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Trumpeter's big 1/32 F-100D Super Sabre

Kit: 2232
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $169.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 428 parts 6 cast-metal, 28 photoetched-metal, 10 vinyl), decals
Pros: Good fit; nice wing details (slats, flaps, landing gear, etc.)
Cons: Sink and ejector-pin marks; too many rivets; too much unseen detail
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was the U.S. Air Force's first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight - and on its maiden flight, no less, in October 1953. The first of the "Century Series" jets made its combat debut in the Vietnam War, and also flew with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds from 1956 through 1968.

Trumpeter's new release is the first F-100 in 1/32 scale. Contained in Trumpeter's typical big, sturdy box, the parts trees are nicely packaged along with a little box of goodies including a photoetched- metal sheet, clear parts, vinyl tires and brake lines, and white-metal landing-gear struts. Or, you can use plastic struts; either features vinyl brake lines.

Kit features include optional-position canopy and speed brakes (in two styles), two types of refueling probes, two pitot tubes (one extended, the other stowed), and acetate film for instrument-panel faces. You get four machine guns with ammo-feed chutes, as well as vinyl ammo belts for both sides of the plane. A complete engine features photoetched-metal compressor blades; however, they're not visible unless you leave off one of the engine's outer panels and display the engine outside the aircraft.

Underwing stores include: two fuel tanks; four Sidewinder missiles; two ECM pods; an ALQ-31 and an ALQ-87; two practice bombs; and an LAU-10 rocket pod. The wings have separate leading edge slats, flaps, and ailerons; the rudder also is separate.

Aircraft parts are augmented by a boarding ladder and a maintenance dolly for the removable rear fuselage.

Decals comprise three sets of markings: the 511th FBS, Langley, 1959; 309th FBS, TAC Gunnery Center, 1958; and the "Thor's Hammer" 309th TFS, Tuy Hoa Airbase, Vietnam. The first two are for natural metal, the last for Vietnam camouflage. I found the blue of the decals for the natural-metal scheme too dark, and the ink way too thick.

Assembly began with the cockpit, featuring photoetched-metal harnesses and seat belts. The instrument panel acetate looks good, but the side consoles aren't accurate for an F-100 - they're just a bunch of dials and knobs.

The engine detail is extraordinary. However, all that fantastic compressor-blade detail won't be seen unless the engine is built as a cutaway model and left outside the plane. I assembled only the tubular components necessary to attach the exhaust cone and glued the engine in the fuselage.

Construction steps 6 and 7, for the wing-slat and flap assemblies, are fine but can be simplified. The hinges are supposed to be sandwiched between the flap and aileron pieces, but this makes it difficult to glue their leading edges because they butt up tight against the trailing edge of the wing assembly. I removed the hinge pegs and slid the flaps and ailerons on later, which made the painting and assembly much easier.

Photoetched-metal wing fences are a nice touch. The leading-edge slats come with separate extension rails; I tacked mine in place on the slat and slid them into the holes on the wings' leading edges until the glue set, then gave the joints another dose of glue for solidity.

The intake trunking is really nice. It fits well and, with just a little blending, filler putty, and primer, it looks like one piece. Same for the machine-gun and ammo-chute bays. Vinyl ammo links connect the drums and the guns. Everything is provided for both sides of the plane, but I left one side closed.

The rear fuselage can be displayed on or off the airplane. The bulkhead that is supposed to hold the rear fuselage in place was a poor fit, so the fuselage didn't stay snugged up. I just glued the whole thing together.

In Step 14, part No. K2 is some kind of maintenance cover on the forward fuselage in front of the windscreen. The option of leaving it open isn't much of a choice - all you're going to see is the nose weight.

I used the plastic landing-gear struts because their detail was superior to the white-metal parts - and they are plenty solid.

Instructions specify interior green for the inside of the landing-gear doors, but it should be natural metal.

The rest of the assembly went quickly, and the overall fit was pretty good. The only negatives were some of the unnecessary, hidden details and the overdone rivet detail. Just a little rivet detail around prominent hatches would have been fine. I spent more time than usual painting because of the metallic finish - but the F-100 just looks right in natural metal.

I took about 35 hours to build and paint the F-100, which makes a nice addition to the 1/32 scale jet family. It's big, but it's a comfortable big. A little extra building experience will be needed for some of the trickier assemblies.

- Larry Schramm


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