McDonnell F2H-2N Banshee by Sword

1/72 scale
Kit No. 72092
Cost: $22.00
Decals: Two versions – both U.S. Navy, one for Korean War period
Comments: Short run kit, engraved panel lines, resin detail parts, photo-etch details with film insert, decals by Techmod

History

In 1943, the U.S. Navy contracted with McDonnell Aircraft for a single-seat, twin engine, carrier-based jet fighter, a specification that led to the FH-1 Phantom, the Navy’s first jet fighter which saw front-line service with the fleet from 1947 to1950.  But while McDonnell was still developing the Phantom, the Navy had approved the development of an enlarged version, which ultimately evolved into the F2H Banshee.

The order for two XFD-1’s was placed in March 1945, representing a design that was essentially a scaled up and more powerful Phantom. The designation was later changed to F2H to avoid confusion with the aircraft produced by Douglas. During the late World War II period, jet propulsion was appearing in combat aircraft for the first time, but was also rapidly evolving.  The Phantom, while moderately successful, was somewhat underpowered.  A key reason for the speedy development of the larger, follow-on Banshee was its larger, more powerful jet engines, two Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojets capable of 3,250 lbs. of thrust. With powerplants delivering literally twice the power of the Phantom, the Banshee performed as a fighter, but could also carry bombs as well as rockets.

The first XF2D-1 flew on January 11, 1947, and an initial for 56 production F2H-1 Banshees was placed in May 1947.  The production version differed from the prototypes in having a slightly longer fuselage and no dihedral on the tailplane.  Deliveries to the Navy began in August 1948, and operational service with VF-171 began in March 1949.  The Banshee quickly established itself as reliable, free of bugs or teething problems that can mark the debut of new combat aircraft.  The Banshee entered combat in Korea beginning in 1951, and together with the Grumman F9F Panther quickly replaced existing propeller-driven naval fighters.  Compared to the Panther, the Banshee had somewhat better endurance, payload, and altitude performance for strike escort, close air support, and interdiction missions.

A follow-on version, the F2H-2 with yet more powerful engines, a 13-inch-longer fuselage to accommodate an extra fuel cell, and fixed wing tanks, entered service in late 1949. It was built in three versions, the day fighter, the F2H-2N nightfighter with radar housed in a lengthened nose, and the F2H-2P photo reconnaissance version with cameras mounted in the nose. The F2H-2’s first mission in Korea was to escort B-29 bombers.  The F2H-3 dedicated night and all-weather fighter was delivered starting in August 1952, featuring upgraded radar in a yet larger nose radome (the guns were relocated farther aft), a substantially longer fuselage by more than 8 feet, considerably increased fuel capacity, higher weights, a return to the dihedral tailplane, and strengthened overall structure. Thirty-nine of these aircraft were delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1955 and remained in service until September 1962.

The final version of the Banshee was the F2H-4, an improved version of the -3, with upgraded radar, modified tail surfaces and more powerful engines.  Production ended in October 1953.  The Banshee saw service with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fighter squadrons during the Korean War, and front line service ended in 1959.  Some -3’s and -4’s flew with Naval Reserve units until 1965, by then redesignated F-2C and D.  The Banshee’s greatest claim to fame may be that it was the fighter featured in James Michener’s Korean War era novel, The Bridges at Toko-ri, upon which the 1955 film starring William Holden as Lt. Joe Brubaker is based.  However, for some reason when the novel hit the big screen, the Navy fighters Brubaker’s squadron flew were not Banshees (still in service with the Navy at the time) but Grumman F9F Panthers, a contemporary of the F2H.

The Kit

Sword’s nightfighter version of the McDonnell Banshee, the F2H-2N, is injection molded in pale blue. Opening the box, you will see contents in the form of a single clear plastic zip lock bag containing four sprues holding 68 plastic parts, three smaller zip lock bags containing the resin, photo-etch and clear plastic parts, along with the instructions and decals. The baggie with the four clear plastic parts appears to offer a choice of windshields, but only one of them is appropriate for the nightfighter version.

The baggie containing the resin parts includes a crisply detailed ejection seat, intakes, forward wheel well, wheels for the main landing gear, and jet exhaust fans. Finally there are photo-etch parts for the cockpit (instrument panel, seat straps, flooring, rudder pedals, and control levers), as well as detail parts for the landing gear and wing tip tanks. There is crisp molded detail for the main wheel well interiors to complement the resin insert for the nose wheel well, and an option for an open or closed canopy.

Decals

The kit markings are by Techmod and include decals for two U.S. Navy Banshees. The first is for a Banshee nightfighter assigned to VC-4 aboard the U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42), October 1950; the second is for another F2H-2N assigned to VF-82 aboard the U.S.S. Lake Champlain (CVA-39), circa 1954. Close observation reveals the markings to be very thin, with a high gloss — high quality that modelers have come to expect from Techmod.

Conclusion

This kit will build up into a detailed example of a second generation U.S. Navy and Marine Corps jet fighter-bomber. Highly recommended.

References

* Combat Aircraft Since 1945 by Stewart Wilson; Copyright 2000 by Aerospace Publications Pty Limited, Fyshwick, Australia.
* Sword McDonnell F2H-2N Banshee instructions
* www.boeing.com ~ F2H Banshee page

 

 

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