Sword 1/72 F3D-2 Skyknight
The Douglas Skyknight was an ungainly-looking aircraft that actually was rather impressive in the air. Designed by notable Douglas persona Ed Heinemann, the Skyknight saw service in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, becoming the only jet fighter to operate in both wars. During the Korean War, the F3D shot down four MiG-15s, while during the Vietnam War, the type had transitioned to electronic warfare and operated against the SA-2 surface to air missiles.
This is the second release of the Skyknight by Sword, and we reviewed the other release (the EF-10B) earlier this year here at Internet Modeler. The plastic is pretty much the same in this kit, coming in the typical Sword dark gray plastic (plus a clear sprue for the canopy), as is the construction. So rather than rehash what has already been said, I'll just refer you to that original article and just discuss some of the details.
Having had the old Matchbox kit ages ago, some of the parts in this kit captured my attention right away. Of course, first in that list is the cockpit, and this is much better than the Matchbox kit. The one-piece tub has some nice detail molded in place, but there is a bit of an oddity in the corners. There is a small triangle piece connecting the sidewall, bulkhead, and floor, and in this example that plastic is very thin. This spot will be covered up by the seats, but you'll still want to be careful to avoid breaking through.
The instrument panel is simple, with recessed circles for dials and some raised boxes on the side. The seats are simple tubs, and are close to the original but lack crispness. Both of these could stand replacement by aftermarket, although realistically, under that small canopy I'm not sure how much extra detail would be visible. If you choose to open up the canopy, though, some photoetch and possibly resin accessories could be put to good use here.
While still talking about the fuselage, one of the better detailed areas is the nose. This kit does a great job of capturing that subtle shape around the guns, and the other details are just as good. The scoops and other surface details are spot on, and definitely a step above the Matchbox kit. While on the subject of surface detail, check out the recessed panel lines. Those familiar with Matchbox kits know that petite was not a word used in relation to their panel lines. These, though, are just about perfect.
The final detail bit I'll highlight cover the landing gear bits. While the struts are simple, the wheels are quite nice. The hub detail is excellent, with fine spoke details on both the main wheels and nose wheel. Another very nice feature is the detailing on the inside of the gear doors. This is an area that is often overlooked in model kits, but this one has great detailing for both the main gear and nose gear doors. Likewise the gear wells are well done, making the overall landing gear area quite an improvement over the older option.
Of course, since this is a Korean War F3D-2 Skyknight, this kit comes with a nice decal sheet with several Korean War options, as well as some post-war examples. For the Korean options, all three are VMF(N)-513 examples: two in glossy sea blue and one in black. The black option is Lt Col R F Conley and M/Sgt J N Scott's aircraft and features two kill markings. The second sea blue option is actually from after the war, but still based in Korea in 1955.
The remaining two options on the decal sheet are US Navy examples, both of which are in glossy sea blue. The first is from VC-4 off the USS Franklin D Roosevelt CVA-42 in 1952. It features white NA tail codes and a nose number of 603. The second is more colorful, from VF-14 of Air Task Group 201 off the USS Intrepid CVA-11 in autumn of 1954. It features a yellow swoosh on the nose with the Tophatters emblem, as well as yellow wingtips and fin cap. The decals are nicely printed, although the red seems a bit bright to me. Perhaps once it goes down on the dark airframe, though, it will look better.
This is now the go-to kit for those wanting a 1/72 F3D in their collection. It is much better than the Matchbox kit, and the colorful markings just add to the value. My thanks to Squadron for the review sample.