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F-100D

Monogram 1/48 F-80 Shooting Star Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject F-80 Shooting Star Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5404 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best F-80 in any scale Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

 

 

First Look

F-100D
F-100D
F-100D
F-100D
F-100D

As the history books reveal, Great Britain and Germany were racing to develop the first operational jet fighter, fighting not only against technological hurdles with the engine itself, but the indifference shown by military planners of both governments. Germany was ultimately quicker to adopt the new technology and the Me 262 was born, followed shortly thereafter by the Meteor.

Meanwhile in the United States, jet technology was initially ignored, but when planners woke and smelled the coffee, the British were generous enough to loan the Americans a few engines to exercise a catch-up program. Bell Aircraft was given the classified project to apply jet engines to a concept fighter. The result was the underwhelming P-59 Airacomet.

As the jet engine research and aircraft development was ramping up, Lockheed's Kelly Johnson knew something interesting was going on and wanted in on the action. He was initially kept at arms length by military planners, but when the P-59 turned out to be impractical, he was given his chance.

Johnson assembled his best and brightest and turned out a flying prototype in an incredibly short time, including time lost while the Lockheed engineers did some catch-up learning on the care and feeding of jet engines. During one of their early ground tests of the engine installed in the prototype airframe, the intake ducts collapsed because the engine needed more airflow than the ducts could handle, and the resulting vacuum sucked the metal ducts flat.

The resulting P-80 started deliveries in 1945, but didn't achieve operational status in time for Germany's surrender. Had there been any delay in war's end in Europe, the P-80 would have entered squadron service replacing the P-51 Mustang.

As the peacetime Army Air Force became the USAF in 1947, pilots were transitioning into the jet-powered Air Force. The F-80 was the first operational jet fighter in the USAF and was the first USAF jet fighter to enter combat over Korea. As fast as jet technology evolved in the 1950s, the F-80 was essentially obsolete by the time Korea became a global hot-spot, but it was available in numbers and it served in the air-to-ground role until relieved by the F-84.

Here is one of Monogram's classics - the F-80 Shooting Star. First released in 1977, this kit was one of Monogram's early examples of super detailing straight out of the box.

Molded in silver styrene, this kit is presented on four parts trees, plus a small clear tree with the windscreen and canopy. The surface detailing is crisp, though the molds are from the older generation of raised panel lines.

The kit cockpit is not bad straight out of the box, though an AMS modeler might want to add some additional details to dress out the front office. An optional seated pilot figure is included in the kit.

One of the novelties of the kit is the removable tail section. Pull the tail off, just like the actual aircraft, and you'll see the centrifugal flow Allison J33 engine and tail pipe. It is amazing to me how sleek the F-80 looks with one of those early fat centrifugal flow engines. The axial flow engines that the Germans developed would find their way into the next generation of American fighters. A maintenance stand is provided to cradle the tail should you wish to pose the model under maintenance.

The speed boards can be raised, but they usually fell out of their wells once hydraulic pressure was removed at engine shut-down.

External store options include two different styles of under-wing tip tanks, bombs and early napalm canisters.

The nose gun bay can be positioned open or closed. If open, you'll see the various ammo cans that feed the machine guns.

The canopy can be positioned open or closed as well.

Markings are provided for one aircraft:

  • F-80C-10-LO, 49-588, 51 FIW

Not counting the Lindberg kit, this is really the only F-80 Shooting Star produced in 1/48 scale styrene. The Airfix 1/72 kit was nice, but the Monogram kit gets the title of best F-80 model in any scale.

Given how close Luft '46 might have come, it would be interesting to apply some Mustang nose art to some P-80s while they go off to combat the Me 262 and He 162.

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