Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler, in a digital format with print-on-demand paperback format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching history, details, versions, and markings of the F-8/RF-8 Crusader.
iTunes Digital Book
Kindle Digital Book
The publication is yet another extraordinary compilation of history, data, and images of a ground-breaking USN jet. This new publication is a thoroughly updated and improved reference, expanding on the first Crusader volume released in 1988. The content is organized in chapters covering history, variants, NASA Crusaders, foreign operators, Vietnam Crusaders, and aircraft details. The modeler’s section is a very comprehensive and current summary of past and present kits and aftermarket products. There are over 260 pages, 290 high-resolution photographs that are mostly in color, 26 excellent full-color artwork profiles, and 19 illustrations.
My reaction to this new Detail & Scale ebook is very positive. There are many digital versions of print publications available, ranging from simple scanned images of typed pages to true multimedia blends. Digital Volumes from Detail & Scale are positioned at the high end of digital formats, with new material and excellent functionality. I ran numerous what-if research test runs developing information about the many aircraft described in the publication and found those test-runs to be fast, effective, and efficient without fail. I no longer buy hardcopy references if a digital version is available. If my tablet or computer is damaged or lost, I can simply download the digital volumes to the replacement devices. Try that with a hardcopy! However, Detail & Scale is taking advantage of print-on-demand (PoD) technologies, and at this time many of their publications are available in one-off, PoD hard-copies for traditionalists. If you spill coffee over your hardcopy, you will be able to get a replacement. The printed version of this publication is in line for review as soon as I receive one. Everyone will be happy!
- Front Matter: The front chapter and book covers continue a Detail & Scale practice of a colorful content “teaser” with an image of an F-8H Crusader spotting for launch about the Bon Homme Richard in 1968. A list of 36 contributors and sources fills a good part of a page and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume. Many names on this list will be familiar to naval aviation history readers. On digital page iv of the Front Matter section, there is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. The author and illustrator’s biographies appear on digital p. viii and following.
- Introduction: This chapter highlights the overall layout of volume, giving the reader a great idea of what to expect through the volume, and the organization logic. New materials and sources are described in this section, and detailed acknowledgments and shout-outs are noted.
- Chapter 1 Crusader History: The Crusader was a stunning success after two unsuccessful Vought jet designs, such as the F6U Pirate and the F7U Cutlass. The unique high mounted wing, with a 7-degree upward hinge range, was in line with Vought’s practice of radical design features. The challenges of a supersonic aircraft landing on a carrier deck guided many aspects of the final design. The F-8 was exactly what the U. S. Navy needed in the mid-1950s, and the Crusader thoroughly exceeded all expectations. The F-8 and the RF-8 served in numerous critical foreign policy actions, including the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam. The F-8 was the last single seat USN fighter until the F-35 recently entered the fleet. Representative color images, deployment data tables, a color cutaway are throughout this chapter.
- Chapter 2 Crusader Variants: All of the variants of the F-8 evaluated and operated by the USN and USMC are included in this long chapter. I found the design changes and overall evolution process fascinating, from the XF8U-1 through the operation versions to the XF8U-3 that was never ordered for production. Many images, data tables, line drawings, and other details highlight the differences between the variants. The most shark-like of all the variants is the XF8U-3. The changeover in designation is clarified with the F8U/F-8 dual numbering in the extensive chapter coverage of the variants. The chapter is richly illustrated with diagrams and image galleries.
- Chapter 3 NASA Crusaders: This chapter features the immaculate white-and-blue NASA F8U test beds. Early fly-by-wire, digital flight control system was evaluated by NASA using Crusaders, as well as many different wing and control surface configurations. The only two-seat F-8 (NTF-8A) built was operated by NASA, until its eventual transfer to the Philippine Air Force for training.
- Chapter 4 Foreign Crusaders: The Crusader drew early interest from the several potential overseas customers. The French and Philippine governments opted for the F8U, while the Japanese government purchased F-104s and the Swiss the Mirage III to answer their needs for fighter aircraft. The irony of the French Navy importing US jets and the Swiss importing French jets for the same purpose is intriguing. Excellent images and artwork accompany the F8U export version details.
- Chapter 5 The Crusader in Vietnam War: The Gulf of Tonkin incident and the role of the F-8s in the first “official” Vietnam combat action open this section. The excellent air combat capability of the Crusader resulted in a high kill ratio, but problems with weapons systems of all kinds may have prevented the ratio form being higher.
