Douglas F3D Skyknight in 1/72 scale 

1/72 scale Matchox kit of the Douglas SkyKnight
kit review / modelling report

The Douglas F3D Skyknight was an American twin-engined, midwing night jet fighter aircraft of the Douglas Aircraft Company. Designed by the famous Ed Heinemann as a carrier-based all-weather aircraft, it saw service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. First flight was in beginning 1948. 
As a night fighter it was quite big to accomodate a powerful radar system and second crew member to direct any attack and for navigation. It also needed two Westinghouse J34 turbojets and had a non-swept wing and the aircraft had a maximum speed of about max 850 km/hour. Armament consisted of four 20 mm cannons mounted in the lower fuselage. Some versions were developed, the F3D-2 being the most common one that was also used in the Korea War in an overall black "night" livery. Later, in 1954 the F3D-2M was the first US Navy jet aircraft to be fitted with a Sparrow air-to-air missile that could fly operational combat missions. At the end of the Skyknights career, some aircraft were used for electronic warfare. Also, a few aircraft were converted for use as trainers and were designated F3D-2T. 

The 1/72 scale model

Matchbox (Lesley UK) issued a 1/72 kit no. PK-134 of a F3D-2  a very long time ago in 1988. I bought the kit 1988 while on a trip in the UK at MilSlides , so it was in my stack for nearly 25 years... Ooo Wheeeee..... 

The parts are of the usual Matchbox fashion but deep panellines are almost absent, actually hardly any panellines. The kit gives the option of folding the wing. But no rib details are there. The Skyknight had an old fashioned enclosed cockpit, crew had to bail out in case of emergency. 

Below the parts are seen in the usual different plastic colours. Some parts are also seen painted by me in their sprues. The fueltanks are better replaced (e.g. tanks from the Hasegawa F9F Cougar). 

Colour schemes in the kit are for US Navy VF-121 as well as an overall black aircraft that served in Korea with VMF(N)-513. The decals are simple and a bit thick.

Microscale USA had also a number of decalsheets. Hard to find nowadays. 

Douglas Skyknights were painted in various colours, including the common US Navy and Marines corps standard schemes of Fed.Standard light gull gray FS16440 on top and white on the bottom, with trim paint in other colors, such as red outlined intakes and various panels. Colourful squadron markings also were used a lot. 

I decided to make the kit in a colourfull white/dayglow orange scheme. Also, to add some extra's to the model, so decided to open up an engine bay panel. Some details from scratch suggesting the Westinghouse engine will be included.

Building the kit

This is a straight forward build, with no headaches except for the desired scheme and decals. The kit was made as per instructions with hardly any filler needed. Matchbox kits normally have a good fit and this kit is no exception. 

The engine bay panel was cut open as desired: 

The intakes and exhaust parts needed filler and sanding. This was done first as the fuselage is well reachable now for sanding.
Note: the model needs a lot of nose weight to stand on its nose gear.

Next comes the wing. 

I did not fold the wing, so care was taken to assemble the inner and outher wing panels straight. I glued the inner and outher panels first with a strong joint with metal rods on the table. Later, after drying, the other parts were matched to these. 

Details for the opened up engine bay came from the scrap box and rods and pieces of sprue. Inside the gearbay, side walls were made from card with some details. Any gaps can be easily closed with white glue as well here.

The cockpit windows do not fit very well. Sand the edges carefully. The windows have prominent framing, but this was on the real Skyknight as well. Inside the barely visible cockpit, only some seatstraps were added and painted. An instrument panel was suggested with decals from the spare decals box. (not yet seen below). 

The assembly: 

After an overall check with grey coat applied with the airbrush, any irregularities were filled and sanded.

The scheme would be the white - dayglow/orange scheme as in the kit for F3D-2T2 Skyknight of VF-121 at US Navy Naval Air Station Miramar in 1958, with number 197 and tail code "NJ". Nostalgia! 

Colours used were:
Revell Aqua acrylic # 05 for the white and  Lifecolor LC23 for the dayglow. 

After spraying the white and ample drying time, masking was done with low tack tape followed by the dayglow. After that, the black panels and nose were airbrushed. Note: I forgot to set the nose now, better do it earlier.

The smaller parts were airbrushed as well like the gear doors. 

Next followed the metallic leading edges of the wings using ALCLAD II gloss alumium colour. These were masked off and sprayed. 


The engine bay was painted as well now with some different colours.

The kit decals were applied but the "stars and bars" replaced with ones from Microscale/ Superscale

The cockpit windows were set on. Gaps were closed and things smoothened with white glue. An alternative could be to use a vacu canopy from FALCON (set VAX04). 

Note the white glue, still to dry. 

The canopy frame was hand painted. Any errors can be corrected after paint has dried using a wooden toothpick.

Finishing the model was done by adding the nose, gears and doors. Also note the "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" vane gotten from the spares box.

Some slight wash was added in the elevon-, flap- and aileron hinge lines and add the pitot on the nose and wingroot walkways from black decal.

The overall model got a coat of protective Johnson Future / Pledge and this gave a nice gloss look.

Here is the result...

Engine hatch

A nice US Navy aircraft in the 1/72 scale US Navy model collection.   



  • Books and magazines:
    • Air international, volume 15, page 45
    • Air international, volume 52, page 281
    • Navy air colours, Squadron Signal publ., Volume 2
    • Skyknight in Action 1229, Squadron Signal publ.
    • Skyknight, Naval Fighters Number 4, Ginter

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    Created this page October 5, 2012