Platz 1/144 F-8K Crusader

KIT #: PD 17
PRICE: 1500 yen  at Hobby Link Japan. $25.00 MSRP in US
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two complete kits


Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) was a single-engine aircraft carrier-based air superiority fighter aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass. The first F-8 prototype was ready for flight in February 1955, and was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon, principally serving in the Vietnam War. The RF-8 Crusader was a photo-reconnaissance development and operated longer in U.S. service than any of the fighter versions. RF-8s played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, providing essential low-level photographs impossible to acquire by other means. US Naval Reserve units continued to operate the RF-8 until 1987.

Though the F-8 was considered to be the 'Last of the Gunfighters', in actual combat, only four victories were made with the 20mm. The rest were made with the less than reliable Sidewinder.

To 1/144 fans, Platz needs no introduction. They are one of two companies that produce high quality 1/144 injection molded combat aircraft. Fortunately, there is no overlapping with Platz doing more jet types than the other guys.

One kit that sold out about as fast as one heard about it was their earlier F-8C Crusader. Well now we have it in the F-8K version that is pretty much the same plastic. Typical of Platz, you get two full kits and a superb sheet that, in this case, will do three different planes.

As one would expect, the engraved plastic is very detailed for this scale and totally free of any mold glitches. The cockpit consists of a fairly nice bang seat, generic control stick, and an instrument panel. The two piece wing is well done and can be displayed with the front of it raised. Landing gear and properly done with the gear doors in some cases molded onto parts so this is pretty much a gear down model unless you want to do some cutting. A clear, one-piece canopy tops the cockpit and there are options for a pair of Sidewinders and or a pair of Zuni missile pods. The mounting looks like the usual 'Y' mount one often sees. A set of smaller horizontal stabs are supplied as they are more appropriate to the earlier Crusaders. I should also mention that the nose for this kit is only early Crusader so those thinking they'll use this kit for an F-8E or F-8J will have to think again or be willing to use the wrong nose for it.

Instructions are well done, but seem to be somewhat generic. By this, I mean that they show bits and pieces that may not be applicable to your model. As an example, you are provided with the lower ventral strakes and the afterburner cooling scoops as well as the 'Y' shaped missile pylon. Yet not all the options use these items. It is up to the builder to closely investigate the markings options to see what is used on what.

Markings for this kit are the box art plane from VMFA-321 in 1972, an F-8A from VF-142 in 1959 (this plane will have no ventral strakes, no cooling scoops and will not have the 'Y' missile rails), and an F-8C used by NASA in Fly by Wire testing. The NASA plane later had a camera pod attached to the front of the fin. Neither the F-8A nor the NASA F-8C have the ESM pod on the aft fin. Decals are superbly printed and are as good as any quality aftermarket set.


Now you would suppose that a kit that is this well done would be a pretty easy build. I won't kid you, it generally is. Platz had done some very good engineering on this and their other kits. There is some need to do a bit of trimming to be sure that parts fit properly, and some of the part mounting points are actually quite small, but those used to doing 1/144 kits should find these to be a joy to build.

In this case, step one was to glue the wing halves together. While this was being done, the interior was given a coat of Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, as that was the standard color (and pretty much still is) of US jets of the time. Next, the fuselage halves were cemented together. One does have to take great care with the intake as the join surfaces are quite small and it is easy to misalign them. Once done, I applied superglue on all the join areas that needed it and sanded it smooth. For those not used to using superglue as a seam filler, it works well because it will not shrink once cured. You will, however, have to replace any engraved panel lines that are lost in this process.

The next step was to be sure the airframes matched the variants to be build. As I was building two kits at the same time, I decided to do one as an F-8A and the other as an F-8C. I also decided to build these without any weapons or pylons. It is a personal choice as the planes look a lot nicer to me without them. Adding them would not really save all that much build time as the parts and construction would be pretty straight forward.

Anyway, the F-8A has no ventral strakes so those attachment holes had to be filled. The F-8A has no afterburner cooling scoops so those were sanded off. The F-8A had no upper fin antenna so that was also sanded off. I also removed the small pylon attachment points from the forward fuselage of both planes. On the F-8C, the ventral strakes and cooling scoops were glued in place. The attachment points for both these items is very small so one needs to be quite careful not to smear glue all over the place when doing this.

Meanwhile, the seats were painted as was the control stick. I also glued in and painted the instrument panel. Though it is quite small, it would have been nice to have a decal to stick on there.

Then the wheel well sections were glued in place. The nose wells (with the doors) are a very tight fit. The main gear door section did not fit as far down as I'd have liked. It would behoove those of you who are reading this to sand down this piece a bit more before installation. I also masked the canopy section once it was fit into place. This doesn't fit well in the front, though it is OK. As a note, there is no need to mask the windscreen and quarter light sections as Platz provides a decal for that. I didn't catch on to that until after all the masking was done, unfortunately, but thought I'd pass along that bit of info to save you some time and trouble.


Doing things a bit out of the normal sequence, I then painted the hot section of the tail with steel, sort of sloppily masked it (as I knew I'd be repainting much of it later) and then painted all the various white parts of the wings, fuselage and  tailplanes. Since I used Boyd's gloss white, I knew it would be a few days between coats or sanding down where the paint was too thick. As you can imagine, there was much masking for the white control surfaces. The burner section was painted with Jet Exhaust, also from the Alclad II line. For the light gull grey, I used Model Master enamels.

Once all the main painting was done, I glued on the landing gear. This gave me something to hold up the airframe while putting on decals. For markings, I used the kit decals for the F-8A and Starfighter Decals for the F-8C. The kit decals are superbly done as they are produced by Cartograf. They gave me no problems at all and went on fairly quickly. I say fairly quickly as I take my time with decals, so doing these took the better part of a week. The Starfighter markings are Alps printed so are uber-thin and quite prone to scratching and other damage. I managed to goober up two markings while applying them, but patched them up as best I could. The Starfighter markings give you the tail plane rub areas, side exhaust areas and the fuselage/tailplane walk areas as well. They don't provide the upper wing Air Wing markings that are so common on USN planes. I'm not sure if it is an omission or these planes didn't have them. Regardless, they are not provided. Assuming one doesn't glitch any decals, the Starfighter ones worked out very well and one can use Microsol on them without any worries. I picked the VF-111 scheme to go with theTomcat I did last week.


With the decals on, I gave the upper surface a coat of clear matte as the light gull grey wasn't glossy until 1972, many years after these particular planes were in fleet service. I then attached the upper main gear doors (which I knocked of several times), the wheels (which were a real pain to paint) and other bits. The radome pieces were installed as was the exhaust. I wanted the wings to be flat, but without some carving, they won't do so. In the end, I just stuck them in place with the little piston glued to the forward underside of the wing. The masking was removed and that was it.


These are really great little kits. The engineering is good and so are the kit decals. Thanks to Starfighter, we have options and I have to say that though their decals require more care, they went on without any real problems. Though these took me a while to build, paint and decal, I know of some folks who have managed to finish them in a weekend. The previous F-8 kits sold out very quickly and I anticipate this one doing the same so get them while you can.


July 2010

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Thanks to Hobby Link Japanfor the review kit.  

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