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Academy 1/72 F-89J Scorpion Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2006 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-89J Scorpion Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12403 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details, easy build Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $20.00

First Look


The F-89 Scorpion was developed by Northrop as the follow-on to the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. This aircraft would be the most heavily armed fighter ever to go into production and never fire a shot in anger.

Initially armed with guns and rockets, the F-89 would ultimately be armed with the AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile and the Genie rocket that carried a nuclear warhead. An F-89J had the distinction of being the first to fire a live air-to-air nuclear weapon during a test on July 19, 1957.

The F-89J entered operational service with the Air Defense Command in November, 1956. The F-89J was not a new production item, but rather the designation applied to 350 F-89Ds that were upgraded with new avionics and weapons. The F-89J would remain the mainstay of ADC until 1959, when the new generation of supersonic interceptors came online. The F-89J remained in service with the Air National Guard until 1968.

This kit was initially released by Hobbycraft a number of years ago and versions have been released by Academy since then. Reviews that have been written for these previous issues have all been favorable.

Comprised of 82 parts, the kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four trees of parts, with the exception of the two-piece canopy. All of the parts are flash-free, feature finely scribed panel lines and details, and there are no ejector pin marks on any surface of the kit that will be visible after assembly.

Assembly appears to be straightforward, as long as you remember to install 7 grams of ballast in the nose. The kit features a nice selection of armament, including a pair of nuclear-tipped Genie rockets and four AIM-4 (GAR-2) Falcon guided missiles.

Detailing is nicely done in the cockpit and wheel wells, though the super-detailer will still have some room to 'play.' The only real criticism I have on the kit is the lack of depth in the main wheel wells, but this is nothing major and the aircraft usually had doors closed over the wells when parked on the ground (or in flight for that matter).

Markings are provided for two Air National Guard F-89Js:

  • F-89J, 52-1949 of the 124th FIS, Iowa ANG
  • F-89J, 53-2465 of the North Dakota ANG

The North Dakota machine carries the bright red outer wing panels and tail used for operations over the frozen northlands.

This tooling has been released under a number of banners. Initially from Hobbycraft, this kit has since appeared at least under the Academy and Revell/Germany banners as well. In any case, it is a nice rendition of the huge Northrop interceptor and is only second to the Revell-Monogram 1/48 version of this kit.

Definitely recommended for the 1/72 scale modeler!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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