Hobby Boss 1/48 FJ-4 Fury

By Gary Meinert

History

In the post-World War II years, the U.S. Navy faced enormous technological challenges in developing and operating carrier-based jet-powered aircraft. One of the early Navy jet fighter programs was the North American FJ-1 Fury, which was a conservative, straight- wing design. The FJ-1s were built in small numbers (equipping just one operational squadron) and served to demonstrate the potential of jet operations at sea.

With the advent of the Korean War, the Navy realized the urgent need for higher performance swept-wing fighters. Enter the FJ-2 Fury, essentially a navalized F-86 Sabre. The FJ-2s began rolling off the production lines in late 1952. An improved version with a higher thrust engine, the FJ-3, soon followed.

The final variant of the Fury, the FJ-4, had a completely redesigned fuselage and wing, and offered significantly greater capability than its predecessors. These multi-role aircraft were used primarily by the U.S. Marines. The closely related FJ-4B was a ground attack specialist with strengthened wings and 6 wing pylons (instead of 4), plus the LABS (low altitude bombing system) electronics for delivery of tactical nuclear weapons. By the late 1950s, both the FJ-4 and FJ-4B were rapidly being replaced by newer aircraft, although some continued in service with Navy and Marine reserve units for several more years.

The FJ-4 (4B) Kit

This is actually a hybrid kit, with parts to allow the modeler to build the FJ-4B as well. The FJ-4B's two extra wing pylons are included. The engraved extra pair of lower rear fuselage speed brakes of the FJ-4B are already present; the stiffener ribs that go over these brakes are also in the kit. There is also an optional part containing the FJ-4B's ANA-25 belly antenna fairing(although the rear 1/3 of the fairing is omitted).

The gray plastic parts and clear parts are well-molded with no pesky sink marks or ejector pin marks to deal with. Almost no flash was noticeable. The plastic is very smooth and shiny in some areas but has a slightly pebbly appearance in other places. The surface detail is recessed and is almost as petite as the modeler would find in Hasegawa or Tamiya aircraft kits.

The air intake trunk is 2 inches long, which will provide a reasonably deep appearance, while the exhaust pipe is only 5/8 inch in length. The comprehensive and well-detailed cockpit includes tub, console tops, stick, instrument panel, and a 5-part ejection seat. Wheel wells and speed brake wells also have good detail.

The main landing gear legs are produced with complete compression(no oleo at all showing) and the nose gear with very little oleo showing. This would be fine for a museum aircraft drained of all hydraulic fluid, but not for an active aircraft. The builder may have to modify the landing gear to achieve the correct stance for his Fury.

Some small details like the fuel vent and the drop tank braces are omitted. A more serious omission is the complete lack of detail behind the ejection seat under the sliding rear part of the canopy.

Options for this kit include:

--open or closed 2-piece canopy
--provision for folded wing (engraved cut lines inside the wing, plus bulkhead parts)
--open or closed main speed brakes
--separate, positionable rudder
--retracted or lowered tail hook
--refueling probe
--external stores: 2 drop tanks, 2 Sidewinders, 6 Bullpups

Ordnance Notes: The Sidewinder missiles appear to be AIM-9Ds--a more appropriate choice would be the early AIM-9B. Although the FJ-4B Fury did carry Bullpup missiles, the FJ-4 did not. The Bullpup guidance pod is not included in this kit.

Instructions & Decals

The instructions consist of the typical exploded diagrams showing parts assembly by steps. In addition, there are color illustrations showing the paint colors (keyed to Gunze paints) and decal placement.

Decal choices are for a pair of Marine FJ-4s of VMF-232 and VMF-451. The decals appear to be of good quality and include some stencils. The "Marines " lettering and national insignia are pre-cut and separated in order to fit the open speed brake and/or wing fold areas -- a nice touch. Unfortunately, the national insignia have red bars that are out of register, and the pilot's name for the VMF-451 Fury is misspelled.

Conclusion

The Hobby Boss Fury is a welcome addition to the line-up of 1/48th scale early Navy jets. Despite the glitches and omissions in this kit, I like it well enough to want to build it.

Readily available references for this aircraft include the Steve Ginter book, the Detail & Scale publication, and the Squadron In Action booklet.

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