Trumpeter 1/350 EA-6B Prowler

Reviewed by Jon Somerville

Grumman’s design us based on the A-6 Intruder but the aircraft is different enough to be considered the first aircraft designed specifically for the role of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM). It is a longer aircraft to accommodate the extra cockpit for two more crew. First flight was EA-6B (BuNo 158029) in November 1970. Introduced to the Navy in 1971 it replaced aircraft such as the EAK-3B Skywarrior. For the Marine Corps the EA-6B began to replace the EA-6A in 1977 although the later remained in service even till 1985. A total of 170 EA-6B’s were built by Grumman with the last (BuNo 164403) delivered to the USMC on July 29, 1991.

Over its operational history the EA-6B has become a proven combat aircraft. In fact the EA-6B platform was considered so superior that in 1995 the USAF dropped its EF-111 Ravens to rely solely on the USN/USMC EA-6Bs to provide their ECM requirements. However in recent years the US Navy has failed to recognize the value of this combat proven aircraft and is seeking its retirement. At this point the US Navy has a desire to operate an almost all F-18 fleet and the EA-6B replacement is well under way in the development of the EA-18G Growler. The Growler is a modified design of the F/A-18F and is expected to start replacing the EA-6B in 2010.

When Trumpeter came out with a 1/350 USS Nimitz for 1975 fit, it was missing one aircraft type to truly complete its Airwing. With this release of a 1/350 EA-6B Prowler, other aircraft including the C-2A Greyhound, H-60 and F/A-18 became available. Additionally a much modified and corrected F-14 set was also released by Trumpeter.


Even though the wings (at this scale), inlet and main gear are identical to the A-6E, Trumpeter’s EA-6B is completely new tooling. Main panel lines are all recessed and detail is crisp. A nice surprise was the inclusion of two drop tanks and two Electronic Counter Measure pods (ECM pods) which will be much welcomed by modelers.

Like all the other recent releases of 1/350 Trumpeter aircraft, this set contains six aircraft. A typical squadron will take four on a cruise. This will leave you with two extra aircraft. I plan on building them all and then chose the best four. Then I can steal the extra fuel tanks for a couple A-6s and the extra ECM pods can be added to a centerline pylon. Centerline ECM pods are built differently being flattened out at the bottom like a tire bulges out the side on the ground. This center line ECM pod was not carried till ICAP-I upgrades beginning in 1976 and completed in 1983. The ‘Beer Can’ on the back of the tail faring was also added during this time period.

There are many pros in this set that are also cons. Examples are the intakes which are more hollowed out than the Trumpeter A-6E kits. The downside is there is no splitter plate between the intake and the fuselage. I think the Trumpeter 1/350 A-6E intakes were the better of the two. Another plus turning into a negative is the ejection seats. Nice touch but are molded in a way that makes it seam like the aircraft is a two seater, front and back. I don’t fault Trumpeter as it would be difficult and expensive to do it property. Fortunately an easy fix would be to use a razor saw and make a cut down the center of the ejection seats. Cutting them both at the same time to a depth of a few millimeters, and voila, four seats.

Each side of the forward cockpit canopy has an ejector pin mark, right on the canopy. Fortunately it does not show up too much but it is deep enough to make it difficult to fix. There will be a major seam right down the middle of the canopy but once both halves are together and painted properly it will look fine. One will have to glue carefully to ensure not fogging the canopy. As many know, the first series of aircraft Trumpeter release for their 1/350 carriers had three colors of plastic on one sprue. Trumpeter must be trying to save money by making the kit with all clear plastic. But it doesn’t work as well here. It may have been better to have solid gray plastic for these EA-6Bs. Or save a bit of money, drop the black plastic and just have the clear canopies. Entirely clear sprues are hard to work with, the plastic is more brittle and the eye has trouble focusing.

The nose on the EA-6B is rather uniquely shaped and some previous models have had failed to capture the proper shape. I’m not fully convinced Trumpeter has captured its figure correctly. To me it looks too pointy. So the problem may not be in the length of the nose but purely its shape. Although it may shorten it, it may be worthwhile sacrificing length and sand down the nose to form a proper profile.

Wings do not come with the folded option. This is okay as it is easy to cut the wings and fold them yourself. The wings on the EA-6B are molded differently than the A-6E. They are as mentioned one piece, but also have pinholes for the wing pylons and mount to the fuselage differently.

Landing gear is okay and better than what was provided for the A-6E, but for a much more realistic model most will use photo-etch provided by the aftermarket. The fixed refueling probe looks to me to be too tall and not shaped correctly. Also, it should be on an angle that leans 12 degrees towards the navigator when viewed from head-on. Beginning in 1976 and completed in 1983, EA-6Bs had a small saw tooth added at the base of the refueling probe. Again aftermarket photo etch will fix this very minor issue.

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Decals are pretty standard for 1/350 Trumpeter aircraft, no surprises here. Markings are for VAQ-130 ‘Zappers.’ The Trumpeter Nimitz release is as built right from the shipyard. Decals and aircraft provided are for CVW-8. USS Nimitz’s maiden voyage is what was called a “short cruise” which began on April 12, 1975. When CVW-8 redeployed on Nimitz again only a few months later on the 16th of July1975, known VAQ-130 serials were as follows AJ-610 (158540), AJ-611 (158541), AJ-612 (158542) and AJ-613 (158543). The kit provides decals for the 500 series modex which would conflict with the A-6 squadron. The RA-5C should start at 600 series and the EA-6B would start at 610. I believe the Bureau Numbers listed above would be most correct. Trumpeter EA-6Bs decals provide the same Bu No, 162938 for all six aircraft.

The instructions are printed on the rear of the box, in standard Trumpeter fashion.

Kit Pros:

  • Drop tanks included
  • ALQ-99 ECM pods included
  • Ejection seats included (partial cockpit)
  • Recessed Panel Lines

Kit Cons:

  • All clear plastic
  • Ejector pin in the canopy
  • Intakes lack the splitter plate

Overall fit is good but watch the mating of the horizontal tail. All the major pros outweigh the minor mostly fixable cons. I believe a skilled modeler would be able to get more out of the Trumpeter kit then the Tamyia equivalent but it will require more work. The ECM pods are very welcome. The drop tanks look a bit too fat but are also very welcome. An EA-6B would just not look right without this equipment hanging under its wings. I plan on using the Trumpeter aircraft for both my Enterprise and Nimitz class carriers. With aftermarket products these aircraft will look really sharp after a bit of work.