being used. See the photo below  

AN/ALE 39 Countermeasure Dispensing System

In my time working on the aircraft (1990-1994) the dispenser modules were always fitted, although they were usually empty. Later on blanks were fitted and the actual dispenser modules only fitted when required.The Image below shows a Armour loading or unloading a CDS module. 

You can also see the Aft hell hole door which was nearly always hanging down when the aircraft was on the ground. The bag in on the door in the photo is where the external pins were stowed when the aircraft was flying. The plastic container is over an oil dump vent, this isn't something that was usually there.  

CDS maintenance and Aft Hell Hole Door  - RNZAF Official 

The image below shows the blank. Notice how it sits proud of the aircraft not flush. The safety pin on the right of the image is for the CDS and was fitted when the aircraft was on the ground. 

AN/ALE 39 Blank , Safety Pin, 400 Gal with no Bobtail

Minipan Camera

On the all post Kahu aircraft a minipan camera could be carried in the  fairing behind the left hand landing gear bay.

Some General Skyhawk Modelling Notes

A couple of my RNZAF Skyhawk modelling thoughts. 

The Slats

They are always down, gravity pushes them there. Sure the Blue Angels bolted them up but virtually everyone else didn't. So while they may be up for maintenance that was rare.

The Speedbrakes

When the aircraft is on the ground they are closed, or close to closed 98% of the time.  Sometimes they could open a tiny bit when hydraulic pressure was off . If you want to have them full open that's fine (if you want to spoil the lines of the aircraft) but that wasn't normal .

The Guns

The two (2) 20 mm cannons were virtually always fitted. It was only in the last few years of RNZAF service where it became more common to see the fairings in lieu of the guns.

Remove Before Flight Tags

The usual locations for remove before flight tags for RNZAF Skyhawk's were:
  • One (1) in the Nose gear leg
  • One (1) in each Main gear leg
  • One (1) in each Weapons Station
  • One (1)in a LAU 7 rail
  • One (1)for the CDS
  • One (1) for the Drag Chute
  • Three (3) in the Cockpit of A-4. These were usually on a streamer
  • Four (4) in the cockpit of a TA- 4 (2 in each Cockpit) Again these were usually on a streamer.

A cover was nearly always fitted to the HUD on the ground.

Intake and Exhaust Blanks

Intake blanks were usually removed just before the pilot arrived at the aircraft and were fitted immediately after shut down.

Exhaust Blanks were removed at the start of the day and refitted at the end of the days flying.

The A-4 Canopy Strap

From the early 1970's the RNZAF used a fabric strap to stop the Canopy from fully opening . The purpose of this was to stop the canopy bouncing against it's stop when the aircraft was being towed or is taxiing. The top end was hooked around the right side canopy latching hook, the bottom end was permanently attached to the aircraft .This photo from in 1970 shows the A-4K's with the strap.

A-4K's  at Tengah, Singapore 1971 - RNZAF Official

Canopy Strap

The White Stripes on the Fuselage and Tanks

These are to aid formation flying at night. As far as I know this is just self adhesive tape. They are not the powered formation lights you see on more modern aircraft. 

They were applied on the Euro 1 scheme and continued on the all a green scheme.They were sometimes on the Tanks  - check photos form the time frame of the subject you are modelling to get an idea where they were located. The image below from 1994 shows two (2) A-4Ks from 2 Sqn over HMAS Albatross with different numbers of  white stripes. 

2 Sqn A-4K Over HMAS Albatross 1994 - RNZAF Official


Web Sites

These links relate to the RNZAF Skyhawk rather than specifically modelling the aircraft, I will add those later.


Some books that may be useful. 

The End of Part 1

If you got this far thanks for reading. If you see any errors or have any questions post a comment below or contact me via the contact me section. 

The section on building the RNZAF Skyhawk will be a separate post. Stay tuned.