The Grumman A-6 Intruder grew out of a need after the Korean War to replace the relatively-slow, piston engine-driven A-1 Skyraider. The Navy was looking for a plane that could be carrier-based, had an enormous payload, but also possessed a short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability for Marine close air support on land. The Intruder, with its twin turbofan engines, became a workhorse for both the Navy and Marines, first during the Vietnam War, and later serving into the late 1990s in the Gulf War and Bosnia.
The Intruder had the distinction of being the first all-weather attack bomber ever produced, which, along with its massive 18,000 pound payload, made it ideal for the conditions over Southeast Asia where the weather is quite disruptive of conventional warplanes. During the Vietnam War, it served aboard all of the twenty American aircraft carriers rotating through the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea, attacking targets both north and south of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Vietnam). Marine Corps Intruders were also based on land at Chu Lai and Da Nang, as well as in Thailand.
Later the A-6 continued serving aboard US carriers during the Gulf War, flying over 4,700 sorties. It was not until 1997 that the Intruder was finally retired as part of the Defense Department's efforts to simplify the number of air-frames, replacing it with the F-14D Tomcat.
Detail & Scale Aviation Publications have been known forever as one of the "go-to" sources for modelers in all scales thanks to legendary Bert Kinzey. Now under a new team, the company is both reissuing some of the older titles, and launching a series called "Colors & Markings" that is designed to highlight just that: the camo and marking options for classic air-frames. Two of their first releases are dedicated to the A-6 Intruder in USMC and Navy Service. This review is a bit selfish since it's for the USMC volume, because I have a Trumpeter 1/32nd scale A-6 in my stash along with with AoA's "Intruders on the Beach" decals set.
The 126-page softcover book is beautifully-printed with mostly color photos, at least three per page. Following the Introduction are seven chapters devoted to USMC squadrons. Following those chapters are nine chapters for Navy Test & Evaluation squadrons.
Ask other aircraft modelers for a recommendation on references for a particular aircraft build, and if there is a Detail & Scale volume for the plane, having covered a wide swath of WW2 and post-war planes. Some aircraft have more-colorful histories (literally), and so Detail & Scale Aviation Publications is branching out into this new series of "Colors & Markings" volumes designed to highlight just that.
Much of this colorful history arose during the Vietnam War, when many US planes gradually became festooned with tail codes and then unit symbols that have in many cases carried over to the present day. For example, VMA(AW)-242 (the "AW" stands for "all weather") was created in 1943 to fly TBF/TBM Avengers, but was reconstituted in the 1960s with first the A-4 Skyhawk and then later became the first all-weather USMC attack Squadron. Deploying to Da Nang in Vietnam in 1966 as part of Marine Air Group (MAG) Eleven. Typifying the slang term "mud movers" applied to Close Air Support (CAS) in Vietnam, the squadron flew over 16,700 sorties that delivered almost 86,000 tons (not pounds) of bombs on ground targets as part of CAS, attempts to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trails, and on North Vietnam as part of Operation Rolling Thunder.
Somewhere along their journey, they picked up the nickname "Batmen" or "Bats," and sported black noses, the "DT" tail code and their bat symbol.
Following the unit's departure from Vietnam in 1970, the colors and markings of the squadron's aircraft changed, which the book documents with eleven pages of lush color photographs. Modelers wishing to build a specific aircraft or to ascertain the markings and colors for a particular period of deployment will be well-pleased with the wealth of images and information in the captions.
This same abundance of research is carried on with the other squadrons covered by the book.
For many aircraft modelers, Detail & Scale titles are simply the first reference work acquired after purchasing the kit. This volume carries on the tradition with a gorgeous rendering of markings and camo for this workhorse aircraft. The original Detail & Scale title for the A-6 is still to be found (and is in the box of my A-6 for its build). These two companion volumes make for a 1-2 combination that can't be beaten for those who want a deep dive into the USMC aircraft especially. I look forward to seeing additional titles in the "Colors & Markings" series.
Thanks to Detail & Scale Aviation Publications for this review copy. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed on Aeroscale when ordering your own copy.