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Spiros Pendedekas
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Modelcraft 1/48 F-82B Twin Mustang

December 8, 2021 · in Aviation · · 36 · 2.2K

Hi everyone!

This is my 1/48 F-82B , 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 was the last American piston-engine fighter ordered into production by the USAF. With the war ending well before the first production units were operational, the type found its operational role in the postwar era, where Strategic Air Command used them as long-range escort fighters.

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.

During the Korean War, Japan-based F-82s were among the first USAF aircraft to operate over Korea, with the first three North Korean aircraft destroyed by U.S. forces shot down by F-82s!

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).

This flight remains the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter, and the fastest such a distance has ever been covered in a piston-engine aircraft.

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:

Happy modeling!
Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

36 responses

  1. Nice job, Spiros.

  2. Nice build and write up! You are a more brave soul than I, to tackle this travesty of a kit. Even time I open mine up (even with eduard PE and vacuum canopies) I cringe at my decision to buy it in the first place. All said though, you've made a wonderful display of it. Surely a lot of LQS behind that aluminum lacquer.. 😉 Cheers!

  3. Spiros, that's a wonderful story, accompanied by a great model! Fantastic article @fiveten! ?

  4. An amazing Twin, Spiros @fiveten
    Those twin Mustangs were an incredible fire power platform.
    Not sure if those Twins have ever been used in a gunfight.
    Your build looks amazing, especially the with the four colored propellor hub, how did you achieve that?
    You mentioned 'hand painted' on MM, but how did you get those sharp lines.

  5. Great model & write up ... a very fine posting , @fiveten ! You could be a professional author.

  6. That took tenacity, Spiros. You get the Iron Man award for modeling!

  7. Impressive metal finish!

  8. Nice looking Twin Mustang, Spiros!
    I really like the prop noses, and nice work with that NMF!

  9. Great work on this monster, @fiveten. Thank goodness the Modelsvit F-82 is coming out this month.

  10. Just got in in time before this was pushed off the front page. I don’t know anything about the kit but it’s obviously challenging judging by the comments above. Whatever, as usual you’ve made a marvelous job of it, the NMF is especially praiseworthy. Definitely liked.

  11. Spiros, @fiveten
    This looks very good ! I have the 1/48 scale F-82G night fighter version of this kit in the stash. I have been thinking about building it up for our Korean War group build, and have located some replacement parts for the as described "horribly wrong" things that came in the box.

    Like you I think that all kits should be built... but after hearing about the new tool Modelsvit version coming out any day now, it makes me sometimes second guess my original plans. You have shown us that a very good looking plane can emerge from the parts in the Modelcraft box...

    I definitely pressed the "like" button. You my friend are the most prolific model builder I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I don't know how you manage to complete so many models as you do... but I am very happy that you do. I always enjoy reading your articles, and looking at the craftsmanship in every one of your builds.

    Well done my friend... VERY well done indeed.

  12. Great-looking Twin! Putting those ill-fitting kits together can put a damper on the build experience, but getting to such a nice end result brings the mojo back up! Well done.

  13. Nice job Spiros @fiveten. Not an easy kit but it came out looking really nice. And a great tribute to Col. Thacker.

  14. Nice job mate. I love seeing your work. And yet another kit added to my list!

  15. Glad someone tackled this beast. Better you than me (/grins/)

    I have some idea what you went through to get the result you did and admire that you didn't smash this kit into dust.

  16. Bravo Spiros, you have accomplished a great feat in building this particular kit. Many have tried despite their skills gave up on it. I have this kit and many a time I would bring it down and contemplate to get started on it, Even with some of the upgrade I have managed to gather for it. I simply closed the lid and put it back in the closet. Just great patience and perseverance and a motivated mind set will get this to the finish line, and man you sure did. Even with a NMF scheme which is a gem on it's own with all the sanding and filling required yet she looks great. Well done! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks my friend @uscusn! It was a dog of a kit for sure, requiring patience and perseverance. The fact that it was all-styrene was kind of helpful. I also have to acknowledge that, despite its doggy-ness, it was nice for the modeling community back in 1996 that they were offered with a quarter scale Twin Mustang.

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