Developed in the waning days of World War II, the Lockheed P/F-80 Shooting Star has always been a good-looking aircraft. And, like the box art showing Saggin' Dragon
, a P-80C-10-LO, attacking ground targets in Korea, this new kit from Czech Model is a real stunner.
A large-format, full-color, 12-page instruction booklet includes a brief history, a parts map (no numbers on the sprue), and exploded drawings in 31 assembly steps. Color chips and FS numbers are provided along with three pages of two and three-view drawings of colors and markings.
The gray plastic parts have flash and mold seam lines that must be removed before assembly, and sink marks are evident on the landing gear doors and fuselage.
Separately bagged cast-resin parts must be removed from their molding plugs. Some parts, such as gun barrels and instrument-panel light fixtures, are small and difficult to remove from the plugs, and nearly impossible to hold during cleanup.
Photoetched-metal parts include a rearview mirror and a four-part, prepainted instrument panel - or an optional plastic instrument panel with raised detail.
Two sets of resin wheels, as well as one set in plastic, come with no instruction on which set to use for which aircraft. I used the plastic wheels on mine.
Assembly proceeded smoothly from the cockpit to the nose wheel well, tailpipe, instrument panel, rudder pedals, seat, and gunsight. The fuselage halves fit well and the panel lines match. I delayed installation of the gunsight, gun barrels, tip tanks, windshield/canopy, landing gear/doors, pitot, and navigation lights until the last.
Problems began with joining the inner intake pieces to the lower wing panel, and the lower wing panel to the fuselage. The intake parts leave gaps at the leading and trailing edges of the wing. The upper wing panels fit the fuselage and the lower wing panels without problems. But the outer intake panels fit neither the fuselage nor the inner intake parts. I used a motor tool to thin the inner walls of the outer intake panels, unsuccessfully attempting to achieve a better fit.
The landing-gear mounts are strong, but the nose-gear strut is weak. (I added about 2.5 oz. of lead to the nose for balance.)
Drawings and box art indicate the correct choice of wingtip tanks. Not explained is which set of navigation lights to use on the wingtips. Photos show P-80s using underslung tanks with tip lights. I found no photos of upper and lower lights. Although photos show a red fuselage warning light on T-33s, P-80s probably didn't have them.
I painted with SnJ aluminum plus various shades of Model Master Metalizer. Unable to find blue FS35180 paint, I used Testors No. 1111 dark blue and added a few drops of white.
The decals - Aeromaster, printed by Cartograf - include a full set of stencils and are among the best I've ever used. They settled tightly with a little Micro Sol.
Dimensions closely match references, and the model's stance is the same as shown in photos. The difficult wing-to-fuselage joint and the ill-fitting intakes make this kit an above-average challenge, but I enjoyed the 37 hours I spent on it. Now, all I have to do is find someplace to display it.
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