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Meng 1/72 scale Convair F-102A

Kit:DS-003 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$39.95
Meng Models, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Good interior and exterior detailing; good fit; posable canopy and speed brake; alternate parts for extended or retracted missile rails; open or closed missile bay
Some parts difficult to install; innaccurate decals and instructions for their location
Injection-molded, 101 parts, decals

I’ve been pining for a new kit of the “Deuce” for 45 years (when Hasegawa first issued its 1/72 scale kit). Growing up in the 1950s, I saw the F-102 as the epitome of a jet fighter — long pointy nose, delta wing, and missiles!

Newcomer Meng surprised me with its brand-new kit, satisfying my yearning for a better model of this significant interceptor. I was also pleased that this initial issue is marked “Case X,” which refers to the early design of the aircraft’s wingtips. The leading-edge camber of the Case X (pronounced “Case Ten”) wing flattened out at the tip with the trailing edge turned up slightly. This wing was also featured on the old Hasegawa kit. What pleased me is that Meng recognized there were two wing designs, and, since the wingtips are molded separately, a Case XX kit (with downward cambered tips) is sure to come.

I was thrilled that the two-part clear canopy includes the entire clamshell (Hasegawa’s kit did not). Now I can build an open canopy on a Deuce without major surgery! The exposed cockpit detailing is good, with a decent seat (no harness, though) and a decal for the instrument panel. The tub comes with the special “two-fisted” control stick and a mount for the opened canopy.

Kudos to Meng for providing options in the missile bay. A one-piece cover simulates the bay when closed — a relief for many builders. If you want to pose the bay open, six doors can be installed. With alternate parts, you can display the missiles deployed or retracted in the bay. Twelve missiles are provided: six of the infrared-seeking AIM-4C Falcon, and six of the radar-guided AIM-4D Falcon. I deployed the launch rails on my model and loaded three of each.

Fit of the main parts was trouble-free. However, it was difficult to install the thin outer missile-bay doors during final assembly. When I build my next one, I’ll glue them sturdily to the fuselage halves early in construction. The locations of the main gear-door retraction arms and taxi lights are vague in the instruction diagrams.

I chose to decorate my Deuce with the early markings of the 327th FIS. This are my favorite markings on the jet, so I was pleased to see them included in the kit.

However, the only downside to this model was the decals and their placement. As big as the U.S. AIR FORCE lettering and buzz numbers are, they aren’t big enough compared with photos of this jet. Also, the downward curve of the lettering on the intakes is given as a simple kink. I decided to cut the lettering apart to produce the proper curved baselines myself. I could see in the photos that the lettering should go farther aft along the fuselage, crowding the buzz numbers back and closer to the red turbine-warning stripe. The letters and numbers should also be insignia blue, not black as given. Another problem was the diagram’s locations of the commander’s stripes; they are not shown the same on either side. Also, the stripes that continue on the bottom and across the missile bay doors are given as a one-piece decal. That’s great if you pose the bay closed, but with the bay open you’re on your own to cut and apply them to the individual doors. I was disappointed that the decals didn’t include the fine “barber pole” stripes for the long pitot tube. You’re invited to paint them on; I declined.

I left off the barrier hook, as this early bird didn’t have it yet. I also didn’t use the optional underwing fuel tanks, as these were also a later fit.

The look of the finished model is fabulous — but then I’m a Deuce freak. There are a lot of great markings on F-102s, so I expect we’ll see more issues of this kit (and the Case XX kit) and scads of aftermarket stickers. I know I’m going to buy myself a bunch.

I spent 29 hours on this model, and as I build more, I expect to shave several hours off, now that I know what to expect.

Thanks, Meng, for fulfilling this modeler’s dream. Now I hope Meng will follow the Deuce with its successor, Convair’s F-106 Delta Dart — another Century Series fighter that is in need of redoing!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2013 FineScale Modeler.

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