Trumpeter 1/48 F-100F Super Sabre Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|F-100F Super Sabre
|First styrene kit of this subject in this scale; very nice detailing throughout
|Minor issues carried over from the 1/32 Trumpeter kit design; one of the decal options is unusable
For a short history of the F-100 Super Sabre, read the background here.
While the F-100A, F-100B (F-107A), F-100C, and F-100D were all single-seat fighters, the USAF realized that they needed a two-seat trainer to properly acclimate pilots into the world of supersonic flight and some of the unique flying characteristics of the world's first production supersonic aircraft. Since its introduction in the late 1950s, the F-100F served as the high performance transition trainer which helped to reduce accident rates.
The Vietnam air war revealed how unprepared the Cold War Air Force was for a counter-insurgency war, many seasoned pilots were able to dust off their combat experience over Korea a decade earlier and make use of what aircraft were available. The F-100 Super Sabre was sent over to provide protection for the fighter bombers going north from marauding MiGs. The adversary pilots flyng the North Vietnamese MiGs were able to exploit the weather for hit and run attacks on the fighter bombers and the F-100's lack of radar rendered it helpless to find and engage the enemy. The F-100 was shifted over to the strike and close air support missions.
While many folks are aware of the exploits of the F-100 in its mud-moving mission, not many appreciate the role of the F-100F in Vietnam, and how this one aircraft would shape the development of future aircraft and tactics. Two key missions were performed by the F-100F - Misty and the Wild Weasel.
Misty - In the early days of the Vietnam war, the Forward Air Control (FAC) mission was taken up by USAF pilots after the Army was shifted out of fixed wing air operations. These early USAF FACs carried on the mission of spotting targets for artillery and air strikes in the same aircraft, usually the O-1 Bird Dog or the follow-on O-2 Skymaster. Both aircraft had a top speed of Mach None which was ideal for spotting movement in the jungle, but also provided the enemy with easy targets. In some of the hottest areas, the survival rates for these FACs was not good. A new approach was developed to regain air superiority over these hot zones - Fast FACs. F-100Fs were rounded up from squadrons around the world and its two seats were usually manned by pilots, one to put eyes in the jungle while the other kept the aircraft out of that very same jungle. The squadron that took on the Fast FAC mission was the 416th TFS 'Silver Knights' assigned to the 37th TFW at Phu Cat AB, but everyone knew them by their callsign - Misty (the squadron commander's favorite song). The two-man concept and tactics developed by these crews made For more good reading, there are two really good books on the Misty FAC, Misty and Bury Us Upside Down.
Wild Weasel - As the air war carried on over Vietnam, the North Vietnamese received a new weapon to use against the Yankee Air Pirates - the S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline). An emergency program was started to create a countermeasure for this new threat. The result was the APR-25 receiver group that could be installed in a tactical aircraft and give basic directions to an active Fan Song radar. This system was secretly installed in a handful of F-100F Super Sabres creating a new mission - the Wild Weasel. After some training with this new system at Eglin AFB, these new Weasels were deployed into theater where the newly trained crews started to hunt down SAM sites and develop defensive tactics through trial and error to get close enough to a SAM site to mark it for a flight of supporting F-105 Thunderchiefs to bomb the site into oblivion. The Weasel concept was battle proven and not without casualties. When it was time to get out of Dodge, the F-105s would egress out of the area at supersonic speed leaving the lone Weasel to motor out the best they could and developing their motto - First In, Last Out. While the Weasel mission would soon transition to the F-105F, it was the F-100F that was first into combat and the first Wild Weasel.
Here is the final installment in Trumpeter's 1/48 scale Super Sabre family - the F-100F. Like the F-100C and F-100D released previously, this kit is a simplified and scaled down version of their 1/32nd scale design (I really hope Trumpeter releases the 1/32nd scale kit). As a result, this kit has similar features as its larger cousin.
Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on seven parts trees plus two trees of clear styrene parts. Like the previous Trumpeter F-100 kits, this kit features finely scribed surface details and no sign of the 'mad riveter'. So let's get to the features:
- Fuselage is molded without fuselage break
- Fuselage has correct tail for F-model
- Intake is flat on the bottom
- Wing is correct for the D-model (and F)
- Ejection seats are similar to the 1/32 kit w/seat cushions and D/F styled headrests
- Boarding ladder
- Separately molded ailerons, stabilator, and rudder
- Positionable flaps and slats
- Two styles of speed brakes and brake wells
- Positionable speed brakes
- Straight and angled air refueling booms
- Straight or stowed pitot booms
- Full length air intake duct
- Canopy looks great
- Inverted Y-type Sidewinder missile rail pylons for the inboards
- Standard inboard pylons also included
- TERS provided for the inboard pylons
- Four AIM-9
- Small and large external fuel tanks
- ALQ-31 pod
- Centerline shape
This kit does have one other interesting difference over the 1/32 F-100 kits - there is no engine face at the end of the duct in this kit. I'm happy to see that they didn't scale down that odd bit out of the 1/32 kit.
Like the F-100D release, this kit does not include the F-102 afterburner nozzle. That part was tooled in the F-100C kit, so if you want to do a later Air National Guard F-100F, you'll either need to rob the F-102 afterburner from an F-100C or wait for an aftermarket option to come along.
The kit provides four distinctive subjects:
- F-100F-10-NA, 56-3807, 48 TFW, RAF Lakenheath, UK
- F-100F-20-NA, 58-1226, 614 TFS/35 TFW, Phan Rang AB, RVN
- F-100F-10-NA, 56-3808, Republic of Taiwan Air Force
- F-100F-15-NA, 56-3924, USAF Thunderbirds
The selection of subjects is interesting. I believe this is one of the first Chinese kits to offer a Taiwanese marking option in their kit. This kit has two bare metal options and two camouflaged options. In the bare metal column, we have the 48th TFW example which as some colorful markings. Even more colorful are the USAF Thunderbird markings though these are also the biggest disappointment in this box. If you look closer, the decals for the Thunderbirds are comprehensive (a good thing) but they are red/white/black rather than red/white/blue (a bad thing).
Moving to the camouflaged options, we have one Vietnam vet from the 35th TFW as well as the aforementioned Taiwanese AF example. I wish there had been a Weasel or Misty option here. Don't worry though, I am confident we'll see these subjects in the aftermarket.
I am pleased to see a real F-100F kit in 1/48 scale without having to resort to aftermarket conversions. This is the first F-100F kit in this scale and I really do hope Trumpeter will release the 1/32 kit as well.
Whether you want one of the many F-100F trainers or to model a Misty FAC or Weasel, you finally have a good starting point in this box.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!