Academy 1/72 F-8E Crusader




$22.00 MSRP


Two options


Scott Van Aken


New Mold


The F-8 Crusader is considered by those interested in things nautical as the last Navy Gunfighter. Well, that may or may not be the case, but it was the last single-engined fleet fighter. With the high cost of aircraft and the Navy's tendency to have them crash where they cannot be easily picked up, found and repaired, it has been pretty much a twin-engine haven. Having that second engine makes flying over long stretches of water so much easier on the nerves of the crews.

The F-8 was used probably more intensely by the Marines in combat than by the Navy. There were no Marine aces during Vietnam and that is because they were using their F-8s to move mud, and lots of it. Sure, they carried Sidewinders just in case they got lucky, but the NVAF never flew any missions south of the DMZ (that I know of) to help support their troops, so the Marines had to be content with blowing up things on the ground.

The F-8E, which is the subject of this kit, is actually the same as the old F8U-2N. That meant it had better navigation systems that allowed it to operate in all types of weather, hence the (AW) in the unit designator of Marine squadrons that flew this version. Some of the distinguishing features of the F-8E over the earlier variants are the afterburner coolant scoops, the ventral fins, and the 'humped' area over the wing. It also carried wing pylons that enabled the aircraft to haul ordnance. Many were upgraded to J standards. The F-8 finally left service when the F-14 started to enter fleet squadrons and left lots of extra Phantoms around for the reserves.


This kit has been in Academy catalogues as 'coming' for several years and I'm glad that it finally arrived. I saw it in the local hobby shop and despite paying retail (GASP!), I scarfed it off the shelf and into my hot, sweaty hands. Trading in the usual paper for hard plastic, I hurried home and tore into it. Expecting nothing less than as neat a kit as the Academy 1/72 P-38, I was not disappointed. It is just as superbly molded as that twin-boom aircraft and also shares a few mold glitches with it. What I mean by that are ejector pin marks. They are on the gear doors, the nose wheel/tire, the gear struts, the missile bodies, and speed brake among the most noticeable areas. The gear wells also have them. I would have hoped that technology would be such that we'd not have to deal with these little devils on our new kits, but apparently it takes more than $22 MSRP to deal with these.

The kit has a nice, long intake that will be a real challenge to fill the seam. I can see Seamless Suckers coming to the rescue with this one. The nose gear well is molded into the lower half of the intake. Cockpit is well appointed with a nicely done LTV bang seat. The canopy and windscreen are separate so you can pose the canopy open, though there is no actuating mechanism. The clear parts are a tad hazy compared to Hasegawa or Tamiya. You have to open a lot of holes in this kit for things like the under wing pylons, ventral strakes and missile rails. It seems as if other variants of the F-8 could be done later if the kit does well.

You can pose the speed brake lowered if you wish and it does have an actuating cylinder. The wing can also be posed in the raised position. There are separate leading edge slats, which would be deployed if the wing were raised. There are no separate flaps, which is a bit of a disappointment and you cannot pose the wing tips folded unless you do some cutting. For weapons, you have the under wing pylons and MERs for some Snakeeye bombs, all well molded. For missiles, you can do either a single or twin Sidewinder mount per side. You also get what seems to be a set of Zuni missile launchers to replace the Sidewinders. The sprues also carry a set of French missiles so you can be sure there will be an F-8E(FN) in the future.

Instructions are well done and provide all the building option information you'll need. Colors are provided as well  and while no specific paints are called out, FS 595 colors are provided where needed. Decals are well printed and provide markings for two Light Gull Grey over White aircraft. One is the box art plane from VMFA-333 and the other from VMFA-232, both from 1967. A really nice touch is that the canopy yellow sealant areas are provided as a decal. The same thing with the black anti-glare panel is also included. I'm glad to see this as these sealant areas are something that I'm not good at and always leave off! Academy decals have a checkered history as to usefulness so I do hope these work well.


I'm really jazzed that this kit has finally made it here and am anxious to get started on building it (as soon as I clear some space on my bench). Some may balk at paying 1/48 prices for a 1/72 kit, but Academy has done some super kits recently and this one looks to be another real winner.

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