Decals: Two versions – both U.S. Marines
Comments: Engraved panel lines; Detailed cockpit, landing gear and intake trunking; Optional position air brakes; Variable incidence wing; Full complement of AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, Zuni air-to-ground rockets, and “Snake eye” 500 pound bombs
The F-8 Crusader was the U.S. Navy’s first supersonic, carrier-based jet fighter. In September 1951, the U.S. Navy announced a call for competitive bids from eight aircraft manufacturing companies for a new, carrier-based fighter. Chance Vought won the bid with a design incorporating a 42-degree swept-wing to achieve the high speed requirement. The wing was also unique in providing a two-position, variable attitude, allowing the pilot to hydraulically raise it 7 degrees to enable the aircraft to land and take off a slow speeds while keeping the fuselage parallel to a carrier deck or runway, preserving excellent visibility. Armed with four 20mm cannon, the F-8 Crusader was a true gunfighter and considered a pure air superiority aircraft by its pilots — hence the motto, “When you’re out of Crusaders, you’re out of fighters.”
Capable of carrying an ordnance of 4,000 lbs. including AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and Zuni air-to-ground rockets, the Crusader had an impressive combat record with the Navy and Marine Corps in Vietnam, and was nicknamed “the MiG killer” because of its numerous victories over these jets. The Crusader also has the distinction, modified for the role, of successfully flying very dangerous low-level, high-speed photo reconaissance missions over Cuba at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, a time of unprecedented international tension. A total of 1,217 Crusaders were built, with construction ceasing in January 1965. After a distinguished service record, Crusaders were slowly withdrawn from service throughout the 1970’s, with only a few reconaissance versions serving into the early 1980’s.
Academy’s F-8 Crusader was first released in 2004 and is simply the best Crusader available in 1/72 scale, based on the level of detail and options provided. The cockpit has both raised and engraved detail, featuring a meticulously recreated instrument panel as well as engraving on the fuselage interior for the cockpit sidewalls. There is a boxed in nose wheel well and engraved detail on all ordnance, as well as detailed triple ejector racks for the Snake eye bombs. There is also a partial jet engine for the portion of the fuselage’s inner workings that is exposed should the modeler decide to build the kit with the variable incidence wing raised as depicted on the box art.
Finally the kit features separately mounted leading edge slats for the wings. The decal sheet provides a choice of two Vietnam era U.S. Marine Corps F-8E aircraft: Bu. No. 150852 of VMF(AW)-333, the “Fighting Shamrocks,” based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (Airzona) in March 1967; and Bu. No. 150329 of VMF (AW)-232, the “Red Devils,” based at Naval Air Station North Island (California) in November 1967. This is an extremely detailed example of one of the best fighters — some would say the last gunfighter — of the Cold War. Highly recommended.