F-8E Crusader "Shin Kazama"
Hasegawa has re-released his 1/48 F-8E Crusader, this time with the markings of “Shin Kazama”, the lead character of a Japanese TV show called “Area 88” (You can find out about the TV show online)
Make no mistake, the markings provided in the box might be for Manga-fan characters, but the plastic in the box is the same than in any other of the Hasegawa releases and that is great news!
You get a total of 14 sprues (one clear) plus 3 small sprues of polycaps. Despite the high number of sprues, the total number of parts is about 120 parts, making the build to be reasonable engaging, while not overwhelming.
This kit has been around for 15 or so years and it has been re-boxed many times. Despite that, there is no flash anywhere, it has exquisite surface detail and fine panel lines, with perhaps the exception being the lower fuselage where a few lines seem to be a tad on the faint side of things. Nothing that a bit of re-scribing cannot fix.
As with most airplane models construction starts with the cockpit and this is no exception. You are provided with a cockpit tub, adequate instrument panel and a multi-piece seat that only needs detailed painted and seatbelts (none are provided, not even as decals) to look like the real thing. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and side consoles. However I wanted to enhance the looks of this model and I choose to add an Eduard PE interior and a resin ejection seat, with molded belts.
Other parts that need to be assembled before closing the fuselage are the big “chin” air intake, which is a two-piece part and you have a seam to deal with. Putty and sanding files took care of that.
Also before closing the fuselage you have to assemble the main landing gear wheel bay, which is nicely detailed. Make sure you add the all polycaps when you are told so (i.e before closing the fuselage).
At this time I was ready to close the fuselage but I decided to modify the kit a bit further by making two changes: first I opened the gun troughs (the Crusader is after all the “Last of the gunfighters”!). Secondly I wanted to open the canopy, to show off the interior detail… and that is when I had to do some unexpected surgery.
Basically the Hasegawa Crusader is designed to have the canopy closed. In order to display the canopy open you need to extend the canopy hinge pivot area further back and to remove and replace the canopy “ears” with scratchbuilt ones, which are longer than the ones in the plastic kit.
After opening a few holes for the missile rails, the tail air scoops plus the lower fuselage tail fins it was time to close the fuselage. I added some nose weight to ensure I won’t have a nose sitter and then I was ready to close the fuselage.
Note that with the wing bay, the wheel bay, the cockpit and the air intake, you will have your hands full when aligning all parts. I actually used a slow setting glue to allow all the parts to have a bit of wiggle room while being positioned. If done right there is virtually no to seam to deal with. Just a quick pass with a polishing stick was the only thing needed to make the seam disappear.
I then moved into the wing construction, where again you have to make sure to install the polycaps before closing the wings. The wing has an upper and lower parts and a total of 8 extra parts representing the leading and trailing edges, which can be positioned in the neutral or the take-off/landing configuration.
I choose the latter configuration - having the flaps and leading edges dropped - only to find out that the wing has been designed to have the leading edge in the neutral position. In this case the necessary surgery is simple: just sand the side of the wing/leading edge area at an angle (See the accompanying pictures), that way the leading edge parts will be able to droop without being pushed outwards.
I was fast approaching the painting stage. Considering all the modifications I made to the plastic parts, I primed the model to ensure I had taken care of things. Good thing I did as I found out a few sink areas in the lower fuselage. After filling and sanding the lower fuselage area the model was ready for painting.
Here I chose (again) to depart from the instructions, and instead of using the “Area 88” markings, I chose to use my own aftermarket decals depicting a Vietnam-era F-8E, Mig-Killer “Superheat 210” flown by CDR Dick Bellinger from VF-162.
Painting was accomplished using Model Master Enamels. After giving the paint a few days to cure I applied two light coats of Future in preparation for decals.
Here I used a combination of decals sources, using the markings for “Superheat 210” from Afterburner Decals, the national markings from the spare box and the extensive stencil set from the original kit.
All the decals responded well (including the stencils from the original box) to MicroSet/Sol system. I gave the decals a few more days to air-out before applying a second coat of Future. Disaster strikes! Some of the decals (aftermarket ones) started to wrinkle under the second coat of Future. I gave the model a few days, hoping they will snuggle down but they didn’t.
I had to obtain a spare decal sheet, sand off the offending decals, touch up the paint, apply Future and re-decal the model. I was lucky that one friend from my local IPMS chapter was willing to give me the markings I needed from his own collection (Thank you Dave Dardine!).
After getting back on track, applying the spare decals and re-coating the model with Future, the model received an acrylic wash to highlight all the panel lines and surface detail.
At this point I moved my attention to the landing gear and I found a minor issue there. The nose wheel strut includes some “horns” which should not be in an –E. It is easy to sand them off but nothing is said in the instructions.
The next step was to work the engine exhaust, where another correction needs to be done: You have to sand the tail pipe connection to the tail can, to make it sit flush with the fuselage; otherwise the end of the tail pipe will protrude beyond the fuselage, which is not correct.
Assembly of the landing gear is simple, yet you have to be careful as the parts need to slide through some holes into the polycaps. I actually found that I had to sand the paint off the pins in the pieces in order to get them to slide into the polycaps.
The kit is provided with Zuni rockets, but given that I was finishing it in the markings of a Mig-Killer (with a sidewinder kill) I choose to install the missile rails. There are no sidewinders in the box, so I will have to procure 2 AIM-9B and 2 AIM-9D for my model from the spare parts box. That will be done at a later time.
A final flat coat finished the construction, very light weathering with pastels was applied all over the airframe.
By reading this review you might think this kit needs a lot of work. It is true that I did a significant amount of surgery on the kit, however all of that was because I wanted, not because the model needed it.
This is a nice kit, which goes together with little to no issues. Perhaps one of the most challenging things is to ensure all the interior parts are properly aligned before closing the fuselage. You can then sand off the nose landing gear “horns” and the tail pipe and you will have a correct –and nicely detailed- F-8E crusader.
I will recommend this kit to modelers of all levels, except the most novice, due to all the interior parts that need alignment before closing the fuselage.
This model took me longer than most models of this size. In part due to the modifications I chose to make, and in part due to the decal mishap (not the kit decals, but the aftermarket ones). Also work and life got in the way. My apologies to Hobbico for the delay in completing this model.
I would like to thank Hobbico, Hasegawa and IPMS/USA for the review sample.