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Fight's On: 1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Updated: Jun 28

When the 1/48th Monogram A-4 Skyhawk was released in 1977 their kit became the "Go-To" Skyhawk for decades to come. The original release was of the E/F model with the avionics "hump", complete with a wide array of weapons to choose from. Later releases would include a Blue Angel and an Aggressor version.

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Notable Kit Features:

  • Basic but decent cockpit

  • Nice pilot figure included

  • Good overall shape

  • Kit comes with separate parts to build a later version with the avionics hump

  • Stores include: 6 Mk.82 bombs, MER center pylon, 2 AGM-45 Shrikes plus fuel tanks

  • Separate slats, flaps, airbrakes and canopy can be positioned open or closed

  • Good detail in the wheel wells and landing gear

  • Raised panel lines and details mixed with engraved control surfaces and vents

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Build Inspiration:

A-4 Skyhawks were initially utilized as adversary aircraft in latter part of 1968 at VF-126. The United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (also known as "Top Gun") continued this practice later in March 1969 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar, California. Although not equipped with an afterburner, a lightly loaded A-4 (along with the F-5 & T-38) flown by experienced pilots, was well suited to simulate the small Soviet fighters in Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) sessions. These sessions taught the opposing F-8 and F-4 crews much that they had not covered in their initial training, which was previously focused on stopping (Russian) bombers at longer ranges. The A-4 continued in this "Aggressor" role opposing many other types of aircraft including the F-14. The Skyhawk was officially retired by the U.S. Navy in 1999, however VC-8 continued to fly TA-4Js until 2003. There are so many different paint schemes for these Adversary aircraft you may have a hard time deciding which scheme you like best.

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Heads-Up Report:

  • Basic cockpit with the ejection seat molded into the cockpit tub - no ejection handles

  • Cockpit fit into the fuselage requires some test fitting for best results

  • Ejector marks on many parts (including some mating surfaces)

  • Copyright information raise molded on the lower wing half (easy to file off)

  • Add a good amount of weight in the nose to keep this Skyhawk from tail-dragging

  • The seam in the recesses for the leading edge slats needs to be filled

  • You may have to use a spreader (or two) to obtain a better fuselage to wing join at the top root of the wing

  • Plastic card used on underside at front wing to fuselage join to improve fit

  • Plastic card strip was used to fill gap at the trailing edge of one wing

  • Tail hook / rear wing join area requires some filler (Also fill in the clear tail prop-up hole in this area)

  • Canopy is thick and does not fit well in the closed position

  • I sanded off the raised panel lines

  • Note: the Monogram kit features the avionics bump on the nose so check your references regarding your build as many A-4s featured the smooth nose

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Kit Additions / Modifications:

These two Monogram A-4 Skyhawks were actually refinished from earlier builds. Initially I had finished these aircraft, featuring fictitious markings, in a standard USN gray over white scheme. The two kits were built "in-flight" with slats and flaps up as well as airbrakes in and had been hanging from a shelf in my room. Afterwards I got interested in the Aggressor trainer aircraft used in Red Flag and Top Gun and decided to refinish both of my 1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawks in more realistic markings. I masked off the canopies and carefully sanded down the old finish and decals in preparation for the new look.

  • Drilled out exhaust to give more depth here and utilized black plastic bag filler in the fuselage to eliminate "see-through" from intakes to exhaust

  • Added gun smoke shields just below intakes

  • Filled pylon holes and gun ports at wing root

  • Used third-party decals "Top Gun Aggressors A-4s & F-5s" from Microscale 48-0316 & SuperScale International 48-0317

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk


The paint jobs for these two aircraft were selected from the options available on the two decal sheets I purchased (with lots of aircraft to choose from). The Blue version was a wrap-around scheme consisting of FS35164 Blue / FS35237 Blue Gray / FS36307 Gray. The Green version was also a wrap-around scheme this time consisting of FS34079 / FS34086 / FS34092. These greens are all dark and difficult to distinguish between. The most tedious masking was probably on the tail hooks, as that seemed to take forever! Post paint, I sprayed a gloss finish to apply the decals over and then once dry applied the decals. This was followed by the final matte finish. A bit of a panel wash was applied to the recessed areas to give them more depth afterwards. (This was before I discovered that the panel wash is better applied over the gloss finish, as it flows better and is easier to wipe off areas you won't want the wash to show.)

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

The After-Build Report:

Monogram's 1/48th A-4E Skyhawk series is still a decent bargain option for an A-4 kit, due to its good overall shape, detail and typical lower price-point. Despite the seemingly long list of things to watch out for, this kit can be built up into a nice model given a bit more attention and preparation. With the inclusion of all the tanks and weapons, you can build a great attack Skyhawk out-of-the-box if you want. When the 1/48th Hasegawa kit came out in 2000, a new standard was set that had finely recessed panel lines and great details. The Hasegawa is still (in my books) the best kit to date of the A-4 in 1/48th scale, but typically includes no weapons or pilot figure (The 1/48th Hobby Boss kit missed besting Hasegawa's, from several aspects, from what I have seen).

1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Completed builds #12 & 13 - December 1984 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5406 kit and then Re-finished March 1988.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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