Trumpeter 1/32 F-100F Super Sabre Kit Deep Dive
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||December 2020||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||F-100F Super Sabre||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||2246||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch, 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|
For a brief history of the F-100 Super Sabre family, please look here at our review of Trumpeter's 1/32 F-100D kit from 2007. The F-100F was the two-seat trainer version based upon the TF-100C prototype, and for the first 10 years of its career, that was exactly the role it performed. That changed somewhat when the F-100 was first deployed to Vietnam and the 'day fighter' design was unsuitable for intercepting and mitigating the MiG threats from the north. That didn't stop the F-100s from coming to Vietnam, in fact the F-100 was the Air Force's primary close air support (CAS) aircraft in the war until it was replaced in-theater with the F-4 Phantom II. The F-100F was there as well, conducting CAS while providing orientation flights for pilots arriving in-theater for the first time and performance evaluations. When the Air Force had to deal with the SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) being deployed by Russian-trained forces, a handful of F-100F airframes were quietly modified with radar warning receivers to become the first Wild Weasels that would hunt down these SAM sites and mark them with 'Willie-Pete' (white phosphorous) rockets, and then bombed by supporting F-105 Thunderchiefs (Thuds).
The F-100F was again selected as the Air Force's choice for the high-speed forward air controller (FAST FAC) role. The FAC mission dates back to the early days of aviation, but in hot combat zones, slower FAC aircraft were frequently shot down, and over Vietnam, speed is life. The 416th TFS began rounding up any two-seat F-100s they could find and began the FAST FAC mission (callsign Misty). Like the Weasels (callsign Vampire), the Mistys woud mark their targets with Willie Pete and then call in waiting aircraft to deliver their loads of bombs, napalm, rockets, and guns. For more information and great photos of the F-100, stop by our Super Sabre reference site - F-100.org.
It has been 13 years since Trumpeter released their first kit of the F-100 Super Sabre with their 1/32 F-100D. The 1/32 F-100F has been in their catalog as a 'new' kit every year since then. Is it new? No, the bugs in the 1/32 F-100D were repeated in the 1/32 F-100C, 1/48 F-100C/D/F, and 1/72 F-100C/D/F kits released between 2007 and now. Given the span of time however, I was hopeful that Trumpeter would make some corrections in this release. First, the (sortof) good news:
This kit has some nice details and options provided in the box:
- Cockpit boarding ladder (the wrong one - see notes)
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable leading edge slats
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable aft section
- Straight and angled air refueling booms
- Straight or stowed pitot booms
- Aft section dolly
- 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)
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.
So what about this kit?
- First, the kit cockpit was designed around the same time as their F-100D, and while it was nice back then, the bar has been significantly raised since. Now I'd classify the details in the cockpits as soft, but the good news here is that this is a perfect kit to make use of those terrific knobs, switches and stencils produced by Anyz.
- Second, the ejection seats aren't accurate. They are portrayed with a seat back cushion though that space is taken up by the backpack parachute worn by each pilot. While photo-etched crew restraints are provided, I'd go aftermarket on these seats. There are a number of aftermarket options including those produced by AMS Resin.
- Third, 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. The F-100D release had the option of using the styrene or white metal landing gear struts provided, but no white metal struts are included here.
- Fourth, the F-100D kit provided your choice of rubber or styrene tires for the nosegear and main gear, but in this kit, only the main gear have an option for styrene or rubber tires, the nosegear only has styrene tires.
- Fifth, the underside of the nose intake - it is almost flat. Trumpeter did this with their A-7 Corsair II kits as well. Zacto Models produces a nice correction which you can see here next to the stock nose:
- Sixth, Trumpeter did make one engineering change in this release - those awful photo-etched hinges they used for the flight control surfaces are gone. They've retooled the ailerons and flaps so they plug into the rear of the wing in the up/neutral position.
- Finally, that engine. Trumpeter has doubled-down by providing the same fictional nonsensical engine that was in their F-100D kit. Any resemblance that this kit engine has to a Pratt & Whitney J57 is coincidental. At least the afterburner nozzle looks usable, but as before, only the original nozzle is included and not the F-102 nozzle that the majority of the F-100s were converted to in the 1970s.
Now for some additional notes and considerations:
- 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
- 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 and rig the drogue chute.
- Like some of the earlier releases from Trumpeter, the aft section on this aircraft can be displayed off of the aircraft but this reveals that awful J57. 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.
- 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-100Fs 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 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. There are a few aftermarket resin plugs available as well.
Markings are provided for two examples:
- F-100F-10-NA, 56-3867, 458 FBS/506 FBW, Tinker AFB, OK, 1957-58
- F-100F?, 58-2218 - unfortunately there is no such aircraft. 58-2218 was out of a block of serial numbers allocated to ballistic missiles.
The decals are on three sheets and are quite nicely printed as far as registration, but there are still a few technical spelling glitches. Let's hope that there will be some aftermarket options for decals!
When we dove into the F-100D kit 13 years ago, I was still thrilled because we finally had a 1/32 scale kit of the Hun. Seeing this kit now, near the end of 2020, it underscores just how bad a year this has been. They changed the wing/flight control surfaces but they left that flat-bottomed nose and fictional engine? While I've grabbed up a number of aftermarket items for this kit given the time we're waited for its release, I would probably wave-off anyone else getting one, at least until it is really on sale. Even with a street price of $130, this kit is as disappointing as Trumpeter's 1/32 P-40 kits and their shallow cockpits. They've known about the problems and still push them out the door. That is disrespectful to your customers Trumpeter.