Revell 1/56 F-94C Starfire

KIT #: H-210
PRICE: $0.79 in 1954
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Blair Stewart
NOTES: Reissued in 1998 as an SSP kit. Not difficult to find.


The Lockheed F-94 Starfire was the United States Air Force's first operational all weather jet interceptor aircraft. Lockheed developed it from its twin-seat T-33 Shooting Star trainer aircraft. Built to a 1948 USAF specification for a radar equipped interceptor to replace the aging Northrop F-61 Black Widow and North American F-82 Twin Mustang, The F-94 was specifically designed to counter the threat of the USSR's new Tupolev Tu-4 bombers, which were reverse-engineered Boeing B-29s. The Curtiss-Wright XF-87 Blackhawk had been designated to be the USAF’s first jet night fighter, but its performance was sub par and Lockheed was asked to design a jet night fighter on a crash basis.

Lockheed derived the F-94 from the TF-80C (later the T-33A) which was a two-seat trainer version of the F-80 Shooting Star. To get to the F-94C, Lockheed lengthened the TF-80C’s nose area and added guns, radar and an automatic fire control system. Since the conversion seemed so simple, the Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed in early 1949, with the aircraft’s first flight on 16 April 1949. The early test YF-94s used seventy-five percent of the parts used in the earlier F-80 and T-33As.

The fire control system was the Hughes E-1, which incorporated an AN/APG-33 radar (derived from the AN/APG-3, which directed the Convair B-36's tail guns) and a Sperry A-1C computing gun sight. Since this short-range radar system was useful only in the terminal phases of an intercept, ground-controlled intercepts would direct most of the operation.

The added weight of the electronic equipment soon dictated a more powerful engine: the afterburning Allison J33-A-33 centrifugal-type turbojet replacing the standard J-33 fitted to the T-33A. The YF-94 was the first US production jet with an afterburner. The J33-A-33 had a standard thrust of 4,000 pounds and, with water injection, this was increased to 5,400 pounds. In afterburner, the engine produced a maximum of 6,000 pounds thrust. The combination of the new, larger engine and the electronics gear reduced the aircraft’s internal fuel capacity. The YF-94A's afterburner had many teething problems with its igniter and the flame stabilization system.

The initial model was the F-94A. Its armament was four .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns mounted in the fuselage with the muzzles exiting just behind the radome. The F-94A could carry two 165-gallon drop tanks - as did the F-80 and T-33 - under its wingtips. Alternatively, 1,000 lb. Bombs could replace these tanks, giving the aircraft a secondary fighter-bomber role. Lockheed produced 109 F-94As. The subsequent F-94B, which entered service in January 1951, had upgraded and more reliable electronics and engines, as well as a new ILS. Lockheed produced 356 F-94Bs.

The F-94C Starfire represented a significant modification from the early F-94 variants; in fact, it was initially designated the F-97, but Lockheed decided to treat it as just a new version of the F-94. Initially, USAF interest was lukewarm, so Lockheed funded the development by converting two F-94B airframes to YF-94C types for evaluation. To improve performance, Lockheed added a totally new wing - much thinner than the previous one - and a swept tail surface. They replaced the J33 engine with the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J48, a license-built version of the afterburning Rolls-Royce Tay. This engine dramatically increased power, giving a dry thrust of 6,350 pounds and, with afterburning, about 8,750 pounds. Lockheed upgraded the fire control system to the new Hughes E-5 with the AN/APG-40 radar housed in a much larger nose. Lockheed removed the guns and replaced them with an all-rocket armament mounted in a ring around the nose radome. The rockets were loaded into flip-up panels on the sides of the nose, and fired by opening four panels just behind the radome.

The F-94C was the only variant to be officially named Starfire. With time, the entire F-94 family adopted the name.

