1/48 Modelcraft F-82E

Item No. 48-021

Source: Mailordered from Mfg.

Price: $29.95 + $3 S&H

References: "Double Menace" by D.R. McLaren, VIP Publishers-- "Terror Twin Mustang in Korea", Wings Magazine, August 1983-- "P-51 Mustang in Color", Squadron/Signal Publications-- "P-51 in Action", Squadron/Signal Publications-- F-82E on display, Lackland AFB, TX

The first release of the eagerly awaited Modelcraft of Canada 1/48 F-82 series has finally occurred, albeit over a year late. The series will fill a longtime gap in the quarter-inch scale modeler's succession of fighters from the end of WW II into the Korean conflict. Modelcraft's effort is an overall good one, but moderate effort will be needed to bring this kit up to contest standards that are enjoyed by some brands right out of the box.

The limited run molding (15,000 kits comprising the E, B and G models) has been done in the Czech Republic and exhibits characteristics typical of the limited-run "soft" epoxy mold process, although I was reliably told six months ago that harder, copper/copper-plated molds would be used. That is, there is a certain degree of finish crudeness and lack of sharpness on smaller parts, especially the canopies, and some flash exists. The large parts are very good, with delicate engraving that is finer than, say, the other Czech brands such as OEZ or the new KP. The fuselages have various overlaid panels which create a very nice effect. However, the joining surface of the vertical fin and rudder portions of each fuselage had to be sanded on a flat surface to properly thin the rudder trailing edge. The alignment pins and holes in the wings and fuselages are very crude; I advise simply sanding them off. Because of the lack of individual tree  bagging--maybe it's the soft molding, too--many of the large, smooth parts have very slight scuff marks. I don't know if these will show under today's excellent silver finishes. I'm personally not gonna sweat it, since I'm doing a G model conversion, and these black finishes were really marred under the strains of Korean combat.

All parts come on five light grey and one clear tree. Speaking of clear parts, the twin canopies and windscreens easily qualify as the low point of the kit. With the excellent canopy in the KP Su-22M-4 kit just released in from the Czech  Republic, I had hoped for much more in the F-82. The F-82 canopies and windscreens are very thick (approximately 1/16"), ala kits of twenty-five years ago, and optically very "wavey".  They arrived substantially nicked and scratched because they were not separately packed in a plastic envelope. And, the fit is very poor. The windscreen will require significant Dremel thinning and shaping if you want it to align and snuggle down flush with the fuselage contour. Because  it's molded so thickly, the canopy perimeter edge hangs out noticeably from the fuselage contours and also requires significant, carefully done thinning with the Mototool. Until (I wish) Squadron does a vacuform canopy set for this kit I would recommend either stretch forming over the kit canopies or trying to substitute Monogram P-51D sliding canopy assemblies. If you choose this route, you'll need to also cut out the mating portion of the Monogram fuselages and graft them onto the Modelcraft ones. I've extensively examined the E model on display at the Lackland AFB parade ground, and the canopy shape is very slightly different from a P-51D--it seems to be bulged on either side of the pilot's head location--but perhaps close enough for government work. The problem with substituting the Monogram windscreens is that the lower profile of the quarter (side) glass panels is a straight line; in the P-51D, the lower profile is curved. A straight line edge could be painted over the Monogram-molded curved line, though.

Modelcraft has accurately modeled the distinctive angular contours of the F-82E (and G) cowling forward of the firewall. The vertical fin tips are separate pieces, no doubt because of the forthcoming B model's shorter fin. Separate E exhaust stubs (twelve stacks per side) mount into slots in the cowling which also predict the future (October) G model flame dampers.

The cockpits are relatively "busy" which always helps create realism.  Various controls are molded into the fuselage sides, and separate black boxes are added. Right and left instrument panels are slightly different; bezels and other details are raised. Seats are rather plain, but that's how these seats were. You'll have to add belts. Or, you can buy two  relatively inexpensive Monogram P-51 kits (remember the canopy swap scheme!) and use the seats, backrests one  gunsight and one control column. They're much more detailed (seatbelts and shoulder harnesses) and, of course, molded much more sharply.

Props blades (no cuffs, of course) are individually molded, and have to be glued to the hubs and properly contoured spinners. But...not so fast, G.I.... the prop profiles are incorrect. The F-82 Aeroproducts blade has parallel sides when viewed from the front--much like a fraternity paddle--and a very short transition from the hub to the said parallel sides. The Modelcraft versions are tapered on both ends (looks like the Czechs copied some other 1/48 blade, say the A-20). You probably need to use some suitably altered Monogram A-1 or Testor's Bearcat prop blades. But, don't forget that the new blades will have to be altered for the counter-rotating engine (Modelcraft was up to speed on this, at least!). That is, each engine rotates toward the fuselage.

Pylons are nicely done (albeit too thin), engraved, with the different profile seen for external tank and weapons carriage. Regarding the kit's external tanks, their shape also seems incorrect when compared to all my references. The tanks have a constant midsection and rather blunt heads, almost like the profile of a bomb. The real thing has a more bulbous center profile and a more tapered nose. You can use properly shaped tanks from the old Hawk (now Testors) 1/48 Mustang kit or the Monogram P-61.

The main landing gear struts and braces are simple, as in the 1:1 version, with triple-puck discbrake calipers (much too small) molded on the struts. Wheel wells have moderate structural detailing and a few hydraulic lines. Wheels have the WW II diamond tread style, but my references show the later, concentrically grooved tires.  The book, "Double Menace" shows the tires to be 32" in diameter, and the Modelcraft wheels are significantly smaller than this. The Monogram A-1 wheels are almost exactly the right diameter and have very nice discbrake rotors and caliper pucks cast in, unlike the Modelcraft wheels which have no rotors, just nondescript spokes. Unfortunately the Monogram wheels won't clear the wheel well cutouts, but who'll know?

Weaponry includes five fairly rudimentary rocket launcher racks and twenty-four rockets.  Decals are furnished for the red, white and blue-trimmed "Ole' 97" natural metal scheme of the 27th Fighter Escort Group, which was once stationed at Bergstrom AFB, TX. The decals are very well done: thin, good coloring and with sharp stencilling.  Unfortunately, my kit has the white very slightly out of horizontal registration which significantly affects all eight of the prop blade logos. Well, over to the Superscale/AeroMaster rack!

Instructions are clear, in the "no text" style. A flyer is included with a brief historical rundown of the E model and three-view line drawings showing the appropriate markings. Box art was done in the Czech Republic and...well, let's just say that the artist is not from the Hasegawa school of aviation art! Modelcraft assures me that they realize the artwork's shortcomings, and talented folks on this side of the pond are lining up to do the art for the next two versions.

Modelcraft of Canada is to be congratulated for taking on the burdens of smallscale production of this much-desired model. One-and-a-half thumbs up, but hey, it's a 1/48 F-82!

Phil Brandt

IPMS 14091

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