1/72 scale Vought F-8 Crusader models of the US Navy (Hasegawa & Academy kits)
review / Building report
The Vought F-8 Crusader appeared in 1953 as a US Navy fighter. A special Crusader design feature was the variable incidence wing for low speeds. The wing could be tilted a couple of degrees as required. The first F8U-1 (later redesignated F-8A) planes were rather clean with a pointy nose and had a retractable rocket container launch system next to the four 20mm Colt canons and 2 Sidewinders. They had first a Vought ejection seat, but these were soon replaced with the Martin baker F5 seat. The F8U-1E (redesignated F-8B in 1962) was an improved F-8A with a better radar.
A special unarmed variant of the F-8 Crusader was used for reconnaissance. It had a new forward fuselage with flat sides with panels for the camera's and also a hump at the area forward of the wing for better aerodynamics through area ruling. The F8U-P1 (later RF-8A) was the first reconn version appearing in service around 1959. Some sources indidate that also the horizontal stabilizer was a bit smaller for lower drag. Also, the nose bullit is a bit smaller and comparable to the F-8C with a camera installed as well. The RF-8G appeared in 1965 and was a modernized RF-8A .
With the availability around 1957 of the stronger P&W engine J57-P-16, more power was available for a next Crusader version. The extra power required additional rear fuselage strakes for stability, extra cooling scoop at the exhaust pipe and also system updates were made. The wing span was also slightly reduced. This F8U-2 (later redesignated F-8C) entered service around 1960. It could also carry 4 Sidewinder missiles on Y-shaped pylons on each fuselage side.
The F8U-2N (redsignated F-8D) as a "night fighter" variant obtained a more powerfull radar in a large nose cone and a infrared scanner on the windshield. It had the J57-P-20 engine.
Later on, the F8U-2NE (later re-designated F-8E) variant was developed and appeared in 1962, with again system updates and with the larger radar nose of the F-8D. It had the J57-P-20A engine and could carry more stores under the wing as well with two underwing pylons. The wing hump was also now seen with system equipment below it for firing Bullpup missiles. The F-8E saw extensive combat over Vietnam.
The French Navy also needed carrier fighters so the F-8E was checked out in 1962. As the French carrier decks of Foch and Clemenceau was small, the Crusader got blown flaps, larger slats and larger stabilizer. They could also carry French missiles like the Matra and Magic. This F-8E(FN) version was delivered 1964 with 42 planes. In 1991 some modernization was done on 17 remaining planes and this version was known as the F-8P. The French Crusaders were replaced in 2000 by the Rafale M.
The US NAVY also wanted to benefit from the good characteristics of the French F-8E(FN) variant, so 136 American F-8E planes were modified to get also blown flaps, the larger stabilizer and the larger slats. This F-8E version was renamed as the F-8J and started entering service in 1968-1969.
In 1977, the
Philippines also acquired 35 ex US NAVY F-8H Crusaders. The F-8H had a
strengthened airframe and was based on F-8D. The Philippine AF got
25 planes including spares entering service around 1979.
OK, let's look at various 1/72 scale models
In 1/72 scale, there were many Crusader kits. Revell had a kit no. H-255 way back in 1967. I am not sure about the Revell kit of F8U-2N, kit H-167 which apparently was 1/67 scale. I also had a very rare 1/48 kit from Aurora way back in 1966 with moving landing gear parts. Some bits are still in my spares box!
also came with a kit. The kit was very good at the time, although
nowadays the Academy kits are even better with
finer parts and recessed panellines.
The 1/72 kit for a F-8E was issued
around 1985 and has about 60 parts with stores comprising four Sidewinders
and their Y shaped pylons. It has raised panellines and I believe this
kit is for a "late" F-8E with the larger horizontal stabilizer.
Kangnam dared to copy the Hasegawa
even had a kit for the experimental supercritical winged Crusader and Airmodel
and Maintrack had conversion sets for the only few two seater TF-8A
The number of
aftermarket decals sets is uncountable, with many appearing over the years
for various schemes and airforces.
