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Hasegawa Collectors Hi Grade OA 4M Skyhawk Review

Article by Paul Nortness

The 1:32nd scale Hasegawa "Collectors Hi Grade" series OA-4M was released in 1987. Normally, I would not review a model kit that has been out close to 25 years but there is so little information out there regarding this kit I felt it was a good idea.

When I was a kid in the early 80's, I purchased a Monogram 1:48th OA-4M Skyhawk. It was the first plane I had built and I was instantly hooked. I loved the OA-4M's rugged looks with the big avionics hump on the spine and all the various ECM bumps.

It made for a mean looking aircraft. To this day, the OA-4M remains one of my favorite military aircraft. The OA-4M is a variant of the two seat training Skyhawk.

Used by the Marine Corps for a Fast Forward Air Controller or "Fast FAC" for short. Forward Air Controllers would fly around into enemy territory and "paint" targets for incoming attack aircraft to hit.

hasegawa skyhawk model kit

Pilots of these aircraft were generally considered to be the best around due to the fact they were constantly under fire.

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Let's take a look at what is under the hood. The Hasegawa OA-4M is a combination of parts from their earlier TA-4F release and new parts made specifically for this aircraft. The majority of the airframe is typical of Hasegawa kits in the mid 80's. The surface detail is very fine but raised. This is easily remedied with a pin vise and scribing tool.

hasegawa skyhawk model kit 3

One of the first things you notice upon opening the box is a small box inside. This box contains special "upgrade" parts. These parts are what make this a "Collectors Hi Grade" kit. Inside this box you will find a nice fret of photo etched parts. Most of the photo etch is for the exterior of the aircraft, but there are two nicely done instrument panels included as well.

hasegawa skyhawk model kit 3

You will also find white metal landing gear struts for the nose and main gear, as well as white metal wheel hubs and various antennae. The box also holds vinyl tires for use with the metal wheel hubs. The addition of the photo etched parts alone are pretty cool, but the white metal parts are a nice bonus. Not that a kit this size would ever have a problem on standard plastic landing gear struts, it is just a cool addition.

The box says "conversion kit". That is essentially correct, but misleading. Normally, the words "conversion kit" indicate you are just getting parts to convert a model kit to a different version. But here we have a kit that builds an entire aircraft. What Hasegawa has done is make the parts to allow you to convert their TA-4F to OA-4M standards and was nice enough to include the TA-4F kit as well. To complete the conversion, you will need to perform some surgery to the fuselage halves. The first thing you must do is cut off the nose.

hasegawa skyhawk model kit 4

There is a line you can follow so this is a pretty easy cut. Second, you most remove the hump that rises up to meet the back of the canopy. This is a little more difficult, but with patience and a steady hand you should be fine. Next you must remove the base of the tail, this cut will be the most difficult cut to make. And finally, you are required to cut off the top of the tail. Like the nose, there is a line so it should not be too difficult. Once you have made these changes, you will be able to add the new parts that make an OA-4M Skyhawk. Unfortunately, the decals in my kit have yellowed quite a bit. The kit gives you options for 4 different aircraft.

While this kit requires a little extra loving, it is still an excellent rendering of this very cool little aircraft. Unfortunately this kit is hard to come by, it took me almost 10 years before I finally found one. If you are a fan of Skyhawks and enjoy a challenge I would highly recommend picking this kit up if you happen to find one.

Have fun and happy building!

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