Hobbyboss F-80 C Shooting Star “Saggin Dragon”
Although serving in small numbers towards the end of World War II, Lockheed’s pugnacious fighter made a name for itself as a fighter and strike bomber during the Korean War. To commemorate the start of the Korean War 70 years ago and to pay homage to those brave pilots and soldiers that answered the call to arms, I decided to build the 1/48 Hobbyboss Shooting Star.
The Shooting Star was one of the workhorses of the Korean War. Being the most numerous fighter aircraft within the FEAF meant that it was used extensively as a fighter, strike bomber and recon platform. Within the first four months Shooting Stars flew 15 000 sorties. By the end of the war in 1953 the Shooting Stars had amassed an amazing 98 515 combat sorties. As a fighter it was hopelessly outclassed by the radical Mig 15. Nevertheless, Shooting Stars achieved 17 kills of which 3 were Mig 15’s but was soon declared obsolete for the fighter role. This was a blessing in disguise as it proved its worth as a strike bomber. It dropped 33266 tons of bombs and fired 80 935 HVA Rockets during the war. The strike missions it performed exerted a heavy toll, 368 F-80’s were lost, including 277 in combat missions. Of the 277 lost in operations, 113 were lost to ground fire, 14 to enemy aircraft, 54 to unknown causes and 96 losses were classified as “other”. One of the F-80 pilots, Major Charles J. Loring of the 80th FBS was awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor when he dove his damaged F-80 into a Chinese anti-aircraft battery saving the rest of his flight from the withering fire directed against them.
The Hobbyboss F-80 C kit offers finely engraved panel lines and rivets. The kit comes with two bombs and three different types of fuel tanks. Cockpit details are adequate for an OOB build and a small PE fret is included for the seat harness. The instrument decal even simulates the yellowish tint of the various instruments. I added scratchbuilt details to the reflector gunsight, cockpit sidewalls and ejection seat to take the cockpit to the next level. I liked the open gun bay with ammunition cans that the Monogram F-80 offered. I decided to perform some rhinoplasty and added the Monogram F-80’s gun bay to the Hobbyboss F-80 nose. The perforated machine gun barrel came from an Academy F-86 Sabre. I decided to add HVAR’s and two bombs from an AMT Grumman Tigercat. The flaps from the Monogram F-80 replaced the Hobbyboss flaps because they had better upper surface details. The canopy from the Hobbyboss kit is not the correct shape of the F-80 C and it also lacks the D/F sense antenna that is visible on the real aircraft. To this end, I replaced it with the Monogram F-80 canopy. The RATO gear, that was essential when carrying heavy loads, were sourced from the Tamiya F-84 Thunderjet. The nosewheel undercarriage bay from the Monogram kit replaced the one in the Hobbyboss kit as it offered more details. I also added more details to the landing gear and undercarriage bays. I opted to use the extended Misawa tanks as I like the look of these lengthened tanks that often displayed dents and discolouration. I scratchbuilt an open fuel cap for the one Misawa tank and dents were simulated with a Dremel tool. F-80's also carried a strike camera inside the right intake. I scratchbuilt the strike camera from a piece of sprue sanded to shape.
The colourful markings of “Saggin Dragon” of the 16th FIS / 51st FIW always appealed to me. This squadron was the leading Mig killing squadron at the start of the war. “Saggin Dragon” was sadly lost in 1951 in a take-off accident at Taegu airbase. Photos of the real aircraft show a weathered NMF. To replicate this finish I sprayed Tamiya enamel Titanium Silver, Chrome Silver and Humbrol Polished Aluminum Metalcote over a Humbrol 85 Satin black base. The model was sprayed with a fine mist of water and covered with coarse salt from a salt grinder. After drying thoroughly, I sprayed Tamiya Matt Alumnium over the salt and after the paint had dried, the salt was removed with a brush and soft cloth. The blue markings are supplied as decals but I opted to spray these markings after careful masking. The rest of the markings are a mixture of the kit decals and stencils from the Monogram F-80 decalsheet. Photos show that “Saggin Dragon” carried red coloured mission markings below the cockpit. This was replicated with custom made decals. Further surface weathering was simulated with Tamiya weathering kits, Doc O’Brien’s weathering powders and graphite powder. All weathering and decals were sealed under a coat of Humbrol Satin varnish. The build took about three months to complete. Use the following link to view the full build.
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