1. Plastikmodellbauclub Nürnberg e.V.
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  Model and photos by Wilfried Eck  

F8U-3 Crusader III, Collect-Aire 1/48

The Original:

The F8U-3 Crusader III was conceived as a contemporary to the then F4H-1, still on the drawing board of McDonnell.  A private venture at first, but somehow Vought convinced the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics that a second choice might be no bad idea. The only drawback was money, a second submission for an interceptor against Russian bombers hadn't been taken into account by the BuAer. So funding this project needed a trick:  To get the required sums the concept was declared as (merely) an improvement of the well known F8U-2, hence F8U-3 ("Crusader III"). In the outcome the F8U-3 was decidedly bigger and heavier, especially in flight two additional (now vertical) stabilisers showed the new aicraft was far away from a mere improvement of the F8U-2 Crusader.

For an interceptor speed and climb rate were the most important items to fight incoming Russian bombers (agility also helpful). According to the then current belief in rockets Sparrow guided missiles were the only armament, the F4H-1 carrying four, the F8U-3 only three but this deemed sufficient for Vought when taking flight time into account.

In the outcome the US Navy had to choose from:

Compared flight data: Model photos:

Official comparative test flights in Nov. 1958:



Acceleration/Min. from Mach 1,7 to 2,0 in 35.000 ft.:



Maximum G at 2,0 Mach in 25.000 ft.:



Height maximum at Mach 2,0 in ft.:



Feet/Min. at Mach 2,0:



Acceleration at Mach 2,0 (Knots per Sek.):



Speed maximum (Mach):



Flight duration with internal fuel (hrs.):



Weighth for 2,5 hours flight in lbs.:



Armament (both Sparrow-missiles only):



* Conceived for Mach 2.9 but not attempted in test flights due to the then Perspex windscreen..
As can be seen the Crusader III was superior to the F4H-1 Phantom II in every respect except in armament. Agility was outstanding (though not a competition item). But there was another point: In case of an attack the pilot would have to steer aircraft and Sparrow missile at the same time. This may overburden an avergage pilot the BuAer reasoned.  The Phantom II did have a two place cockpit, so the second crew member could to take care of the armament. This was the decisive difference, the test runner-up was declared winner.

Only three Crusader III were built. Inofficial BuAer comment: "The best aircraft ever we didn’t buy".

When later on a NASA-Crusader III met a Navy Phantom the NASA pilot usually liked to show what could be done with a F8U-3: Flying circles around the F4H-1/F4-4B. To end this embarrassing situation the Navy officially urged the NASA to end this practice.



The model:

Having liked this unusual looking aircraft all the time I was more than happy to get this kit as a present from my dear friend Jürgen S. As far as I know it's the only 1:48 one in the world and - alas - out of production. Maybe there is still one left in the "antique" market, but then it'll tax your wallet.

Just to tell what you'd have to expect: Finely engraved resin parts, white metal undercarriage, two PVC cockpit hoods (hopefully not with a dimple on the windscreen, necessitating making a new one in my case). Decals for the first prototype, good print, good adhesion. Due to the small amount of parts assembly seemed easy, but soon there were some grunts to be heard. No, this kit is no toy for sure!

The cockpit interior didn't look like the photos I had and fixing the two pairs of stabilisers in scale thickness to the rear was a challenge to ingenuitiy. To prevent the nose probe to part company at the slightest touch as well I used  steel wire and thinned down Evergreen tube. Showing the model with raised wings could be done, but necessitated some extra work in the fuselage. Well, not to forget some expertise with superglue.

But the real challenge was yet to come.  According to the current trend in painting preshading of all panel joints and highlighting all panels with subtly different colors would be mandatory to get a priceworthy appearance.  - But a close study of photos revealed that nothing of the said is to be seen on the real aircraft.  The front part appeared as some kind of silvery gray (painted?), the one after the wings decidedly light gray, the after end as to be expected, streaky steel.  Well, this makes things easier I thought, but not after having bought Valejo paints. Obviously stored too long in the store they could be used only for a short time. So painting was a chore. Luckily Testors Aluminum helped (having waited about 30 years to be discovered). International Orange also Testors, the rest Revell. In the outcome the model is less spectacular - you may call it boring - but that's what I wanted to have. A miniature replica of the original F8U-3.