Special Hobby 1/32 F-80C Shooting Star

KIT #: SH 32048
PRICE: $69.99
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Donald Zhou
NOTES:  Same exact kit as the defunct Czech Model Kit with all the same warts and problems


The short of it for those that may not know: The F-80 was USAF’s first operational jet fighter, designed by the legendary Kelly Johnson in only 141 days or so based heavily on the lessons learned from the failed Bell P-59 Airacomet. With the first of anything, there were some teething problems, problems that killed several test pilots, including America Ace of Aces Richard Ira “Bing” Bong on August 6th 1945, the day the atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. Eventually, all the bugs were worked out and the P, then later F-80 Shooting Star gave excellent service in the Korean War.


I got this kit last year during Freetimehobby “Black Friday” online sale. They were already ready to move to a new place in 2015 and was trying to get rid of excess stock and this kit was thrown on the sales bin for only $35 dollars! Hell of deal and since I was ready to complete my “Korean War Quadfecta” of F-86, F-84 and MIG-15, just needing an F-80 in 1/32 scale, I snatch it up. With shipping and sigh, the “rikaculas” Georgia’s online tax, it came out to $40 or so, still around $25 dollars cheaper than the regular sales price…..AHHH!!! If I only realized then what I was getting myself into!

Upon opening the kit, I instantly realized there is something familiar about it. An online search quickly turned up my suspicions. Yep, this is a carbon copy of the now defunct limited run Czech Model kit. Realizing that, I’ll refer you to Scott’s preview:

So, realizing the kit is actually the Czech Model one in disguise, before construction began, I took the time to read both Scott’s and Tom’s construction notes at least twice before I begin. Saved me a lot of headaches but didn’t necessarily end any of it either.


Once again, both Scott’s and Tom’s reviews caught most of the kit’s problems. To make a long story short, here is something Tom said that really captures this kit’s and limited run nature of this kit problems:

“Past that, just remember it’s really an MPM molding, which means it’s still a limited run kit that will require you to test fit, perform minor surgery, test fit again, glue, fill the seams, sand down, fill the seams again, etc., etc.  I think of MPM kits as being the plastic embodiment of the Mexican bandit in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”  “Fit?  Fit??  We don’t need no steenking fit!!!  Damn gringo!”  Several “WTF” moments during the construction process - all of which are answered by “It’s MPM!” - come to mind: the poor attachment of the nose gear doors (did they ever hear of including the hinges?), the overall poor attachment of the main gear doors (same question), and the completely idiotic way of doing the tip tanks (they’d be poor even if you don’t use those resin boulders out there).”

On top of that, due to the fact the mold is now much older, it compounded all those problems. Here are all of them that I ran into where building this kit:

1.     The intake trunkings. Yep. They are brutal. Save yourself the headaches and the pink froth that are about to foam around your mouth due to frustration by cutting off the central connection plank and insert the individual parts into their corresponding intake lips. Trust me, this will save…well….only 30% of the frustration.

2.     The intake lips, the fit is ultra-bad! Be sure the extra bleed air in-lets, which are small resin pieces, are attached properly and don’t jut the whole entire thing out. Even if you put them correctly, the whole entire thing still will have seams all over the place and will require plenty of surgery and filling to look nice…I gave up in the end and you can tell in the pictures there are still places that may need further filling and sanding.

3.     The gun muzzles. Just tell yourself, as Tom so eloquently put it, “This is an MPM kit…This is an MPM kit” when you see them….As you can imagine, put these on the instant the fuselage halves are joined….I’m still thanking the Lord for not losing any of them in the first place!

4.     Cockpit and nose gear well. The big problem is that there are no guidance points at all, and whatever are there, they are so tiny as being useless! The ejector seat is great bit of resin but not so great when you are trying to attach the plastic base and insert it into the tub. But the greatest is still trying to get it in place on top of the nose gear well and then have everything settled down….Eventually they did and I closed up the fuselage halves….It was only after it was dry that I realized that I knocked the whole entire thing askew!!!!!! Sigh, up it went on the shelf of doom for 4 months while I worked on my 1/350th scale NCC-1701-A USS Enterprise!

5.     After the thing came down for a bit…I decided to glue on the Misawa tip tanks….Bad idea. After those fell for the third time, up it went on the shelf of doom again for a month…So leave them off till the end. This is also why my tank joint got glue splotches all over the place because by the end, I was so beet red I just splotched on super glue and damn the consequences!

