Ground Attack Aircraft
Henschel Hs123 – HAL HF-24 Marut – Dassault Etendard IVM

There are some pretty nasty looking aircraft in the gallery of strike aircraft, all of them intended to do damage to people and property on the ground or at sea. Let’s take the opportunity to look at three that specialized in the ground attack role. Sometimes it was not the role they were designed for but it was one to which they were well suited.

Henschel Hs123 in 1/72 by Airfix
This little German dive bomber and ground attack aircraft was one of the first to be put into operation with the newly revived German Luftwaffe in the 1930s. It was a tough and reliable little aircraft that served first with the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. It was expected to serve as a tactical bomber but proved better in the ground support role where its accuracy in hitting ground targets was valued. The Hs123 then when on to serve from the beginning of World War II and was only withdrawn from service in 1944 when the Luftwaffe ran out of airframes and spare party.

This model was made by Steve Pulbrook. It was first released by Airfix in 1978 when that company was starting to produce some good kits which would, these days, be considered on the poor side of fair. There are some other kits which might be better in terms of accuracy and detail but the Airfix kit is the one you are most likely to come across on the www or at model swap and sells, and Airfix re-released this kit only recently in their Vintage Classics range. There is a very good You Tube review of this kit by John Parker which I recommend, which includes some useful comments on other kits of this aircraft.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited HF-24 in 1/72 by Alliance Models
There are a couple of interesting things about this relatively unknown aircraft. It was the first jet fighter designed in Asia that went into production and it was designed by the famous German engineer Kurt Tank, of Focke Wulf Fw190 fame. It was designed to be a supersonic interceptor but the lack of good engines meant it could not achieve the necessary performance. However, it turned out that the HF-24 had good low level performance so the Indian Air Force used it as a ground attack fighter between 1967 and 1990.

As far as I can tell there have only been two kits of this aircraft in 1/72, this Alliance Models kit and an earlier vacform kit about which I know nothing. The Alliance Models kit is all resin and fairly well moulded with all the parts necessary to make a decent model of this little known but very sleek and attractive aircraft. (Kurt Tank knew what he was doing when he designed this aircraft.) There’s not much information on the www about building them model but this one from The Unofficial Airfix Modellers\’Forum might be of interest. Might I suggest that if you can find this kit approach it with patience and care, and it should rewards you well.

Dassault Etendard IVM in 1/72 by Heller
The Etendard IVM was the production version of several proposals for an aircraft for the French Air Force and NATO. They then showed no interest in the project but the French Navy took interest in the light-weight version for its aircraft carriers. The Navy ordered it as a carrier-based ground attack aircraft with a secondary low-altitude interception role. They began entering service with the French Navy in 1962 and were eventuallr replaced by the Super Etendard progressively during the 1980s with the final retirement in 1991.

I enjoyed making this kit, which is just as well because it is apparently the only kit made of the Etendard. You can probably still find it in several Heller boxings since its first release in 1984 but most recent re-release in 2013. My only advice with this kit is to find a better ejector seat if you can and to find a better decal sheet because the Heller ones do not look great. Otherwise, this kit builds up nicely, if a little simply by modern day standards.