Modelcraft 1/48 F-82B Twin Mustang
This is my Modelcraft 1/48 F-82B Twin Mustang, finished as Col. Bob Thacker's "Betty Jo" record breaking bird!
Initially intended as a very long-range (VLR) escort fighter to Boeing B-29 Superfortresses on long missions to Tokyo, the F-82 was the last American piston-engine fighter ordered into production by the USAF.
Radar-equipped F-82s were used extensively by the Air Defense Command as all-weather day/night interceptors, in replacement of the venerable P-61 Black Widows.
Like most versions of the P-51 Mustang, the first two prototype XP-82s as well as the next 20 P-82B models were excellently powered by license-built Rolls-Royce Merlins, re-engineered for increased durability and mass-production. The following (“C” and onwards) models were powered by Allisons V-1710-100, demonstrating a lower top speed and poorer high-altitude performance. With the earlier P-82B models designated as trainers, and the "C" and later models employed as fighters, the P-82 was one of the few aircraft in U.S. military history to be faster in its trainer version than the fighter version. A total of 272 units were built.
Born in February 1918, Col. Bob Thacker was a USAF test pilot, but also an ample modeling enthusiast and designer. Involved in modeling before the war, Col. Thacker was one of the pilots of the 12 B-17s that arrived in Hawaii in the midst of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His wartime service earned him two Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, ten Air Medals and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
During his USAF career, he tested a wide variety of aircraft between 1939 and 1970, whereas in 1972 he was an advisor on a Lockheed solar-powered aircraft project designed and built by Astro Flight Co. On January 9, 2010, he was inducted into the Academy of Model Aeronautics Hall of Fame for his work in both model and full-scale aviation.
On 27 February 1947, Col. Thacker made history with P-82B USAF s/n 44-65168, named “Betty Jo”, carrying a full internal fuel tank, augmented by four wing tanks, for a respectable total of 1,816 US gal, when he flew nonstop from Hawaii to New York without refueling, a distance of 5,051 mi (8,129 km) in 14 hr 32 min. He averaged 347.5 mph (559.2 km/h).
Lt. Col Thacker named the aircraft after his wife, the former Betty Jo Smoot of Palm Springs, with NAA misspelling it as “Betty Joe”, the plane having gone through a lot of publicity shots before it was finally corrected to "Betty Jo". On 21 June 1957, “Betty Jo” was delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio Museum, proudly residing there today in pristine condition along with Col. Thacker's flying jacket and other artifacts used in that record-breaking flight!
Col. Thacker died in November 2020 at the age of 102.
The Modelcraft kit, though all-styrene, is not for the faint of heart, requiring some time and effort to put it together.
With the wonderful Modelsvit F-82 already available at sensible prices, there's little point in tackling the very challenging and cruder Modelcraft, unless you love to put extra stress to yourself, or already having this kit in your stash and your El Cheapo nature urges you to put it together and not throw it away (or both, as is the case with yours truly 🙂 ).
Should you wish to read the full build review, please visit my beloved Modelingmdness: