This is the
long-nosed variant of the world's first aircraft-carrier based
supersonic fighter/interceptor. The F11F-1 served with the U.S. Navy
for only four short years before being retired in 1961. It's active
military service was shortened primarily due to its lack of range and
was eventually replaced by the more advanced F-8 Crusader. The F11F
went on to serve with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team from
1957 to 1969. My kit represents an aircraft with the U.S. Navy's
VF-21 "Mach Busters" that served from 1957-1958.
This is the
1/48 Fonderie Miniature kit and is relatively inexpensive in comparison
with the older Collect-aire kit. Lindbergh produced a 1/48 F11F
years ago, though the quality is poor and lacks a lot of the
detail we have come to expect with modern kits. The FM kit has
a nice assortment of injection molded, photoetch, white metal, resin
and vacuum-formed parts. However, as with most limited-run kits,
it has its share of problems. A quote I found on the internet
best described the FM kit as "...a classic example of very low
pressure injection molding with many areas that are either short shot or
full of ripples or other evidence of garage production standards, Maybe
gravity injection molding would be a better description of the process
followed by FM!". Not a great introduction for building this
kit, but I decided to give it a go.
images below to see larger images
The cockpit, wheel wells, engine
and tail hook assembly are resin and well detailed. The surfaces of the fuselage
and wings have finely engraved panel lines while the landing gear are
nicely constructed of white metal. The pilot seat is a very nice
representation of the real thing. But that is where the positives of this
kit end. For starters, the kit parts are plagued by flash that do not
fit together well. Many of the parts contain ripples or pits that need to
be filled and sanded. Some parts like the interior bulkhead that positions
the two rear wheel wells against the fuselage cannot be used even with trimming
and sanding. I ended up just attaching the wheel wells directly
to the fuselage which worked just fine. Correcting the numerous mistakes in
this kit involved what seemed to be an endless pattern of dry fitting,
filling and sanding (although not always in that order). Because of all
the sanding required, several of the panel lines had to be rescribed. Be
sure to add lead weights to the nose or you'll have a tail sitter. The
cockpit instrument panel is photoetch, though there is no film for the
instrument dials. I used decals from my spares box as a substitute.
In addition, the throttle quadrant is missing from the cockpit which I replaced
with one from my spares box. I also wound very fine gage wire to
simulate the oxygen hose for the pilot. No pitot tube was
provided, so I used a fine sewing needle instead. Just when I thought I
had tackled all the problems with this kit and was ready for the paint
booth, I noticed flaking on several of the polystyrene parts, thanks to the
'gravity injection' process used to make this kit. Well, it was back to
filling and sanding. The early Sidewinders provided with
the kit were poorly molded and misshapen so I left them off. Finally, it
was time for painting.
Painting was perhaps the most straightforward procedure when
building this kit. Tamiya white primer followed by Tamiya flat white was
used on the undersides and other selected portions of the plane.
Aeromaster light gull gray was applied to the dorsal surfaces followed by Model
Master chrome silver for the leading edges. Weathering was kept to a
minimum since this aircraft saw limited service. For weathering I
used a combination of pre-shading, panel tinting, acrylic washes, pastels and
I searched extensively for aftermarket 1/48 F11F decals, though
none are available. So rather than making my own, I used the decals
provided with the kit. They are thin and respond well to Solvaset. I
noticed a bit of yellowing on the decals which surprised me considering this kit
has only been available for a few years.
The next step was preparing and painting the vacuum formed
canopy. The kit comes with two canopies (just in case you botch one).
The clarity of the canopy parts are okay though again plagued with pitting.
Several dips in Future improved their clarity though the windscreen portion of
the canopy still contained many pits. After trimming, sanding,
and test fitting, it was discovered the canopy is too wide for the fuselage and
looks awkward in the closed position. With the canopy open, the improper
alignment is not as noticeable. Currently, there are no aftermarket
canopies available for this kit, so if you want something different than what is
provided, you'll need to make it yourself. A semi-gloss finish was applied
to complete the kit.
Its apparent that
this kit is not for beginners. Of the 30+
hours I spent on this kit, more than 2/3 were devoted to filling and
sanding. Despite its inherent problems, this is currently the best 1/48 kit of
the F11F. Overall, I'm pleased with the result and it makes a great addition to
any collection of early U.S. Navy jets.
images below to see larger images