Revell-Monogram 1/48 F-80C Shooting Star
KIT #: 5311
PRICE: $21.95 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Lee Fogel
NOTES: Reissue of Monogram kit. SAC metal gear. True detail Fletcher tanks.

HISTORY

 The F-80 was designed during the latter stages of World War II as an interceptor.  Its contemporaries were the Me-262, De Havilland Vampire and Gloster Meteor.  Although it missed active front-line service in WWII the F-80 gained fame in the Korean War as a fighter (early in the conflict) and later as a fighter-bomber earning high distinction in a job it was never designed to do.   The legacy of the Lockheed F-80 is one of both impressive merit and a job very well done.

THE KIT

This is the Monogram kit that has been with us since 1980 and boy do the molds show it.  Upon opening the box we find two light grey sprues and a single small clear sprue.  There was a moderate level of flash on some parts and the molding lines were pretty substantial throughout the kit.  The nose wheel was particularly rough with small dimples on it.  The kit also suffers from a large number of sink marks mainly on the bomb pylons, horizontal stabs and gear doors.  Of note too was that the plastic seemed softer than usual for a Monogram kit.  The instructions are printed crisply and are well thought out.  The decal sheet offers two options and is printed thinly cleanly.   The SAC metal landing gear look dead-on like the Monogram kit pieces except for the lack of molding lines and flash.  They are very nice.  The True Details Fletcher wingtip tanks are cast cleanly and with a sharp level of detail.  To utilize them you must use the supplied wing tips.  These also look terrific and are cleanly cast.  However the casting block is located on the mounting point of the tanks and that is a delicate area and will require patience and finesse to get them off without damaging the mounting point.

CONSTRUCTION

I had built this kit many years ago and recall the fit being so-so which was surprising for a Monogram kit.  Well, the years have not been terribly kind as upon test-fitting the fuselage and wing parts I was met with large steps and wavy sink marks. I assembled the wings first so that I could cut the tips off and add the True Details wing tips.  The TD instructions are lacking here a bit as there are no pictures only a measurement given.  I did my best to follow what was suggested for the cuts.  I then used Locktite superglue to mate the TD tips to the wings.  The port tip was perfect while the starboard side required an Evergreen shim to have a proper fit and look.  Very tedious there…I’d recommend taking more time to ensure that you get as close a perfect fit possible.  The tanks were then cleaned up from their molding stubs and set aside.  I test-fit them onto the mounting points and the fit was spot-on. 

Moving on to the fuselage I painted the inside of the tail section Yellow Zinc Chromate.  I had thought about posing the aircraft with the removable tail section separate but after looking over how much work would be needed to accurately recreate the engine area I decided against it.  After the paint dried I glued the two tail sections together and set it aside.  Moving to the  cockpit I painted it Interior Green with black panels and detailed the dials and switches with a  dry-brush of Testors Silver and various colors, mainly red as my best reference showed LOTS of red in the cockpit.  Once finished with the cockpit I set it aside and turned my attention to the nose/gun bay.  I knew that the fit of the bay door was iffy and that this kit requires a bunch of weight in the nose to sit properly.  I decided to glue the door shut and not add the guns.  This required the use of superglue as the gun door was mildly warped.   After doing this I sanded the door flush and then glued the nose gear bay into place.  Take your time here as if you glue it cock-eyed the nose gear will be at an incorrect angle.  I then added ½ ounce of lead weights to the nose kept in place by Dap Bluestik adhesive.   I then glued the cockpit in place.  One thing here to note is that the Monogram kit has the instrument panel located far too deep in the nose.  However I did not see a way to correct this without revamping the entire cockpit…so I chose to live with it. 

Construction Part II-I test-fit the front and rear fuselage halves and was dismayed at what I found.  The fit was pretty spotty and the width of the two parts did not match.  So I made a spreader bar out of sprue stock to push the front fuselage halves out enough to mate up flush with the rear section.  At this time I assembled and painted the engine using Model Master Steel and Aluminum paints.  This was glued to the back of the front section.  After this was dry I took the wings and the two fuselage halves and taped them together.  Once I was happy with the fit I glued the upper parts of the two fuselage halves together.  Once that was dry I then removed the wing section and glued the remaining areas of the fuselage halves together.  The fit was still so-so but I did what I could.  It’s quite obvious that these molds are pretty worn down from years of use.   The fuselage was one-piece now and I then glued it and the wing section together and filled in the small hole for the clear stand (for those that chose to put no weight in the nose).  This produced a small but noticeable gap along the underside of the wing/fuselage joint area.  The port side wing root also had a small gap that ran nearly the entire length of the wing root area.   Evergreen styrene stock was used to fill these two areas.  There were numerous sink marks on the lower front of the fuselage and this was filled with Squadron white putty.  I know I know putty and a metal finish don’t match but I really hate to work with superglue as filler.  The upper spine section of the fuselage had a long area that required filing as well and again putty was used.  I’m still not very happy with the end result in this area as the amount of sanding and filling required actually lowered the spine height when compared to the tail section.  Ugh!  Anyhow, once all of the gluing, filling and sanding were completed I wiped the model off with rubbing alcohol.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I went ahead and masked off the canopy at this point…but not without some unfortunate drama.  The main canopy is separate from the lower canopy frame with the main canopy piece engineered to slide back and forth.  So, when I went to remove the canopy from the sprue I could see that the sprue gate was actually part of the canopy!  ARGH!  I did my best to saw it apart but ¾ through it snapped and left a nasty imperfection.  I would be very, very careful here or if you wish just use a vacuform canopy from Squadron or make your own.  Should I build another one of these kits I will just vacuform my own copy.  I cleaned it up best that I could and glued it to the lower framing with no issue.  I then masked off the front and main canopy pieces with Tamiya masking tape.  The bomb pylons were cleaned up (suffering from nasty sink marks) and were attached to their respective positions and the bombs glued together and painted Testors Olive Drab.   At this point I masked off/taped up the air brake, gear bays and cockpit areas for paint.  I used Testors Metalizer Aluminum Plate for the entire airframe.  This was done via rattle can.  Once dry I buffed the finish making sure to be a bit sloppy as the finish on F-80s in Korea was a bit rough. 

