Brand: Trumpeter 01650
Markings: Wolfpak Decals 72-012 ‘Trail Interdictors’ + Kit stencils
The North American F-100 Super Sabre is an American supersonic jet aircraft that served with the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1954 to 1971. Designed as a higher performance follow-up to the F-86 Sabre, it was the first USAF fighter capable of supersonic level flight and was the first of the so-called Century Series of fighters. It was often referred to as the Hun, a contraction of ‘one hundred’.
It served as MiG combat air patrol escorts for F-105 Thunderchiefs, Misty FACs, and Wild Weasels over North Vietnam, and were then relegated to close air support and ground attacks within South Vietnam and is the longest serving jet fighter-bomber during the Vietnam War. A total of 360,283 combat sorties would be logged with 242 lost in Vietnam at the end of 31 July 1971.
The F-100 was also the basis for the first ‘Wild Weasel’ aircraft, whose crew were trained to locate and destroy enemy air defenses. The mission involves flying into the target area before the strike flights, clearing it of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) threats and leaving the area last. This was achieved by flying toward air defense sites, visually locating the site, then destroying it: all while being under attack by MiGs and anti-air aircraft artillery. The initial reaction of EWO Capt Jack Donovan ‘You Gotta Be Shittin’ Me’ (YGBSM) became the unofficial Wild Weasel motto. A total of seven aircraft would be a part of the Wild Weasel I program. Only four aircraft were left by the end of the program.
The F-100F Wild Weasel Is were fitted with an APR-25 vector radar homing and warning receiver, IR-133 panoramic receivers with greater detection range, and KA-60 panoramic cameras. They would be further modified in 1966 to fire the AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile. The aircraft were deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in November 1965 and began flying combat missions under the designation 6234th TFW (Wild Weasel Detachment) in December 1965. Lessons learned from the Wild Weasel I program would lead to more sophisticated weapons and tactics of the Wild Weasel II and III programs.
The subject of this build depicts crew Capt. Al Lamb and Capt. Jack Donovan’s F-100F 58-1226 who were credited with the first SAM site kill by a Wild Weasel F-100F on 22 December 1965.
Released in 2010, the kit is molded in light gray plastic with finely detailed recessed panel lines. Of note are:
- a detailed interior
- very nicely done ejection seats but no belts
- boarding ladder
- separate flaps, slats and rudder
- two styles of speed brake and brake well (one early, one late variant)
- cockpit consoles are decal-only
- straight or bent refueling probe
- straight or stowed pitot boom
- full length intake duct
- closed canopy only
- landing gear down only
- 4x AIM-9 Sidewinders
- 2x TERS
- 2x 275 gallon wing tanks
- marking options for two F-100Fs (one all metal finish, the other in SEA camouflage)
There has been comments that there are some accuracy issues with the canopy’s length or position. I don’t know this aircraft well enough to comment about it. All in all though, this looks to be a nicely done kit with good details and is a better version of the aircraft compared to the Italeri offering.
I’ve always planned for this kit to be a Wild Weasel so it was never going to be a straight build. I found the details of the Wild Weasel F-100F in the book Wild Weasel: The SAM Suppression Story by Larry Davis and from two Internet sources: ‘TheRealMrEd’ from Britmodeller and ‘Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy’ from ARC Forums. The details they shared for their builds greatly helped me with mine.
To pay it forward, I have detailed all the mods required in my build log. To summarize:
- added belts on the seats with maskinng tape
- as per photo references, I posed the flaps up and slats down
- main landing gear doors were closed up (I’ve seen both ways in pictures)
- added a chin mounted Vector IV/APR_25 antenna from square rod
- scribed a 4-louvered vent on each side of the nose
- scribed the flushed IR-133C DF antennas forward of the vents
- added a cooling intake lip for the doppler nav on the leading edge of the base of the tailfin
- modified the tail fairing by widening it and adding a trapezoidal shape to the back. a thin cylindrical antenna was also added to the back of the fairing
- added 3x blade antennas (VHF antenna, ARC-34 comm antenna and WR-300 antenna) on the bottom fuselage
- added 2x LAU-3 rocket pods from the Hasegawa Weapons Set
Overall the kit fit OK, but I did face the following problems:
- the leading edge slats didn’t fit all that well and the actuators needed cleaning up
- molding lines running down the length of the fuselage on both sides
- noticeable gaps where the main gear doors meet
- a canopy that didn’t fit quite right with a noticeable step where the back joins the canopy
Constant re-adjustment by pressing the canopy into place resulted in it cracking. I ended up shelving this kit for a few months while waiting for the (very expensive) replacement to arrive direct from Trumpeter in China. The new canopy also suffers from the same fitting problem so in the end, I decided to live with it.
This is the second straight Trumpeter/Hobbyboss kit that has given me canopy fit problems and is getting annoying.
Colors & Markings
The Wild Weasel I color scheme is the standard SEA scheme most USAF fighters wore during the Vietnam War: a 3-tone brown (FS30219), medium (FS34102) and dark green (FS34079) upper and a light gray (FS36622) lower. The camouflage pattern was done using blutack for the demarcations and was painted over my usual black base with white marbling coat.
I’ve noticed that gloss coating before decals darkens the overall finish so I tried something I heard about recently: I polished the whole kit down with a very fine sanding sponge to get a smooth surface which will prevent silvering. The 58-1226 markings come from the Wolfpak Decals 72-012 ‘Trail Interdictors’ sheet. As usual, Wolfpak only includes the main markings and the stencils would have to come from the sheet. The kit stencils were surprisingly low in number with the bottom missing all stencil data. I’m not sure how accurate this is to be honest. Both the Wolfpak and Trumpeter decals went down without issues with Mark Softer and Mark Setter although the stencils needed more Softer to get rid of some silvering. The whole was then given a semi-gloss coat to unify the look.
The kit then got my usual panel wash using diluted AK Abteilung Starship Filth. Since this was an operational F-100, I added somewhat heavy staining around the bottom of the exhaust area. I also dirtied up the port side of the nose where there would be more crew foot traffic. Once cured, I then carefully attached the landing gear.
The canopy masking was taken off at this point and I’m glad to say there wasn’t any paint bleeding. I did however managed to crack the rear of the canopy again although it is a hairline one and can only be seen at certain angles. I then painted the lights on the fuselage and the wingtips with a base of silver and the corresponding clear paints.
The landing gear is quite detailed for the scale but resulted in many small fiddly parts. I elected not to add the very small actuators for the main gear doors to save my sanity. Once the landing gear was attached I added the stores with the last item being the rear pointing antenna which fell off during my manhandling. I replaced it with a new piece of stretched sprue.
So all done and I can add another Wild Weasel aircraft to my collection. Two down four to go!
Number 10 of 2021