On The Bench

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North American FJ-2 Fury - Build Review
Kitty Hawk (80155)
Scale: 1:48
Started: Jan 2020
Finished: May 2020
Gallery: Finished Model Photos
The North American FJ-2 and FJ-3 Fury were a series of swept-wing carrier-capable fighters for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The FJ-2 resulted from an effort to navalise the United States Air Force's F-86 Sabre. These aircraft featured folding wings, arrestor hooks and a longer nose landing strut designed to increase angle of attack upon launch and to accommodate a larger oleo to absorb the shock of hard landings on an aircraft carrier deck.
By 1951, the Navy's existing straight-wing fighters were much inferior in performance to the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 then operating in the Korean War; the swept-wing fighters in the Navy's development pipeline, such as the Vought F7U Cutlass and Grumman F9F Cougar, were not yet ready for deployment and so as an interim measure, the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics ordered a direct development of the swept-wing F-86E Sabres, designated as the FJ-2 Fury.

The first production aircraft flew on 22 November 1952. The FJ-2 incorporated many modifications designed to allow carrier operations: The track of the main landing gear was widened by eight inches, the outer wing panels folded upward, and the windscreen/canopy was modified to give the pilot a better view during approach. The FJ-2 also featured an all-moving "flying tail" without dihedral. The Furys armament differed from the standard F-86E-10 by having four 20-mm Colt Mk 12 cannons with 600 rounds per gun instead of the six Colt-Browning M3 .50 machine guns of the Sabre.
Outwardly, the FJ-2 was hard to distinguish from an F-86, apart from navy paint and the gun muzzles of the 20 mm cannons. The engine was the General Electric J47-GE-2, a navalized version of the J47-GE-27 used in the F-86F. The naval modifications of the FJ-2 had increased weight by about 500 kg over the F-86F, but had not succeeded in delivering a fully carrier-capable fighter. As a result of a number of deficiencies identified during carrier suitability testing, it was decided to issue the majority of the production FJ-2s to the Marine Corps for land based operations until these problems could be solved (which ultimately came to pass with the FJ-3 and subsequent FJ-4).

KIT OVERVIEW - Kitty Hawk 1:48 FJ-2 Fury (80155)

Kitty Hawk have recently released a new tooled 1:48 FJ-2 Fury. Maybe it's just my imagination but this kit seemed to have had an extended design and development period after being announced by KH quite some time ago. I think its fair to say that Kitty Hawk don't exactly have a stellar track record with early jet subjects (their Banshee and Cougars being examples) and I suspect that someone at KH has been taking a long hard look at their research and design and I think this new Fury kit is proof of that.

Kitty Hawk have opted to model the early FJ-2 and Fj-3 Fury's and (so far) no mention has been made of kitting the later FJ-4, which is to be expected as there are already existing kits (Grand Phoenix and HobbyBoss) of the FJ-4 in 1:48.
A quick look in the box reveals a pretty standard KH offering, with three main sprues, decals and photoetch fret. Kitty Hawk seem to have obtained a level of consistency in their injection molding process these days and so the number of mal-formed or short-shot parts is minimal. I've also noted in their latest kits that the sprue gates are much smaller and more sensibly engineered so as to make the cleanup process far easier.

The kit has a number minor errors (like any kit) and plenty of places where you can choose to add extra detail. I'll cover each of these (at least the ones I found) during my build in more detail. Overall I could not find any major clangers and that is certainly a step in the right direction for Kitty Hawk.

Another nice addition (included at no extra cost in the base kit) are two nicely molded resin figures. I particularly like the pilot figure as he is posed boarding the aircraft, which is a great deal better than a traditional static pose.
Kitty Hawk are also well known for being generous with the number of marking options provided in the kit and this release is no exception. Full color painting and marking profiles for five Marine Corp natural metal aircraft are included. As usual with Kitty Hawk kits I suggest you apply caution regarding the accuracy or the markings and color callouts. It's always wise to perform your own research and to that end I would point you at a very useful thread about the Fury (including this kit) over at britmodeller.com
The decal sheet is jam packed with markings for the five USMC aircraft. Often I find KH's colors to be a bit off particularly with the colors of the national insignia (the blue in the stars n bars for example) being off to my eye.

