RATO for A-4 Skyhawk

Published: February 5th, 2021     
Product Image
Reviewed by: Paul R. Brown - IPMS# 24085
Scale: 1/72
Company: Brengun
Price: $7.50
Product / Stock #: BRL 72212
Product provided by: Brengun

When the A-4B Skyhawk was designed, provisions were made for it to use RATO rockets to give it a short deck-run launch (if carrier's catapults were unavailable for any reason). One RATO bottle could be mounted on each speed brake giving an additional 9,000 lbs. of thrust for five seconds. The bottles were fired electrically and upon burnout were jettisoned hydraulically from the cockpit. While this capability was never used by the US Navy, in Vietnam, the Marines took advantage of this capability when launching A-4s from short airfields.

This new set from Brengun provides four RATO bottles, enough to equip two Skyhawks. Each bottle is comprised of two parts - the main body of the bottle and a separate piece with the exhaust nozzle. The main body includes simplified mounting brackets for attaching the bottle to the speed brake. Three of my bottles has a thin strand of resin stretching out from the top of the bottle, which was either flash or could have been intended to represent the electrical connection between the bottle and the aircraft. However, it was a bit out of scale and not very flexible, so I removed it and will use very thin stretched sprue as the wiring when I install the bottles on a kit.

After soaking the parts in Simple Green to remove any mold release residue, I removed the bottles and nozzles from the casting block with a fine razor saw. Next, I sanded the cut ends on a piece of sandpaper attached to a piece of glass to square up the ends. I used super glue gel top attach the nozzle parts to the bottles to give me time to refine the alignment of the nozzles, as the nozzles are angled away from the centerline of the bottle and point away from the aircraft fuselage when installed. Once the glue had set, there was a small gap between where the parts joined, so I used Mr. Surfacer to fill the gap.

After sanding the seam, I painted the bottles white and the nozzles steel. In several of the photographs I found it appears that the nozzles should be white as well, but I wanted them to show up in the photographs. The set does not include and decals, but I am sure all of us have some spare stencil decals laying around that could be used to dress up the units.

There is a good photograph of a RATO bottle being installed on a Marine A-4E on page 33 of Ginter's Naval Fighters Number Fifty-Two for more details.

This is a neat little set and will go nicely with Fujimi's A-4E kit or the new Hobby Boss A-4E kit in the appropriate USMC markings.

Highly Recommended.

Thank you to Brengun/Hauler for providing the review sample and IPMS-USA for letting me review it.

  • Cad Drawing from Web Site
    Cad Drawing from Web Site
  • Package
  • Instructions
  • Parts
  • Parts
  • Completed

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