Hasegawa 1/48 F-8E Crusader Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Out of production
The late 1940s/early 1950s brought together a number of developments that would transform military aviation. First and foremost was the first successful transition through Mach 1 in level flight by Captain 'Chuck' Yeager in 1947. The engineering data flowed out to aircraft designers and that, in turn, led to the first operational supersonic aircraft, the F-100 Super Sabre for the US Air Force followed soon by the F8U Crusader for the US Navy. Another development that enabled these two aircraft was the Pratt and Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet engine. The afterburner on the J57 was a simple on-off power setting, not the variable thrust 'zones' of the modern afterburner.
The Vought design team developed the F8U design to meet the Navy's requirements but it required further innovation to operate safely from aircraft carrier decks. The high-wing design necessitated the need for short and sturdy landing gear in the fuselage, and with the engine, fuel, avionics, etc., all housed in that fuselage, the result was a long, low-slung aircraft. Carrier approach speeds would require nose-high attitudes which would impair the pilot's view of the ship on approach and the tail section would strike the deck on touch-down (crash). Vought's solution to this was a variable incidence wing, a wing that would raise seven degrees which allowed for the slow-flight attitude on approach while keeping the fuselage relatively level at touch-down.
Both the F-100 and the F8U ran into drag problems at transonic speeds which led to the discovery of 'area rule' in future aircraft. The lack of area rule would be one of the limiting factors of the F-100 (along with the absence of an intercept radar). While the F8U was a slab-sided aircraft like the F-100, the designers had integrated a hump on the fuselage over the wing to house Bullpup missile avionics and in flight test, that hump provided the Crusader with area rule (of sorts) and the aircraft would ultimately reach Mach 1.8+ while the similarly powered F-100 would not exceed Mach 1.3.
The F8U-2NE (F-8E) was the last production version with 286 examples built. The F-8E provided a newer radar, improved J57 engine, Martin Baker ejection seat, and an IR search/track sensor ahead of the windscreen. The F-8 would become known as the Last of the Gunfighters because another technology had also appeared in the early 1950s - the guided missile. The F-8 was designed as a gun fighter with secondary armament of rocket packs (early Crusaders) or Sidewinder missiles (later versions). The F-4 that followed didn't have gun armament internally until the F-4E and while subsequent fighters do have the M61 Vulcan or similar guns, they are a close-in last resort once the missiles are gone or no longer effective.
In the late 1980s, the best F-8 Crusader kit that was available was the Monogram 1/48 scale kit which found its way into Hasegawa boxes (along with other Monogram subjects) during the 1990s. Hasegawa realized that the F-8 was a popular subject and they engineered a new kit which was released in 2003 as the F-8E and developed options for the F-8J which was released the following year. The Hasegawa engineers took note of the aftermarket updates needed to address various Monogram limitations such as the lack of interior fuselage details when the wing is posed in the lifted position. By this time, Hasegawa had also transitioned to scribed surface detailing which provided another advantage over the Monogram kit.
I was a bit surprised that in these 18 years, we haven't looked at the Hasegawa 1/48 kit, so here is a belated first look. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. As mentioned above, the surface detailing is scribed and sharp with no 'mad riveter' details. Among the features of this kit:
- Nice cockpit
- Nice Martin Baker ejection seat without pilot restraints
- Optional pilot figure
- Positionable canopy
- Full-length intake trunk
- Positionable variable incidence wing
- Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps
- Positionable horizontal stabilators
External stores include:
- 4 x twin-tube Zuni rocket launchers
- 2 x Sidewider missile rails
- 2 x underwing pylons
Markings are included for four F-8E aircraft:
- F-8E, 150326, VF-191, NM/100, USS Ticonderoga, CAG aircraft
- F-8E, 150926, VF-191, NM/101, USS Ticonderoga, Skipper's aircraft
- F-8E, 150909, VF-194, NM/400, USS Ticonderoga, CAG aircraft
- F-8E, 150927, VF-194, NM/401, USS Ticonderoga, Skipper's aircraft
This kit came at a time when Hasegawa decided to offer external stores as separate kits. No AIM-9s are included for that reason nor are any stores for under the wings. The Zunis were provided since they aren't common to many other kits in Hasegawa's line-up. While the Zunis are set up to use the fuselage Y-mount, the Sidewinder rails are only set up for the single-store fuselage mount. You can adapt the Y-mounts to allow for four Sidewinders but you'll need the rails as well as the missiles.
This Hasegawa kit is still the best Crusader kit in 1/48 scale and is released periodically by Hasegawa even though at this moment, it is between production runs. Eduard did issue this kit with a few of their signature aftermarket items. but this kit will build nicely straight out of the box.