Kit Preview and Comparison: Kinetic & Monogram 1/48 EA-6B

Agape forum member Raleigh Lamb sent in this very comprehensive preview and comparison between Kinetic’s and Monogram’s 1/48 EA-6B kits. Thanks for the hard work Raleigh!

History
Answering a U.S. Navy and Marine Corps requirement for a new long-range interdiction and close air support aircraft, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation won the contract with their proposal on 2 January 1958. Construction began in early 1959, with the maiden flight occurring uneventfully on 19 April 1960. Formal delivery of two A-6A Intruders took place on 1 February 1963 to Attack Squadron Forty-Two (VA-42) at NAS Oceana, Virginia.

Due to the effectiveness of radar controlled anti-aircraft fire in the Korean war, and surface to air missiles (SAM) being encountered in Vietnam, work began on an “electric” Intruder in August 1961, with the first EA-6A prototype flying on 26 April 1963, and the formal delivery of the second built airframe on 30 April 1963.

Even though the EA-6A preformed it’s SAM suppression role extremely well, Grumman realized that further development of the aircraft’s capabilities was limited by the number of crewmen, and the size of the airframe. A proposal was submitted to the Navy in June 1964, which resulted in the issue of a formal requirement for an advanced electronic warfare (EW) aircraft in November 1964. This led to four crewmembers, arranged in two tandem seated cockpits, requiring a 54-inch fuselage extension to accommodate the crew, and equipment additions. The EA-6B’s first flight occurred on 25 May 1968.

Since then, the Prowler has gone through four major EW capability upgrades, Extended capability (EXCAP), Improved capability I (ICAP-I), ICAP-II, and the most recent ICAP III, participating in every conflict from Vietnam, to Operation Iraqi Freedom, with distinction.

The Kits

Monogram EA-6B Prowler
The kit comes in a large, typical not so sturdy box, which holds three medium gray, (in two plastic bags), and two clear trees totaling 136 parts. One of the clear trees is tinted yellow so the clear windscreen, and tinted canopies can be used. Also included is a 33 step (31 + A&B) instruction page, with paint and marking instructions for one ICAP I aircraft from CVW-11 aboard the USS America, and color call-outs throughout the steps. The right side of this aircraft is pictured on page 17 of Aerofax Minigraph 7, EA-6A Intruder EA-6B Prowler. The quality of molding appears to be very high, with panel lines and rivets in the form of very fine raised detail. Most of the antennas, scoops, and probes are separate items to be installed after major assembly is complete. Here is one of the first problems though, many of these items are just called out in the steps, without positive placement identification, good references will come in very handy here.

Assembly begins as usual with the cockpit, building up until completed, and trapping between the fuselage halves. Do not forget to add a good amount of weight to the nose before joining the fuselage halves, as this will be a tail sitter without it!!! The instrument panels and side consoles are well molded, and show good detail for plastic. They are ICAP I configuration panels as per the kit decals. Ejection seats come as upper side panels you attach to the seat back, and then to the rest of the bucket, which is molded to the cockpit tub. The seats have relatively convincing, molded on lap belts and shoulder harnesses. In my opinion, these are much better than nothing at all, but many people will opt to remove and replace them with scratch built, or aftermarket (AM) belts, if not replace the whole seat. Monogram included four crew figures, three of which are identical. Another item I noticed, there is a vent on the middle of the right upper fuselage just above the forward wing root that is not in the correct position. It should be a little further back, in the forward part of the fairing above the wing root. Photos of actual aircraft show this completely. I THINK this will be fairly easy to correct by drilling around the vent and cutting it out. Then make an appropriate hole the same way where it should be located, gluing and filling it in as needed, also filling the original cut out with scrap plastic, sanding to shape. This should be done before assembling the fuselage halves.

The nose wheel well is part of the lower center fuselage. Sidewalls are attached, and the whole assembly glued in place. It appears Monogram engineered it this way to get the correct shape of the center fuselage, and make filling and sanding easier if need be. In the next few steps, you will be installing the single piece tail hook and well, engine intakes with a boarding ladder on the left aft cockpit only, and some antennas. These I plan on leaving off until ready for paint to avoid continuously breaking them off.

Next come the wings. Here it appears Monogram just omitted the wing fuel dump mast just inboard on the speed brakes. This should be an easy fix with some plastic rod though.

Now, one of the highlights of this kit, Monogram has beautifully rendered the nose and main landing gear. These will be left off until the model is completed, but I had to mention them because they are a prime example of what can be done with plastic injection molding. These gear have detail that rivals cast resin parts I’ve seen. Some might think the hydraulic line detail is too thick, but a few swipes with the #11 xacto blade, and I think they will be just fine.

The rest of the steps include installing gear doors, antenna, ECM pods, and the canopies/windscreen. As this is an ICAP I subject, no weaponry is included. If you plan to install an ICAP II or better cockpit, you’ll have to go to the spares box or AM for the AGM- 88s and their launchers, and other details. Oh, leave the sight glass in step 27 out, the EA-6B does not have one, this is also from the A-6E/EA-6A kits. Step 31A assembles the ecm pods and their pylons. From what I’ve read, the probes on the pylons need to be removed, as only the EA-6A carried them. The decals are in register, appear to be thin, and are very glossy, but I believe these are from the un-manageable decal days of Monogram.

Over all, I’m very pleased with what is in the box, and very much look forward to building it in the near future. I’ve read a lot bad reviews about this kit, with all of it’s inaccuracies, including the one in Detail & Scale, but comparing the kit to pictures, I only see a few glaring problems that stand out, but are easily fixed. I could be very wrong, and am just not paying close enough attention, but it looks good to me.