BUILDING - Kitty Hawk 1:48 FJ-2 Fury (80155)

Kitty Hawk just loves to give us open panels. It's a good bet that if a panel could be opened on the real aircraft then KH (or indeed any of the Chinese manufacturers) will give us that option in plastic. Sometimes it's a monumental pain in the rear end because in the likely event you want to close the panel it only ever 'almost fits'. Having said that the decision by KH to optionally display the gun panels open is actually a good one IMO, and further I'm happy to report that if you close them (like I will) they fit darn near perfectly (KH proving me wrong again).
Whether you display the outer panel open or closed you will still need to assemble the compartments as they form part of the cockpit sidewalls support structure. Kitty Hawk does a credible job of providing a nicely detailed bay, ammo feed chutes and the 20mm cannons themselves. A few wires and cables is really all that would be needed to make this area a nice showpiece.
The ejection seat of any aircraft model always forms the centerpiece of the cockpit, even more so with the canopy open. Kitty Hawk have definitely done their homework on the design of the kit seat. The general shape and details of the seat are very good. They have included the parachute fitted in-place on the back of the seat, which is realistic as the pilot would attach his parachute and the seat harness when he boarded. This small detail is particularly relevant when you realise that the resin pilot figure (shown earlier) included by KH in the kit is designed to be boarding and he is not wearing any parachute.
The fully assembled kit seat has the basic shape and dimensions of the North American seats fitted to the early Fury's. I did a bit of digging and determined that with a few simple additions from plastic and wire that it could be dressed up a bit. The supplied PE straps are not bad but I have over time become less and less of a fan of PE belts as it very challenging to get them to fall naturally on the seat sides and back.
After some searching I was able to obtain sufficient reference material to have a crack at detailing the seat, focusing on the headrest as I felt this was a little over sized and under detailed (and would be the most visible part of the finished cockpit anyway). From the various drawings I found it seems the North American seat went through subtle changes during the life of the Fury with the emergency handles being present on one or both sides of the headrest as an example.
And so after the usual amount procrastinating and navel gazing I finally managed to add enough detailing to satisfy myself. The belts are made from 0.2mm lead foil with the PE buckles being liberated from an old Eduard RAF belt set (in 1/32 believe it or not). The oxygen hose is simply 0.3mm copper wire with some 0.2mm lead wire wrapped around (its actually way easier to do than you are thinking). For a lot of the sheet plastic parts I turned to my Silhouette Portrait cutter to provide me with precise parts, some of them down to 1 x 1.5mm in size. As usual brass rod and copper wire were employed as needed.
With the seat itself dealt with I turned my attention to the cockpit tub. You can see from the assembly instructions that KH suggests you attach the sidewalls to the tub before fitting into the fuselage.
I opted to attach the gun compartments (and cockpit sidewalls) to each fuselage half first. This allowed me to more accurately add detail ribbing to each sidewall and eventually paint these areas as one. Note that one ejection pin hole had to be dealt with (the circular disc you can just see) on each side before adding the sidewalls.
My reference photos revealed a couple of things that KH had omitted completely in the cockpit area. The most obvious one was the ejection seat rails and associated armor plating fitted directly behind the seat between the rails. I don't know why but many kit manufacturers forget the seat rails (which are kind of important and very visible). The other area that needed some TLC was the shelf behind the seat. Deeper digging revealed that this housed several items of equipment and certainly was not left blank.
The seat rails were added from Evergreen 261 .060" (1.5mm) channel. The rear shelf took some more effort as my research showed that this section was in fact not flat but recessed and beveled from the side. I fabricated new parts from .010" sheet card and also noticed that the early Furys had a radio compass dome antenna fitted directly behind the seat (much like the F-86 Sabre). I used the Silhouette cutter to create the little platform onto which to mount the antennas glass dome. Lead wire was used to add some cabling to make the area look "busy". This will all be under the canopy on the finished model, so still visible.
A final test fit of the new parts within the fuselage revealed mission successful. I really enjoy this part of modelling but do realise that not everyone will want to go this far. I would however encourage you to 'have a go' sometime as I think you will be surprised how easy it is and how rewarding it is when you finish.
The remainder of the cockpit parts received some minor detailing but really did not need any corrections that I could find. Note the lovely raised detail achieved by KH on the main instrument panel. This just goes to show what they are capable of when they take the time.
