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F-94B Starfire

Sword 1/72 F-94B Starfire Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2013 Manufacturer Sword
Subject F-94B Starfire Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72054 Primary Media Styrene, Color Photo-Etch
Pros Easy multimedia kit Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $32.98

First Look

F-94B Starfire
F-94B Starfire
F-94B Starfire

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.

Sword continues to produce more variants of the Lockheed T-33 family and this is one of the nicer releases I've seen. This kit represents the earlier F-94B Starfire which was a T-33 with an afterburning engine on one end and an intercept radar on the other. Both engine and avionics were improved over the original F-94A but the aircraft was still armed with machine guns which wouldn't inflict enough damage to an attacking Soviet bomber without help.

The kit features a styrene cockpit tub with lots of color photo-etched parts (by Eduard) to render an eye-catching front and rear cockpit. The canopy and windscreen are separately molded so you can see all of that great detailing after assembly. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed afterburner section
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Detailed landing gear and wheel wells

The instructions correctly indicate that ballast will be needed in the nose to keep this kit from being a tail-sitter but doesn't indicate how much ballast will be needed.

Eduard decals are provided for three examples:

  • F-94B, 50-0888, 61 FIS, Selfridge AFB, 1951
  • F-94B, 50-0829, 319 FIS, Suwon AB, South Korea, 1952
  • F-94B, 51-5449, 319 FIS, Suwon AB, South Korea, 1953

Two of the examples are combat veterans of the Korean War with 5449 credited with downing a target one night in 1953.

This looks like another nice kit from Sword and should go together nicely in the hands of the experienced modeler.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!