Grumman's Intruder was a versatile attack/ECM platform that served the US Navy from 1963 until 1997. In the mid 1960s, Grumman proposed a refuelling version to replace the then-current KA-3 but it was not until the early 1970s that the KA-6D version was converted from existing airframes. The conversion involved removing the radars, computers and attack avionics and installing a hose-drum unit in the lower aft fuselage. Early tankers retained a limited daytime attack capability but this was never used, and later tankers were converted without it. Intruder tankers always flew with 4 under-wing tanks, and either a 5th tank or a Douglas D-704 “buddy” pod on the centreline station.
Opening the bag
Cobra Company's conversion comprises 9 resin parts, consisting of 2 supplemental under-wing tanks, an optional centreline D-704 “buddy” store, and the under-fuselage refuelling drogue housing and hose guide. The conversion will be a simple one, with only one modification to a kit part necessary. The tanks and centreline store are a simple drop-fit. All parts are covered in mould release agent, so must be washed clean before use. Cobra Company recommends using a degreasing agent such as Fantastic or Formula 409 mixed with warm water.
The instructions are given on one side of an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper. The modeller is assumed to have experience working with resin conversions so the instructions offer only basic tips for working with resin, and 4 steps specific to this conversion. Underside plan and side views of the aircraft detail where the drogue housing and hose guides are to be mounted
The tanks come in two parts; the tank itself, and the tailcone/fin. It is apparent that the moulds are ageing; there is a substantial amount of resin flash at the tail end of the tank which needs to be ground down. This will not be difficult, and there is no detail in the area to be damaged during removal. The rest of the detailing is nicely restrained engraved lines which will look comparable to the detailing on the kit tanks. A steady hand will be needed to ensure that the cut lines on the tank and fin are lined up and properly square. Take care to glue the fins at the correct 180o angle to the pylon attachment point. Use the kit tanks for reference.
The buddy store, if used, will be the most complicated part of the conversion. This is solely due to the fact that the ram air propeller at its nose had to be moulded flat which makes removing it from the resin pour stub a delicate task. The best approach will be to saw the pour stub in half right beside the blades, then carefully saw across just below the blades leaving a thin wafer of resin attached. Take this stage slowly. Once you have the wafer separated, sand it back to the blades, taking great care not to sand into the blades themselves. Damaged blades may be replaced with sheet styrene if necessary. My copy has an air bubble in one of the blades which will likely lend itself to filling with superglue and baking soda. The spinner has some mould lines that need to be sanded down. The remaining part of the build is the stowed drogue, which should be a very simple cut and glue task. There is a minor amount of resin flash at the nose of the tank which will need removal. Some detail will be obscured so it must be carefully rescribed.
Fuselage drogue housing and hose guide
These are two small parts which will involve the only modification of a kit part necessary to complete this conversion. The lower centreline/tailhook (Kit part No. 15) needs to have the Doppler antenna housing and chaff dispensers removed. This will require the depression inside the part to be back-filled to avoid sanding right through it. Once the outside is flush with the surrounding fuselage, the drogue housing and hose guide may be glued in place. The stowed drogues are moulded very smooth, which is unlike the actual look of the very convoluted folds the drogue fabric makes when stowed. Some careful sculpting with a razor knife and needle file would go a long way towards making them look more authentic. See this photo of a K-707's stowed drogues: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Omega-K-707-stowed-drogues.jpg
Markings are not included in the conversion kit. Superscale sheet 48-048 (out of print) and Afterburner Decals sheet 48-080
, which is currently available, offer tankers. Each Intruder squadron had at least two tankers, so the potential for marking options is high. Check your references for proper Bu No and squadron numbers. Tankers were kept in the high-visibility paint scheme and during the grey/white era were usually denoted by a band in squadron colours painted around the aft fuselage just in front of the tail surfaces. Less visible is the fact that their beacon lights were blue instead of red, for night identification.
Where can you get it?
This set may be ordered directly from Cobra Company at their website.
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