It was now time for some paint. Kittyhawk color callouts indicated the use of GUNZE C336 Mr. Color Hemp BS4800/10B21 which is a soft green color and it got me wondering. I had assumed the cockpit would be overall black (like the FJ-1) or gray (like most early jets). However as I dug deeper the evidence started to mount that FJ-2s (at least early on) were painted in a bronze green. The best images I found were taken from a North American 1953 training video on YouTube which I assume is of a simulator but nonetheless a very bronze green. Museum and restored photos also pointed to a green color being used.
After having a hunt around my paint drawers I settled on a bottle of MRP-132 INTERIOR BRONZE GREEN which was designed for use on WW2 aircraft (like the P-47) but looked to my eye a spot on match. Other shades of khaki and olive drab were used to hand-paint the seat details like the parachute and straps. This was followed by a light oil wash and final dry-brush using Tamiya enamel X-11 Chrome Silver to show scuffing and wear.
For the instrument panel (which you may remember had such nice raised detail) I groaned when I saw the horrible decal provided by KH. I turned instead to my Airscale instrument decals. Airscale offer a full range of instrument faces (and placards) for aircraft of most eras and scales. For this job I chose their Post War Allied Jet sheet which I think you will agree makes quite a difference to the final result.
Kitty Hawk actually did a much better job on the side console decals and after trimming off the carrier film I was happy to use them over top of the raised panels. If you struggle with getting decals to soften and conform to detail like this consider using a stronger setting solution, such as Mr Mark Softer. It's one of the strongest decals solutions I have used, so be sure to do a little test on any new decals before committing. The cockpit received the same oil wash and dry-brush treatment as the seat to provide some depth and restrained wear to the parts.
Another round of test fitting to make sure I had not forgotten anything, this time with the canopy on. Its encouraging when the extra you put in is visible on the finished model like this. The main forward IP shroud and rear canopy shelf were painted using Tamiya Rubber Black as I find pure black too stark for 1:48.
With the cockpit now squared away I turned my attention to the rest of the fuselage interior. First stop was to join the front and rear fuselage halves. Kitty Hawk have designed the fuselage to allow it to be displayed with the tail separated from the front, allowing access to the engine (just like the real aircraft). I was not interested in having the fuselage split and so glued both sides and strengthened the join with some plasticard strip.
The intake ducts on the fuselage side were different between the FJ-2 and FJ-3. KH provides both styles of duct and suggests that for this FJ-2 build you can select either. The correct choice for an FJ-2 is the NACA duct (a low-drag air inlet design, originally developed by the U.S. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the precursor to NASA, in 1945). Parts B19,23 are the ones you want.
Because KH have engineered the duct as a swap out part it was necessary when using the NACA duct to remove most of the seams which are present around the rear of the duct. For such tasks I like to use Tamiya Basic putty to fill and blend any unwanted seams. Having reference photos of what the real thing looks like always helps. The small rectangular engine vent just below the duct is only applicable to the FJ-3 and comparison to real photos shows it not present on FJ-2s. This was easily filled with some styrene card and sanded smooth.
To their credit KH provides full intake trunking from the nose intake all the way back to the engine face. However, before work can begin on the intake there are some major sprue stubs that have to removed and cleaned up. As its a tight fit inside the curved sides of the trunking I used my Dremel tool to grind away the large stubs and then tidied up with putty and sanding. The same type of stubs were also present in the engine exhaust tube.
As the nose-wheel well is an integral part of the lower intake trunking I also needed to deal with these parts now prior to closing up the fuselage. Comparison of the kit nose strut to period Marine FJ-2s showed that KH has incorrectly molded the oleo strut as fully compressed. This would only happen when all pressure is removed from the system as is often the case for museum aircraft displays. It's my guess that KH has used photos of museum aircraft instead of period photos.
As a general rule I always try to work out some method to allow me to delay the install of the landing gear until the very end of a build. In some cases, like this model, this requires some modifications to the kits parts as they may be designed to be trapped inside the wheel well walls during assembly. A test fit of the assembled nosegear into the bay results in an unexpected fit problem. It's clearly too wide and even if you wanted to fit it during assembly I think you would struggle. You can see (using the red lines) just how far outside the bay walls the alignment pins sit. As I wanted to allow the gear to drop in afterwards I needed to trim it back anyway, but it was still a tight fit
After cutting the strut with a razor saw I drilled out the end of each part and inserted a brass rod and adjusted the length to match photos. The deck tie-down rings (standard on most carrier based aircraft) were poorly represented in plastic and I cut these off and replaced with copper wire. I have yet to add the hydraulic lines in this photo but that was done using 0.3mm lead wire and super glue.
