Trumpeter 1/32 F-100D Super Sabre Kit Deep Dive
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||June 2007||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||F-100D Super Sabre||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||2232||Primary Media||Photo-Etch, White Metal, Styrene, Vinyl, Rubber tires|
|Pros||Overall nice details and possibilities||Cons||Nose shape, toy-like J57 engine, shallow main gear strut wells, decal spelling issues|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$169.95|
At the beginning of 1951, North American Aviation stepped up with a major technology update proposal for their F-86 Sabre. Bear in mind that at this point in time, the F-86s had been in USAF service for a little over a year and had only started flying combat missions in Korea a few months prior to this update proposal. What is more significant is that the original P-86 was a straight-winged fighter when first designed at the end of World War Two, then received 35 degrees of wing sweep thanks to the research gained from captured Messerschmitt data. Later F-86s received another Messerschmitt design, the aerodynamically activated leading edge slat. The most significant development prior to this proposal was Chuck Yeager's flight through the so-called sound barrier.
North American proposed the Sabre 45, an improved Sabre that would have a 45 degree wing sweep, greater firepower with four 20mm cannons in place of the six 50 caliber guns, more engine thrust in the form of the afterburning J57 turbojet, and the ability to operate above the speed of sound. This new design was approved and designated as the F-100 Super Sabre.
The F-100 was the world's first supersonic production aircraft. It exceeded Mach 1 in level flight in the first days of its flight test program, but aerodynamicists would not discover the concept of area rule for reduction of supersonic drag until the flight testing of the F-101 and F-102 programs. It might have been interesting to see what the old girl could have done with a coke-bottle-shaped fuselage!
While the concept of the day fighter ruled the skies over Korea, the lack of all-weather intercept capability would plague the F-100 in the early days of Vietnam. Without radar to aid the intercept of enemy MiGs hiding in the clouds and attempting to attack USAF fighter-bombers, the F-100 was unable to provide effective fighter cover. Like most fighters that end their usefulness as fighters, the F-100 was quickly re-roled into a fighter-bomber as well. As a fighter-bomber, the F-100 was able to provide effective close air support and strike missions against enemy targets carrying a wide range of weapons, including iron bombs, cluster bombs, napalm, rockets, and guided missiles (Bullpup). Another effective suppression weapon was the aircraft's four 20mm cannons in the nose.
One of the annoyances of the F-100 was the J57's afterburner nozzle. It was not very reliable and would stick full open at the least opportune times leaving the pilot with little thrust at full military power. After the F-100s passed into the hands of the Air National Guard, someone came up with the idea of 'borrowing' the afterburner nozzle from the J57 that powers the F-102 Delta Dagger. That nozzle was far more reliable, and after a series of trials, it was retrofitted to the Guard F-100s as well.
For more information and great photos of the F-100, stop by our Super Sabre reference site - F-100.org.
The long-awaited F-100D Super Sabre has finally landed from Trumpeter. This beauty is nicely done and in general looks like a great kit. The kit is molded in silver-gray styrene and presented on fifteen parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts, one fret of photo-etched parts, four rubber tires, vinyl details including 20mm ammo belts, and white metal landing gear struts. Oh yes, there is a good-sized metal ballast weight provided as well, but more on this later. According to the kit statistics, there are 684 parts in there.
An important point about the molding on this kit: since the F-100 was a bare metal aircraft during its early years and into Vietnam though most later production F-100s came out of the factory with painted aluminum for corrosion control. The question is whether you can apply bare metal/aluminum/silver to this kit? Yes, there are recessed rivets molded into the surface, but these are much smaller/finer than previous releases. The styrene surface is smooth, so with just a little fine buffing, the kit will look great under your favorite bare metal finish. For those who still fear bare metal, there are loads of camouflaged F-100s to choose from as well.
Having said that, I did find some peculiar things in the kit that do puzzle me. Even the worst of them have little affect on the overall accuracy of the kit, but we'll look at these and some of the nice features provided as well.
