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Drew Tarter
27 articles

1/48 Monogram F-8E Crusader, converted to a DF-8A

March 22, 2013 · in Aviation · · 10 · 4K

Here's my attempt at backdating the F-8E into a DF-8A drone controller/utility aircraft from the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, California during the late '60's-early '70's. I started this project ten years ago, but shelved it when I realized how involved it really was, and that I lacked the proper references. I finally resumed the project last fall.

I used the venerable Monogram 1/48 F-8E, and a few parts from the Cobra Company backdate set. Monogram's Crusader makes a decent F-8E out of the box, but there are many minor and a few major changes you must make to any F-8E kit to backdate it to the earlier A version. I'm sure I missed some things, but here's what I did:

I removed and filled in the dorsal avionics 'hump' on top of the wing, filled in the holes and slots for the afterburner cooling scoops and ventral fins, installed a fuel dump vent on the rear port side, removed the ECM fairing from the vertical fin, and filled in the vents just behind the nose cone ( though I should have left the three vents on the right side!). The cockpit was a resin replacement from Black Box (but the intsturment panel isn't right). I used the main gear from the Cobra Company backdate set, along with the earlier spoked nose wheel. I also used the Cobra replacement nose cone, but heavily modified it. The hardest - and most crucial - part of the project was getting the shape of the earlier nose correct. It's more of a flattened oval. In profile, it's almost flat on top, and slightly curved on the bottom. While no where near perfect, the shape I wound up with is at least in the ball park. The afterburner section on Monogram's kit is incorrect - the burner nozzle is missing. I used a cut-down section of an old Monogram F-18 exhaust cone to replicate the nozzle. The antennas and pitot probe were taken from leftover parts from a Hasegawa A-4 Skyhawk kit. I also scratchbuilt the ejection face curtain pull rings, refueling probe light, tail hook, a canopy restraint strap, steps and a boarding ladder. I also added lots of plastic rod and wire to the main wheel wells to busy them up some. The decals came from several different sheets from my scrap box, with the Naval Missile Center markings courtesy of Mike Grant.

Finally, many thanks to Tom Weinel, a former F-8 pilot, who provided me with the necessary information, photos and encouragement needed to do this conversion.

Reader reactions:
2  Awesome

8 additional images. Click to enlarge.

10 responses

  1. A very unique variation of the Crusader and well done I might add. Outstanding job on the conversion. Excellent workmanship, sir.

  2. Highly commendable job fixing and backdating that dinosaur. As you know it's not exactly Tom's favourite kit. Good job on re-profiling the nose. Its a very elusive shape and extremely difficult to get right, but its a very bif part of the charm in building an very early Crusader. No shortage of good paint schemes too. Why Hasegawa failed to tool an earlier version is beyond me.

    Does this mean i should throw down with my Hasegawa F-8E and post another article?

  3. Way to go Drew, real model work there, no paste and paint job here, and the Monogram kit is one of the better starts for any conversions of the "Gunfighter". I did the same kit as a converted "C" using the crobra kit help. super parts and mostly well molded but the wing top piece was not formed good enough so like you I just cut and filled the Mono wing and it looks better. Plus the correct sized metal main landing gear keeps the Dragginhg hind-end off the paper too. you did very good on you varient and hope to post mine soon on the site. I can tell, you like more adventure with no blowviateing of actually construction and gets quick attention every time no need of expert input here just good modeling. I like this

  4. Thanks, Wayne. The hardest part of the project was getting the shape of the earleir Crusader nose. The Cobra Company nose isn't correct for ANY version, but it's resin, which makes it easier to sand to the shape you need.

  5. This is great. Well done.

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