F-8 & RF-8 Crusader, Print-on-Demand, Volume 8

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Bert Kinsey and Rock Roszak
Product / Stock #
Detail & Scale Volume 8
Company: Detail & Scale, Inc. - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Detail & Scale, Inc. - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler, in a print-on-demand paperback format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting story of the F-8/RF-8 Crusader’s history, details, versions and markings.


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 104, 259 high-resolution photographs that are mostly in color, 25 excellent full color artwork profiles, and 19 illustrations.

My reaction to this new Detail & Scale publication is very positive. The publication size matches perfectly with my classic, pre-digital print volumes, and fits right to the bookshelf. The front and back covers are glossy cardstock with full color images, and the pages are matt finish on standard weight paper, like high-quality copier stock. Images are printed in high-density gloss, in color or grayscale. The binding is very strong, and did not separate even when fold completely out. The paper took ink and highlighting very well, without smearing or bleeding. Paper sticky notes (you know, those things you use for masking) did not bring up any text or degrade the images. The last trial was the “coffee spill test.” The paper quickly absorbed the coffee and wrinkled, as you would expect, but the text ink did not run or smear, nor did the color ink in an image. I will let someone else attempt the “malted beverage test.” I suspect these pages are printed using high-quality color laser printing technologies.

Content Coverage

Front Matter: The front chapter and book covers continue a Detail & Scale practice of a colorful content “teaser” with a front cover image of an F-8H Crusader spotting for launch about the Bon Homme Richard in 1968, and a back-cover RF-8G cockpit image. The table of contents fills page 1 along with the title, author and artist names. A list of 36 contributors and sources fills a good part of page 2, and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume. Many names on this list will be familiar to naval aviation history readers.

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. This section describes new materials and sources, 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 1950’s, 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, and color cutaways 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 never reached 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 were evaluated by NASA using Crusaders, as well as many different wing and control surface configurations. NASA operated the only two-seat F-8 (NTF-8A) built, 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 any 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 Crusader kits 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 better quality than others, as expected. The generally available kits are described and discussed, and many 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.

After the Modelers Section there is a page of links to a wealth of information on Detail & Scale products and related resources. More information on other Detail & Scale publications is here. The author and illustrator’s biographies appear on page 106.

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 Volume 8 invaluable.

Overall Recommendation

F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale 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.

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am very pleased to see the print-on-demand volumes continuing to be released, and I am sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!


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