The F-89 Scorpion was developed by Northrop as the follow-on to the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. This aircraft would be the most heavily armed fighter ever to go into production and never fire a shot in anger.
Initially armed with guns and rockets, the F-89 would ultimately be armed with the AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile and the Genie rocket that carried a nuclear warhead. An F-89J had the distinction of being the first to fire a live air-to-air nuclear weapon during a test on July 19, 1957.
The F-89J entered operational service with the Air Defense Command in November, 1956. The F-89J was not a new production item, but rather the designation applied to 350 F-89Ds that were upgraded with new avionics and weapons. The F-89J would remain the mainstay of ADC until 1959, when the new generation of supersonic interceptors were available. The F-89J remained in service with the Air National Guard until 1968.
Academy has released the Hobbycraft 1/72 F-89J kit with a nice new set of decals. Comprised of 82 parts, the kit is molded in light gray styrene, with the exception of the two-piece canopy.
All of the parts are flash-free, feature finely scribed panel lines and details, and there are no ejector pin marks on any surface of the kit that will be visible after assembly.
Assembly appears to be straightforward, as long as you remember to install 7 grams of ballast in the nose. The kit features a nice selection of armament, including a pair of nuclear-tipped Genie rockets and four AIM-4 (GAR-2) Falcon guided missiles.
Detailing is nicely done in the cockpit and wheel wells, though the super-detailer will still have some room to 'play.' The only real criticism I have on the kit is the lack of depth in the main wheel wells, but this is nothing major and the aircraft usually had doors closed over the wells when parked on the ground (or in flight for that matter).
Markings are provided for two Air National Guard F-89Js, 52-1949 of the 124th FIS, Iowa ANG, and 53-2465 of the North Dakota ANG. The North Dakota machine carries the bright red outer wing panels and tail used for operations over the frozen northlands.
It's good to see the F-89J available again. With the current release of the Academy 1/72 kit, along with the recent Revell 1/48 F-89 reissue, Scorpion fans will be happy for a while.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!