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Lady Jessie: 1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

When the 1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk was released in 1977 the kit set the bar for A-4 Skyhawk models 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.


1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Notable Kit Features:

  • Decent cockpit with seat belts molded into the seat cushion

  • Nicely detailed pilot figure included

  • Good overall shape

  • Kit comes with parts to build a later F version with the avionics camel hump (plus weapons, pylons, tanks and all)

  • Separate slats

  • Flaps, airbrakes and canopy can be positioned open or closed

  • 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:


Dick Perry worked part-time at Harold's Casino in Reno Nevada as a card dealer however his ambition was to become a Navy Pilot. At that time Jessie and Fred Beck ran the Keno game at Harold's Club. During that time they became quite close (somewhat of an adopted mother to Perry). After Perry left the casino to train with the US Navy to get his wings, Jessie would regularly send care packages of playing cards and stuff from the casino to Dick Perry and the Squadron. Later Perry was deployed to Vietnam and began flying strike missions with VA-164. Jessie continued her tradition of sending goodies to the deployed Squadron and became known to all as "Lady Jessie". As homage to Beck, Perry had his A-4 Skyhawk adorned with "Lady Jessie" on its sides. Unfortunately during the summer of 1967 on a strike into Haiphong, Perry's A-4 was struck by a SAM and he was KIA. Lady Jessie however continued her traditional support of the squadron and they in turn honoured the "Gambling Grandmother of Reno" after Dick's death by displaying her name on each CO's aircraft until the squadron was disestablished Dec 12, 1975.


A-4 Skyhawk of VA-164 "Lady Jessie"

Heads-Up Report:

  • Cockpit with the ejection seat molded into the cockpit tub is not quite up to Monogram's typical high-standard here

  • Cockpit appears to sit too low (Don't attach cockpit to front gear well in Step #1 until you determine if additional height is necessary) - Also fit of cockpit to fuselage left a bit to be desired... or I did something wrong)

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

  • Raised panel lines (finely done however in this case I sanded them off)

  • Copyright information 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 on the upper / lower wing join needs to be filled

  • There is a gap at the front wing to fuselage join

  • 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


1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Added weight to the nose to keep it from tail dragging (using metal BBs)

  • I used a spreader within the fuselage to obtain a better fuselage to wing join at the upper root of the wing

  • Shim used at front wing to fuselage join to improve fit (still required filler)

  • Fuselage to wing join at rear also required filler (and to cap off the prop-up hole if you used nose weights)

  • I cut the end off the tail pipe to get more depth and filled fuselage with black tissue to block see through effect from intakes to exhaust

  • Added HUD to the cockpit using clear acetate sheet

  • Third-party decals from Microscale (48-0049) used


1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Finishing:


The paint job for this aircraft was the USN's standard scheme, at the time, of Gull Gray (FS 36440) over White with White control surfaces. The inner portions of the slats, flaps and brakes was finished in insignia red. The red edges of the gear doors was added with a red magic marker. The black hook stripes and anti-glare panel were also painted on.


1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

The After-Build Report:


Monogram's 1/48th scale A-4 Skyhawk series is still a petty decent option for an A-4 kit to this day, due to its good overall shape, detail and typical low price-point. Despite the seemingly long list of things to watch out for, this kit can be built up into a nice model. With all the bombs, tanks and weapons racks in the kit a rookie can have a fun build and not worry too much about the small detractors. This Monogram Skyhawk kit wasn't really bested until 2000 when the 1/48th Hasegawa kit came out, so it had a good run on top. To its credit the Hasegawa kit set the new standard and is the best kit to date of the A-4 in this scale, but typically includes no weapons or pilot figure and is expectedly more expensive.


1/48th Monogram A-4E Skyhawk

Completed build #37 - April 1987 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5411 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 supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers


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