75 - A-7 of the Hellenic Air Force

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Bjørn Jacobsen

 

October 2018

A-7 Corsair II of the Hellenic Air Force

The “SLUF” (Short Little Ugly Fucker)

retired in 2014 after 49 years in service

 

Model and diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen

 

The Vought A-7 Corsair II was developed for the

US Navy as a fair-weather subsonic attack plane

capable of carrying a much heavier weapons load

than the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.

 

It made its first flight in 1965 and entered Navy

squadron service in 1966, and began combat

operations over Vietnam in 1967.

 

The plane was later adopted by the United States

Air Force and the Air National Guard.

 

A total of 1,569 A-7 aircraft was built, including

459 to the U.S. Air Force. It was also used in many

foreign countries.

 

U.S. Navy A-7 Corsairs began being phased out of the fleet during the mid-1980s with the arrival of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The last Navy A-7s were retired in 1991 shortly after their return from Operation Desert Storm.

 

Some of these surplus aircraft were passed to

Greece, Thailand and Portugal.

 

The Air National Guard was putting the jet out to

pasture in 1993. Portugal followed in 1999, leaving

just Greece as the final active A-7 operator.

 

The A-7 was nicknamed by U.S. Air Force crews as

the "SLUF" ... Short Little Ugly Fucker…

which described the brute force of this little aircraft.

 

The jet was an incredible mix of just enough kinetic

performance, game-changing technology, and a lot

of gas and bomb lugging ability that all came together in an aircraft that may have been just too logical in retrospect and more suited for the battlefields of today than yesterday.

 

Before the Fairchild Republic A-10 arrived in 1977; the A-7 was considered the best and most stable gun platform the Air Force ever had. Unfortunately, it lacked the manoeuvrability of the A-10.

The "SLUF" in the Hellenic Air Force

 

Greece procured 65 A-7 between 1975 and 1980 and received another batch of 68 A-7 shortly after the US Navy retired the type in 1991.

Greece always prized the jet for its incredibly long range (it could self-deploy across the Atlantic), reliability, massive bomb carrying ability, and incredible stability as a low altitude penetration and bombing platform.

 

This led to the jet's motto of the Greek A-7 squadrons: "Fly low and strike hard."

 

The SLUF's unique qualities were made even more obvious as it operated alongside increasingly modern platforms in Hellenic Air Force services, such as the Mirage 2000 and the F-16 Block 52+.

 

Although these jets were far faster, more manoeuvrable, and featured cutting-edge technologies, none packed the bomb-truck qualities or ruggedness of the SLUF.

Nor were these supersonic fighters outfitted with armour surrounding the cockpit and critical systems for close air support survivability like the A-7 had.

 

The Viper's advanced sensors and weaponry, high thrust to weight ratio and agility, can't compare to an

A-7 loaded with ten thousands pounds of bombs hustling through the countryside down low in the weeds.

Nor can it ever come close to the SLUF's endurance, even when fitted with conformal fuel tanks and under-wing drop tanks.

 

Greece operated a fleet of 133 Corsair IIs which made them the largest international operator of the type. The fleet of A-7s was retired in 2014, and the F-16s took over the baton.

 

Building the Greek A-7

I chose the Greek Corsair II for one reason:

Its rough and warn look!

 

To the right, you can see some of the incredible pictures that just made me built this beautiful

Greek aircraft!

 

It's obvious the Hellenic air force took good care of the SLUFs because they were operational till retirement after 39 years in Greek service.

 

That said, it is also clear that frequent re-painting the aircraft were not high on HAF’s to-do-list.

Some of the aircraft looked rather worn and faded under the blazing Greek’s sun.

 

On some aircraft, the paint had faded to the point that it was impossible to see the two different green colours, it was faded to one shade.

 

The brown colour became very light and strange patterns emerged on and around all panels.

 

These aircraft are indeed a challenge to any model maker, and I am no exception!

 

 

 

 

Compared to pictures of the A-7 it is obvious that the Trumpeter kit has its fault, especially the air intake and the width of the cockpit, but this is of no consequence to this model, the weathering is the important issue in this case.

 

Zactomodels (USA) is, however, making a corrected air intake which I highly recommend if you are building the Trumpeter kit.

 

Unfortunately, I became aware of this product after the model was finished and painted and then it was to late to make any correction.

 

And that’s OK, after all, the purpose with this build was not the aircraft, but the weathering.

Putting the model together was easy enough. Everything fits nicely together, and no sanding or putty was necessary.

 

However, the painting (weathering) required some planning and started with the priming which was airbrushed with Vallejo grey primer.

 

Note, that all reference to colour names below are from Vallejo acrylic paint.

 

After the priming came the pre-shading.

 

For this, I used the airbrush, dark grey paint and a 2”x 4” cardboard which I held close the panel line and thereby reduced the width of the spray.

 

When everything had dried overnight, I applied the “base”-layer of the camouflage:

 

On the upper surfaces: US Dark Green and Tan Earth, both colours mixed with lots of Off-White until it got the bleached colour I was looking for.

 

On the underside, I used Sky-Grey mixed with Off-White.

 

The basic camouflage was airbrushed, but all the colours (weathering effects) after that were hand brushed.

 

If you are making something like this, it is essential that the paint is heavily thinned (I always use water).

 

Sometimes the colours might be thinned so much that it seemed like coloured water.

It is much better to apply several layers than trying to cover the paint in one layer.

 

To get a realistic look, I applied multiple shades of the same colours (darker or lighter) plus lots of pre-shading.

 

I used different colours to get the effect I wanted; US Olive Drab, Tank Green, Tan Earth, Flat Earth and different shades of grey/white.

 

I also used Tamiya Panel Line colours (Black and Dark Brown)

 

The wheel wells were painted white, but with darker stains (they had a rather dirty look).

 

Of course, the pictures of the weather-beaten Hellenic aircraft were essential for getting a realistic result.

 

Btw, the bird droppings on the tail are just white acrylic.

 

But most important:

Do not worry if you don't get it right the first time, just put on new paint!

And do not hurry - this is just fun, fun, FUN!

The Decals

 

I used Ikaros Decals (from a Greek company).

 

Of course, the markings were also subject to fading and weathering, so I used different colours (very thinned acrylic) to reduce the colour brightness of all markings.

 

Before I applied the decals, I covered the model with a coat of Johnson Future.

Micro Set and Micro Sol were used on the decals, and when everything had dried, a layer of a mix of Matt and Satin varnish

was used on all surfaces.

The kit I used was the Trumpeter 1/32 USAF A-7.

The Sluf in different positions

I would like to photograph the aircraft in different situations and did alterations for the following senarios::

1.The Corsair II on the tarmac with the canopy open and ground crew working

2.The plane loaded with weapons and ready to go

3.The aircraft in the air with the canopy and all hatches closed.

Some of these pictures were the aircraft is flying were made by pasting the pictures of the A-7 into a more suitable background.

 

The Figures

The crew was some old figures (German) which I altered a little and painted in the Greek blue work clothes.

I used two pilots. One was from Master Details and one from JP Production. The one from JP Production was used for the pilot in the cockpit, while the one from Master Details was scratch built to enter the ladder to the cockpit.

 

The runway and background

The hardtop and the background were painted cardboard which I tried to look a little bit of Greek nature.

 

The weapons

Besides the external fuel tank, the Trumpeter kit had ten different missiles and bombs which could be fixed to the wing pylons.

I chose to use the racks, each with 6 MK-82 bombs and the GBU-10 Paveway laser-guided bomb.

 

And here is my Greek A-7 Corsair II

With the ground crew

The pilot climbs on board

Armed up and ready to go!

Take Off