6.     The nose gear, main gears and gear doors. I know it was bad, but the gears just made me want to blow S___storm all over the place. Namely, there are no tabs anywhere. Thus it was a hell to put them on. The nose gears especially since again, I goofed and knocked it askew (The solution was to glue the well in, then carefully dig out the lower side hole where the gear fits, insert it carefully into the well and then slobber the joints with superglue). Even without knocking it askew, the contact points are small and so narrow, you won’t be able to get them to stay. Get the superglue ready and be sure to swallow the fact that one of the gear might go in a little bit skewed to the side. The gear doors are another matter. There is no guidance tabs whatsoever so once again, test fit test fit and more test fit later, superglue them on and hope they would come out nice!


Overall, this is what you can expect from the kit. And being the fact the mold is much older now, the seams and cracks and ill-fitting problems are made worse! Even if you did do the good ol’ adage, “Test fit three times (more like a dozen time in this case) and glue once, every single joint will have seams and cracks and other problems so remember this, and don’t say I didn’t warn you, be prepare to spend at least two weeks of nothing but filling, sanding, spray on Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check out the seams and smoothness, rinse, repeat ad nuseum until your face are beet red, your hair had lost at least 100 dozens and you are about ready to chuck the thing against the wall!


Colors are NMF. For base, I used Testors Chrome Silver. This was a little too bright since I was planning to do “Evil Eye Fleagle”, a well-used Korean War bird. In fact, all four markings served in Korea, hence the name “Shooting Star Over Korea”. I tone it down with good washes with Tamiya Flat Black and then regular Testor small bottle Silver. This worked quite well in depicting a well-used, dirty bird in war time.

The four marking options are: Evil Eyed Fleagle in two options, one with the red nose and shark mouth and one without. Ramblin=Reck=Tew. A blue nosed bird of 35th FBS, 8th FBG. 6 Guns for Hire. 80th FBS, 8th FBG. And the famous Panther Queen of 8th FGB. Guess what? I had to torture myself further by selecting Evil Eye Fleagle with the sharkmouth!

AHH YES!!! That famous phrase: It’s an MPM kit….It’s an MPM kit……………That aspect even carried over to the decals….Fine, give us the shark tooths……Which is great, but darn it, could you also give us the read back grounds?!?!?!? Nope, you go and you paint them! Same with the white tail tip. Say what you will about Trumpeter, at least they give you everything on this and save you the trouble of having to mask, paint, mask and paint again! But still, the red mouth and white tail tip went on without a problem. Time to decal!

It’s when I started working on the decals did I realize the biggest problem with these things. They are thin, a little too thin. In fact, thinner than even the thin Trumpyboss ones! Well, the good news is it will never ever silver or don’t go on like Tamiya’s. But these are so thin that I lost one of the shark tooth on the left side due to the fact I can’t get it to move to the correct place too well. This means I have to cut off the offending tooth on the other side and why the left, the teeth partially went above the “gum”. After realizing that, I adapted the same methods as putting on Trumpyboss’s decal. Wait until they are almost off the backing paper, then quickly slid them on and just as quick get them into place and then let Mr. Mark Softer do the main work. This worked out well but still, lost two stencils to rolling.

Finally, the gear…As I’ve noted above, there were a lot of problems here so be forewarned. Finally, the pylons, which are a joke and so are the bombs. However, I do not have a replacement and while the resin bombs are good with metal fins, I was just too tired at this point and decided to scrounge up replacement from my A-1D kit, which had PLENTY of 500 pounders left. I superglued them on and left it at that….


Despite everything, knocked askew gears, cockpit leaning to one side, razzled intake joints, a mess of glue splotches Misawa tanks, and glowing so red at one point when the shark tooth broke that I was ready to turn this thing into a lawn dart and chuck it against a wall, I like it. It not only complete my Korean Quadfecta, but also have a cool scheme. Half of the problems was this was my first experience at a limited run kit and I didn’t know what to expect despite reading Scott’s and Tom’s construction notes twice. Now, the hope is that Trumpeter can grab this kit, and turn it into a main stream plastic one. The shape overall is accurate except the Misawa Tanks and the number of parts are limited and is a great subject. If that happens I will buy it again, especially if “Evil Eye Fleagle” is included in the decals. Overall though, this kit is not recommended for the beginner or the faint of heart. Only recommended to those who have a few limited run kits under their belts and are a glutton for punishment! 

P.S. Yes, I know, the navigation lights are not on….And they won’t be on until much much later……Right now, my head and my brain need some recovery time from the headaches induced by this kit!

Donald Zhou

July 2015

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