After this was done I glued the two bombs into place and weathered them with pastels as, per my references, most bomb loads in Korea were dirty and muddy.  At this time I painted the inside of the gear doors, gear bays and air brake bays Testors Yellow Zinc Chromate.  I did find conflicting information about the gear doors being both YZC and aluminum in finish.   The kit instructions would have you use YZC while most of my picture references showed them being aluminum.  Once this was done I glued the SAC metal gear into place with superglue.  I left these unpainted as the main gear was unpainted on the F-80 per my references.  These fit wonderfully and support the model very well.  The main wheels were painted black with Testors Steel heavily dry-brushed on the rims.  The nose wheel suffered from molding flaws and was just too small and inaccurate to use.  So I searched my spares out and found one that was very close to the other (and far more common) nose wheel used on both the F-80 and T-33.  It too was painted the same fashion as the main wheels.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

At this time I went ahead and began the decal process.  And wow what a mess this turned out to be.  Looking at the decal placement instructions and comparing it to the kit I could tell that the decals were all not going to fit where the instructions showed you.  There simply was not enough room on the actual model to pull this off.  Very frustrated with this I set it aside for a bit trying to figure out how to properly get it all in place without it looking like the markings were crammed together.  After a week or so of reflection I dove in.  Knowing that the nose art was both big and prominent I figured I would start my way front to back.  Well, the kit supplies the OD anti-glare panel as a two-part decal.  And it went on pretty well but it does need the clear carrier film cut away where the door section is so that it can lay over the separate piece.  It’s a bit glossy and it slightly oversized where it meets with the front windscreen but I wanted to see what the end result would look like and kept it on. 

The nose art on the other hand does not line up at all with regards to both the instructions and to the shape of the kit itself.  If you line it up the way as instructed the nose section is way off.  After messing with this for easily 15-20 minutes I just lined up the nose sections to be vertical and lived with the rest of it being at the wrong angle.  This just really sucked a lot of the joy out for me as I could not get it to look “right” at all and even after making slits in the areas that bunched up I still have a myriad of wrinkles.  Moving along to the rest of the decals they went down with little fuss.  I did cut the wing walks to fit the wing as well as the separate flaps.  They are a bit short though so I touched them up with red paint.  Not perfect but it gets the job done.  The only other decal that was a problem was the commander’s stripes on the tail.  Again, the placement was wrong but there was no other way to put them on.  They too suffered from having many areas that bunched up (similar to the nose art decals).   I did my best and moved forward.  The “U” in USAF had to be separated in the middle so that it would fit around the bomb pylon.  In the end the issues with the decals not really fitting the model as intended just sucked what joy I had out of the build.  It’s very disappointing to say the least.   I have to commend Revell for the quality of their decals though.  They took repeated prodding, shifting and removal very well.  No rips at all.  And they are pretty thin to boot with excellent opacity.

Upon completing the decals I painted the tail tip Model Master Header White and the nose was painted Testors Flat Black…however I did not shake the black up as I wanted a semi-gloss look.   After this was done I glued the wheels, gear doors, air brakes and tip tanks into place with no drama whatsoever. 

CONCLUSIONS

As you probably picked up by now I am not entirely pleased with the end result.  I get that this is a 30+ year old mold but the fit and quality of some of the parts leaves a lot to be desired.  I really do think this has to be from the molds being used so much over the years.  The decal sheet is really quite nice but the issues encountered there would make me forgo using the airframe-specific markings again.  Overall I do think the kit is worth the effort but it needs some aftermarket help with regards to the decals, canopy and main wheels.  The SAC landing gear are very nice and were worth the price simply due to the bad quality of the kit pieces.  The True Details Fletcher tanks look great and give the kit a very different look when compared to the kit tanks.  But great care is required to mate the tips correctly to the kit parts and the pour stubs are in a lousy position for a clean removal.  Better instructions would have been a great help here as well.  Both aftermarket pieces are highly recommended.  For the kit it comes barely recommended but pack some patience and only use the airframe-generic markings.  I believe once someone tools a new 1/48 F-80 this kit will pop up practically free on the 2nd hand market.

REFERENCES

P-80/T-33/F-94 Shooting Star In Action; Davis, Larry and Greer, Don.  Squadron/Signal Publications, 1980.  ISBN 0-89747-099-0.

F-80 Shooting Star Units Over Korea: Osprey Frontline Colour #5; Thompson, Warren. Osprey Publishing Limited, 2001.  ISBN 1-84176-225-3

Wings of Fame: The Journal of Classic Combat Aircraft, Volume 11; Dorr, Robert F.  Aerospace Publishing Ltd. and AIRtime Publishing Incorporated, 1998.  Pages 114-133.  ISBN 1-86184-0179.

Lee Fogel

May 2012

Kit courtesy of Scott Van Aken. Conversion bits from Squadron Products and Scale Aircraft Conversions via your editor.

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