In March 1951, the Air Force sent F-94Bs to combat in the Korean War, where they equipped the 339th, 68th, 4th, and 319th FIS. The F-94 had several air-to-air victories, including the first jet vs. jet night victory. One F-94 is listed as lost due to enemy action, six more to non-enemy causes on combat missions, two were declared as missing on a combat mission and three were lost in accidents.

Another early detachment was the 59th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, (all-weather, night-fighter interceptor,) which was sent to Goose Bay, Labrador in November 1952 and placed under the control of Northeast Air Command. The Air Force kept one flight from the 59th FIS at Thule Air Base, Greenland, to back up the DEW Line.

The first production F-94C aircraft were delivered in July 1951, 387 examples being delivered before May 1954. The largest problem discovered in service was that of the nose-mounted rockets, which blinded the crew with their smoke and fire. The most severe problem of firing the nose-mounted rockets was that their exhaust could cause a flameout of the jet engine and could lead to the loss of the aircraft. As a result, mid-wing fuel and rocket pods were added, each holding 12 rockets. Most of the time, the nose rockets were not installed, and the mid-wing pod rockets were the sole armament. This version of the aircraft was extensively used within the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system.

The F-94B remained in USAF service through 1954 before being transferred to the Air National Guard. The Air Force retired the F-94C in 1959, as newer and more capable interceptors entered service. Air National Guard units retired their F-94s a year later.


Having started modeling in the early fifties, I have lately been trying to recapture my youth by collecting many of the old kits that I built as a youngster. This kit was one of the first plastic model kits I assembled back then, the first being the 1953 first issue of the Revell USS Missouri, which I built with my dad on my seventh birthday (note: this kit turned out to be a money maker for Revell, and it remains in the Revell catalog to this day, probably as Revell’s all time best selling kit).

The F-94 was Revell’s first aircraft model. Revell first released it in 1953 as kit no. H-210. Revell packaged this initial release in a one-piece box without a full color illustration of the aircraft on the box top. The initial kit, sculpted by Revell’s Tony Bulone, was a desktop model mounted on a stand, with no landing gear and two crew figure heads molded into the fuselage parts. The kit consisted of 10 parts molded in silver plastic, a clear one-piece canopy, and a two-piece silver plastic stand for a total parts count of 13. Revell printed the assembly instructions on the back of the box. 

Needless to say, due to its simplicity and un-inspired box art, the initial kit did not meet the modeling industry’s standards at the time. In 1954, Revell modified the mold for this kit and reissued it as H-210. Modifications included: wings molded in two halves; crew figures and cockpit interior separate from the fuselage; added landing gear; and “dollar sized” rivets. Typical of its day, the kit had molded-in raised impressions of the kit markings to aid in placing the decals. The kit also included Revell’s new clear plastic swivel stand with the steel spring clip to hold the model in the stand. These modifications resulted in a total parts count of 26 for the aircraft plus the four parts for the display stand.  Revell packaged the kit in a box with box top art by the renowned Richard Kishady, who later became Revell’s in-house art director. Revell also raised the original $.59 kit price to $.79!

This and other Revell kits were known as “box scale” models; that is, to solve the problem of maintaining a constant scale in both its ship and aircraft models, Revell adopted the approach of scaling these kits to fit specific size boxes and sell at certain price points. Thus, the F-94C turned out to be the now odd scale of 1/56.


I wanted to build this kit as an example display for my kit collection display, which I currently house in an old lawyer’s cabinet from the late forties, which was in my family when I was born. As my “obsession” with old kits has grown, I will either have to purchase new display cabinets or rotate my kits that I display in this cabinet (someone PLEASE stop me from buying kits!). Not wanting to build either the 1953 or 1954 issued kits in my collection, I purchased one of the 1998 reissued Revell Selected Subjects Program (SSP) versions on EBay. 

As one can expect, this is not an overly difficult kit to assemble, given its low parts count; however, bringing it somewhat up to today’s modeling standards would require some work I would have never have done back in the fifties. As I intended to display this on the famous fifties Revell swivel stand, I opted to glue the landing gear doors shut.