First, the cockpit. The front office in this kit is very nicely laid out with the cockpit tub molded in several pieces so that the detailing will be sharp on the appropriate surfaces. The instrument panel is set up like most of their releases - a styrene face with instrument face holes and a backing sheet of acetate with the instrument faces printed on it. Paint the back side of the acetate white, line up the sheet behind the instruments, and you have a nice looking panel. The instrument layout most closely resembles the early cockpit configuration F-100Ds. If you want to represent one of the later configurations, we have the instrument layouts for the later aircraft on our reference site as well. It will be nice to see some color warning placards from Eduard!
The rest of the cockpit looks equally usable and with some careful painting and detailing, will look great.
One of the first puzzling 'bugs' I found in the kit were the main landing gear strut wells in the wings. These were molded integral with the lower wing rather than putting the upper portion of the well directly on the underside of the upper wing half. The result is a very shallow well. Another is the underside of the nose intake - it is almost flat. Trumpeter did this with their A-7 Corsair II kits as well.
This kit has some really nice details and options provided in the box:
- Cockpit boarding ladder
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable leading edge slats
- Hinged forward avionics hood
- Movable ailerons and flaps
- Movable rudder
- Positionable aft section
- Straight and angled air refueling booms
- Straight or stowed pitot booms
- Aft section dolly
- Open or closed gun bays
- Open or closed ammo bays
- Positionable speed brakes
- Two styles of speed brakes and wells included
- Full length intake air duct
- J57 engine (not removable, but can be seen with the aft section off)
- Styrene or white metal landing gear struts
Now for some notes on the above features:
- The leading edge slats would automatically open and close based on airspeed and angle of attack, not extendible or retractable by the pilot. The crew chief could safety pin the slats closed to get them out of the way for maintenance. If they were not pinned, they were always extended on the ground
- Trumpeter is using a more conventional hinging technique for the ailerons, rudder and flaps. The problem is that I don't think the flaps will extend much with these hinges, so you may want to simply glue them into position
- The horizontal stabs are molded in neutral (flat) position. On the ground, they generally dropped aft. During engine shut-down, the pilots would push the stick full forward as the hydraulics bled down so that the crew chief could get easier access to repack the drogue chute.
- The hinged avionics hood is a bit of a mystery to me. It encloses a mounting area for aircraft avionics ahead of the windscreen on the real aircraft. If you made this hood removable as Trumpeter has, you'd think that you'd have some avionics under there. Instead, Trumpeter has a nice metal ballast that sits under there. Go figure
- Like some of the earlier releases from Trumpeter, the aft section on this aircraft can be displayed off of the aircraft. This reveals the J57 and you'll see several good shots of engine tests without the aft section installed on the F-100.org site. The way the aft section is designed, I don't believe you can remove it at will, this is an either-or decision at build time
- The kit includes a dolly for the aft section which a nice touch and will look good in a vignette whether you remove the aft section or not. The down side is that this dolly was only used in the early days of the F-100 and most of the maintainers never saw this dolly overseas nor in the ANG units.
