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AFTERMARKET REVIEW


Steel Beach Accessories #320183
A-6B Mod 0 Conversion Set
1:32 Scale

 

By the late 1960s, the SAM threat over North Vietnam posed a significant threat to U.S. aircraft.  Various types of tactics were developed in response, from the classic SAM break to the use of jamming aircraft such as the EB-66 to spoof the enemy’s radar.  Further, “Wild Weasel” aircraft in the Air Force and “Iron Hand” jets in the Navy were developed specifically to hunt and destroy SAM sites using high-speed anti-radiation missiles.  During the Vietnam conflict, this role was most notably fulfilled by the USAF F-100F and later, the iconic F-105G.  However, one lesser-known SAM killer was the Grumman A-6B Mod 0 Intruder.

In early 1967, Grumman stripped ten A-6A airframes of their production avionics package and outfitted them with AN/APS-107B RHAW sets, four AS-2Q50 homing antennas (two on the upper radome, and two on the intakes), and an AN/ALR-55 warning receiver in each wingtip.  Further, these jets were wired to shoot the new AGM-78 Standard ARM missile, which offered increased range, warhead size, and target acquisition capability than the earlier AGM-45 Shrike (especially that the AGM-78 still guided even if a SAM site’s radar was turned off).  AGM-45s were still flown on the jet, sometimes in combination with AGM-78s.  A-6B Mod 0s were quickly tested and integrated into the fleet within the span of months, and by late 1967, VA-75 was in country with the A-6B Mod 0.  Two later mods would follow, and the Navy operated Iron Hand Intruders until 1977 with several squadrons having A-6Bs mixed in alongside standard A-6s.  The surviving five Mod 0 jets were converted to A-6Es in the 1978-9 timeframe.

Scale modelers would have had some problems building any Iron Hand A-6B until recently, particularly in 1:32 scale.  We’ve now got decals for a few of these jets thanks to AoA Decals (look for the upcoming review at detailandscale.com) and the airframe modifications now can be procured here in a small resin conversion set by Steel Beach Accessories.

This set features the RHAW antennas, the AS-2Q50, and AN/ALR-55 antenna blisters on the nose, intakes, horizontal stabilizers, and wingtips that externally distinguished the Mod 0 jets from all other Intruders. They appear to be size-, shape-, and proportion-accurate when compared with the A-6B Mod 0 references I have. The resin is not cast under particularly high pressure, and on my sample, there’s some small surface irregularities. So, I’d advocate a light sanding to smooth out the surfaces and don’t forget to prime the parts before painting to catch any remaining minor superficial imperfections.  After that, you should be good to go. There are a few more very subtle airframe and cockpit modifications that the builder needs to add to achieve the most accurate configuration possible (see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2016/01/grumman-6b-iron-hand.html) and if you’re modeling a pre-1971 A-6B Mod 0 jet, don't forget that was the era of the earlier GRU-5 ejection seat.

This small, inexpensive conversion set opens up seriously cool opportunities for the scale modeler as this rare and often overlooked Grumman Intruder gets its due in 1:32 scale.  Personally speaking, I love it!  Bravo zulu!

Many thanks to Darren Roberts of Steel Beach Accessories for the review sample. You can find them on the web at http://www.steel-beach.com/ and this set, along with the rest of the Steel Beach product line, can be purchased at http://spruebrothers.com.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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