Kittyhawk generously includes a full engine with this kit. If you like to build maintenance displays then the supplied engine will be a great starting point. One thing to be aware of is that when assembling parts C16/17 don't forget to also attach parts B30/31 into the provided slots. Kittyhawk includes the necessary parts but has left them off the instructions completely.
One of the many challenges manufacturers face when trying to design a kit that spans multiple variants is which parts to adjust and which ones to leave the same. I imagine its a balancing act of compromises and in most cases extra sprues can be used to add-in parts that are clearly different between the versions. Sometimes you notice that larger parts are simply re-purposed, perhaps hoping that no-one will notice (or care all that much). So it is with the main engine parts provided by KH for the FJ-2/3 Fury kit. There are quite visible and obvious differences between the J47-GE-2 fitted to the FJ-2 and the J65-W-2 fitted to the FJ-3. KH have decided to only provide parts that represent the FJ-3 engine and so if you want to be accurate and display the engine on your FJ-2 build you will have a bit of work ahead.
For me I had no intention of displaying the engine outside the fuselage anyway, so the incorrect detailing (which would not be visible) was of little concern. The interior of the engine exhaust was however of interest and after I had removed the extra large (XXL actually) ejection pin stubs and sanded smooth the provided detail (particularly near the very rear) was quite nice.
A dry fit of the assembled engine to the fuselage revealed some alignment issues. These were actually caused by KH themselves with some overly large alignment pins and mating holes on the fuselage halves. The fix was pretty simple and involved shaving the top off the alignment pin which then allowed the engine tube to sit lower and flush with the rear opening.
One of the few "old" paints that I still like to keep a tin handy is Humbrol Metalcote "Gunmetal" (27004). In general enamel paints have been largely replaced by acrylic and even lacquer paints by many modellers. The Metalcote range from Humbrol has some properties that I still have not found present in the new ranges of metallic paints from Alclad and AK Xtreme Metal. The simple ability to buff with a cloth (not sand with micromesh) and significantly change the finish of the paint. The thing I like in particular about Metalcote Gunmetal is that when first applied it has a matt, almost chalky, finish. Leave it to dry fully and then get a soft cloth or cotton bud and polish the surface and see what happens. The metal-like properties come out and you end up with a very convincing metal finish which in the case of my Fury engine exhaust looks like burnt metal.
The Fury, like most tricycle undercarriage aircraft, has a high propensity to be a tail sitter. Due to the inclusion of full intake trunking we are left with very few places to add some weight in the nose. The small empty compartment which sits above the intake trunk and forward of the cockpit firewall is our best option. Fishing sinkers (made from lead) are cheap and come in many sizes and can be cut as needed (for awkward spots) then glued to plastic with CA or Epoxy. I fitted as many as I could into the space available and fingers crossed it will be enough to keep the nose down and the tail up.
KH is to be commended for providing full depth air intake trunking and engine detail in-the-box. The majority of these parts will not be seen or appreciated on the finished model but its certainly good to have an intake and exhaust of sufficient depth to provide the right effect. To allow me to properly glue and sand the area around the very rear of the fuselage (ie the engine exhaust opening) I wanted to see if I could leave the engine out of the model initially and fit it (through the opening for the wings) later. This way the painted engine would not interfere or be damaged by my sanding work.
I determined that I would need to cut away the rear part of the intake and front part of the engine to make this possible. A razor saw made short work of both cuts. I made sure the cut on the intake was aft of the section where it curves up so as not to be visible from the front (even with a torch)
I now had ample room inside the mid fuselage section to allow the insertion and removal of the engine as needed. I simply needed to blank off the rear of the intake with some black styrene sheet (something I did not know even existed until I went looking).
I'm always on the lookout for new tools to aid my modelling efforts and I recently came across some Godhand Sanding Sponges. Think of these as sanding sticks without the rigid core which allows them to be rolled up and fit inside things like intake interiors and in my case the rear opening for the engine exhaust. Here I am using a 600 grade sponge (the abrasive is on the other side).
The end result of my sanding inside the tail and you can see I have applied some Tamiya Putty to cover the gaps left around part B2. Being able to deal with this area more easily was my main motivation for figuring out how to leave the engine out till later. Having the painted engine in place would have made the cleanup and sanding job far more tricky and time consuming.
