In-Box Review
Grumman A-6E Intruder
Grumman A-6E Intruder SWIP Composite Wing
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by: Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]


The A-6E is the definitive attack version of the Intruder with vastly upgraded navigation and attack systems, introduced in 1970 and first deployed on 9 December 1971. By the mid-1980s, many A-6Es were beginning to approach a quarter-century in age, and were beginning to show signs of fatigue. By 1988, 62 A-6E had to be grounded and a further 119 had to be restricted to maneuvers below 3 gs because of metal fatigue in the wings. Consequently, the Navy embarked on a program to prolong the life of the Intruder by giving them new wings. The Navy opted to re wing the A-6E fleet with a new composite graphite / epoxy / titanium / aluminum wing manufactured in kit form by Boeing-Wichita. The new wing was largely made of composite material, but the moving surfaces were still made of aluminum. The wing was supposedly stronger and longer-lasting, with better resistance to corrosion. However, there were problems with structural failures in the joints, and there were delays in the re winging program. The first composite wing aircraft was delivered in October 1990. By January 1995, 85 percent of the A-6E fleet had been re-winged.
The original plan was for all A-6Es to be re winged and to go through a Systems Weapons Improvement Program (SWIP). The SWIP integrated stand-off weapon capabilities into the A-6E, including the ability to carry and launch the AGM-65E/F laser/imaging infrared Maverick, the AGM-84A Harpoon, the AGM-84E SLAM (Stand-off Land Attack Missile) and the AGM-88 HARM anti radiation missile. The upgrade also involved some new survivability improvements such as a fire warning and extinguishing system. The aircraft had a fully digital armament system. However, some of the SWIP upgrades did not get the new composite wing because of delays in the re winging program. Consequently, there were A-6E SWIP aircraft with the original metal wing as well as A-6E SWIP Block 1 aircraft with the composite wing.
Source: Joe Baugher Wikipedia

The Kit.

The top opening box contains two large bags of sprues and a smaller bag of sprues to build a couple of Harpoon missiles. The clear parts are bagged separately. Some of the sprue gates are quite big so some care will be needed when separating some of the parts from the sprues. Included in the box are:
-13 x light grey plastic sprues, two of which are duplicated.
-1 x clear plastic sprue separately bagged.
-1 x sheet of decals.
-1 x 12 page construction and painting guide.

You may notice from the images that some of the sprues are also used for Kinetic Models EA-6B.

Cockpit: is built up from sixteen parts. The low relief detail on the pilot and bombardier/navigator instrument panel and side consoles are very nicely done. The sloping rear wall of the cockpit is built from three very well detailed parts. Some of the moulding is resin like in its quality and detail. The depth of detail on one part in particularly is quite astonishing. Each of the two bang seats is made up from nine parts. The detail is good, but there are no seat harnesses included.

Canopy: and windscreen are separate. The canopy and windscreen because of their complex curved shapes have each been moulded in two parts. Kinetic have quiet rightly made the decision to create an accurate looking canopy and windscreen rather than going with simpler one piece items. All the clear plastic parts are beautifully moulded, clear and thin. The none glazed rear parts of the canopy and all the framing is opaque. A nice touch from Kinetic is the inclusion of four separate rear facing mirrors that are located around the inside of the windscreen frame.

Fuselage the two halves are split vertically with two separate inserts for the lower centreline area. The forward lower insert has part of the forward undercarriage bay moulded onto it. The fuselage includes the vertical fin, the rudder is moulded completely on the port side fuselage half. As the rudder is a thick piece of plastic there is a slight sink mark running alongside the rudder/tail line. The tail probe is a separate part. The engine air intakes are each made up from three pieces. The inside surface of the duct is two part, one part has the primary compressor moulded onto it, the other part fits into the fuselage. The outer surface of the intake finishes of the construction of this area. The depth of the intake up to the primary compressor fan looks a bit short in length. The distinctive crew steps can be displayed if you wish, they are moulded into the fuselage. There are separate covers for the steps if you don't want to see them
The kinked engine exhaust pipes are each made up from two parts and are split vertically, the rear turbines are supplied as separate parts. The jet pipe is fixed into the fuselage, although the instructions seem very vague on where exactly they fit, there are locating pins moulded on the pipes that locate into holes in the fuselage. The fairings that fit around the jet pipes are moulded onto the inner wings.
The interior of the air brake bay on the side of the fuselage is particularly well detailed, but I think I am right in thinking that the fuselage air brakes were bolted shut. Both perforated and none perforated air brakes are included with this kit, although the painting guide does not illustrate the perforated brakes.
The large instrument hood is a separate one piece part. The dorsal port side air duct is a separate two part item.
The plastic overal on the fuselage has a very slight grainy appearance, but should disappear under a coat of primer. The recessed panel lines and fasteners are generally very well done.
The radome is a separate one piece item and looks good in shape. There is certainly enough space to pack plenty of weight to counter tail sitting. There are two different gyroscopically stabilised turrets of the TRAM [Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor system]supplied with the kit. Each turret is constructed from four parts and mounted under the nose of the aircraft. The distinctive re fueling probe is one piece.

