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MiG-killing Crusader


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Here’s another of my collection of F-8 Crusaders, this one the 1/48 Hasegawa kit. It represents a MiG-killing F-8E flown by one of the great characters of Naval Aviation, Commander Richard Bellinger, the commanding officer of VF-162. He's been described by those who knew him as being an open cockpit, scarf-in-the-wind type pilot in a jet age, a throw-back to an earlier time. I first read about him in Zalin Grant's excellent book, "Over The Beach', which describes the activities of the men of VF-162 and the squadrons' many Vietnam deployments aboard USS Oriskany. After being shot down himself, Bellinger devised a plan to ambush MiG's attempting to sneak up on A-4 Skyhawks after an air strike. On 10 October, 1966, with the help of his wingman, Lt. Dick Wyman (who later became a MiG-killer himself), he was able to avenge his shoot-down by bagging the Navy's first Mig-21 kill of the Vietnam War. Bellinger was was a hell-raiser, and could drink more than most thought humanly possible, but he had the respect of everyone aboard Oryskany. The captain overlooked Bellinger's sometimes-outrageous behavior because he knew his pilots would go through a wall for him. After reading 'Over The Beach', I committed myself to one day building his jet.

The Hasegawa F-8 is the best 1/48 Crusader yet produced, but it’s not without its’ flaws. It’s more accurate and better detailed than the Monogram kit, but costs three times as much. The canopy and cockpit are much more accurately shaped than the Monogram kit, but the tops of the wings have raised bulges over the fold joints. These were not present on the real aircraft, so they must be sanded off.

I used a Cutting Edge resin cockpit, and Aires resin gear wells. The Aires resin replacement gear wells are simply beautiful – extraordinarily detailed, and a drop-in fit. But I used the kit nose gear well, since its' resin replacement didn’t offer that much more improvement over the kit part. I scratch-built the boarding steps and ladder, and added brake and hydraulic lines to the main gear struts. In the cockpit, I added a flap handle and emergency canopy release to the instrument panel, a grab handle and standby compass on the windscreen bow, and added a canopy restraint strap, and used tissue to replicate the canvas cover over the hole in front of the gunsight.

For markings, I used an Eduard sheet of Mig-killing Crusaders to portray 'Superheat 210'. As per my research, the jet carries a dissimilar weapons load of an AIM-9B and an AIM-9D, since there was a shortage of the newer sidewinders at that point in the war. It’s no contest winner, but it’s finished, and on the shelf!







Edited by Navairfan
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