As I had been given a spare Hasegawa (see above) model by Henk, it was decided to do a conversion into RF-8G Reconn Crusader using the Ventura coversion set that was issued around 1997 and is well usable. The set has a couple of new parts for the forward fuselage with recessed panellines and some separate smaller fairings below the fuselage. It was designed to be fitted to the 1/72 Hasegawa F-8 kit to create a RF-8G reconn Crusader. You can use any Hasegawa issued kit for that.
The Ventura set has no decals although you could order these separately, more on that later.
First carefully separate the Ventura parts from their thick sprues with a fine saw.
Next, the two forward sections of the Hasegawa kit fuselage parts were sawed off with a razorsaw 1 mm in front of the main gear bays.
The Ventura parts and the Hasegawa rear fuselage were mated, gaps filled and sanded. The lower camera fairing below the forward fuselage needs some cutting when you want to have the doors opened. The two small tiny bits should be on the nose of the two nosegear doors.
The camera windows are not open on the new parts, I opted to suggest the camera windows through decals later on.
The Ventura parts with the intake
is rather crude, I opted to put a cover in place because otherwise it would
be very difficult to get a good look. The nose bullit is smaller on the
RF-8, but this is not catered for in the set. I simple sanded the Hasegawa
kit part a bit smaller with a flat area at the lower surface where the
camera is. The cockpit parts of the kit are used as well with the canopy,
although there is no IT sensor on the windscreen, so fill the hole in the
The rest of the model was made from the box, obviously without the "stores". The vertical tail also has a trailing edge fairing as per kit and as seen on the RF-8. Cockpit was kept simple, only the seat was detailed with some rod, sprue and tape for the harnesses. (for more info on the MB F5A ejection seat... look here...)
The main instrument panel on a RF-8G only has a small indicator on the left top and only an expert will till the difference. The main areas of the cockpit were painted medium grey with black details. On the smaller nose, a tiny pitot tube is to be added (other F-8's have the pitot tube on the nose tip).
The nose part no.14 of Hasegawa is to be used for the conversion, but I sanded the part a bit pointier with a flat surface for a nose window for the range finder?
First a matt white coat was sprayed, the demarcation line and flying surfaces masked off with TAMIYA masking tape and the gull grey sprayed on using acrylic Gunze Sangyo no.315 for the FS16440
The nose gear doors also have tiny
bit of the lower nose camera fairing on the RF-8G, so these were cut from
the Ventura bit part and added.
I did not have any decals for RF-8 reconn planes, so picking decals from various sources and the spare decal box was needed although major markings are standard US Navy. This took more time than anticipated as you need to search for many spare decals.
The model scheme selected was a simple
one of VFP-63 squadron Detachment 3 from USS Midway
of the US Navy as I found picture in the Squadron
Signal book. The scheme is simple and not very colourful, but
I had no choice here. Some markings were used here from the Microscale
Some views of the completed RF-8G model
In 2004, Academy issued a new 1/72
kit of the F-8E Crusader (kitno. 1615). It is an excellent model
with engraved panels, separate leading edge slats and flaps. Details are
highly detailed and feature a nice cockpit, a good intake, nice gears and
stores. The wing can be set tilted when desired. It seems to have
the orginal small horizontal stabilizer.
The F-8P with the Duck emblem was
made as model straight out of the box. The upper wing is a one piece affair,
so if you want folded wings you need to make cuts with a razorsaw.
The overall model got a coat of light
grey to check for any gaps and irregularities but no correction was needed
with filler. Next, it was airbrushed in overall Revell acrylic aluminium
After adding a few coats of Johnson
Future gloss, it was time for decalling.
yellow framing were decals from kit
A nice French Crusader in the model collection
One Academy kit still in the stack....
to be continued in the future.
Some info on the Martin Baker F5 or F7 ejector seat...
F-8 in Action, Squadron Signal no. 1080
F-8 in detail & Scale, D&S no. 31
F-8, Naval fighter series, no. 16,17,18 (Ginther)
Famous Airplanes no.1, Vought F-8 Crusader , 1994
Air international, magazine, Volume 45, pages 190-195
World Air Power, volume 29, pages 141
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Created this page August 17, 2009