Monogram 1/48 F-80 Shooting Star
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Probably the first reissue around 1980.|
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces, and saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force as the F-80. As one of the world's first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft, it helped usher in the "jet age" in the USAF and other air forces worldwide. One of its claims to fame is in training a new generation of pilots, especially in its closely-related, and actually faster, T-33 Shooting Star trainer development.
Shooting Stars first saw combat service in the Korean War, employing both the F-80C variant and RF-80 photo-recon variants. The first jet-versus-jet aircraft battle took place on 8 November 1950 in which Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, flying an F-80, claimed a MiG-15 shot down. Despite the initial claim of success, the straight-wing F-80s were inferior in performance to the MiGs and were soon replaced in the air superiority role by the swept-wing F-86 Sabre. When sufficient Sabres were in operation, the Shooting Star was assigned to ground attack missions, advanced flight training duties and air defense in Japan. By the end of hostilities the only F-80s still flying in Korea were photo-recon variants.
F-80Cs equipped ten USAF squadrons in Korea:
Of the 277 F-80s lost in operations (approximately 30% of the existing inventory), 113 were destroyed by ground fire and 14 shot down by enemy aircraft. F-80s are credited by the USAF with destroying 17 aircraft in air-to-air combat and 24 on the ground. Major Charles J. Loring, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while flying with the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 22 November 1952.
For many of us, Monogram 1/48 kits are what really got us into building in this scale. This F-80 kit was first released in 1977 and has everything that builders of classic Monogram kits have come to expect: superb cockpit detail, raised panel lines, opening features and overall shape accuracy (though frankly, some of them, such as the Mosquito, do have their issues). This is probably the first reissue as it still has a model on the box cover. The first edition had a plain white background. Surprisingly, this kit stood alone in this scale for decades until Hobby Boss released their F-80 series in the early 2010s. However, that kit suffers from intakes that are far too large, even though it is an easier build than this one.
There is a full engine, a tail stand for the separate rear fuselage so one can display it with the tail off, an opening nose gun bay with full weapons and a nicely detailed cockpit where one can have the canopy opened to show the work done there. The kit also comes with bomb racks and a pair of bombs or napalm tanks as well as two different styles of wing tip drop tanks that includes the Korean War era 'Misawa' tanks that allowed the planes to fly from Japan, do their mission and return. The kit also includes a seated pilot, something of a staple with Monogram kits. I notice that the nose wheel is the early type while the main wheels are the later 'fluted' variety. It may be worthwhile to do a reference check to see if any aftermarket wheels may be required for the aircraft you are modeling.
As to the plastic itself, it is the then standard silver plastic and thanks to it being the initial production run, the kit is free of the flash and warping issues that can easily occur over time. There are some sink areas on a few pieces, but aside from those on the outside of the main gear doors, they are so shallow as to be basically imperceptible except for close examination. The builder will have to tackle with some ejector pin marks on the underside of the stabs, inside gear doors and inside the exhaust; the latter being especially large.
Instructions are well yellowed over time, and each construction step includes generic color information. Like all Monogram kits of this era, there are written steps as well, each with a small check box beside them. Markings are provided for two planes, neither of which are identified. The box art plane is from the 56th FG with a lot of red trim, most of which will need painted. This is actually an F-80A and not the F-80C that comes in the box. However, the mods needed are minimal; which include trimming the back of the canopy housing and getting early main wheels. The F-80A was probably not capable of carrying bombs and if so would have no wing racks. The other is with the 8th FBG in Korea and is a proper F-80C. The decals are nicely printed and undoubtedly useless due to their age. Fortunately, there are a lot of F-80 decals that have been made over the years so finding some should be pretty easy.
Decals aside, I'm sure that this kit will build fairly well. I didn't say easy because no classic 1/48 Monogram kit will be an easy build. Those I've built over the years have been devoid of the opening weapons door as I've had to use the space for the guns to put weight. Until something more accurate comes about, this is still the one.
F-80 Shooting Star Units over Korea, Warren Thompson, Osprey 2001. This book is a MUST for Korean war Shooting Stars.
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