Painting the MSD A-6 Intruder

During the 1967/8 school year I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade.  I was a Boy Scout, albeit not a very good one.  I didn’t mind camping and cooking meals over a fire, but I wasn’t a very good hiker.  But we did lots of other stuff in addition to getting cold and wet in the great outdoors.  We also took overnight field trips.

One of our outings was to Oak Harbor Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. It was a great trip.  We got to sleep in a barracks and eat in the mess hall.  We went to the rec center and shot pool.  Fun stuff.  But the highlight of the trip, at least for this twelve-year-old was seeing the planes.  The two I remember best were the big P-2 Neptunes that were being phased out to the P-3 Orions.  The others were the big black-nosed A-6 Intruders that may as well have been space ships to my eyes.

We got to crawl around in the big Neptunes that did coastal patrols, watching for Soviet submarines and chasing off Russian “fishing boats” that strayed a little too far inside territorial limits.  But the A-6’s belonged to some carrier air group rotated home from Yankee Station.

Anyway, Intruders have always had a place in my heart.  A few years ago I-94/Raiden miniatures had A-6’s on their production list, but they broke my heart again by not following through, sigh.  I’m slowly working my way through my sizable collection of Vietnam-era planes, starting with the Navy (why, because they’re easier to paint silly,) The only Intruder out there is offered by MSD Miniatures.  MSD is not my favorite, mostly because they aren’t consistent.  Some of their planes are great, some not so much. See previous comments about their Swordfish.

The big day came and the planes arrived.  I, of course, stashed them away for future consideration.  That day is now here, and I’ve been working on them.

First things first.  The A-6 was a big plane, and that’s clear from the miniature.  Not huge, but certainly good sized from the nose to behind the wings with a sizable tail assembly.  The miniature is pretty clean.  Separate tail assembly and a separate in-flight-refueling probe, one that is easily lost if dropped into the carpet.  At least I still have five of the six, sigh. Intruder is extensively scribed, maybe more than any other plane I’ve painted. I don’t know if that’s good or not, but it is quite busy. The huge radome doesn’t seem quite the right shape, but it is really big.

Getting started

Primed and ready to go.  We’ll get serious after the longbowmen in the background are finished.

Intruder 4

Light Gull Grey and white control surfaces are done.

So, tail-check.  Refueling probe-check.  That’s it. No fuel tanks or underwing ordinance. Some molded underwing blisters to mount such things would have been helpful, but no.  Step one was to dip into my dwindling supply of such goodies and mount them.  Can’t have a bomber with no bombs. I added the really big rack o’ bombs from C and C, which can’t be had anymore. I also gave my boys two wing mounted drop tanks to fit them out properly

Intruder 5

Intruders on their backs waiting for gloss varnish.  You can clearly see the fuel tanks and bomb racks in place.

I began by brush priming them with Vallejo white primer, but switched to spray.  Better coverage. Then it was on to paint.  I used the Vallejo Air Colors Light Gull Gray for the upper surfaces and fuselage.  I did two coats because it’s thin.  For the bottom, I started with Vallejo Air Colors Insignia White.  Again, pretty thin, so I used Vallejo Model Colors white for a second coat.

The white is supposed to be a gloss color.  I used Vallejo Gloss Varnish on the undersides and the control surfaces.  Mistake!!!  I dunno, what the deal was, but I just couldn’t wash it out of my brush.  It glopped on to the brush, and despite repeated cleanings, I just couldn’t get my brush free of gunk.  I thinned it with water and that seemed to help, but I may have second thoughts about using it again. Finally, I painted the canopy Ceramcoat Ivory, which is my go-to color for planes.

Then, it’s on to detailing.  The first detailing bit I do for any plane is lining those scribed lines.  Usually it’s black or charcoal, but with a plane this light, I used Vallejo Neutral Grey, which is a great color, not too light, not too dark.  With all the scribing on this plane, however, it was long and tedious.  The white, lower fuselage scribing, I used an even lighter color, Vallejo Light Sea Grey. More tedium, but done at last.

Intruder 3

Intruder 1

After the lining was done, there were a few more bits to paint.  I started with the little bits of red for the air intake warnings, the tail stripe and drop tank fins.  I wrapped up with the NK group markings, the tiny radome on the tail, and the plane numbering between the nose and radome.  I used an Army Painter Insane Detail brush for this. I used to give fairly short shrift to this little guy, but it is long, holds a nice point as well as enough paint to be useful.  Highly recommended.

Finished up with pretty simple markings.  The national insignia are from I-94’s excellent range of decals. The Navy markings are from Flight Deck.  It’s a really great set of markings because it’s just a block of words without extra space.  I even learned something new about maneuvering them into place—with a toothpick!!! Duh.  What a great idea.  A little matte varnish over the decals and bang, we’re good.

Intruder finale

The Intruders join my bunch o’ Cold War Navy and USMC planes.  I’ve got almost 50 painted planes I’ve completed over the past 25 or so years.  Done stuff for the Cuban Missile Crisis (twice) and now I’m moving on a bit later for Vietnam-I’d like to do Rolling Thunder and the later Linebacker missions for both the Navy and USAF.

This is my pile o’ planes.  And look, room for more.


All kinds of stuff here, with the Intruders far left.  The next two rows are mostly George Kettler’s lovely Raiden F-8 Crusaders though there are a couple of Skytrex minis in there too. Behind them are the extremely wonderful Raiden A-4B’s.  Then six F-3H Demons.  Not a great mini, for a not very good plane, but they were on aircraft carriers in the Caribbean in 1962.  In the corner is a Shapeways EA-3 Skywarrior which will serve in an  electronic warfare role.


Box two is mostly empty, but there are nine very serviceable USMC A-4Fs, probably by Heroics and Ros. On the right are some Skytrex F-86’s that I painted as FJ-2 Furys back in 1995.  In the back are a couple of F-4B Phantoms I again painted 25 years ago for a first iteration of U.S. airstrike on Cuba during the Missile Crisis.


2 comments on “Painting the MSD A-6 Intruder

  1. Pete S/ SP says:

    Those have turned out really nicely.



    • kgsmyth55 says:

      Thanks Pete. They were a bit of a struggle to finish, but they turned out well. Hope you and your family are all weathering the Covid storm. Can’t wait to actually play a game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s