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F-94C Starfire

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 F-94C Starfire Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2012 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject F-94C Starfire Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80101 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice looking model Cons Minor fit challenges
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look


When the fledgling US Air Force sought a jet-powered interceptor to replace the piston-powered P-61 Black Widow and P-82 Twin Mustang, they selected the Curtiss-Wright XF-82 Blackhawk. When the prototype didn't live up to expectations, the USAF turned to the one company that had an effective jet-powered fighter in service - Lockheed. As with the piston-powered interceptors, the new turbine-powered machines would have to be two-man crew, one to fly the aircraft, the other to operate the intercept radar. Lockheed had developed a two-seat trainer variant of the F-80 Shooting Star initially designated as TF-80C but would become the famous T-33. Lockheed was given the job to create an interceptor out of the T-33 in an accelerated development program.

Lockheed stretched the airframe to accommodate the APG-33 radar and Hughes E-1 fire control system. The increased weight of the airframe and avionics necessitated a more powerful engine and the T-33's J-33 was given an afterburner. The resulting F-94A was armed with four .50 caliber machine guns and the first prototype flew only a few months after contract award. The subsequent F-94B was equipped with more reliable avionics and engine.

Not satisfied with the aircraft's performance, Lockheed proposed further improvements in an airframe initially designated F-97, but would ultimately become the F-94C Starfire. This new aircraft featured a new nose to accommodate the APG-40 radar and Hughes E-5 fire control system. Also in the nose was an innovative rocket launching system contained in four doors that would open in flight replacing the four machine guns and providing greater firepower from a safer launch distance. The engine was also replaced with the J48 providing more that 2000 pounds more thrust in afterburner. While USAF interest in the F-97 was initially minimal, the performance gains of the F-94C were enough to put the new version into full production.

Kitty Hawk Models has released their first kit, this being the F-94C Starfire in 1/48 scale. While the first kit of this subject in this scale was the CollectAire resin model, that kit is long out of production and was expensive for the average modeler. Now we have a very nice looking kit in styrene with some nice photo-etched details to provide a model of this important interceptor variant. Note that Hobbycraft had produced the F-94A/B in 1/48 scale previously though it too is out of production at present.

Molded in dark gray styrene, this kit is presented on three parts trees plus one small tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. The detailing is nicely done with the exterior panel lines scribed. While there is a slight surface texture on the kit, most modelers are going to polish the surface of their models to remove any scratches or other imperfections out of the surface of the model before priming and applying their favorite metalizer (Alclad).

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nice early ejection seats with photo-etched seat belts and shoulder harnesses
  • Choice of decal or photo-etched front instrument panel
  • Photo-etched side consoles front and rear
  • Photo-etched rear instrument panel
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable rudder
  • Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
  • Nice representation of J48 engine rear and early afterburner inside tail pipe
  • Choice of exposed leading edge rocket pods or frangible covered pods
  • Three steel ballast balls for the nose to keep the model on its nose gear

This kit has some awesome decals with two markings options:

  • F-94C, 51-5623, on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum
  • F-94C, 50-1054, on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force

The decal sheet provides all of the distinctive markings for both examples as well as the airframe stenciling.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Kitty Hawk Models with their first release, but this is a very impressive premiere indeed! With kits looking this nice out of the box and at reasonable retail prices, I can hardly wait to see the next release on the schedule - the F-35B Lighting II. This kit fills a major hole in the quarter scale USAF fighter line-up and will definitely be fun to work on Alclad shading of this bare metal airframe (before the Air Force started applying silver lacquer protection for corrosion control).

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!

You can find this kit at Lucky Model for $35.99 USD