Matchbox 1/48 FJ-4B Fury






See review


Scott Van Aken


1983 Issue


The FJ-1 Fury was a straight winged, 6-gunned fighter that waslow on power, but had great handling characteristics. It was the Navy's firstsingle-engined jet fighter and though built in very small numbers, helpedformulate operating procedures for jets on US carriers. The FJ-1 was also thepredecessor to the famed F-86 Sabre of the USAF.

Seeing the success of the F-86, the Navy decided that it wantedits own version so the FJ-2 became a navalized F-86. The original prototypes ofthe FJ-2 were virtually the same as the F-86 save for the carrier equipment andthe use of four 20mm cannon vice the six .50 cal machine guns of the Sabre. Anumber were built and used, but the additional weight of the naval equipment,the stronger landing gear and folding wings took a toll on the performance ofthe FJ-2.

The next was an FJ-3 that was still recognizable as an F-86though it had a larger wing, more powerful engine and repositioned canopy,similar to those on the FJ-2, to put the pilot higher up so that he could seethe deck better during landing. The next and final version of the Fury line wasthe FJ-4. This was an almost completely different airframe from the F-86 andvastly different from the original FJ-1. It had a much larger wing, a tallerfuselage, taller tail, and greater weapon carrying capability. It was missilecapable like the FJ-3, but could carry more. The FJ-4 served with many units inboth the Navy and Marine Corps. A number of them lasted past Oct 1962 whenaircraft designations were rationalized with the various services and it becamethe F-1.


Matchbox has acertain reputation amongst modelers. One is for innovation and the guts toproduce kits that are unavailable from anyone else. This is true of the FJ-4.Even today, the only other kits of this aircraft are in 1/72 by Merlin and Emhar.The Merlin kit is best forgotten and the Emhar FJ-4 can be built into a nicekit, but takes a lot of work. The Matchbox Fury remains the ONLY kit of thisaircraft in 1/48. One would hope that a major kit maker will rediscover thisaircraft and give us a nice, state of the art kit. 

Anyway,the Matchbox FJ-4 is like most other Matchbox kits. It is pretty easy to build.It comes in different colors (in this case, two greys and white) so you don'treally have to paint the kit (right!). The panel lines on this kit are verypetite and almost invisible. In fact, the kit scratches from all the parts beingin one place are sometimes more visible than the raised detail. The controlsurfaces are either separate or well engraved. Most of the detail on the kititself is 'soft'.

Cockpit consists of a seat and instrument panel(no decal, minimal detail). There is a pilot figure to fill the space. A nicetouch is a full intake trunk, but good luck filling the seam! There is no wheelwell detail. The wings can be folded, but there is no detail in the foldsection. The tail hook can be positioned up or down. The rudder is a separatepiece. There are three pylons for each wing that fit into a slot already openedfor you. Underwing stuff consists of two Sidewinders and a drop tank per wing.The missiles are just shapes and best replaced from a Hasegawa Weapons set. Thecanopy is separate and can be displayed open if desired. There is also an in-flightrefueling probe.  I know this doesn't sound very exciting, but frankly,there isn't much to get excited about as the kit is really pretty mediocre,despite the subject.

Instructions are the usual pictorial deal in 24 steps with no verbiageand only international icons to assist in assembly. Half of the instructionsheet is given over to painting and decals. If you recall from other Matchboxkits, all the painting info is in one place and not noted during theconstruction sequence. Generic color call-outs are given. There are some reallygreat decals with this kit. I have never had any problems with Matchbox decalsand they are a highlight of most of their kits. This one is no exception. Twovery colorful aircraft are given. One is the boxtop aircraft from VA-126 at NASMiramar in 1958. It has a large green tail band with a very nice stylized eagleon the fuselage side. The other is from VMA-223 at El Toro during the same timeperiod It has a white band with a red lighting bolt in it on the tail andfuselage band. Both aircraft are in the gull grey and white scheme introduced inthe mid-1950s to replace the dark sea blue.

It is a kit that isvery difficult to find because it has never, to my knowledge, been reissued. Asa result, it commands some pretty respectable prices, even considering what thekit is like. For those wanting a 1/48 FJ-4 Fury, it is the only game in town.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

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