Tuesday, November 29

Building the Big Blue Banshee - Kitty Hawk's 48th scale F2H-2 & F2H-2P kit.

Francios & Nico were very happy to see the new Kittyhawk boxing of the F2H-2  /F2H-2P Banshee in 48th scale arrive they set themselves a challenge - They wanted to build it all up in only seven days. Would this help or hinder the process? Would the kit hold up? Let's see in thier build review today.

USN F2H-2/2P "Banshee"
From Kittyhawk Model
Code# KH 80131
1/48th scale 
Price: $65

This very popular machine that has never really been adequately kitted in 48th scale has been identified by Kittyhawk. We were happy to say that it was a new tool McDonnell F2H Banshee. A mainstay of the early 50s Navy, the aircraft saw action in Korea, although its most capable, later variants were destined to serve only in peacetime. 

The two variants in this boxing:
F2H-2 - detachable wingtip fuel tanks, eight underwing weapons pylons for 1,580 lb (454 kg) stores capability, 3,250 lbf (1,475 kgf) Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojet engines. 308 built.
F2H-2P - Single-seat photo-reconnaissance version with lengthened nose housing six cameras, 89 built.
Camera equipment of the F2H-2P. Note extended nose, lack of horizontal stabilizer dihedral, and smaller tailplane fairing compared to XF2D-1
The new Kittyhawk Banshee in 48th scale features foldable wings, open access ports and posable flying surfaces, a posable arrestor hook and airbrakes. Frist let's look at the Banshee in number and in real life...

The Banshee entered USN & USAF service in the fifties, but it was the dark blue scheme which became the well-known colouring for this aircraft.

The aircraft was also used for a very short time in all natural metal which could be an option for modellers, later their aircraft were painted in the grey/white colours we all know the navy/ marines to use in the 60's. The Canadian Naval Airforce also used the Banshee...
Remember when a couple of years ago we built Kitty Hawk’s  1/48 scale Cougar in just 7 days? Well, we did the same thing with the new F2H-2 Banshee. 
When the kit arrived at our Brussels team, François was the first to pick it up and frankly, the hardest choice of the kit was which of the versions to build. Kitty Hawk offers both the Banshee with the gun nose and with the recce nose. This kit shows the evolution that the brand has made in only a couple of years  we know we have built most of them). It has grown into a very dynamic player in the modelling business with a large number of new tool releases in 1/48 and 1/32. It deserves to take up more shelf space in the modelling shops.

Back to this Banshee. François chose the dark blue recce Marines version of the kit, showing a jet active with VMJ-1. A little research resulted in a photo of the actual aircraft we were going to make.
In a mere moment or two, we had a quick look at the kit before François started cutting sprues, a few photos were taken from the parts. And those sure looked impressive. The box is in the Kitty Hawk tradition, with a striking box art. The instructions are quite clear – not always the forte of Kitty Hawk – even though the quality of the paper isn’t like the previous releases. 
The parts are nicely engraved and riveted. Looking at this left fuselage part, you can hardly wait to get started on the kit.
The surface of the plastic is exactly the way I like it: hard enough the have the engravings and rivets very sharp, but also soft enough to be able to work it when necessary. Here is the vertical tail.
Kitty Hawk provides two versions of the Banshee in this one box: the version with 4 guns in the nose and the reconnaissance version. Here is a close-up of the first version:
And of the long-nose recce-version of the F2H-2P:
The details of the smaller parts are as good as the big ones. And as so often, it will be a shame that not much of them will be seen. A couple of examples:
The nose gear bay:
Engine tubes:
And unless you cut open the recce-nose, these nicely done photo cameras and avionics will largely stay hidden from the eyes:
Kitty Hawk offers the possibility to fold the wings. For this, the folding system is provided in detail:
The underside of the fuselage and connection to the wings is designed in one piece. This helps the construction of the Banshee a lot. Here too, the panel lines and rivets are nicely done. As you can see, some of the parts have some flash that will need to be removed. 
And the upper parts of the wings & fuselage connection, again with a little flash to be attended to.
 The clear parts are the way you can expect from a high-quality kit:
You’ll find a fret of photo-etched parts inside the box as well. These are mainly for the speed brakes on the wings, but also for detailing the ejecting seat.
Then, François turned on the turbo and started building the kit. These are the cockpit parts ready to be constructed:
Here are the same parts painted. The Banshee has a black painted cockpit, but it is best to use a dark grey paint so that details can still be seen. Using some lighter grey for details brings depth to the details. Pastels were used for weathering the side panels.
So far, the build has been very straightforward, but it has a very tricky step to come: the air intakes. During the construction, you will notice that the inner parts don’t align perfectly to the exterior wing parts. This will result in this:
Due to the misalignment, the air intakes have a gap between the intake and the fuselage and need some adjusting. Here, François had to bring out the putty and sanding paper to make the parts flush. After a evening’s work, the air intakes looked a lot better:
Now comes the moment where the forward fuselage and the centre section with the air intakes are joined. Here too, the fit needs adjusting…

Some plasticard and putty are used to correct this easily. After some polishing, a layer of primer shows whether the area needs more work or not. Looks okay to me!
François decided to open up the recce-nose so that the cameras can be seen. The cut is easy enough, but this means that the inside of the camera access door needs to be detailed. Some scratching results in this:
The connection between the forward fuselage and the nose is not bad at all and just to be on the safe side, a little putty was used on the joint. 
With the major parts glued together, it’s about time to get the paint out. First a layer of primer…
For the main colour, Tamiya XF-17 was used. 
When this layer was dry, the model was masked in order to paint the metal leading edges of the wings, air intakes and vertical tail.
With the kit painted, it was time to place the decals. Usually, Kitty Hawk decals are very thin and apart from the very first kits, like the T-6, go on quite well. For this Banshee, that was the case too, except for the striking red and white decals on the nose. They didn’t fit the way François expected. This photo shows the problem:
So, the decal was removed and with the help of flexible masking tape, the red and white trimming was sprayed on the nose.
The construction of the speed brakes is rather complex and fragile, but if you take your time, it is really worth the effort. 
Now comes one of the most fun parts in the kit: weathering the kit. For this, watercolours and gouache were used, with the lightest colour to fill the panel lines and rivets. These paints offer a lot of advantages, such as no varnish is necessary. Any excess can be removed with water and more can be added without any risk. Here is the kit with the gouache dried, but not yet removed:

The final part in the construction of this new Kitty Hawk kit, is to assemble all the painted parts. It is only now that the size and the form of the Banshee can really be seen:
And then, with only 7 days gone since François started the kit, it was done. Apart from the air intakes, this isn’t a complicated kit to build. At least what the reconnaissance version is concerned. The surface detail is really stunning and with a wash, this truly brings the model alive. 
So, how about this Banshee? Well, it was about time that a modern and well detailed 1/48 scale Banshee became available. Such a great looking aircraft, one of the first jets to ever operate from an aircraft carrier (it was actually the FH Phantom, of which the Banshee was the ancestor, that was the first) needed to be available in this scale. It is a very nice looking kit that captures the lines of the jet very well. The engineering of the kit is quite good, all except for the air intakes which took some extra work on the modeller's behalf. 

We can only hope that Kitty Hawk continues along this path, with ever better fitting kits of US Navy legends. I’ve heard that the brand is working on a Cutlass in the same scale, I can’t wait to get started on that one!

Model by François laloux
Text by Nico Deboek

We’d like to thank Kitty Hawk for sending this kit for us to review and build. The kit is now available from their distributors