Jam It! : 1/48th Airfix EA-6B Prowler
Here is another old kit, this time from Airfix. It is 1982 vintage and was the only game in town for a 1/48th scale Prowler until the Monogram kit came along a decade later (which had its own issues). The overall shape of the fuselage and wings seems relatively correct however, the parts fit is poor, requiring much dry-fitting, trimming, sanding and filling, resulting in re-scribing panel lines.
Notable Kit Features:
It was the only Prowler available in the 80s :)
Decent overall outline
Better rendition of the wing-fold and a few other areas than Monogram's kit
Originally I was going to build this Airfix kit out of the box with the VMAQ-2 "Playboy" markings as the black around the cockpit would aid in camouflaging some of the fit areas. Soon I realized that there was just too much to try and cover and shelved the kit. Years later I came across markings for a couple of camouflaged prowlers of VAQ-142. These aircraft were based at Bagram A/B in Afghanistan around November 2006. This find re-inspired me to take on this challenge once again and get this kit finished.
The Gray Wolves deployed in mid-July 2006 to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan and started missions within 16 hours of arriving in country. After flying missions for 187 days, the Gray Wolves headed home in late January 2007.
General fit of parts is poor
Incorrect cockpit layout which is also lacking a lot of detail
Poor ejection seats (should be replaced)
Intake ducts need a lot of attention (sanding, filling, sanding...)
Next to no detail in wheel wells
Many thick heavy parts for scale (E.g. gear doors)
ECM pods and tanks are poor fitting and lack detail
Poor glass fit (which is why it has an open canopy)
Many of the necessary corrections and improvements were not completed as at some point I just wanted to move along.
Kit Additions / Modifications:
I attempted to remedy many of the shortcomings of this kit by reworking the fit issues, thinning and reshaping parts, adding detail to areas however I only went so far
Added crew members from Monogram kits stash
Used third-party decals - Afterburner's Prowler sheet 48028.
Electronic Attack Squadron 142 (VAQ-142), known as "The Gray Wolves" (around this period) had an excellent tail emblem that adds to the look of the kit as well. The paint scheme for this aircraft was chosen to try and mask the aircraft model lines and short-comings. The camouflage consists of FS 36118 FS 36270 FS 36320 over FS 36375 with FS 34079 tanks. The multi-tone grey finish did the job to distract from the kits short-comings and helped recover what was shaping up to be a disappointing kit.
One amusing detail in the decals, is the Prowler crew's artwork on the right-hand side of the aircraft - this would be around the time that the EA-6B Prowler was being replaced by the F/A-18G Growler. These markings will give you an idea of this crew's feeling towards the said superiority of the EA-18G. ;)
The After-Build Report:
One of the rare kits I started a few times, considered trashing, instead went to the "Shelf of Doom", returned to the bench, and then again nearly binned a few times during the build. Unfortunately, the level of effort required to make this kit into a reasonable model is just too great to make it a worthwhile venture for any but the most dedicated Airfix supporters. After all the labouring, this Airfix kit looks good enough to me on the shelf - not a prize winner for sure, but a decent finishing point.
The 1992 Monogram release was welcomed as the kit provided a big improvement over this kit. As it turned out, it was more just a much better starting point for those wanting to build a Prowler in 1/48th scale. The Monogram Prowler, although a better subject, brought issues of its own, including the molded wing-fold of an Intruder. When the Kinetic Prowler was released in 2011 modelers finally got a kit to work with (and a folding wing option) and I recommend this kit as your starting point (Note: this is despite the fact that I haven't built it... it is currently only as far as on my "Wish List"). Note: Italeri re-boxed the 1/48th Kinetic kit in the "Sister" markings (Sand-tones) to this one... so there is a possibility for a next round for me.
Completed build #102 - December 2008 using the 1/48th scale Airfix #78-4553-250 kit.
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 suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers