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Hasegawa 1/48 scale F-8E Crusader

Kit: No. 07225
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Hasegawa, distributed by Dragon Models USA, 1315 John Reed Court, City of Industry, CA 91745, www.dragonmodelsusa.com
Price: $38.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 131 (12 vinyl) parts, decals
Pros: Good fit and engineering, good decals, separate slats and flaps, two-position wing, excellent detail
Cons: Canopy requires reworking to pose open, many ejector-pin marks, some flash
Chance Vought's F-8 Crusader was the Navy's first supersonic fighter. It was designed as a single-seat day fighter/interceptor, armed with Sidewinder missiles and four 20mm cannons. Its 18 confirmed kills during the Vietnam conflict earned it the nicknames "MiG Master" and "Last of the Gunfighters."

The Crusader's unique variable incidence wing is a major feature of the new kit. (The Crusader's wings could be raised to increase the angle of attack at lower airspeeds, keeping the nose down to help pilots land on carriers.)

Hasegawa's Crusader is molded in light-gray and clear plastic with fine engraved panel lines and detailed landing gear struts and bays.

I started construction with the cockpit; it's adequate, but those who want more detail can drop in an aftermarket set. In my sample, the cockpit tub didn't quite reach both fuselage sidewalls. I glued .010" plastic strips to the edges of the consoles to fill the gaps. There's no harness on the seat, so I added lead-foil belts and photoetched brass buckles.

Modern plastic kits occasionally include features unneeded for certain versions of the subject. In this case of the ECM antenna on the tail that has to be removed to model the F-8E. Be careful doing this, as each tail half is thin, making it easy to slice into the surrounding rudder and fin surface.

Hasegawa supplies under-wing pylons; Navy Crusaders didn't usually carry them, but the Marines' did. You also get the unique two-shot Zuni rocket launchers for the fuselage pylons. I added early Sidewinders from a Hasegawa weapons set.

The kit canopy is molded in two parts, but the opening section cannot be posed open without modifying it. The hinge "horns" at the rear of the canopy fit flush when the canopy is closed, but won't fit at all if you open it - the thickness of the parts just won't allow it.

Separate leading- and trailing-edge flaps and detail in the fuselage top and under the wing allow the wing to be raised with flaps deployed. When the variable-incidence wing was raised, the flaps and slats dropped automatically. I decided to show my Crusader with the wing lowered and slats and flaps retracted since photos show many static Crusaders this way. This presented an additional problem though, as the flaps and slats fit better when deployed than when retracted. I had to work on the fit and used small clamps to get them to "cooperate" as the glue set.

The rest of the Crusader's construction was straightforward. I had to fill a few minor seams around the nose and the ventral fins, and I leveled ejector-pin marks here and there.

Hasegawa provides polyvinyl caps for easy attachment of the wing, landing gear, and horizontal tailplanes. I glued the wing since I wanted it in the lowered position.

I used a combination of Testor Model Master enamels and Tamiya acrylics to finish the model in the gull-gray-over-white scheme common to naval aircraft of the time. Hasegawa supplies markings for four different F-8s flying off the USS Ticonderoga: two from VF-191 "Satan's Kittens" and a pair from VF-194 "Red Lightnings." They are beautifully printed and went down perfectly with Gunze Mr. Mark Softer. I chose VF-194's CAG bird. Once all the decals were dry, I sealed them with an airbrushed coat of my home-brew semigloss: 35-percent Testor Dullcote, 35-percent Glosscote, and 30-percent thinner.

Hasegawa's F-8 is another fine Navy jet kit, following in the footsteps of Hasegawa's A-4, A-7, F-14, and F-18 kits. Modelers with average building skills will be able to complete one straight from the box with little or no problem. The finished F-8E measures close to the dimensions in Bert Kinsey's F-8 in Detail and Scale. I spent 20 hours completing my Crusader, and I'm really happy with the results.

- Randy Fields

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