- Then there is the J57 itself. From the sides it looks usable. If you look down the intake however, that is not a J57
- The fixed stators on the front of the engine are twenty vanes that pass through the centerline of the engine. The kit has eight vanes that look a little strange. To make matters even more 'interesting', Trumpeter provides eleven photo-etched compressor disks and one photo-etched turbine disk. While the number of compressor blades on each disk is a fraction of the number used in the real J57, it does illustrate how part of the engine is laid out. You're on your own for the combustor section of the engine
- Also note that the intake cone on the J57 photo above was euphemistically called the 'dog pecker'. It doesn't look like the kit part at all
- The good news is that after test-fitting the intake duct, you cannot see that engine face down the duct. You can barely see the lower fifth of the engine and not even reach the inlet cone. Even that takes a good light source to see that much. Since the engine is not designed to be removed from the forward fuselage, you could get away with leaving the engine alone or simply blanking off the end of the intake duct. If you opt to display the engine out of the aircraft, you have some work ahead of you
- The kit provides two different types of speed boards and the corresponding brake wells for the underside of the fuselage. Later block F-100Ds were equipped to carry nukes on the centerline station and the wider gap was required to open the speedbrake with the weapon on the pylon. If you wander through the F-100 site, you will see examples of both types of speed boards in use. Kudos to Trumpeter for providing them. Do check your references to see which type of speedbrake was on the aircraft you're modeling. Note that if you use the early-block speedbrake and well, the main gear doors were not hinged. The kit doesn't provide the early doors so you'll have to mod up the parts accordingly
The external stores in the kit are nice, but somewhat puzzling:
- Station 4 (centerline)
- Practice bomb dispenser
- ALQ-31 ECM pod (I can't find any documentation that this pod was used operationally on the F-100)
- Stations 3/5 (inboards)
- 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinders on twin-rail launchers (cool!, but the only option)
- Stations 2/6
- 275 gallon tanks w/anti-sway braces (good, but three included in kit)
- Stations 1/7 (outboards)
- 1 x LAU-10 rocket pod (this is the US Navy 5-inch, four-shot pod NOT carried by the F-100)
- 1 x ALQ-87 ECM pod (station 7 only)
If you're doing one of the early Vietnam war fighter escort birds, or one of the pre-war air superiority machines, the twin-rail AIM-9 option is excellent and not provided in any F-100 kit before. The odd-ball stores will be useful in a future project, and if you're planning to do a Vietnam era mud-mover, you'll have to bomb-up from another source. The good news here is that Trumpeter previously released a weapons set that has a good supply of Mk.117 and Mk.82 bombs and Snakeyes. If you want CBUs (cluster bombs) or rocket pods, you'll have to raid one of your other kits.
Also, if you want to have 335 gallon drop tanks on your bird, insert a scale 12 inch plug (0.875 inches) to lengthen the body of the tank. The dimensions of the kit tank are spot on for the 275 gallon tanks.
Markings are provided for three examples:
- F-100D-45-NH, 55-2796, 511 FBS/405 FBW, Langley AFB, VA, 1959
- F-100D-75-NA, 56-3189, 309 FBS/31 FBW, TAC Gunnery Competition, 1958
- F-100D-60-NA, 56-2927, 309 TFS/31 TFW, Tuy Hoa AB, Vietnam, 'Thor's Hammer'
The decals are all on one huge sheet an are quite nicely printed as far as registration, but there are a few technical spelling glitches. If you're paying close attention, all of the aircraft data blocks have the correct serial numbers, but they're all F-100D-1-NVs (did they make the F-100 in Nevada? - NOT). While I don't know what the words are in the red lightning stripe on 189, I'm sure it didn't say that...
Thor's Hammer is a camouflaged scheme, while the other two are bare metal. You can bet that there will be a wealth of aftermarket decals released for this kit. One useful note from noted F-100 author and expert David W. Menard. The bare metal airplanes of the 1950s didn't yet carry the 335 gallon tanks nor were they equipped with tailhooks. The tanks in the kit are 275 gallon tanks and are appropriate for the 1950s.
While this kit has a few interesting twists in it, overall this will build into a great model. A little work will fix the stators of that J57 and too bad one half of one of those engine casing halves isn't molded clear to illustrate the inner workings of the turbojet, bearing in mind that the details inside the engine are representative, not literal.
I am looking forward to several things:
- Trumpeter's 1/32 F-100F as there are a Misty FAC and a Vampire (Wild Weasel) in my future
- An aftermarket F-102 nozzle so we can do the Air National Guard F-100s
- Trumpeter's F-100D and F-100F in 1/48 scale!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!
Thanks also go out to David W. Menard, Joe Vincent, and Norm Turner for their assistance!