Wings the composite wing can be displayed extended or folded. The leading edge and trailing edge high lift devices are moulded in the closed position. The ailerons are moulded with the wing and are in the neutral position. The trailing edges of the wing are disappointingly thick. It is possible to reduce the thickness by sanding the under surface of the trailing edges where there is not a lot of detail.
The inner wing fences don't look nearly high enough looking at photographs of the A-6E. Kinetic have gone to some trouble to create a realistic but strong hinge joint for the folded wing. The wing rib detail around the fold looks good, but is slightly marred by ejector pin marks. Not too difficult to remove if you're bothered, but could be left and explained away as added rib detail. If you decide to go for the extended wing Kinetic provide a short plastic tab that spans the inner and outer wing providing extra strength at the joint. It might be wise to construct the extended wing by gluing the lower wing parts together and the same with the upper before joining the upper and lower halves.
Wingtip light covers are supplied separately as transparent plastic parts.
The wing fuselage joint is a very positive fit indeed and quite cleverly designed. Some of the joints may prove to be difficult to access if there is any filling required.
Each stabiliser is made up from two pieces, the tip and the whole of the trailing edge is moulded onto the top part of the stabiliser. Trailing edges are nice and thin. The pivot that fits into the fuselage looks very sturdy.

Undercarriage front undercarriage bay is made up from three parts, the roof of the bay is attached to the lower centre line insert. The detail in the bay is nicely done although slightly marred by three ejector pin marks on the side walls. The main wheel bays are a lot less detailed.
The nose wheel oleo and retraction arm is one piece and well detailed. There is an additional piece that looks like the brake fluid pipe and reservoir to attach to the oleo. The two nose wheels are each made from three pieces. The tyres are split in half and fit around the separate hubs.
Main gear oleos look good and chunky, just as any Carrier birds legs should be. The oleos are one piece, added to them are strengthening beams and retraction arms. Similarly to the nose wheels, the main wheels are three piece. The two piece tyre fits around the superbly detailed one piece hub. The brake and bolt detail is very good.
The inner surfaces of all the undercarriage doors are very nicely moulded with some excellent ribbed detail. They are some what slightly spoiled by some shallow ejector pin marks.
The arrestor hook is a separate one piece item and can be displayed stowed or extended.

Payload: included with this release are:
-12 x Mk 82 Snakeye high drag bombs.
-2 x AGM-84D Harpoon anti ship missiles
-1 x centre line fuel tank.
-2 x wing fuel tanks.
-5 x weapon pylons.

Each Snakeye is built from four parts and look very effective. The retracted fins are nicely portrayed. The two weapon pylons for the Snakeyes are made from two parts with twelve individual bomb attachment points. Six Snakeyes can be carried on each pylon. Although the two eight piece Harpoon Missiles also look very good, there is no indication in the instruction on where to hang them or what pylons to use. A little research indicates they could be fitted on all the wing pylons, the A-6E could carry four Harpoons. The large centre line fuel tank is two piece while each of the two wing mounted tanks are three piece, the single fin being a separate item. Interestingly the wing fuel tanks can be hung from all four wing pylons, as each pylon is plumbed for fuel. The wing pylons are two piece and feature some very nice low relief detail.

Markings are for three A-6E's of VA-115 the “Eagles”, two of which are CAG birds:
155704 500 of VA-115 the “Eagles”, 1995.
155662 500 of VA-115 the “Eagles”, 1996.
164380 501 of VA-115 the “Eagles”, 1995.
155704 was accidentally shot down in 1996 by the Phalanx 20mm guns of the Japanese destroyer Yuugiri during a live fire exercise. 155704 was towing a target drone three miles behind it, but the Yuugiri targeted 155704 instead and shot it down. Both crew members ejected safely.

Decals: are designed by Fightertown Decals and printed by Cartograf Decals. The decals themselves look very good with excellent colour density, and registration. The carrier film is kept to a minimum. The black wing walk areas are included on the decal sheet. The distinctive tail markings come in yellow or black. The red/white/blue NAVY and USS Independence that are placed over the fuselage airbrake are nicely done.

Instructions although the exploded black line drawings are very well done the instructions can be very vague about the location of some parts. The painting guide includes pert and starboard profile views of each aircraft, as well as upper plan views of 155704 and 155662, but not of 164380. Also missing are lower plan views of any of the aircraft. The grey tones that differentiate the colours are a little difficult to work out from the instructions, but the FS numbers are provided.


I like this release a lot, in fact it will jump to the front of my build list for this year. I think Kinetic must be commended for taking on the complex shape of the Intruder and they seem to have done a great job producing a very good kit of this important type. Yes there are a few niggles here and there, but what kit doesn't have them. Kinetic have pushed the envelope in regards some of the injected plastic detailing. I would have liked to see some extra things to hang from under the wings, but weapons seem to be coming under the heading of after market items these days. I cannot wait to get started.

Many thanks to Fred Boucher for arranging this review.
Highs: It's a great looking Intruder, straight out the box.
Lows: The instructions.
Verdict: Look out for a build log shortly. Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: K48023
  Suggested Retail: $49.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 14, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Tim Hatton (litespeed)

Aircraft are my primary interest from WWll to present day.

Copyright ©2021 text by Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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