- Chapter 6 Crusader Details: I would describe this chapter as a gold mine for anyone researching or building an example of the Crusader. However, this chapter is several large gold mines! Color and grayscale photographs of restored and operational jets interweave with excellent artwork and illustrations. All Crusader versions are included and coverage is not just limited to the base airframe. Armament and ECM-related features are in separate subsections. This chapter is the real meat of the volume for me.
- Chapter 7 Modelers Section: Many kits of the Crusader have been released over the years. However, nearly all of those kits represent the F-8E variants, in spite of packaging suggesting otherwise. Model production has covered the full range of kit scales from 1/144 up through 1/32, although some kits are no longer in production or available. Some of these kit offerings are of better quality than others, as expected. The generally available kits are described and discussed, and many of the kit narratives are accompanied by master modeler builds. I would like to add a Crusader to my collection, and this section is invaluable for a wise purchase choice.
- More from Detail & Scale: This section has great links to a wealth of information on Detail & Scale products and related resources. More information on other Detail & Scale publications is found here.
Content Coverage Summary
I found this volume’s content and organization to be excellent. I had a limited understanding of the depth and complexity of the Crusader’s development and operational history. I now have a much better understanding!
In terms of content, this is another exceptional publication. This volume is well written with an engaging style in addition to the tremendous wealth of photographs and other information. The new artwork is spectacular, the photograph resolution is superb, and the depth and variety of markings and color information make Digital Volume 8 invaluable. As always, the ability of electronic media to effectively conduct research and find information reduces barriers to verify and/or discover other sources.
My review copy arrived in the form of an emailed purchase code I then entered into the iTunes Store download area. The volume was quickly ready to read and resident on my iPad.
If you are not familiar with tablets or other digital readers, an excellent guide to iPad operations starts on page iv of the digital publication. The Apple iOS signature taps, finger swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. The learning curve is a short bump to become proficient. You will soon learn to move quickly throughout the text. Once you learn the finger motions, you will discover that a double-tap pull-down title bar is very helpful. On the left-hand side of the title bar are icons enabling you to return to the library (quit), find the table of contents (a chapter screen with sections), and locate a nice help screen for adding highlights and notes. On the right-hand side of the title bar is a screen brightness icon, but best of all, there is a search icon and a bookmark icon. I found both of these to be very helpful. These features really aren’t conceptually different from marking up a traditional book but have significant advantages.
- Highlighting can be done with different colors, perhaps for different topics of your interest.
- Highlights can be easily changed or removed (ever try to erase those bright yellow stripes in hard copy?).
- Bookmarks may be added, removed or edited.
Taking screenshots or grabs can be very useful for specific planning. Pressing the sleep/wake button at the same time as the home button will capture the visible screen. This function is great for annotating and planning details. There are many free drawing apps that can import an image and let you enlarge, mark up, or otherwise edit. If you need to put some ideas together for detailing, you can digitally scribble on the photo!
An iPad has a very small footprint so it will take up minimal space on the bench. All of your reference material is in one place, ready to use. Several images of screen operations are included to supplement the many online tutorials that others have posted for iPad operations on YouTube and similar sites.
I can’t find any negatives in this publication or delivery format.
I am extremely positive about this publication, as I continue to be for all of the D&S digital publications I use. I found Digital Volume 8 to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool. But, as mentioned in previous reviews of digital materials, a problem I do have is that digital publications force me to abandon an old tradition of having authors and illustrators sign their books!
F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale Digital Volume 8 has my highest recommendation. I cannot see how anyone can justify not having this publication if he or she has any interest in the extraordinary history of the Crusader, whether for model building or for historical purposes. I am certain that the same functionality of the iPad exists for the Kindle platform. To the best of my knowledge, this publication is not available in any digital formats other than the iBook or Kindle versions at this time. A print version will be available soon! The ability to examine the Crusader within and beyond the printed page, the abundance of color images, links to external resources, search functions, ability to quickly bookmark, highlight and add notes, all combined with the inexpensive cost, make Digital Volume 8 an excellent value. This exceptional eBook is for all who appreciate the Crusader.
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am very pleased to see the Digital Volumes continuing to be released, and I’m sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!