Complete : Academy 1/72 Vought F-8E Crusader

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Build Report

Kit Info
Manufacturer: Academy
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection Plastic

The Subject
The Vought F-8E Crusader was a single-engined, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft which replaced the Vought F7U Cutlass in the US Navy and Marine Corps fleets. Known for its distinctive variable-incidence wing which pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing, it served principally in the Vietnam War and was the last American-designed fighter with guns (4 x 20mm Colt Mk.12s) as the primarily weapon. Due to this, it earned the title of ‘The Last of the Gunfighters’. 1,219 would eventually be built serving with the US Navy, US Marine Corps, Philippine Air Force and the Aeronavale (French Naval Aviation).

Despite the moniker however, F-8s only achieved 4 victories with their cannon out of the official 19. The rest were accomplished with the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile as the cannons had a tendency to jam during high-speed maneuvers. The F-8 would serve for 2 decades and would be retired by the US Navy in 1976 with the reconnaissance variant serving on for another 11 years. The last F-8 in service would retire from the Aeronavale in 2000.

On 12 June 1966, VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ squadron CO Harold ‘Hal’ Marr would claim the first air-to-air victory for the F-8 over the skies of Vietnam. Flying Nickel 103 on Combat Air Patrol northwest of Haiphong, Marr and his wingman engaged 4 Mig-17s and he would get his first victory with an AIM-9D Sidewinder. He would proceed to get an unofficial 2nd ‘kill’ using his guns in the same engagement. The model depicted here carries the markings of this particular F-8E.

More info on Wikipedia.
‘Nickel 103’ info from Wolfpak Decals.

The Kit
My first memory of the F-8 is the aircraft piloted by the main character of the anime/manga Area 88. I didn’t know much about the series but it was about combat aircraft so I was automatically sold. The Academy release of the F-8E is currently the best (as of 2015) and most modern in the market.

This is another shelf queen from 2012 that I’m finishing OOB. The build was straightforward without much fitting problems besides the size of some of the parts. As per usual with modern subjects, there are a lot of small parts that need to be attached to the kit and they can be quite fragile. The only part that proved more challenging is the fit of the main wing. It’s made up of a top and bottom half which requires some sanding down to fit together. I didn’t do this properly so there is a step at the bottom of each wing. The other issue is the canopy which fit fine only if I left out the back section on the inside. There’s also no option to leave the canopy open. The surface is very detailed with fine rivets everywhere. Sure, they make for very nice details but are a pain to sand around. I managed to obliterate a lot of them. I didn’t bother redoing the rivets as I value my sanity and eyesight.

I originally wanted to use the VF-111 markings included in the box but after seeing Wolfpak Decals’ offering of the historic VF-211 F-8 I decided to switch. The VF-111 had an interesting sharkmouth on the intake but the tail looked boring.

Some things to mention about Wolfpak Decals: The historical research on each subject on their sheet is simply amazing. Each subject is fully described with type history, specific subject history, mods required on kits and weapons data (if any). However, they only provide the main markings for the aircraft. The markings are not numbered, there are no stencils at all and the placement sheets aren’t very clear so there were some eyeball 1.0 guesstimates needed.

I used the following paints for this kit:

  • Model Master Acryl Insignia Yellow
  • Lifecolor Flat Light Gull Gray
  • Vallejo Polyurethane White Primer
  • Vallejo Model Air Black Grey
  • Vallejo Model Air US Light Grey
  • Vallejo Model Color Green Brown
  • Vallejo Model Air Transparent Red
  • Vallejo Model Air Transparent Blue
  • Vallejo Metals Black Metal
  • Vallejo Metals Silver
  • Sharpie Red Marker

Some notes for my reference for future projects:

  • I need to mask the canopies better still somehow. Maybe with the help of a magnifying glass next time.
  • I changed the way I painted the canopy so this time there’s no lighter primer layer on the canopy sills showing like the previous models. It’s more prep work but the results look better.
  • I’m still getting random problems with Future. When it works it’s very good but this last time it spattered and caused orange peel even though I’ve thinned it and shot at a low PSI.
  • In contrast Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish worked very well and I’m considering getting the gloss version to use as well. That it won’t spray through my 0.3mm airbrush is not a big issue.
  • I think the dark grey wash I used for panel lining is too dark for this type of camouflage. The contrast is too high so I’ll find a lighter grey for the next one.
  • The wash isn’t very smooth on the rescribed panel lines. Need to improve on my scribing skills.
  • There’s some silvering in the decals but that’s down to my less than stellar prep work.
  • The less than stellar prep work also caused some problems with the panel wash.
  • Vallejo Air Transparent colors are easier to use than Gunze Aqueos Clear colors but they dry more opaque. I prefer working with the former but prefer the finish of the latter. Yeesh.
  • The usual last minute disasters aren’t quite disastrous as usual. So hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. 😀

All in all, I’m very satisfied with this build. It was quite pain-free and the kit is surprisingly big, sleek, fine detailed and with the colorful markings, looks very good on display.

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