I mentioned earlier that I had only recently discovered Godhand Sanding Sponges. As you can see they come in several grades of abrasive (120,240,400,600,800 and 1000) and three different thicknesses (the sponge I mean). All these are 3mm thick but you can also get 2mm and 5mm. I've found them very versatile and if like me you've never used them before I'd encourage you to pick some up. Of all the Godhand tools they are probably the cheapest thing they sell !!
KH have designed the arrestor hook bay as a single piece which slots into the bottom of the rear fuselage. This is a good idea as it removes the burden of some otherwise tricky seam work from the modeller and the end result is a very neat and tidy solution. It also means I could leave this part out as I glued the main fuselage halves together. To ensure as flush a fit as possible I added some small card tabs to the sides which help prop the center part up when inserted.
I also took the time to test fit the arrestor hook itself and two of the forward doors that cover the retracted hook. As you can see these doors are short by about 2mm and my fix was to laminate some strip styrene to them to correct the length.
With the fuselage joined it was time for some seam work and reinstatement of lost panel lines. Another product that I used for the first time on this build was Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color pre-mixed wash. I've noticed a number of modellers using this Tamiya enamel based wash to aid with panel and riveting work as its extremely thin and does an excellent job of making the recessed detail visible.
Whilst working on the spine of the fuselage I wondered what the two rectangular indents provided by KH could be. Should they be deeper, were they exhausts or vents of some kind. A quick search and post on the forums resulted in me collecting enough information to detail them a little more accurately than what was provided by KH out of the box.
To begin I opened up both vents and trimmed them to size. I then added some plasticard to the interiors to provide depth and a better sense of realism. The aft exhaust opening is the largest of the two and is angled (much like the side exhausts) to vent gases to the rear. These were simple fixes that add a lot to the look of the finished fuselage spine.
One of the distinctive features of the Fury, compared to the Sabre, was the inclusion of hydraulically folding wings. This was a requirement to enable carrier operations and gives the Fury a very different look to its land based cousin.
The main wings section (inboard of the wingfold) and fuselage is engineered as one piece by Kittyhawk. The slats are designed to be displayed in the extended position but it would not be hard to cut off the rails and reposition them closed if you wanted to model the aircraft in flight. The falps on the trailing edge are likewise designed to be down as the fit is not easy to retract them.
KH provides some nice interior detail for the flaps as well as the main wheel wells, the top of which are molded integral to the wing top part. I was a bit surprised the KH provides no aligment marks or slots for the leading edge slat rails, even a small indent would have been nice to make sure everything is lined up properly.
Being a carrier aircraft the Fury had to be modified for carrier launch and recovery. This meant the installation of the catapult launch hook, typically on the fuselage centerline. The catapult hook recess on the FJ-2 was a triangular shape, which changed to a rectangular shape from the FJ-3 onwards.
KH obviously intend to use the lower wing parts for both their FJ-3 and FJ-2 boxing so it was inevitable that one of the kits was going to be wrong. In this case it is the FJ-2 that loses out but luckily its a very easy fix. I used a straight edge and pencil to mark out the correct shape of the recess and then slowly carved the plastic away using a blade. There is sufficent plastic in and around the recess to allow this to work.
The outer (foldable) wing tips include the ailerons and more automatic leading edge slats. The wing fold mechanism includes a "piano" style hinge with interlocking fingers, which are very well done by KittyHawk.
FJ-2s and early production FJ-3s had automatic leading edge slats but no fences on the wings. The slats hung forward on rails when the aircraft was on the ground or flying at low speeds. At higher air speeds the slats were forced back into the retracted position. This required no pilot input, hence the term "automatic".
After I applied the riveting details the ailerons were attached to the outer wing. I plan to leave the slats off until after painting as I want to use different shades on each and want to avoid painful masking as much as possible.
The lower surface of the outer wings has also been riveted and cleaned up in preparation for painting.
The recess into which the slats would retract has a pronouced edge or step on the KH kit, probably deeper than it should be, but not so deep that I felt the need to figure out a way to reduce it. When adding rivets to tricky shapes like this the Galaxy Models "Corner Tool" comes in handy as it's designed to allow the placement of rivets right into corners like this. Places that the normal wheels cannot reach.
