- Published on Tuesday, 08 November 2011 05:30 James Hatch
Catalogue # HBB80364
Available from Creative Models for £34.99
The lineage of the F4 Phantom is pretty clear to see in the McDonnell F-3H Demon. A number of American jet designs of this time had quite a short service life span and with the design for the Demon beginning in 1949, it was intended that the F2H Banshee would be replaced with the Demon. For information, the Banshee only entered service in 1948. US Aircraft development was prolific in these immediate post-war years, and a strong economy certainly paved the way for this sort of R&D expense.
Entering service with the Douglas Skyray, the Demon would never quite achieve the performance levels of the latter. The Demon was effectively a single-engined carrier-based fighter, and its swept wing configuration was the first of its type to carry missiles. The type was plagued throughout its service history with engine problems and to compound that, more problems with the ejector seat installations, until these were replaced by Martin Baker seats. Several designations of Demon were built, with the F3H-2 having additional payload capability. The overall disappointing performance of the Demon led it to be eventually replaced by the iconic F-4 Phantom; a machine designed by McDonnell, later to become McDonnell-Douglas after their 1967 merger. The Demon was only operated between 1956 and 1964, and the sole operator was the United States Navy.
The F3H-2 Demon comes in a very robust and attractive top-opening box with artwork showing the Demon just about to leave a carrier deck. The side images show the four schemes offered in this release. Opening the box, it can be seen that a small compartment is built in, holding the clear parts and the single photo-etch fret. The remainder of the box contains the SIX sprues of medium grey plastic, all individually bagged so as to prevent damage, and TWO more grey sprues containing the wing parts, in a single bag, but packed back to back to ensure no scuffing.
Construction begins, typically, with the cockpit. What HobbyBoss have done here is to create the forward fuselage as a separate unit which then fits into the rear, main fuselage so you can see the forward section extend back into the body proper. Simple and clever and should look effective and eliminates the need for unnecessary seams. The 'office' itself is actually very good too, with not just consoles detail, but an instrument panel with raised bezels and detail overall, but with blank instrument faces. There are instrument panel and console decals within the kit, but I would forgo these and use something like Airscale or Mike Grant individual decals for the instruments. Another nice touch is the side walls which are separate to the fuselage and help to create a cockpit 'module'.
The ejection seat is built from nine parts, whose detail mirrors the rest of the interior, but no seat belts are included. This is a blessing I suppose, as I would rather have to make my own than remove poorly defined ones, in the absence of any etch parts.
The cockpit sits atop the forward wheel well module which is built as a box unit. Interior detail is well defined and contains structural and wiring elements. A little more wiring in there and everything will look great. Once the undercarriage is installed, the cockpit and forward wheel well module fit into the forward fuselage and a rear plate is fastened to the rear of the assembly which then helps with location in the main fuselage. This plate has the effect of blanking the hollow fuselage, but it far enough back as not to be really seen. The engine itself isn't included, but the rear exhaust pipe is, complete with some excellent moulded detail on the outlet. No radar detail is given for the nose unit.
Before sealing the main fuselage parts, you must fit the side airbrake interiors and the arrestor hook mechanisms in place, as well as the jet outlet and top heat shield. The side airbrakes themselves are made up from a mixture of both plastic and photo-etch parts. When sealed, the turtle-deck to the rear of the pilot can be built and installed into the sliding canopy, but of course, this shouldn't be fitted at this stage if you wish to leave the canopy open.
This is rather a large model, and you might be pleased to know that you can depict the wings in a folded position. To do this you must carefully run your knife over a channel within the wing parts in order to cut them into two. This looks easily done. With that achieved, you can fit the internal wing ribs at that juncture, complete with some plastic hinges which will set the correct folded angle. Instead of moulding the wing wheel wells into the wing itself, we are given proper wheel well bays, complete with a little additional plastic detail, all of which is rather good and certainly not at all shabby. Flaps and ailerons are separate, but I'm not sure if these can be straightforwardly posed dynamically due to their tab insert design.
The wing also sees some photo-etch inclusion too in the form of leading edge wing strakes and a major wing strake towards the outer wing area. A perforated airbrake is also included which secures to the upper wing surface.
HobbyBoss have also made more than an admirable attempt with the undercarriage units, with plenty of sharp detail, arms, rods and actuators. Apart from a bit of plumbing, this area is very good and won't take much to make it look outstanding.
I have to say I'm not sure with looking through the kit alone whether you can leave the nose undercarriage from the model until a more suitable moment of assembly. You'll have to dry fit things to see ensure that it doesn't need fitting before the forward fuselage is closed up.
The rudder is a separate part and the horizontal stabilisers look like they can be positioned at any angle the modeller chooses.
All grey styrene parts are beautifully moulded with no flash or flaw or visible sink marks that I can see. No issue is to be had with ejector pin marks either, and in all, this is a darn good kit in that respect.
The clear canopy parts are already supplied 'de-sprued' and wrapped in protective foam before being properly secured into the box compartment. Clarity over these and the smaller clear sprue are excellent with good part and frame line definition where required.
The single etch fret is neatly etched and looks crisp with good definition. A part is also included here for the jet outlet.
HobbyBoss's instructions are printed in black and white, over 16 pages, complete with sprue plan layout and some clean depiction of construction over 17 stages. For colour schemes, HB have included a two-sided, glossy folded sheet with the four available schemes shown in excellent Technicolor.
Decals are supplied on two sheets which are protected by having their backing paper taped to the decal sheet edge. Both sheets are beautifully printed and while being a tad thicker than the likes of Cartograph, they are still reasonably thin. Carrier film isn't minimal on some decals a d should be trimmed a little before use. Printing is in solid and authentic colour, and everything is perfect register, with a slight gloss sheen to them. Marking are provided for the following four machines:
• U.S. Navy, VF-31, "Felix the Cat"
• U.S. Navy, VF-213, "Black Lions", No. 303
• U.S. Navy, VF-61, "The Jolly Rogers"
• U.S. Navy, VF-21, "Freelancers"
So what do we think?
For £34.99, you certainly get a reasonable amount of plastic in the box, all of which conforms pretty much to the standards we expect of our kits today, complete with a photo-etch fret thrown in. With excellent detail throughout and many hours of building ahead of you, this is definitely worthy of a purchase.
Our sincere thanks to Creative Models for the review sample. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.