McDonnell Douglas OA-4M Outlaw

Updated: October 23, 2006

It is kind of a coincidence that I chose yet another model by McDonnell Douglas to star in this second gallery. But since I'm going to show all of the models I have built, in the long run, it makes little difference.

I have started building this model in 1995, stopped, then resumed in 2000. For five years, it lay in its box, gathering dust, which is extremely evident on the decals, until I decided to finish it. This model certainly is a sort of an orphan; my brother assembled and painted some of the parts, I added some more, then it was abandoned for a few years. Finally, my conscience got the better of me and I had it completed.

Skyhawk is one of the more popular combat aircraft of the modern era. It started its carrier as a daylight nuclear attack jet, in the hands of the US Navy. As the nuclear mania slowly waned, Skyhawk was converted to a conventional attack plane and was extensively used in Vietnam. A-4 Skyhawk was also the backbone of the Israeli Air Force until it was replaced by the F-4 Phantom. Rumors say that 13 Skyhawks were armed with 20KT bombs in the 1973 Israeli-Arab war, ready to obliterate the Syrian and Egyptian forces should the Israeli Northern Command fall. The little plane earns much of its fame to the US Navy Top Gun school, where it loyally played the role of the adversary fighters in simulated air combats, being approximately the same size and of similar visual signature as the Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed.

OA-4M Outlaw is unique in being a combat two-seater, whereas most two-seat Skyhawks are used for training purposes mainly. It was used mainly for reconnaissance and SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) planes.

I must admit this is not one of my finer works. The model is an Italeri Skyhawk, in 1/72 scale. I found it to be OK in terms of parts quality and finishing, although a bit scarce in available weaponry. Furthermore, like all Italeri models in 1/72 scale known to me, it had a closed-only cockpit (not that I did not overcome this limitation in some of the other models).


One of the jarring details is the horrendous, irreversible discoloration of the decals, which I have not been able to remedy. But still, with a half squint, you can be convinced it's the rust showing (typical for marine jets). Notice the extended nose landing gear. And I did paint the edges on the hatches red, as instructed.

A-4 right front

A-4 nose landing gear

My Outlaw is armed with two AGM-45A Shrike anti-radiation missiles, the 1st or 1.5st generation of dedicated SEAD missiles built (if Bullpup can be considered one). It was based on the AIM-7 Sparrow missile and was just as effective.

A-4 weaponry 1 A-4 weaponry 2

Although experts will tell you Skyhawk could be easily mistaken for small Soviet jets, it's not readily apparent from up close. Still, it had made oh so many US Navy pilots Top Gun certified.

I do love the funnily shaped air-refueling probe, though. And the drop tanks add a nice touch to the overall impression.

A-4 front

My paint job of the OA-4M was rather unimaginative, sticking to the standard two-tone gray scheme.

A-4 rear

A-4 right

A-4 cockpit closeup

I made sure the tail hook was striped black and white in the best of traditional fashion.

A-4 tail hook

I feel this model is less well made than the F-15. If I had to grade myself, it would give it 7.5/10 or so. If I ever lay my hands on models and start building them again, I will surely make another Skyhawk. But considering the abuse this model has suffered, it's lucky to be there at all.

I hope you enjoyed it.

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