Kinetic EA-6B ICAP-III Prowler
The kit comes in a sturdier, medium size box, approximately half the size of Monogram’s box. There are eight light gray plastic trees in one bag, and one bagged tree of clear parts with a total parts count of 233. Some of these parts will not be used depending on which wing configuration you use. Kinetic provides a 12 page instruction booklet with GSI (Gunze Sangyo) color call outs throughout, and a color printed color & markings sheet for the very colorful, Fightertown Decals designed, and Cartograf printed decal sheet. Quality of molding is fairly high, with engraved panel lines and rivet detail. The engraving is somewhat soft, and inconsistent at times, but this can be remedied with a scribing tool of your choice and light sanding, formation lights stand very proud, and should be sanded down some as the real things are almost flush with the airframe. Kinetic also leaves the lumps, bumps, probes and antennas as separate items to be installed throughout construction to avoid breakage, and carpet monster consumption. These items have good positive placement instructions, but you have to pay attention to the somewhat busy steps so they are not missed.

Construction begins as usual with the cockpit. All four full seats are assembled (eight parts each), and installed in the cockpit tub. These seats are well molded, but lack any type of harness/belt detail, leaving the modeler to install scratch built, or AM detail. The cockpit tub, and I.P. detail is of raised type, but is somewhat soft. This will not likely be a problem after painting and weathering to make the details pop. The completed tub, and nose gear well/lower fuselage centerline (very similar to the Monogram offering) are trapped between the fuselage halves. Fill the radome with plenty ballast of your choice before installation as this one will also be a tail sitter without it!! Kinetic has you install the tail hook well at this point also, with the tail hook installed later. The separate hook is a nice feature, which will make painting much easier.

Separate engine inlets and boundary plates are provided with molded on compressor blades, they appear to be a bit too shallow though. You also get separate engine exhaust piping that will require seam clean up. These are installed on the fuselage halves, and trapped by the inboard wing installations.

Kinetic would have you build and install the landing gear and doors at this point, but can be left off until finishing is complete. Something worth mentioning about Kinetic’s landing gear, they are devoid of any hydraulic tubing/hoses and wiring detail. This is however a good opportunity for super detailing done by the modeler. If you would prefer replacing the gear, I would suggest the SAC white metal replacement gear designed for the Revell/Monogram kit, as they appear to use the kit moldings as masters. With a just little work, these should be made to fit fairly easily as there are only minor differences in the way the landing gear mount between the two kits.

Kinetic has come up with an innovative way to model the wheels and tires. You trap the wheels between the two tire halves allowing the painting of the wheels and tires separately. A little touch-up after the tires are joined, and you are done, nice touch there!

Moving on, you will be assembling the weapons/ecm pod pylons and wing fold detail. Attention must be paid as to which parts are to be used for your choice of wings deployed or folded. The wing fold mechanism looks convincing, and is a nice option as this model will take up a lot of shelf space once completed. One note on the wings, Kinetic molded the wing fences very short height wise, this is very noticeable when compared to actual aircraft. Removing the molded on detail, and replacing with thin plastic card stock easily fixes this.

More antennas and the tail surfaces are installed in the next steps, followed by the outer wing folds. If folded, more detail parts and lock/support mechanisms are added with a completed diagram to insure the parts are in the right places.

Next, you will be installing the windscreen, and canopies. Kinetic provides un-tinted canopies, so to get that gold plated yellow tinted canopy look is up to the modeler. I’ve read a build report where the builder tinted the canopies with yellow food colored Future, then lightly buffed in some SNJ gold metal buffing powder that looked convincing, I believe I will also attempt the same. Included in these steps are the installations of the full forward and aft boarding ladders/steps for both sides.

Finally, the ECM pods, wing tanks, and one AGM-88 Harm anti-radiation missile are assembled in the last steps. The AGM-88 is ok, but could be made a little better by careful, light sanding over the whole thing as the engraving is on the heavy side. The last page shows options, and gives suggestion as to pod, wing tank and missile configurations. Markings are provided for one subject with stenciling, a very colorful red, white and blue aircraft from VAQ-140, the Patriots.

Overall, this appears to be a pretty good kit with some nice options. Of course as with any kit, there is room for improvement in the form of scratch building, and/or A.M. items depending on your level of AMS. I look forward to building this kit as soon as possible.

Conclusions
Coming in at $.01 under $60 through Sprue Brothers, I have to admit I had not considered purchasing the new Kinetic kit, and if it had not been for winning it at our club raffle, I would not have it now. It is a nice kit though, and an updated version to today’s standards, with many options not seen on the Monogram kit. Is it worth almost double the price of the Monogram Kit? Is it better than the Monogram kit? I guess those questions will have to be answered by the modeler depending on which version they want to build, and how much work they are willing to do to either kit. Both kits can be built OOB as their specific version. The Monogram kit, with lineage to the earlier A-6E and EA-6A Intruder kits, has been reported to have quite a few inaccuracy issues, which some can be fixed with just a little work, and others with expensive, and becoming hard to find AM replacements, and then there is the issue of the raised exterior detail. Does this make it un-build able? Not in my book, I’ve seen some very impressive builds produced from this kit, and plan on happily building mine in the future.

I hope you have enjoyed this comparison and preview, and that I’ve answered some, if not all of your questions. If any questions remain, please contact me, and I’ll answer them as best as I can. Thank you very much for your time. Happy modeling, and may the Lord bless and keep you and yours.

Raleigh Lamb

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