Sword 1/72 F3D-2 Skyknight

KIT #: SW 72074
PRICE: $38.99 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The Douglas F3D Skyknight (later designated F-10 Skyknight) was a United States twin-engine, mid-wing jet fighter aircraft manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company in El Segundo, California. The F3D was designed as a carrier-based all-weather night fighter and saw service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The mission of the F3D-2 was to search out and destroy enemy aircraft at night.

The F3D Skyknight was never produced in great numbers but it did achieve many firsts in its role as a night fighter over Korea. While it never achieved the fame of the North American F-86 Sabre, it did down several Soviet-built MiG-15s as a night fighter over Korea with only one air-to-air loss of its own against a Chinese MiG-15 on the night of 29 May 1953.

The Skyknight played an important role in the development of the radar guided AIM-7 Sparrow missile which lead to further guided air-to-air missile developments. It also served as an electronic warfare platform in the Vietnam War as a precursor to the EA-6A Intruder and EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft is sometimes unofficially called "Skynight", dropping the second "k". The unusual, portly profile earned it the nickname "Willie the Whale". Some Vietnam War U.S. Marine veterans have referred to the Skyknight as "Drut" whose meaning becomes obvious when read backward. This may be in reference to its age, unflattering looks or its low slung intakes that made it vulnerable to foreign object damage (FOD).

Even after it was retired from active service (by which time it had become the F-10), it was used as a test platform. This was due to its docile handling and capacious avionics space. I believe that last military user was the US Army. About a dozen are extant in museums, most of these in coastal locations.  

The last time (actually the only time) this kit has been produced in this scale in injected plastic was the Matchbox kit. This kit is infrequently available and is typical of Matchbox of the era in that its outline is pretty accurate, but it is lacking in detail.

Well that is now a thing of the past with this new kit from Sword. The kit is short run and does not include any photo etch or resin bits, something that many modelers will appreciate.  Unlike the Matchbox kit, this one has a pretty complete cockpit with proper seats, instrument panel, consoles, control stick and escape hatch on the aft bulkhead. As is appropriate, control stick and rudder pedals are for the pilot only with the radar operator having a mass of black boxes in front of him.

The kit will need nose weight and there is lots of room for it. The nose gear well is a simple one-piece construct with some detailing in it; similar to what is in the maingear wells. Main and nose gear are nicely detailed with the proper retraction struts and properly done wheels. The engine pods are several pieces with intake compressor faces and an exhaust bit. There is an intake tube prior to the compressor, which is a nice touch.

There are racks for the wings onto which you can place one of two designs of drop tank. The tail bumper and tail hook are separate bits for the rear of the fuselage. The tail bumper was often lowered when on the ground so you'll have to add on your own strut out of stretched sprue if you wish to duplicate this feature.  Sword decided to make the canopy in three pieces. This is undoubtedly because there is an undercut to the side 'bubbles' that is difficult if not impossible for them to mold. It also means one will have to be quite careful when assembling this piece.

Markings are provided for five aircraft, all but one of them in overall dark sea blue. Three of these are with VMF(N)-513 in Korea during 1953-1955. Only Red 23 is overall black. I honestly thought all USMC nightfighter Skyknights were overall black, but I guess not. White 603 is with VC-4 on the USS FDR in 1952 while White 402 was with VF-14 on the USS Intrepid during the fall of 1954. The decals are quite nicely printed and provide all the markings you'll need.

After decades of having only the Matchbox kit in this scale, we now have a more up-to-date option and I'm sure this one will sell quite well.



November 2013

Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. You can get yours at this link.

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