Encore Models 1/48 F-102A Delta Dagger Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||January 2011||Manufacturer||Encore Models|
|Subject||F-102A Delta Dagger||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||48001||Primary Media||Styrene/Resin/PE|
|Pros||Best F-102A in any scale||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$56.95|
The post-war aircraft industry was growing by leaps and bounds as captured German technology allowed for advances in aerodynamics and propulsion. In the case of Convair, they were the beneficiaries of not only Dr Alexander Lippisch's research in delta-wing designs, he became an employee of the company and helped them through the growing pains of the XF-92. Thanks to his work, Convair became the experts on delta-wing designs in the US with the F-102, F-106 and B-58.
In the early 1950s, the USAF put out a requirement for a supersonic interceptor that featured integrated fire control and weapons. Convair won that competition with the F-102. Despite their win, the F-102 faced a number of problems including the loss of the first prototype in crash. The aircraft was plagued with technical problems including the need to change engines to the J57 (used by the F-100, F-101, and F8U) since the intended J67 was cancelled; a crash course in supersonic aerodynamics due to the poor performance of the prototypes which led to the discovery of area rule; and other challenges. The adoption of area rule required the complete redesign of the fuselage which further delayed production.
While the F-102 was delayed in production, the USAF used the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo as an interim interceptor. By the time the F-102 entered service, it would serve side-by-side with the F-101 and would even be replaced in Air National Guard units by the F-101 as the F-102B (redesignated F-106A) entered operational service. The F-102B offered the Mach 2+ performance that the A-model lacked.
As a footnote, the F-102As did not leave operational service fast enough for some enterprising F-100 crew chiefs. The F-100 Super Sabre was powered by the same J57 series engine, but its afterburner nozzle was notoriously unreliable. The F-102's nozzle was better. As the F-102s were retired, the afterburner nozzle assemblies were grafted onto the rear of Air National Guard F-100s.
Encore Models is a relatively new venture from Squadron Mail Order that essentially takes a good kit and bundles many of the aftermarket products we would typically buy and pull it altogether in the box. Here is their first 1/48th scale kit, the F-102A Delta Dagger.
The plastic is Monogram's beautiful F-102A kit. Take note that there are actually two versions of this kit on the market. One is the early series F-102A with the Case X wing that is recognized by flat wingtips and rectangular elevons and the other is the later series F-102A with the Case XX wing (this kit) that has downward curved outboard wing leading edges and changed the shape of the elevons.
The Case XX variant of the F-102A kit was introduced in Revell-Monogram's Pro-Modeler release that had a few other nice details included in the box. Since then, the Case XX variant has been seen in Monogram boxes as well as one release in a Hasegawa box. This release is not the Pro-Modeler kit as it does not have the ground crew figures nor boarding ladder included.
This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. As this is two-decades-old tooling, the panel lines are raised, not scribed, but this should not be a problem for most modelers. The kit also includes a nice set of resin details and two frets of photo-etched parts.
The plastic portion of this kit has been around for decades and builds into a great model without aftermarket parts, so we won't revisit this part of the model. If you'd like to see a review of the 'stock' kit, look here.
The resin parts address several areas. You can see in the image to the right the resin radome sitting next to the kit's plastic radome. What's the difference? Length - the resin radome is a few millimeters shorter but otherwise both share the same ogival shape to accommodate the radar dish inside.
There is a resin cockpit that provides 'clean' surfaces on the side consoles, and main instrument panel to accommodate the Eduard-produced color photo-etched parts to provide some eye-popping detail with very little effort. Between the resin and photo-etch, the cockpit includes rudder pedals, control yoke, throttle, radar shroud, circuit breaker panels, and instrument panel cover. The cockpit is framed with a photo-etched canopy sill.
In the afterburner chamber, these new parts provide a resin center cover for the J57's turbine section plus photo-etched afterburner injector rings/flame holder assembly. On the other end, this set provides replacement engine air intakes, rendering the two-piece plastic intakes with a seamless single part.
The resin parts include separate elevons, flaps, and rudder. You'll need to do some surgery to remove these control surfaces from the plastic airframe. The two-piece plastic landing gear wheels are replaced with one-piece resin wheels which have some sharper detailing cast into the wheel hubs than their plastic counterparts.
The weapons bay is a major beneficiary in this kit. When Monogram first released this kit, the open weapons bay option with your choice of retracted or extended trapeze launchers was a very nice feature. The kit provided three AIM-4A and three AIM-4D Falcon missiles with each missile being made of of two parts. This kit replaces the two-piece Falcons with nicely cast resin Falcons, three of each type. Photo-etched overlays are included for the trapezes to replicate the launch rail detail should you want to display one or more of your trapezes without a Falcon loaded.
One pleasant surprise in this kit is a second bag of Falcons, but at closer examination, all six of these missiles are AIM-4F/G Super Falcons that replaced the earlier Falcons later in the aircraft's service. The instructions don't mention these gems at all.
Kit options include:
- Nicely detailed cockpit
- Nicely detailed weapons bay
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable speed brakes
- Positionable weapons bay doors
- Positionable elevons, rudder, and flaps
- Choice of radomes
- Seamless intakes
- Extended or retracted trapeze missile launchers
- 3 x AIM-4A (GAR-1D) Falcon
- 3 x AIM-4D (GAR-2B) Falcon
- 6 x AIM-4G (GAR-4A) Falcon
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- F-102A, 57-0907, 460 FIS, Portland MAP, 1962, Sqn CC's aircraft
- F-102A, 56-1389, 64 FIS, Paine AFB, WA, TDY to Da Nang AB, Vietnam, 1966
When this kit was first released, I couldn't justify spending $50+ for a $15 Monogram kit. Recently, one of my favorite online hobby shops had this Encore kit on sale for $34, so I decided to take this closer look. While I was initially skeptical, I must say that this kit provides good value even at full retail price. With the Monogram kit currently out of production, I found several on eBay for around $20. If you were to take the 'a la carte' approach to replicate this Encore kit, it might look something like this:
- $20 - F-102A from eBay
- $22 - Resin cockpit
- $22 - Resin control surface set
- $30 - Resin missile set (12 missiles)
- $13 - Color photo-etch cockpit
- $25 - Photo-etch exterior detail set
I haven't even addressed the radome or decals and we're already well over $100!
Many would argue that Monogram's F-102 kit was one of the best of their Century Series kits and I'd have to agree. With these additions in the box, this Encore kit becomes the best F-102 kit available in any scale and a great value as well.