Kittyhawk have allowed for the modeller to display the model with either folded or extended wings.
Often when a manufacturer allows either folded or unfolded wings its a good bet that one of these will end in a degraded result. From my dry fit testing it seems that KH have managed to mold the wingfold in such a way that either option works fine and results in a very clean and tidy finish. Here you can see the wings displayed in the unfolded (flight) configuration and the fold joint is almost invisible.
I expect that most modellers will fold the wing and the Kittyhawk hinge provides a clean and reasonably secure/sturdy join to allow this. Note how the wing folds just past the 90 degree mark and was often seen supported by a brace. Kittyhawk do not provide the support brace but as you can see it would be easy to fashion from scratch.
The interior of the wingfold mechanism (although quite small in 1/48) would benefit from some detailing if you feel so inclined.
Turning to the tail the vertical fin is provided by KH as a separate sub-assembly. I'm not really sure why they did this as I expect the same tail will be used in their upcoming FJ-3 boxing. The 10 degree dihedral on the Sabre's horizotal tail was aremoved on the Fury, leaving them mounted with no (0 degrees) dihedral. I mention this as its not really obvious from the KH instructions.
The elevators and rudder on the Fury changed over the life of the aircraft and in the box KH provides only the later (FJ-3) style which had external ribbing added to improve stiffness. The earlier FJ-2 had smooth skin elevators and rudder and so we need to either deal with this ourself or Hypersonic Models (48033) have released a correction set in resin.
As the problem was the same on the elevators and rudder I used the same approach to fix them. The ribbing was scraped off using a blade and some strip Evergreen plastic was glued in the recess to fill it up. Once the glue was dry this was sanded to shape and blended with Tamoya Basic putty still smooth. Certainly not a hard modification, but it would have been nice if KH had provided the correct parts in the FJ-2 kit.
The completed tail assembly with corrected elevators and rudder. The riveting was added by me afterwards and checked with a coat of grey primer.
As I was carrying out the riveting work I realised that I had not shown a comparison of the before and after. Here you can see how even a small amount of rivet detail lifts the whole model. As this model will be painted in a natural metal finish the extra effort put into riveting will be quite visible and hopefully worth the effort. It's worth mentioning that the surface detail provided on the kit by KH is very good, it's just in this case I wanted to go one step further.
For the Fury, North American modified the Sabre design by increasing the main landing gear track by some 8 inches and redesigning the brakes. Kittyhawk have molded the main struts as single units with the oleo scissors. The retraction/support braces are provided separately and once again I found the KH instructions to be pretty vague with regard to the attachment points to the strut and wheel well.
The kit main undercarriage is nicely detailed and the only extra I decided to add was some brake lines from lead wire. The FJ-2 undercarriage seemed to be painted in a silver finish as can be seem from the photo.
The mounting holes for the main undercarriage are designed in such a way that you can leave the gear off until the model is finished. I drilled out the mount points to allow a snug, but firm fit so that the gear is held properly at the correct alignment later on.
As previously discussed, the nose undercarriage needed a bit more work but in general the kit parts form the basis for an accurate representation of the real aircraft.
In this FJ-2 kit Kittyhawk provides a number of external stores and pylons. As the FJ-2 was based on the F-86E it was capable of carrying the same 120 gallon tanks. Whilst the Kittyhawk tanks themselves look look pretty good (the nose seems a little sharp to me) there is no mounting points provided for the pylon to the wing join. This means it's upto the modeller to figure out the correct location as well as make sure the pylon/tank is properly aligned to be parallel to the fuselage centerline.
To solve the tank pylon mounting issue I fitted some brass rod pins to the pylon and then drilled appropriate locating holes on the wing. I needed to make sure of two things: the pylon had to be parallel to the fuselage centerline and also it had to be correctly located in relation to the wingfold. Examining photos of the Fury I decided that the pylon actually spanned the break in the wing.
There is not much margin for error when locating the pylon to the wing. The length of the pylon (when placed at the correct angle) just about takes up all the available wing exactly. You need to be careful as you don't want to have the end of the pylon extending out either end.
The wing to pylon fit is quite good and KH seems to have included the right amount of curvature on the pylons mating surface. Its just an annoyance they did not include some simple locating holes for this pylon. To add insult to injury they have included holes for the inner "missile" pylon which is not appropriate to the FJ-2, being only fitted to the later FJ-3M for use with the AIM-9A Sidewinder.
