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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2004 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-8E Crusader Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1615 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, excellent detail throughout Cons Trailing edge flaps not positionable
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.00

First Look


The Vought Corporation developed the F8U Crusader as the Navy's first practical supersonic fighter, using the same J57 engine as the Air Force's first supersonic fighter, the F-100 Super Sabre. 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 F-8 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 F-8 by adding the ‘hump’ atop the forward fuselage and wing.

The F-8 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.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and features finely scribed details throughout. Provided on four trees, plus a single tree carrying the windscreen and canopy, the kit is beautifully detailed. The cockpit alone is made up of a four-piece ejection seat, cockpit tub, rear bulkhead, instrument panel, control stick and gunsight. The details in the main wheel wells are more of what I’d expect in a nice 1/48 scale kit and it is refreshing to see this sort of detailing in 1/72 scale as well.

The fuselage not only houses the cockpit and main wheel well assemblies, it also features a nice deep intake trunk, separate tailhook well, and the very important engine duct top that sits under the main wing. This was one detail overlooked in the Monogram 1/48 F-8, which made posing the wing in the up position a problem, revealing the empty fuselage interior of the kit. Kudos to Academy for including this detail!

While the leading edge flaps are provided as separate parts, the trailing edge flaps are molded to the wing in the up position. The overwing hump is molded as a separate piece, indication other versions of the F-8 are in the future. The ventral speed brakes are positionable, but the lower main gear doors are molded to the ventral fuselage fairing and are intended to be assembled gear down only. The horizontal stabs are positionable.

A nice array of external stores are provided, including Mk.82 Snakeyes on multiple ejector racks (MER) for the wing pylons, and your choice of four early AIM-9 Sidewinders or four twin-shot Zuni rocket pods for the fuselage weapons stations. The only two parts not used in this kit are a pair of Magic missiles, which indicated that a French Navy F-8E(FN) is coming.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F-8E, BuNo 150852, VMF(AW)-333, DN-7, MCAS Yuma AZ, March 1967
  • F-8E, BuNo 150329, VMF(AW)-232, WT-14, NAS North Island CA, November 1967

While there have been a variety of F-8 Crusaders produced in 1/72 scale, this Academy kit out-shines them all. If we see a fraction of the aftermarket decals produced for the Hasegawa 1/48 F-8 kit revised and rescaled for this kit, there will be a vast array of Crusaders for your scale flightline. This kit is recommended to modelers of all skill levels.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!