I started by gluing the cockpit and crew figures into the right fuselage half and, after careful test fitting and shaving with an Xacto knife, I glued the two fuselage halves together. I planned on hand-painting the interior and crew figures, so I was not worried at this point about painting the interior. I then assembled the wing halves and horizontal stabilizers and set them aside. I used numerous miniature clamps to ensure all the seams were glued together. I proceeded to the two wing-tip fuel tanks and used the same approach for these.

Like most kids in the fifties, I would have assembled this kit in an afternoon, slapped on the decals, and, before they fully dried, I would have been outside zooming my newly assembled model around the yard in some mythical dogfight before suppertime. My, how times have changed! Now, even though I wish it were still so, that is neither the acceptable nor normal use for plastic model airplanes. Since I intended this kit for display, I would have to do some modifications in an attempt to bring it somewhat up to today’s standards. I started by sanding down all of the out-of-scale rivets and the decal impressions. This took some time, and, since in this scale panel lines would not really be very noticeable, I didn’t worry too much about losing the raised panel lines in the process. I used a medium coarse sanding stick at first, followed by 2400 and 4000 grit wet sanding to remove as many sanding scratches as possible.

Once I was satisfied with the model’s surfaces, I glued the wings and the stabilizers to the fuselage. I had to use a little Gunze Sangyo Mr. Surfacer 1000 to fill the gaps in these joints, as well as along the fuselage seams. Once these were dry, I wet sanded them to blend them into the model.


Since the original airplane was only seen in a natural metal finish, this meant that I was facing the dreaded metal paint finish issue. I know that Alclad has become a favorite natural metal finishing product for a lot of modelers, but, for my money, a cheaper alternative is Humbrol’s No. 11 Metallic Chrome Silver. This paint dries very smoothly, and can be masked over for subsequent painting of other areas. To ensure a smooth surface, I opted to paint the entire model with gloss black rattle can spray paint I purchased at Home Depot (note: I am not sure I would use this process again, as some of the Humbrol silver had a tendency not to adhere to this primer coat in some areas. For my next natural metal finish, I will return to airbrushing the Humbrol silver directly onto the plastic. 

Once the initial silver coat dried, I then masked off various panels using 3M Blue Painters’ Tape. I added some gloss black paint to the Humbrol silver, and then airbrushed these areas in a darker metal finish to give the appearance of varying metal finishes that one always sees on natural metal aircraft.

Once everything was thoroughly dry, I masked the anti-glare panel on the nose and painted it with Model Master Olive Drab. I then masked the wingtips, the rocket pods, and the wing/horizontal stabilizer leading edges. I then painted all of these areas with MM Flat Black. Once the wing rocket pods were dry, I masked off the ends and painted these using MM Boyd’s Gloss White.

 I applied the decals using a little bit of Microscale Super Set. I carefully blotted up excess water and Set as the decals settled to avoid stains as much as possible on the metal surfaces. For the wing no-step areas and the engine fuselage markings, which were not included in the kit’s decal sheet, I used some old Scale Master red stripes cut to size.


After the decals were dry, I hand-painted the crewmembers and the sparse cockpit using Model Master enamel paints. I then masked the canopy and airbrushed the canopy framing with Humbrol silver. Once dry, I dipped the one-piece canopy into a dish of Future to fill in the minor scratches that were present. When this dried, I used Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue to attach the canopy. The final step was to push the mounting ball on the lower fuselage into the stand’s swivel receptacle.


This was a nostalgic return for me to the modeling days of my youth. Given its age and simplistic construction, I think it looks pretty darn good when it’s assembled and finished using today’s modeling techniques. For any and all that remember building these kits long ago, I highly recommend you pick one up for a pleasant reminder of modeling days gone by!


 Lockheed F-94 Starfire, Wikipedia, January 2012.


Graham, Thomas, “Remembering Revell Model Kits,” Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA, 2004.

Blair Stewart

February 2012

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