Revell 1/72 F-89D Scorpion






Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The F-89 was the USAF's first designed-from-scratch jet powered all-weather interceptor. The F-94 was actually a modified T-33, one of the reasons it entered service so quickly. However, Northrop's Scorpion was designed from the ground up for night fighting. The prototype was painted gloss black and the upswept tail was what gave it its name. Unlike many of its contemporaries, it did not have a swept wing, relying on a broad, straight wing for lift. This would prove to be fortuitous in allowing it to reach heights and to maneuver at those altitudes while the faster swept wing aircraft would either be unable to reach that high or to stall out during maneuvers once there.

As with many innovative aircraft, there were problems, the biggest being tailplane flutter. It was eventually cured, but the march of progress in the 50's was swift and the F-89 saw only a few years service in the USAF before being handed over to the ANG.

The F-89D was the first version to be without guns and had an all rocket armament carried in wingtip pods. These were folding fin 2.75 inch rockets similar to the German R4Ms used by Me-262s in the last weeks of the war. The key to their success was to saturate the air in front of the bomber with rockets. Several were bound to hit and when they did so, the results were devastating. The F-89J was also able to carry the nuclear-tipped Genie rocket on its wing pylons. Thankfully, these weapons were never used against enemy forces.



Revell's kit of the F-89D is basically a pantographed down version of the 1/48 kit. There have been a few changes made to ease construction, but for the most part the two are nearly identical. Detailing is engraved and you do have options, though they are limited to things on or under the wing. In this case, you can carry either a drop tank or a combination of up to two Falcons and a Genie under each wing. Not sure how prototypical such a load-out would be, but it is available to you should you wish it. Shown in the instructions are two styles of wing tip tank, one with the rockets and one without. My kit did not come with the plain tanks (the result of buying this kit at a swap meet no doubt), nor do the decal placement instructions show the other aircraft that is on the sheet.

The cockpit is complete with two very different looking seats for the pilot and back seater. You get a well detailed tub with raised detail on the side consoles. The instrument panels are similarly detailed. There are engine compressor facings for the intake and exhaust sections to prevent the see through effect. The canopy can be posed either open or closed. Probably the trickiest part of the kit will be gluing the lower center section in place.

The kit instructions are very good as is typical with Revell or Monogram. There are the usual color callouts but no FS numbers are given; odd for a 1992 issue. As mentioned earlier, the only decal placement instructions are given for the F-89D shown on the box art. However, on the side panel is a model of an F-89J of the North Dakota ANG; a very plain looking aircraft with no distinguishing unit markings. The Revell decals are very gloss and not well printed, being a bit fuzzy. In addition, the silver surround to the insignia and tail serial is rather badly off register. You'll have to resort to aftermarket for a decent set.

Despite the decals, this is probably the best 1/72 F-89D/J on the market. I have not built either this nor the Hobbycraft kit so cannot really make a comparison between the two. However, judging from the demand for this kit, it is probably the better choice.

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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