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F-8E

Revell 1/48 F-8 Crusader Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2011 Manufacturer Revell
Subject F-8 Crusader Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5863 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Kit has lots of AMS potential Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.95

First Look

F-8E
F-8E
F-8E
F-8E

Vought was given the job of building the Navy's first supersonic carrier-based aircraft. The F8U incorporated many of the lessons learned from their previous carrier fighter, the F7U Cutlass. The F8U design beat out an upgraded F11F Tiger, a twin-engined F3H Demon (which would develop into the F4H Phantom II), and a navalized version of the first operational supersonic fighter, the North American F-100 Super Sabre.

The F8U was build around the same engine as the F-100, the Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet engine. It also was armed with four 20mm cannons like the F-100, and the F8U would be the last 'Gunfighter' - the last Navy aircraft designed with guns as its primary armament. The F8U was redesignated as the F-8 in the early 1960s when the services standardized their designation systems.

To keep the landing gear simple yet robust, its length was kept to a minimum, resulting in the Crusader's long fuselage being close to the ground. The long and low fuselage meant that even with the flaps extended, it would either have to touch down too fast for safe carrier arresting (trap) or else the tail section strike the deck at touch-down. The solution was innovative - a variable incidence wing. Raising the wing at take-off and landing provides the additional lift at slow speed to allow for a safe trap aboard the carrier without the resulting nose-high (tail strike) attitude at touch-down.

Unlike the F-100, the F-8 was equipped with a radar to allow the hunt for enemy aircraft while in the clouds, and with the advent of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the Crusader had the ability to engage targets at longer ranges and still close for a gun shot if needed. Over Vietnam, the Crusader scored 19 MiGs before giving way to the F-4 Phantom II.

With over 1,200 examples built, the Crusader entered operational service in 1957 and left active duty service in 1976. The photo-reconnaissance variants of the Crusader would serve for another 11 years before phasing out of active duty squadrons. In addition to the US Navy and Marine Corps, the F-8 would also serve with the French Navy and Philippine Air Force.

Revell has reissued the Monogram 1/48 F-8E Crusader kit. This was one of many 1/48 scale kits produced by Monogram that were the most detailed kits of their respective subjects for many years. Over that time, other companies have produced competing kits employing more contemporary injection molding technologies and usually offering better details. In the case of the Crusader, Hasegawa released several variants of the F-8 in this scale and they did succeed in taking the title of best Crusader in 1/48 scale.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on three parts trees plus one tree of clear parts (not shown). Some of the features of this kit include:

  • Detailed ejection seat
  • Nice cockpit detail
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable air refueling probe
  • Outer wing panels can be positioned folded or extended
  • Dual AIM-9 rails with nice AIM-9Bs
  • Six Mk.117 bombs on underwing TERs

So what is different about the Hasegawa kit?

Hasegawa vs Monogram:

  • Scribed panel lines versus raised panel lines
  • Intake trunk versus no intake trunk (you can see into the fuselage through the intake
  • Positionable slats/flaps versus neutral slats flaps
  • Positionable wing with engine bay under wing versus fixed wing
  • Accurate landing gear 'sit' versus unusual landing gear 'sit'
  • Fixed outer wing panels versus positionable outer wing panels
  • No armament included versus air-air and air-ground weapons options

The Hasegawa kit builds with minimal fuss whereas the Monogram kit required a bit of skill to overcome some fit issues. This reissue seems to show signs of flash showing up on the parts which will add a wee bit more effort to building this kit, but don't get me wrong, the Monogram kit builds into a beautiful Crusader.

Oh yes, when you see this kit in person, take a close look at the box art. For some odd reason, the artist rendered a nice F-8E in the foreground, then placed two images of the same aircraft (same modex and bureau number) in the background at different angles of attack though they're supposed to be in formation. Here is a case where the artistic license should be revoked.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F-8E, 149146, VF-211, NP/111, USS Bon Homme Richard
  • F-8E, 150660, VMF(AW)-312, DR/1, USMC

These decals are nicely done and even provide maintenance stenciling for the airframe.

Having pointed out the differences between this Monogram and the Hasegawa kits, which one do I prefer? It depends on what I want to do with it. If I'm posing the aircraft parked, the Monogram kit is great but if there is a reason where I want the aircraft posed 'down and dirty' with the wing up and the slats/flaps down, then obviously the Hasegawa kit is the better way to go.

My sincere thanks to Revell for this review sample!

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