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Academy 1/72 F-8E Crusader Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2015 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-8E Crusader Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12521 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, excellent detail throughout Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $31.00

First Look


The Vought Corporation developed the F8U Crusader as the Navy's first supersonic fighter (and the world's second supersonic fighter), using the same J57 engine as the F-100 Super Sabre (the first supersonic fighter). First flown in 1955, the F8U employed a unique approach to achieving maximum lift at low airspeeds without the corresponding nose-high attitude - the variable incidence wing. The wing would pop up for take-off and landing, and then lock down into place for normal flight. The discovery of area rule (the coke bottle fuselage shape) to reduce transonic and supersonic drag, thereby improving sustained supersonic flight, was too late for the F8U as its fuselage was more like a boxcar than a coke bottle in shape. The Vought engineers did find an innovative way to retrofit area rule to the F8U by adding the ‘hump’ atop the forward fuselage and wing.

Redesignated as F-8 in 1963, the Crusader was incrementally improved during its production, with the F-8E eventually receiving two underwing pylons for weapons carriage in addition to its improved avionics and powerplant. The F-8E saw extensive combat over Vietnam and accumulated an impressive MiG-kill score before it was replaced by the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II as the Navy’s premier air-to-air fighter. The F-8 is also known as the last Gunfighter since it was the last of the Navy’s fighters to be designed with guns as its primary air-to-air weapons.

Academy has reissued their nice 1/72 F-8E Crusader kit with new markings options. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Among the features and options in the kit:

  • Nice cockpit though photo-etched crew restraints are recommended
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable wing (designed to be displayed up)
  • Positionable leading edge flaps
  • Positionable tail hook
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable speed brake
  • Positionable stabilators

Note that even though the wing and leading edge flaps are positionable, the trailing edge flaps are molded integral to the wing. If you choose to pose your aircraft with the wing up, you'll need to carefully remove the trailing edge flaps and reattach them at the appropriate angle as depicted in the box art. The kit does provide a nice selection of external stores:

  • 2 x MERs
  • 8 x Mk.82 Snakeyes
  • 2 x single-rail Sidewinder launchers
  • 2 x dual-rail Sidewinder launchers
  • 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinders
  • 2 x single-tube Zuni rocket tubes (loaded)
  • 2 x dual-tube Zuni rocket tubes (loaded)

The sprues also have two Magic missiles from the F-8E(FN) release. If you're wondering why only eight bombs on the two MERs, the F-8E had an external load limit of 2000 pounds on its wing pylons hence the limit of four bombs per MER.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F-8E, BuNo 149203, VF-162, AH/00, USS Oriskany, 1966, CAG aircraft
  • F-8E, BuNo 150303, VF-103, AJ/201, USS Forrestal, 1964, skipper's aircraft

While there have been several 1/72 Crusader kits on the market, the Academy kit remains the best of them in this scale. If you're looking for a nice kit of the 'last gunfighter', this Academy reissue will be a fun project.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!