||Resin, White Metal and vacform
Reviewed by Phil Brandt
||Fine surface detail, good molding, attractive
subject, excellent decals
||Expensive; some oversimplified or incorrect detail;
warped fuselage mating surfaces
||Recommended for lovers of '50s jets.
In visits to the USAF Museum and Pima County Air and Space, I've always admired the
sleek, F-104-cum-inverted-F-16 lines of the North American F-107A.
This mean-looking descendant of USAF's tactical force mainstay, the F-100
"Hun", went head-to-head with the Thud prototype in a landmark Fifties
"flyoff" but, although highly praised by all that flew it, didn't make the cut.
Politics? Perhaps, but Aerophile magazine (Vol I, No.5) stresses the importance to TAC at
the time of a fighter-bomber possessing a bomb bay! The Thud had been designed with a fair
amount of USAF input, and had one, whereas the F-107 was largely done in accordance with
the airpower visions of North American Aircraft executives, and didn't. Anyhoo, I was
wowed by the Aerophile article--still the best I've ever seen on the One Oh Seven--and
swore that I could scratchbuild this sucker. Hey, no problem; just carve a basswood
fuselage from enlargements of Aerophile's great three-views and join the wings and stabs
from my stash of Monogram F-100 kits.
Yeah, yeah, yeah........but when the wood chips started flying, Bondo wussed out. Enter
Collect-Aire. Say what you will about the price of admission, but Lou Maglio releases
resin kits most of us will not live to see in injected format.
Molding: Lou varies his modelmakers, and, apparently, a talented Russian has done the
-107. The fuselage halves are quite substantial chunks of resin, approximately thirteen
inches long. Collect-Aire's panel line engraving has experienced a quantum leap since the
F11F-1 release of a few years ago. Lines are now very fine and sharp, easily as good as
most injected kits. All parts have a very smooth surface quality, albeit with tissue-thin
casting flash on the smaller parts which, although annoying, and not normally found on
leading brand aftermarket resin goodies, requires minimal clean-up effort. Flying surface
warpage is virtually nil, but the fuselage join surfaces seem to be warped about
1/32" near the thick middle sections. IMO the sections are too thick to try
"de-warping" with very hot water, and the markedly thinner fore and aft portions
might be adversely affected by the large application of heat. In any event the halves can
be forced into alignment with hand pressure; I think I'll use epoxy and clamps. The
area-ruled fuselage/wing intersection is relatively gap-free, and that's good, because
this joint is always a bear to fill and sand in any kit. Stores options include F-100
swayback-style external tanks which I've never seen in -107 pix, a single centerline A-1
type and the neat, nested centerline tank/nuke weapon combo, a`la B-58.
Metal Parts: The sheer weight of the fuselage--I'm considering routing out the thickest
sections--dictates metal gear struts. From my references they seem slightly on the thin
side, but are well done, with minimal flash and very small seams. Also included are a
multipart North American ejection seat (resin seating surface), a unique optional canopy
frame for those who wish to do the open canopy trick, rudder bar and pedals and a delicate
Fidelity of Detail: This is where Collect-Aire seriously needs to pick up the pace and
earn the serious bucks it demands. Regardless of glowing ad copy, wheel well details are
very sparse, essentially a few segments of Evergreen strip applied to plain interior
surfaces of the master. No piping, wiring, boxes or cylinders. Even the elderly Grumman
Tiger kit has more wheel well detail! Gear doors at least have the correct structural
The cockpit also suffers from lack of detail: side console raised surfaces are so sparse
and fine that I can barely feel them: no projecting knobs or raised surfaces as plainly
exist in photos, and the consoles seem to be not as wide as in the Aerophile article.
Sidewall detailing consists of three vertical strips. The instrument panel employs the old
sunken hole modeling technique; O.K., but nothing to write home about. There is a
rudimentary avionics shelf behind the seat, but it's a galaxy apart from the treatment it
would receive in the hands of KMC or Cutting Edge--no wires, tubes, ducts, etc., as
plainly exist in pix. There are no PE seat belts, straps, etc. although, again, these
items were included in the much earlier Grumman Tiger kit. The canopy raising mechanism is
portrayed by Collect-Aire as simply two vertical hydraulic or air cylinders, far from the
shape of the real canopy arms that have wide, rectangular built-up cross sections and
appear to move in channels built into the rear bulkhead.
Landing gear attachment is in the tradition of Seventies kits, that is, plain cast collars
into which the gear legs are inserted. Main wheel masters seem to have been pirated from a
Corsair kit (spokes, yet!), because they're not even close to the real thing as seen in
photos, especially the inner wheel hubs which should somewhat resemble those on the A-6.
