1/72 Vought F-8E Crusader model kit

Product # 1615

Product Article by Mike Yeo, Horizon ModelTech




Kit: Academy 1/72 Vought F-8E Crusader
#: 1615
Price: 19.90 Singapore dollars (US$11.90)

The F-8 Crusader was the US Navy's first supersonic, carrier-based jet fighter. In September 1951, the US Navy announced a call for competitive bids from eight aircraft manufacturing companies for a new carrier-based fighter. Chance-Vought won the bid with it's F-8 Crusader that incorporated a 42-degree swept wing design to meet the high speed requirement. The design was also unique in providing a two-position, variable incidence wing that allowed the pilot to hydraulically raise it 7 degrees to enable the aircraft to land and take off at lower speeds. Armed with 4 Colt-Browning Mk 12 20mm cannons, the Crusader could also carry 4 AIM-9 Sidewinder IR-seeking AAMs or Zuni air-to-ground rockets in it's fuselage-mounted "cheek" pylons. Beginning with the F-8E version, wing pylons were also fitted to allow carriage of up to 4000-lb of stores.

Known to its pilots as the 'last of the gunfighters' due to its quartet of 20 mm cannon, the F-8 Crusader was numerically the most populous fighter in the US Navy at the start of America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict in 1964 some 482 F-8C/D/Es equipped 17 frontline units. It enjoyed great success against North Vietnamese Mig-17s and Mig-21s during the Rolling Thunder campaign of 1965-68, officially downing 18 jets, which represented 53 per cent of all MiG claims lodged by Navy squadrons during this period. Marine Corps Crusaders were also involved in ground support missions in South Vietnam.

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Academy initially announced its 1/72 Crusader a couple of years ago. Like it's 1/32 Hornet, this kit was delayed a number of times, and I've seen more than one modeler wonder if it was ever going to be released on the various modeling discussion boards. After that long wait, the kit has finally been released and I was fortunate enough to pick one up from one of my favourite shops in Singapore over the Good Friday holiday. Until this kit, the previously available kits of the Crusader in 1/72 were from Hasegawa, Esci (recently reboxed by Italeri) and Heller. All were old kits, and lacked the finesse of a modern kit, as well as not being entirely accurate. A new-tool 1/72 Crusader is long overdue, and Academy have delivered in a big way!

Opening the box, one finds 3 crisply-moulded sprues of light grey and 1 sprue of clear parts. Panel lines are finely engraved with restrained rivet detail where appropriate. Detail is superb, as can be seen from the photo of the kit instrument panel. The cockpit is also well done, and a very detailed ejection seat is also included. The variable-incidence wing and airbrakes can be built extended or retracted. The instruction is clearly presented with 12 assembly steps and a separate sheet for decal placement included, with a 4-view drawing for stencil placement and left/right views for the individual aircraft markings.

From the breakdown of the kit parts, it is obvious more versions are planned, with the leading edge flaps and hump atop the wing being moulded separately (some versions didn't have the hump). There are also Matra Magic AAMs included in the box marked as unused parts, and with the separate LE flaps, point to the fact that an Aeronavale F-8E(FN) is being planned.

Weapon options are extensive, with 4 AIM-9D Sidewinder AAMs, 2 Matra Magic AAMs, 8 Zuni unguided rocket tubes, 2 MERs and 8 Mk.82 Snakeye 500-lb high drag retarded bombs. Decal options included are for 2 Marine aircraft:

- F-8E 7/150852 of VMF(AW)-333 Shamrocks, MCAS Yuma, March 1967
- F-8E 14/150329 of VMF(AW)-232 Red Devils, NAS North Island, November 1967

The decals are well printed and in registration in my example. As with typical Academy kit decals, the whites look slightly translucent, but with the colour schemes in Light Gull Grey over White, it should not be too much of a problem. For those wanting Navy birds and not willing to wait for the Academy US Navy boxing (almost a certainty), there are a number of old Superscale/Microscale sheets for a number of US squadrons which will not be too hard to find.

All in all, a stunning and long-overdue release from Academy!


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Photos and text by Mike Yeo, Horizon ModelTech