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F-107A Super Sabre

Collect-Aire

 

 

Catalogue No.: 4831
Scale: 1/48
Media: Resin, White Metal and vacform
Review Type: First Look
Rating: Recommended

Reviewed by Phil Brandt IPMS 14901

S u m m a r y


Contents:
See Text
Price: US$129.95
Advantages: Fine surface detail, good molding, attractive subject, excellent decals
Disadvantages: Expensive; some oversimplified or incorrect detail; warped fuselage mating surfaces
Recommendation: Recommended for lovers of '50s jets.

 

F i r s t   L o o k

 

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 control column.

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 raised portions.

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 would!

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.

Phil Brandt
IPMS 14091


Review Copyright 1999 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 24 February, 1999
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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