Wing planforms seem to be accurate, with the correctly engraved top and bottom spoilers
replacing F-100 ailerons. The slabs appear slightly undersized if my digitally enlarged
Aerophile three-views are accurate. And, the larger Monogram F-100 slabs match the
Aerophile outlines exactly. The substantial vertical fin is very good.
The prominent and complex engine inlet has been done delicately and very well. I
especially like the separately molded air outlet louvers that are neatly inserted into the
top portion of the inlet.
The afterburner can is nicely detailed with outer and inner petals, but the whole assembly
seems undersized in diameter, especially when compared with the Aerophile pix and burner
of the Monogram Hun. More important, the curving taper on the Collect-Aire can is fairly
gradual, whereas in pix (and on the Monogram F-100) the curve into the exhaust opening is
much more abrupt. Curiously, some effort has been expended on a delicately cast,
three-leafed exhaust tube outer liner which is to be commended...if it were accurate. A
close-up pic in Aerophile shows the three sheet metal leafs merging with an outer layer of
exhaust can metal about six inches back from the outlet, whereas the Collect-Aire version
doesn't merge with the can for at least three scale feet! Collect-Aire casts an exhaust
tunnel in each fuselage half (no surface detail) back to where an included turbine blade
wafer is glued. The wafer appears to be a recast Monogram F-14 or F-15 item; with the
sparse detailing on other interior components, you know the master modeler didn't sit down
for hours to do a sharply detailed turbine blade assembly!
Clear Parts: Two options are provided: open or closed canopy. The -107 canopy opened
vertically, somewhat like the F-84F. Collect-Aire furnishes individual vacformed clear
canopy segments (duplicate sheets, allowing for the "Klutz" factor) to be fitted
to the metal frame and the two small, different-sized fuselage panes aft of the canopy.
The windscreen frames are raised. Clarity, molding and thinness are very good. The
"closed" canopy/windscreen combo (no duped copies here) is one piece and not
bad, but there is some rippled distortion running fore and aft along the top. The panel
lines are very fine on this version, so the builder may have to do some freehand masking.
Decals: Excellent Scalemaster decals offer all three tail numbers and three options of the
stylized "F-107A" lettering that was done in white on the three prototypes. NASA
tail logo strips are also included for portrayal of the -107's later life. Registration is
on the money, and color seems just right. In the past, some Collect- Aire decals
(particularly the X-15) have been much too translucent, requiring the use of duplicate
decal layers or white underneath. This may be a problem with the -107, since some of the
white and yellow decals must be applied over bright red surfaces.
Instructions: It's the traditional, well-intentioned, yellow Collect-Aire booklet, with
the airplane's history, many exploded assembly drawings and three-views, but with
horrifically over-contrasted photo reproduction which never seems to improve. I wish it
Overall Assessment and Building Suggestions: If the F-107 is any indication, the overall
shape fidelity, surface quality and engraving of Collect-Aire releases have significantly
improved. Fit and detailing, however, seem to have remained relatively static,
inappropriate in a model market awash with quality. I may be beating a dead chunk of
resin, but the pricing of the Collect-Aire series really demands more detailing than
heretofore offered, even if its releases are the only game in town for many aircraft
types. The Russians are doing some impressive resin aftermarket sets these days (Neomega
immediately comes to mind), and they're usually in the $10 to $25 range. As long as
Collect-Aire prices are already elevated into the serious builder/collector strata, why
not go that extra step and contract with some of these folks to do great interiors, wheel
wells, etc.? I'm sure the market will bear the price increase.
Now, for the mods: Consider replacing the resin wings with good ol' Monogram F-100 wings,
suitably trimmed to fit the area-ruled fuselage. Ailerons should be filled/sanded off and
spoilers rescribed. Flaps may be dropped and gear doors should be cemented in and puttied.
The enticing feature of the Monogram wings is that they come with leading edge flaps that
are often portrayed extended in static -107 pix. I'd also sub the Monogram stabs and
burner can, adding just the last 1/8" of those delicate Collect-Aire resin prongs.
Sub the Monogram nosegear well, too. It's highly superior to the resin one, even if the
-107's gear strut pivots forward (just turn the well 180 degrees). For wheels, I'm going
out to the spares box and check out Monogram A-6 or even F-18 ones. Then, add the
delicately molded Monogram F-100 hydraulic lines or make 'em from wire. It's also
Scratchbuild City for the canopy extension mechanism, cockpit details (might even try
using the nice Reheat or Eduard PE F-100 sets), and wheel wells.
Had it won the Fifties flyoff, the F-107A would undoubtedly have been a great addition to
USAF's tactical air arm, but with history's 20-20 hindsight, the victorious Thud certainly
proved itself in the toughest air war arena of all, North Vietnam. Regardless of price,
I'm glad that there are companies like Collect-Aire that will take on the challenge of the
modeling road less travelled.
Review Copyright © 1999 by Phil
Page Created 24 February, 1999
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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