CollectAire 1/32 F-80C Shooting Star Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||June 2005||Manufacturer||CollectAire|
|Subject||Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||3207||Primary Media||Resin, White Metal, Vacuform|
|Pros||Beautiful casting||Cons||Some fit challenges|
|Skill Level||Expert||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
With the sudden appearance of not one, but several different jet-powered combat aircraft in the skies over WW2 Europe, the allies had a problem. More specifically, the Americans had a problem. The British had Sir Frank Whittle proving his theory of jet-powered flight was practical while the Germans were doing their own development. The US had some catch-up work to do. With the loan of several Whittle engines, Bell was given the task of developing the American's first jet-powered fighter. The resulting P-59 Airacomet had unimpressive performance at best.
Kelly Johnson had sniffed out the secret P-59 development and wanted a piece of the action. He proposed a single engine design that Lockheed could get off the ground in short order. When the Army Air Force realized that the P-59 was a dead-end, Johnson was given the green light for the P-80. The resulting aircraft became the first practical allied single-engine jet fighter to enter production, second only to the brief life of the He 162 Volksjager.
Entering service too late for combat, the P-80 was soon redesignated as F-80 after the Air Force became a separate service in 1947. The F-80 had transitioned into a fighter-bomber role as newer jet-powered fighters were coming online. At the outbreak of hostilities on the Korean peninsula, the F-80C was one of the first fighters available to respond, but due to the lack of allied runways on the over-run peninsula, F-80s had to operate out of Japan, leaving little loiter time over target. Once allied forces began to re-take portions of South Korea, the F-80 was in the middle of the action. In fact, in November 1950, Lt. Russell Brown shot down a MiG-15 with his F-80! The F-80 was replaced in combat by the Republic F-84 or the North American F-86 in 1953.
When I heard that Collect-Aire was releasing a 1/32 scale F-80C kit, I had to finally give one a try. What arrived was a sturdy box containing a nice array of resin and white metal parts. The resin parts are cast with a light tan resin that doesn't exhibit signs of pin-hole problems.
The fuselage is hollow-cast in left and right halves. The fuselage is shipped taped together, which helps to keep the parts from warping. The fit is so good that in the photo to the right, the fuselage appears to be one part rather than two. The one-piece wing dry-fits into place just as nicely, so I doubt that much of any filler will be required in the assembly of this kit.
The remainder of the kit is shipped in a number of sealed bags to keep damage from shipment to a minimum. To complete the kit, one assembles the cockpit tub, assembles the rest of the fuselage, tack on the wings and horizontal stabs, and you're most of the way there. The kit is so simple that there are more pages of color profiles to illustrate your decal options than pages of assembly instructions!
For external stores, you are given four rockets, two bombs, and your choice of 'standard' or 'Misawa' wingtip drop tanks.
A wealth of decals are included with detailed instructions for stencil placement. Markings are provided for six aircraft:
- F-80C, 49-547, 36 FBS, Suwon, Korea, 1953
- TV-1, NATC, TM/524, 1955
- F-80C, 49-1830, 80 FBS, Suwon, Korea, 1952
- F-80C, 49-563, 44 FBS, Clark AB, PI, 1950
- F-80C, 49-950, 16 FIS, Kimpo, Korea, 1950
- F-80C, 49-671, 35 FBS, Itazuke, Japan, 1950
This is a nicely done kit. While not cheap, it is the nicest F-80 I've seen in any scale. The hard part will be choosing one of these beautiful color schemes.
The kit is recommended for experienced modelers.