Emhar 1/72 FJ-4B Fury
The FJ-4 was the ultimate development of the F-86/Fury line and was considered by pilots as the best fighter of the period, rivaled only by the F-86H. All refinements of the Sabre/Fury-series peaked with the FJ-4. More info can be found in Scott´s review.
The FJ-4B was the strike version and designed to carry a nuclear weapon that was to be loft-bombed with the aid of the LABS(Low Altitude Bombing) system. One of the distinguishing external features of the FJ-4B were the double speed-brakes under the rear fuselage, used for this bombing-mission.
It was also equipped to carry up to 5 Bullpup missiles along with a guidance-pack( The Bullpup was wire-controlled by the pilot with the aid of flares mounted on the missile-tail. It was used operationally in Vietnam (F-4, F-105, F-100)but never a success due to poor penetration capability and the cumbersome and hazardous guidance-system. When one reads the renditions from the attacks at the Tran Hoa bridge, Jaws of the Dragon, you can feel the frustration with the missiles merely blackening the seemingly indestructible structure.)
A historical footnote involving the FJ-4B:
According to one pilot-report (not confirmed), a FJ-4B may have been the first US Navy airplane casualty of the conflict in Southeast Asia. An aircraft from VA-146 "Blue Diamonds" operating from USS Lexington should have been hit by AA-fire on a sortie over the Plain of Jars in Laos sometime in early 1962. The Fury made it back to the carrier, but crashed on deck and caught fire. The pilot survived but the aircraft was destroyed. If proven right, this report would set back the date for aircraft casualties in this conflict by more than two years( Skyraider and Skyhawk downed over North Vietnam on Aug. 5, 1964.) It would also be the FJ-4B´s only exposure to combat.
Not much to add to Scott´s earlier review. Raised panel-lines, quite fine-graded though and really not that disturbing to my eyes. Low fidelity on details, foggy clear parts, sketchy instructions and no painting guide. Other references strongly recommended.
In my eyes the fuselage seems to be too skinny around the rear part. I read one description of the FJ-4B that captures the shape very good: " F-86 on steroids". The Emhar kit could use some Nandrolone or Russian 5´s! I´m not your measurements-fanatic, mind you, so my eyes may deceive me!
Alternative kits are, in 1/72, the Rareplanes vacuform-kit that looks very good in the bag, and the Matchbox offering in 1/48 that has been reviewed by Scott earlier.
Construction is very simple and basic. Just let us put it this way: You will need some filler! Just as Scott said, the clear parts fit is atrocious. I wound up glueing the windscreen in and blending it in with putty all around. This should be done in any case to get this area to look, at least remotely, like the real thing.
I did not install anything in the cockpit except for a metal Aeroclub MB Mk5 seat(# EJ 003)(with added pull-rings)to replace the very strange looking kit-item. All FJ-4B´s were retrofitted with the MB seats even if I can´t swear to the correctness of putting one into this particular aircraft and time-frame.
Nice thing with this installation is that it also takes care of the nose weight-problem. The seat is probably just as heavy as the rest of the Fury overall! I also replaced the entire u/c setup with Aeroclub parts( # V-183) . These items are much better than the kit-parts, especially the flimsy wheels, as pointed out by Scott.
Now comes the part where I wanted things to be different. Since the FJ-4B was a dedicated strike aircraft, I didn't like the kit-provided Sidewinder load. Not very typical! (kit missiles are a joke, anyway). I wanted Bullpups on my Fury! A full load! (I was badly seduced by a picture on the web). So starts the search for 5 x Bullpups in 1/72. I dove into the kit pile and surfaced a few hours later with an Esci F-100 and two Hasegawas, a F-100 and a F-105. All with Bullpups, different Bullpups! Each of the kit-missiles were differing in shape and length, not even the two Hasegawa sets were remotely alike. All of these assorted Bullpups were also poorly moulded and generally disappointing. So, what do you do? Easy, just put an ad in the SwapShop and you´re home free! Big thanks to Jason who promptly sent me the 4 x Bullpups from his Hasegawa Missile-set! The 5th missile comes from the Hasegawa F-105 and is a little bit shorter than the others, but I ´ll have to live with that terrible knowledge every time I pass that Fury. The guidance-pod was nicked from the Rareplanes kit (which actually has 5 Bullpups, vacuformed; guess if I ever considered cutting, sanding, filling, sanding, filling…..x5?). Missile-pylons where cut from stock styrene.
No further extras were added except for a new pitot tube on the starboard…..wait a minute.. ah yes…should have been starboard wingtip. Mine is on the port wing as I drilled the hole out while having the kit upside-down( ..must remember to put that lid back on the naftalen-jar). By the way, the pitot is a piece of banjo G-string, #0.010, just the way Earl does it!( Banjo-joke).
PAINT & DECALS
Light Gull Grey over White, no special problems. Polished Alu. for leading edges of wings, fin and tailplanes. Red lips and a blotch of flat black for the radome and fin tip. Humbrol enamels all the way( I´ll get started on acrylics some day when I can afford to retire the old Badger. Speaking of badgers, I use a luxury-model badger-hair shaving-brush for dusting off models in the paint-shop. I use a Philishave on my face…. …oh sorry! brainstorm passing!)
I chose to go with the kit decals as I fell in love with the Electron Lightning Bolt of VA-116. This unit was later redesignated VA-144 (famed Road Runners) and mounted FJ-4B´s from late 1957 to mid-1962.
Decals were, once again, a pleasant surprise and went down very well with some Microset. Coloration is ok except for the bleak stars&bars. I also succeeded in exchanging the top/bottom insignia for the wings and had to do some inventive cutting to get around wing fences and the like. Lightning bolts are smashing, though!!
An easy to assemble kit with few parts. However, fit is not good and putty + sandpaper will be liberally used. It is the only injection molded FJ4-B(well, Scott says there´s a Merlin around but me & my friends prefer to call them lollipops, not kits) and you have to be thankful for that. You get a decent representation out of the box, but there´s lots of room for improvement.
There is a detail set (mostly cockpit-items) available from Airwaves(#AC 72-33) and if you use this, try to find a replacement canopy (I believe available from Aeroclub).
Air International, Jan. 1993, Vol.44, No.1
US Jet fighters since 1945, Robert F.Dorr
Various Internet sites.
PS. I wish that I had the S.Ginter book on the FJ-4B. For many Navy aircraft, his books are the top reference and should be obligatory for modelers of these types. DS.
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