John Alger’s “Old Work” part II

Next we have my very first commission build circa 1975. While serving runway duty with another instructor while in VT-24, he asked if I could build him a model of our aircraft and this is it. It is the Fujimi TA-4J that claims to be 1/48 but is really 1/50. More on that later. Someone had had some decals made in 1/48 for our wing bird. I do have another set, but since they are 40+ years old, not sure how viable they are. I know that this was 75 or possibly 76 as the Navy changed our tail codes in mid-1975 from a number/letter (VT-24 was 3K) to a single letter representing the wing (Training Wing 3 at NAS Chase became “C”). Many mods to this very basic kit, starting with the cockpit. The kit cockpit is no representation of any cockpit so it was completely ditched and a new one scratched using a combination of sheet plastic and balsa. I measured the ESCAPAC seats in our seat shop and made very nice 1/48 scale versions (True Details and Cutting Edge did not yet exist). Unfortunately, they were slightly too big and the canopy would not go on! Good thing I was planning on showing it open anyway! This was the day when I learned to scale the kit BEFORE building extra parts!

Since the kit only has a 400gal centerline drop tank, I took the 300gal drops from the Fujimi A-6 kit, cut the flaps and slats out and filled the gaps to show them properly. Flaps will bleed down on the A-4 after about 24-48 hours, so unless the aircraft was just parked, they are seldom fully up on the ground. The slats are aerodynamic and will be extended whenever the aircraft is 100 knots or less – this is a problem with most kits as they are usually molded up. Great if you display in flight, but useless on the ground.

Steve lives in California now and says the model did not make it through the last move. He had it a lot of years though!


  1. Dave Maher
    February 15, 2019

    Great work John !!

  2. Gary Mason
    February 25, 2019

    Wow! That is great work, John! Love A-4s, as I used to work on OA-4Ms when I was in the Corps, along with AV-8Bs, of course.


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