Hasegawa 1/72 F8U-1T Crusader

KIT #: Airmodel conversion #24
PRICE: 6.5Euro and 6.5Euro respectively
DECALS: Two options with the Hasegawa kit
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: The Airmodel conversion kit is a vac form type and also has parts for RF-8 version


The U.S. Naval Air Training Command prompted an interest by Vought in a two-seater version of the Crusader as an advanced pilot trainer in its effort to conduct pilot transition and combat efficiency training. CVA modified the 74th production F8A (BuNo 143710) into a dual; tandem seat airplane designated F8U-1 T (TF-8A later). An extensive design effort was required to retain as much commonality as possible, and still incorporate all of the customerís requirements into the aircraft with a minimum loss of performance or increase in weight. The Crusader, which had previously been modified to the F8U-2NE configuration, became the prototype and made its first flight on 6 February 1962.

 This extensive modification program at the onset of design involved that of maintaining the same length as the basic F-8 single seat airplane. This required raising the upper profile by 15 inches. The weight and balance consideration also dictated that two of the 20-mm cannons be removed from the gun bays ammunition compartment aft of the cockpit. These were the upper guns on each side. The rear (instructor) pilotís eye position was raised 15 inches above that of the forward (student) pilot offering excellent forward vision to the instructor, particularly in the takeoff and landing configurations. The fabrication of the aft cockpit section required a two-foot fuselage length increase and another complete set of flight controls and instruments. A glass blast shield was installed behind the forward Martin Baker ejection seat to protect the instructor pilot in case of canopy loss or high-speed ejection. The standard Crusader canopy was replaced with a large canopy that covered both cockpits and was powered open and closed by an electrical actuator.

To facilitate operation of the aircraft at small auxiliary airfields and therefore to reduce landing roll to 2,700feet, a landing parabrake (parachute) was installed in a domed housing at the base of the rudder. When use of the parachute was required to stop the rollout on one of these small fields, the pilot could actuate the system. When actuated the spring-loaded door on the aft end of the parabrake housing opened and the triple-canopied parachute deployed, significantly shortening the rollout.

 Extensive demonstrations were conducted for several years, but no buyers were found for a new jet trainer. The lone TF8A performed extremely well, and the Navy was quick to order an initial batch of 12 production two-seaters. However, the ensuing budget cutting forced the cancellation of that order before any could be built. The lone TF-8A was powered by the J57-P-20 engine, derated to produce the same thrust as the J57-P-4A engine, about 16,500 pounds in afterburner. The airplane featured ventral fins and afterburner-cooling airscoops like other Crusader models; Mach 1.6 was attained.

As a proposed combat efficiency trainer, TF-8A armament was to consist of two 20-mm cannons (144 rounds each), and two fuselage-mounted AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM's; moreover, two underwing hard points were to be incorporated for varied stores such as 300-gallon external tanks or bombs. The equipment that was to be on production aircraft included in-flight refueling gear, Litton's LN-3 inertial navigation system, Ryan APN-122 or LFE doppler radar APN-149 or NASARR systems for either terrain following or mapping, and the LABS (low-altitude bombing system).

After its use by the Navy, the lone two seater served NASA at its Ames-Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, where it served as a chase plane among other duties. NASA redesignated it NTF-8A. The aircraft had a lengthy career as a demonstrator and as a test pilot trainer. Unfortunately, the airplane crashed on 28th July 1978 when the Vought pilot and the Filipino student ejected and the aircraft crashed in a farmerís field ending as a total loss.


 The Hasegawa kit is essentially an F-8E and provides an in-flight refueling probe installation. This can be extended along with their usual fine fit and surface detail. Also included are the under wing pylons and the four Sidewinder installations. There was lack of a speed brake, which can be drooped, the normal static position. The horizontal tail is too big for an F-8E but would probably be okay for an F-8J, which require engraving the second slat line on the wing. The ventral fin appears the right size and it would be easier to delete the fin if you were converting one of the early machines.

The Airmodel kit comes in pack No 24 which has fuselage conversion parts for an RF8 version and the Trainer version. Molded in white vac form polystyrene, there is sufficient detail and wing parts to enable modification for both types. In the case of the TF-8A, there is also the cockpit hood less wing screen in which case same one is used from the Hasegawa kit. A reasonable side view is provided for reference during the conversion. There are arrow marks to indicate salient features on the TF-8 particularly the para brake fairing and dorsal housing which incidentally also comes as a separate piece to fit on the forward part of the wing at centre.


 There are two ways to convert the Hasegawa kit to F8U-1T (TF-8A) using Airmodel conversion kit. One standard method is to prepare the whole forward fuselage provided by Airmodel and merge it with the remaining part of the Hasegawa kit. Another method is to use the Airmodel fuselage containing only the second seat section and insert it between the aft part and forward nose part of the Hasegawa kit. This method I used in preference to the former method as it incorporated more of the Hasegawa injected parts having good surface detail and fine contours around the gun ports, the air intake and nose cone. The accompanying picture depicts clearly the manner of how the conversion was carried out.

 The Injected kit was first cut at 3/16 behind the cockpit opening and the nose wheel well separated from the rest of the fuselage. This is to be fitted to the inside of the Airmodel kit nose area. The detailed kit bulkhead is also to be used on the TF8 cockpit and two crew figures were prepared to take their seat at later stage. The section of the kit having the refuelling attachment is now removed and put aside. The Airmodel nose parts were also cut and sanded, then sliced to conform with the rest of the forward fuselage from the injected kitÖ. see photo. Interior was built up with side consoles, central coaming with windshield, extra seat, another set of instruments and control column. The fuselage consisting of three main parts is then joined together. The central wing fairing was added to the wing upon sending to fit. This was then merged to the fuselage raised back forming a smooth hump with the clear canopy. Kit cone and infrared sensor then added to the nose area. I also added nose weight to play safe in case it is tail heavy. The rest of kit was built as per instructions. At rear tail fin and rudder root I added the parabrake fairing, which also comes with the vac form kit.


I was surprised to note that there were no less than four different liveries worn by this single aircraft during its service life, all comprising of the basic gull gray, white and day glow with steel engine exhaust area. I used the usual Model Master brands mentioned in previous kit make. The decals came from kit itself and added fine lettering on fuselage coming from Micro scale decal sheet in my decal box. The legend TPS on side of fuselage was printed on a transparent decal sheet; being black lettering alone it was easy to do. The TPS crest on tail fin was hand painted. Before and after application of decals a coat of Klear was applied. Finally the kit was given an overall coat of semi gloss lacquer.


 Another colourful and enjoyable build which blends well alongside the Cougar trainer and FJ4 and a Savage tanker, all in USN markings.


Reference: Steve Pacer book Naval Fighters No 16.

Carmel J. Attard

May 2012

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