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Monogram 1/48 F-8E Crusader, backdated to a DF-8A


Navairfan
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Here’s my attempt at backdating the 1/48 Monogram F-8E Crusader into a DF-8A drone controller/utility aircraft from the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, California during the late ’60′s-early ’70′s. The Crusader is my favorite aircraft, and while I had already built three F-8E's, I just had to have the earlier A version in my collection, and I've always been a fan of the Navy's colorful drone controller scheme. I started this project ten years ago, but shelved it when I realized how involved it really was, and that I lacked the proper references. I finally resumed the project last year.


The kit used was the venerable Monogram 1/48 F-8E, and a few parts from the Cobra Company F-8 backdate set. Monogram’s Crusader makes a decent F-8E out of the box, but there are many minor - and a few major - changes you must make to any F-8E kit to backdate it to the earlier A version. I’m sure I missed some things, but here’s what I did:


I removed and filled in the dorsal avionics ‘hump’ on top of the wing, filled in the holes and slots for the afterburner cooling scoops and ventral fins, installed a fuel dump vent on the rear port side, removed the ECM fairing from the vertical fin, and filled in the vents just behind the nose cone ( though I should have left the three vents on the right side!). The cockpit was a resin replacement from Black Box (but the insturment panel has a radar, which isn’t right for the A version). I used the main gear from the Cobra Company backdate set, along with the earlier spoked nose wheel. I also used the Cobra replacement nose cone, but heavily modified it. The hardest – and most crucial – part of the project was getting the shape of the earlier nose correct. Seen head-on, it’s more of a flattened oval. In profile, it’s almost flat on top, and slightly curved on the bottom. While nowhere near perfect, the shape I wound up with is at least in the ball park. The afterburner section on Monogram’s kit is incorrect – the burner nozzle is missing. I used a cut-down section of an old Monogram F-18 exhaust cone to replicate the nozzle. The antennas and pitot probe were taken from leftover parts from a Hasegawa A-4 Skyhawk kit. I also scratchbuilt the ejection face curtain pull rings, refueling probe light, tail hook, a canopy restraint strap, steps and a boarding ladder. I also added lots of plastic rod, scraps and wire to the main wheel wells to busy them up some. The decals came from several different sheets from my scrap box, with the Naval Missile Center markings courtesy of Mike Grant.


Finally, many thanks to Tom Weinel, a former F-8 pilot, who provided me with the necessary information, photos and encouragement needed to do this conversion.


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Well done Drew! The F-8s bring back a lot of memories when I saw them take to the skies out at the Grand Prairie (Texas) Plant as a kid back in 1958! And my dad, who worked for Chance Vought Aircraft, had the lead test pilot John Conrad and Paul Thayer, who also flew some of the other Vought aircraft, over for Sunday dinners. Best,

 

Mark

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Very impressive in your first at bat Drew! Love the fact that not only did you do all of that work, but you used the venerable Monogram kit to do it! Beautiful old school conversion! Thanks for sharing!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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What a spectacular build! Welcome to the Forums, the calling card you presented is certainly a masterful rendition of that great-looking aircraft. I have two F-8 Crusaders somewhere in my stash; maybe after seeing this, I should bring them out and work on them.

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Question Drew: You have one of the lap belts attached to the canopy frame, and I think I've seen that before on other models and in pics. Is there a reason? Was it a pilot's habit, or perhaps some other practical reason that was done?

 

GIL :smiley16:

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Question Drew: You have one of the lap belts attached to the canopy frame, and I think I've seen that before on other models and in pics. Is there a reason? Was it a pilot's habit, or perhaps some other practical reason that was done?

 

GIL :smiley16:

Hi, Gil - what looks like a lap belt was my attempt to replicate a canopy restraint strap. According to my references, the strap was used to prevent the canopy from opening too hard on its' hinges. The strap was stored in a pouch just above the right side console, and was attached just befroe the pilot opened the canopy after shutdown. Here's a pic of the strap in use on a line of French Crusaders:

 

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