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F-8E Crusader

Academy 1/72 F-8E Crusader Kit Build Review

By Richard "RJ" Tucker

Date of Review September 2021 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-8E Crusader Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1615 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Accurate shape; engraved panel lines Cons Incorrect wing-flap configuration for raised wing option (see text)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) OOP

Build Review

History: VF-11 was the first operational squadron to receive the F8U-2NE, receiving its first aircraft on February 8, 1962. The squadron embarked on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) with CVG-1 and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea from September 1963 to April 1964. (Ref 1)

The F8U-2NE was the last production version of the F-8 Crusader for the US Navy and Marine Corps. The F8U Crusader was redesignated to “F-8” with F8U-2NE becoming the F-8E. This version had a AN/APQ-94 radar which required a revised and larger radome, and the ability to carry air-to-ground weapons with the addition of a wing pylon for each wing. F-8E version introduced the AAS-15 infrared track-and-search system contained in a bullet faring forward of the windscreen. (Ref 2)

The Model:

  • Academy 1/72 scale F-8E Crusader kit (kit No: 1615)
  • SuperScale decal sheet 72-832 (OOP).
  • QuickBoost F-8 Crusader Ejection Seat (QB 72-406)
  • QuickBoost F-8 Crusader 1/72nd scale Flaps (QB 72-269)
  • Quickboost F-8 Crusader 1/72 Slots (QB 72-270) (I believe QB meant "slats" not "slots", but that's the package title.)

A few construction highlights:

I found two internet pictures of this airplane around the time period of VF-11's first deployment with the F8U-2NE. (Refs 2&3) The Academy kit depicts a Crusader as it evolved during the Vietnam War. Here are the visual highlights of those pictures:

  • No missile racks. I thought this was odd. The "Y” ranks were in use during this time period, but at least twice this aircraft was photographed without them, so I left them off the model.
  • No tail ECM antenna
  • No electronics hump on the wing. This was added later on the production line and retrofitted to earlier models. This bump was originally intended to house the Bullpup missile electronics, but the Bullpup proved very unpopular with pilots, so the hump was used for the ECM upgrades. The bump on top of the kit wing was removed. (Ref 2)
  • The gray and white paint scheme extends all the way to end of the fuselage.
  • No indication of red edges on the landing gear doors

Starting with the cockpit:

My experience with Academy kit decals is decidedly mixed most times they work fine. On this sheet, however, the forward console decal came apart when placed in the water and wouldn't stick to the gloss painted kit part. I used a console decal from an old decal sheet.

F-8E Crusader

The QB seat was painted and the ejection handles are from a left over Eduard F-4 Zoom set. (Ref 4)

F-8E Crusader

The wings: On the F-8, when the wing was raised to increase the angle of attack without raising the nose to maintain pilot visibility the forward and aft flaps were automatically dropped. Academy included the option of raising the wing, but didn't add the option to lower the flaps. The Quickboost sets rectify the flap position.

Here's the flaps cut out:

F-8E Crusader

And the electronics hump removed and smooth out with Tamiya putty and Mr. Surfacer:

F-8E Crusader

When I did a check fit of the QB resin parts I found the forward flaps were too short. I don’t know if this is unique to my set or all of them. Here's the kit parts compared to resin parts; kit parts are on top:

F-8E Crusader

The white strip illustrates difference in length. I use the QB parts as a guide and filed the proper angle on the back of the kit parts to portray the dropped flaps. (Ref 5)

The rest of the kit went together pretty well. The wheel and brake wells require careful alignment to close the fuselage with no gaps; take your time here and go slow.

F-8E Crusader

The model went together with no drama and no filler.

There were no issues with the SuperScale decals; they snuggled right down with a little Micro Set. A wash highlighted the panel lines. Since this model depicts a new aircraft on its first deployment, I didn’t weather the finish. I like the overall results!

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