ESCI 1/48 F-100D Super Sabre
KIT #: 4008
PRICE: $Long out of production (thankfully)
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


"The North American Aviation F-100 Super Sabre was a sleek, swept-back-wing fighter that gave the United States a supersonic Air Force. Although the first version was produced prior to 1950, various improved versions served as trainers and as active military craft at many U.S. and foreign bases.

Since May 1953, when the first prototype model, the YF-100, bettered the speed of sound on its first flight, the versatile fighter set numerous records for speed, endurance, range and maintenance.

Late production models of the F-100D and F-100F had the capability of being launched from remote areas in the manner of manned missiles. An F-100D Super Sabre became the first supersonic aircraft to be "boosted" airborne without use of a runway in successful Zero Length Launch (ZEL) tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 1958.

In addition to its nuclear bomb armament and four 20 mm cannons, the Super Sabre could be equipped to fire rockets and missiles, including the heat-seeking GAR-8 Sidewinder.

While the later models of the F-100 had a speed in excess of 1,000 mph, two earlier models of the "A" and "C" established the world's first low level supersonic speed records. Colonel F.K. (Pete) Everest reached 755.149 mph in October 1953, and Colonel Horace Hanes topped 822 mph in August 1955.

To demonstrate the ability of its pilot and aircraft, the Air Force chose F-100 Super Sabres to perform throughout the world in aerial precision demonstration flights. The famed "Thunderbirds," a four-man aircraft team, were viewed by over 19 million people as the storied pilots performed intricate precision maneuvers at low altitude. In Europe the "Skyblazers" flew similar demonstrations.

The jet fighter was originally powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-7 axial-flow engine. Later models of the F-100 were powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-21A engine. Both were two-stage turbojet engines with afterburner, rated in the 10,000-pound thrust class.

The F-100 had a service ceiling above 50,000 feet and a range of more than 1,000 statute miles.

In addition to the thin, highly swept wing and tail, the F-100 design incorporated other features that reflect an answer to the problem of supersonic flight. Heat-resisting titanium was used extensively throughout the plane. A low-drag, ultra-streamlined fuselage and canopy with but one thin-lipped air intake duct helped make supersonic speed possible. The canopy line matched the rear fuselage in a smoothly curving line so that from the side, the Super Sabre appeared to be slightly arched. Other features included automatic leading-edge slats and a low-positioned one-piece horizontal stabilizer. The F-100 was the first USAF airplane to utilize the low tail.

The plane had an automatically regulated air conditioning and pressurizing system and automatic fuel system.

Particular attention was given to placement of all controls, equipment and instruments in the cockpit for ease of operation.


Those of us of a certain age recall when ESCI was a going concern and were generally delighted with the kits they produced. Not only did they run the gamut of genres, they also did multiple boxings of the same basic kit with different decals. Like all model companies of old, they never really disappeared even after going out of business and being purchased by AMT/ERTL as you'd then find the same kits in AMT boxes. Now days, these molds have been passed on to Italeri so you'll find the same kits in Italeri or Revell Germany boxes. Unlike old soldiers, old kits do not just fade away, unless they are really horrible.

Which brings me to this one. ESCI did the F-100 in 1/72 scale that is still a real beauty and is highly sought by fans of the type. Here is a link to one I built back in 2013. Unfortunately this does not apply to the 1/48 version, which is almost universally panned by model builders as being one of ESCI's least desirable kits. A similar situation surrounds their A-7 series, F-8s, and their F-104s where the 1/72 kits are gems and the 1/48 versions are rocks.

So I tossed away real money to purchase this from the LHS just to see what it was really like. The first thing I noticed is that all the panel lines and rivets are raised. This pretty well dates the kit to a very early ESCI release, as does the kit number. I then noticed that the instrument panels/side consoles were decals. This is OK in 1/72 scale, but in 1/48, one expects nice detail as well as a decal option.

The cockpit is quite basic with the instrument panel molded into the cockpit tub. Add the seat and control stick and that's it. The fuselage halves are actually quite flimsy. This is due to the large number of inserts. On the underside there is the center section of the main gear wells, the speedbrake well and the nose gear well in addition to a section under the nose for the gun ports. On the top is an upper nose section and an intake that has no ducting past about an inch back. This latter item is also quite normal for the time as few kits provided full ducting. The exhaust goes back no further than the burner can. A separate rudder is provided for the one-piece fin and the tailplanes are single castings as well.

The wings are right and left sides, each in two halves with separate two-piece ailerons and a small upper wing strake. There are no placement marks for the strake. Meanwhile on the underside are large holes for the lower wing pylons. I personally wish model companies would leave the decision to open pylon holes to the modeler. The pylons are super-generic with no anti-sway braces; just a flat rectangle on which to glue stores. Speaking of which you have a pair of fuel tanks, a pair of Rockeye bombs, a pair of LAU3/19 rocket pods, and a pair of Mk.82 500 pounders. I'd hit the Hasegawa weapons set for some of these.

Landing gear can be best described as fair with the gear doors being rather thick. Just about all the pieces have ejector pin marks that will have to be dealt with and these are particularly prevalent in the detailing inside the gear wells and speed brake well. The speed brake can be displayed down and there are actuators provided. One will have to remove some flash from a few of the parts. I'd be cautious about removing flimsy parts from the sprue as ESCI's silver plastic has proven to be somewhat brittle. The cockpit canopy has a separate frame and there is a separate windscreen as well, though why someone would want to display that open with the Spartan interior is beyond me.

Instructions are well done and provide FS 595 paint references where appropriate. There are markings for four planes. One is the box art plane in unpainted metal from the 307th TFS in 1965. The other US F-100D is a camouflaged plane with SM tail code from the 308th TFS in 1970. Then there is an overall green one from the Danish Air Force's 730 Esk, and a camouflaged plane with the French Air Force's EC 2/11 in 1975. The decal sheet is nicely printed and is starting to yellow. ESCI decals can be a trial to use as I've had markings from old kit sheets disintegrate when put into water. Fortunately, there are a lot of F-100D decal sheets that have been produced over the years so finding markings should not be much of an issue.


To my knowledge, there have been F-100Ds produced by ESCI, Monogram and Trumpeter in this scale. So far, the Monogram kit seems to still be the leader, though apparently the Trumpeter kit isn't that terrible either. That makes the ESCI kit the odd man out in terms of what people seek in a model kit. Much of this can be attributed to age and perhaps oversimplification of the parts. As to whether it makes into an acceptable model, I cannot say as I've not built it and no one has done a build article for MM using this kit. I guess we'll just have to wait and find out.


Historical section courtesy

June 2015

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