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John Rood's USA blog: A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk, circa 1956, Southern California

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Fuselage: Making the engine intakes. Just in case someone reading this has never done this kind of thing before, the sheet balsa parts you see here are sections of what will become a "block", stacked together, glued, and finally shaped to resemble an aircraft engine air intake.


The trick, however, is to make OPPOSITE halves.

And, though they might APPEAR to be identical, they're not. Look closely at the vertical line... it runs at an angle! So, at least for me, it takes some attentiveness here to not screw up this simple-looking task when gluing the parts together!   Me? I SCREWED IT UP!   I've had to re-do my starboard set.  One must remember to make two halves, two OPPOSITE sides, and meanwhile the correct side profile must be maintained.  Look closely at the side profile on the plans... note the downward "droop" angle on the intake.  That's ALSO true when you look at it from for and aft:  the fuselage section droops downward at those intakes.


Edited By John H. Rood on 28/09/2019 05:42:27

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So with my vast talent for mixing things up badly, I labeled each of them as to port/starboard/fore/aft:06


Then tracing the aft cross-section from intake bulkhead "A-1" gets the sanding underway:


Next I managed to remember that the early Skyhawks had a shorter intake ass'y, and its entry lay perpendicular to centerline, not canted like the later A-4E/F et al. So, after making the adjustments, I cut and glued and shaped and here is what I ended up with:


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  • 2 weeks later...
Today I was trying to insert images from my Flickr account but apparently I still haven't figured out the elusive secret mojo here!  
So, here are some images via my album here on RCME. 
I am now at the point of shaping the fuselage with the help of cross-sections and photos.   Check out these interesting shots from NACA wind-tunnel tests "way back when": 
And this one of a NAS Los Alamitos-based reserve A4D also gives a nice reference view of the A4D-1 and -2 (A-4A/B) engine inlet.  Note, too, that this aircraft lacks the gun at the wing root fairing:
Los Alamitos A4D-1

Edited By John H. Rood on 16/10/2019 19:55:47

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Right you are, young man! No splitter fairings -- my sloth doth reigneth -- there is a method to my madness! idea

Meanwhile, here's an A-4B prang aboard the USS Great Orme. Excellent reference on shapes and details!

ps -- Maybe it thinks it is a PSS model or something, abusing Mr. Meade's custom 3D-printed refueling nozzle and all?



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  • 2 years later...


I grew up seeing bright orange/red and white airplanes out in the 1950s-1960s high desert of Southern California, and with this Skyhawk build I'd like to tap into those vague but absolutely fantastic memories.   So I'm wading into the fray here with a California-based A4D-1 Skyhawk, either a Weekend Warrior with the US Navy reserves circa 1960 at NAS Los Alamitos, or one that served as a weapons test aircraft with the US Navy and US Marines out in the high desert of Naval Air Facility (NAF) China Lake and over water with the Pacific Missile Test Center (PMTC) at Point Mugu. 


So, I'll need to modify the PSSA A-4E/F Mass Build design just a bit to represent an earlier Skyhawk, the A4D-1, a designation that was later changed to the A-4A.   

These Skyhawks are identifiable by their shorter nose, no refueling probe, and lack of external stiffeners for the rudder.  The next development, the A4D-2 (later designated A-4B), incorporated a refueling probe and the rudder stiffeners.  Next came the A4DN-2 (later designated A-4C), which brought a longer nose that housed advanced avionics.  Next came the A-4E and F variants with the more familiar Skyhawk shape we see in Matt and Phil's PSSA design.


Unfortunately the photo here of a PMTC A4DN-2 and A4D-1 at sea off Point Mugu is lo-res, but compare the two nose shapes in that photo and you see the most prominent difference between the two marques, as well as general colour & markings for reserve and test aircraft in California during that era.   The AD4N-2 is in the foreground, and behind her is an A4D-1.


And I just had to include the early 1960s photo of an Point Mugu A4D-2 (A-4B) because of her fabulous AQM-37 target drones.  That's a lot of aero-enthusiast mojo right there!

A4D-1 and A4D-2 of NMC Point Mugu with Bullpup D missiles.jpg

A4D Nose -- Prelim Sketch (3).jpg

A4D-1 China Lake  Gate Guard via.jpg


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Phil, that scheme is what attracted me, too!  Glad you like!


Phil, also, somehow last year my initial post (way back in March 2016 -- I am guilty as charged!) got deleted -- and YOUR user name then appeared in its masthead.     Fast-forward to now, and RCM&E's David Ashby is very kindly helping me sort it.   He instructed me to start a new thread and so that's what we have here.  He then shall transfer all the stuff from the "old" thread over to here, and delete that "old" thread.   

Meanwhile, I'm back at building the model -- so I'll have some actual progress to report.

Edited by John H. Rood
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Thanks, Phil!   Doing OK;  struggling to stay fed and watered because all food and drink now tastes awful to me!  The chemo and radiation are working their magic!  But I am workin' it , too, one step at a time.   


So now, with David Ashby's help, my original thread for this build will start up again from its beginning in March 2016.  

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  • David Ashby - Moderator changed the title to John Rood's USA blog: A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk, circa 1956, Southern California
  • 1 year later...

Reentering the fray after far too long away.  

Looking here at a step I inadvertently missed:  Making an exit path for the elevator control. 

I've included a screen shot of what Phil Cooke did, and now I'm having to do it with the fuselage all buttoned and shaping begun. Would've been better to do it in Phil's sequence!


Now -- where in blazes did I put put those snakes?  The wife and I moved to a new home this year, and much as I tried to pack up and move the workshop in an organized fashion, I see I have a ways to go!  Organization and all that. 😅



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Thanks, Andy!  

Where I left off was October 2019, and me having to add a bit of fuselage skin on the the belly aft of the wing TE, adding thin balsa lams to a few spots where I had gone overboard with the sanding block... creating a touch of the dreaded "starved horse" look.


This all happened because I neglected to follow Phil's procedure of making careful "do not sand deeper than here" guide marks beforehand!


To show the project's current state, here's a photo from a few years ago... drinks in the Den of Iniquity with some impressionable civilians.

My next step now is to finish fixing that aft snafu, finish the elevator control installation, and close up that nose.  


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