Academy 1/72 F-8P Crusader

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

The Chance Vought Crusader. It looks lean and mean no matter who's flying it. As the last Navy gunfighter in the 1960s, it earned quite a reputation during Vietnam, and understandably quite a following afterwards. In fact, searching Google on F-8 versus F-4, the results are close (17.4 million hits versus 28.7 million hits; for a complete waste of time, visit Google Fight. Don't say I didn't warn you!), truly remarkable considering that just over 1200 Crusaders were built, compared to well over 5000 Phantoms. The F-8 had a long ride in service, too, from its first flight in 1955 to the last flight by a French Naval Crusader in 1999.

The Kit

This marks the second release of the beautiful Academy F-8 Crusader kit. It has proven quite popular in the pages of Internet Modeler, too, with two build articles since its release in 2004. Much of the plastic is the same, so I will refer you to the original inbox review for much of the initial examination of the parts. What is different is that this kit represents the later F-8J/F-8P version, which most noticeably means larger stabilizers. This kit provides those. In fact, aside from the removal of the sprue of bombs found on the earlier release, this is the only other major change. On the wing sprue, the small stab section is gone, and a new large stab section, with new vertical tail components, has been added.

For those who are interested in how this kit goes together (to summarize, quite nicely), be sure to read Norm Filer's build up on the original release. Norm also went the extra step and converted this kit into an early F-8, a simple conversion that most modelers could do.

The Decals

Of course, one area where this kit is very different from the original release is with the decals. This kit is listed as a "French Navy Special" release, and that means that the kit comes with lots of interesting French options. Four examples are presented here, ranging from 1981 to 1999. Beginning with the 1981 example, this plane is an F-8E(FN) finished in overall gray. The markings are simple, consisting of a number 8 on the forward fuselage and upper starboard wing in black. This scheme would be perfect to highlight the graceful lines of the Crusader, as there is not lots of distracting markings.

The next two are from the 1990s, from when the French Navy changed their camouflage scheme to one of overall medium blue. The first one of these, dating from 1994, is a special scheme aircraft celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day. To celebrate properly, this meant painting invasion stripes on the plane, so the rear fuselage and the wings have wraparound invasion stripes. All of the other markings are standard low-vis French markings, with small roundels and gray numbers. The next blue F-8 is from 1999 and represents the last cruise of 12.F Squadron. This plane features an aggressive sharkmouth (boy, this plane really lends itself to sharkmouths!) and large representations of the unit badges on the vertical fin.

The final example goes far beyond the previous two in terms of special markings. This plane, also from 12.F Squadron, was painted up specially for the final flight. It is painted silver overall, with a large red arrow down the fuselage sides. On the top of the wing is the squadron emblem consisting of a blunderbuss-armed sailor duck. Just look at the boxtop and you will see that his is definitely a plane that would not go unnoticed! The decals are beautifully printed and whichever option you choose, there should be no problems in application.

Conclusion

The Academy F-8 kit is simply beautiful. With this release we now have the option of building a late model Crusader, either a French example or even a late USN or USMC example. Hopefully this will result in some new and exciting aftermarket decals for this plane, as there are plenty of great schemes out there. My thanks to MRC for the review sample.

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