Hobbycraft 1/72 F2H-3/4 Banshee






Three aircraft, see review


Scott Van Aken




McDonnell's F2H Banshee was the USN's first really usable andeffective jet fighter/bomber. Early models were real workhorses in Korea wheremuch of theNavy  jet-provided ordnance was delivered the the Banshee.Unfortunately, the aircraft was no match at all for the Russian Mig-15 jets.Much of this was due to the conservative construction of the F2H. A ratherlarge, straight wing, which made it handle very well, especially for carrierlandings, was not the best way to provide a great deal of speed.

Despite the relative slowness of the aircraft, it was veryrugged and well liked by crews. Reacting to a request by the Navy, McDonnellstretched the fuselage and increased the size of the tail planes to make it evenmore effective. Late versions of the Banshee were even equipped with Sidewindermissiles and in-flight refuelling capabilities. It is this version that was usedby the Canadian Navy for a number of years. The aircraft were finally retired inthe mid/late 1950s as they were woefully out of date by that time.


Since thisaircraft was flown by the Canadian Navy, it is understandable that Hobbycraftwould do a kit of it. When looking at it, the first thing that crossed my mindwas that this was basically the Airfix F2H-1 kit! A number of the parts lookexactly like those offered by Airfix. The biggest difference is that this kit isa bit more modern with engraved instead of raised panel lines. My kit also hadsome HUGE ejector pin stubs attached to the insides of the wings. (see image toright) Not a problem to remove, just unexpected.

The level of detailing is basically the same as that of theAirfix kit, which is to say that the cockpit and wheel wells have minimaldetail. In the case of the wells, they are very shallow, just like the Airfixkit.  In fact, it seems like that only bits that are new are those that arerequired for the longer and larger -3 version. Now, this really isn't bad. TheAirfix Banshee is really a superb kit, despite its age. Unfortunately, there areno update or detail sets for either kit. Again, that is too bad as it couldreally use a nice resin cockpit! If you want to read about the Airfix Banshee, go here.

Now on to otherthings. The Hobbycraft instruction sheet. While it is adequate for assembly,Hobbycraft instructions have been lambasted for lack of decent painting info.This one is not like that. While there is no color information in the 6 stepconstruction sequence, there is a small table in the first of the decal andexterior color charts showing cockpit and wheel well colors, all giving genericcolor callouts. 

This kit has three decal options. All three options are for thesame squadron, VF-11. What you have the option of are three different colorschemes. Apparently VF-11 was caught in a transition phase and had planes of allthree camo schemes. One is overall dark sea blue, another is overall naturalmetal, and a third is in the then-new gull grey and white scheme. From my pointof view, the aircraft got less and less colorful as it went from sea blue tonatural metal to gull grey and white. However it is an interesting way to do adecal sheet. This is one of Hobbycraft's later decal sheets and should work justfine. My copy was in perfect register. I only wish there were an aftermarketsheet for this aircraft as the later Banshee did field some other colorfulschemes.

As a note, while the box top does say it is an F2H-3 or -4, inreality, you can only do the -3. From what I understand, the -4 was the versionwith Sidewinder and air refueling capability. VF-11 is still alive and well andflying F-14 Tomcats.

Overall, it looks like a very nice model and one that shouldbuild as easily as the Airfix version.

Reader Patrick Cook sends in this  bit of information onthe kit ". . . you correctly pointed out to readers that many of thekit's parts bear a resemblance to the Airfix kit & unfortunately that meansthe kit has a major error. The nose strut & wheel piece is way too short fora -3 version of the Banshee (O.K. for a -2 though); if the kit piece is used,the model almost rests on it's nose !!! I went down to the Navy's Pensacolamuseum, and checked the actual aircraft on display there to confirm the error.  The easiest way to fix the nose strut is to cut off the original nose wheel andattach it to a longer piece of plastic rod."  Thanks, Patrick.  

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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