The "sit" of the tank to the pylon also looks pretty good. Once I get the aircraft sitting squarely on the undercarriage I will be able to better determine the alignment more accurately.
I'm a great believer in "killing two birds with one stone" wherever possible. I had recently been asked by Galaxy Models to review their new riveting tools and I figured what better way than to use them on this model build. Being a natural metal finish this would be the ideal subject to add more surface rivet detail to.
The Galaxy Tools riveting set comes in a several sizes and shapes, each of which I made use of as I was riveting the Fury. As this model was 1/48 I found that the 0.65mm and 0.75mm spacing looked the closet to what Kittyhawk already had on the model.
When undertaking to rivet an entire model its always best to obtain plans or reference material to show you where the rivets would go. Unfortunately I could not locate any such plans for the FJ-2 itself but I figured that it was pretty close to the F-86E Sabre and I did have good drawing on hand for that aircraft. Where the two differed I made an "educated guess" to fill in the blanks.
One trick I had picked up from other modellers was the use of Tamiya Panel Liner wash to visually highlight the rivet and panel line work as I went. This was a great help as I could immediately see how the riveting looked and where it needed fixing as I went along. Even though the panel liner from Tamiya is enamel based it did not seem to affect the plastic in any adverse way, even when I cleaned off the excess with white spirits.
The breakdown of the KH kit afforded me the benefit of being able to carry out the rivet work on the wings, tail and fuselage as separate sub-assemblies. One lesson I re-learnt was to take your time and double check measurements before committing any tool to the model surface.
I started out using tape and metal rulers to guide the rivet wheel. As I gained more confidence in the tools and my skills I began tryng out freehanding the rivets, following only a pencil line. The Galaxy Tools are very precise and this certainly helps you obtain consistent and reproducable results.
I like to regularly check the surface of the model by applying primer. Here I have used some of the nice Alclad Microfiller Grey Primer to check the results under some paint. It's also worth noting that I chose to close the nosegear door but leave the main gear doors open (which did not happen often but I did find photos of Furys parked with the doors down).
One technique to get consistent (and parallel) spacing between rows of rivets is to use strips of masking tape. Cut the tape to the desired spacing of the rivets and then use it to provide a visual (not physical) guide as you run the rivet wheel along. I found this to be a useful technique rather than the more time consuming taks of measuring and marking with pencil the spacing.
The fuselage was the most challenging part of the model to apply rivets. The compound curves near the nose present quite a challenge in terms of keeping the rivets straight. Once again I relying on thin strips of tape to give me that assurance of straight lines and I freehanded the riveting along each of the existing panel lines.
Often you will need to add rivet lines that are perpendicular (90 degrees) to an edge or existing panel line. Here I used some black Dymo tape, placed along the reference line, and a metal square to ensure I had achieved a perfect 90 degree angle. As I gained confidence with these techniques I was able to more much faster.
Not all of the riveting work was done by me, in particular the area around the arrestor hook was included by Kittyhawk in the kits plastic. I also learned that you don't need to reproduce each and every rivet from the real aircraft, just enough to give a sense of realism and dimension to the models surface.
The last task I had for my Silhouette cutter was to fabricate some fins for the "combat tanks". As before I scanned the over-scale kit part into Inkscape and made a vector graphic drawing from it. This was then used as input to the cutter software (Silhouette Studio) to create four fins out of 0.25mm (0.010") Evergreen sheet.
Following a coat of Tamiya Fine Grey Primer on the bare plastic my first metallic layer was Alclad ACL101 Aluminium. I have come to trust this particular Alclad shade as my workhorse metal base coat. Its pretty much bullet proof and provides a lovely smooth finish onto which other metal shades, from Alclad, AK and Mr Color would be applied.
One thing I like in particular about the Alclad paints is their 'maskability'. I have no fear of applying Tamiya tape over ALC101 and here I am getting ready to apply several shades of other metal paints.
Based on my previous testing of the AK Xtreme and Mr.Color Super Metalizer paints I decided to mix things up to try and get some subtle variations in not only color but finish (sheen) of the many panels on the Fury.
Like the fuselage, the wings on the early US jets are covered in lovely panel detailing that is crying out for some attention in the form of rivet detail and careful metal shade selection. I was very happy that all my riveting work had not been lost under the layers of paint. I need not have been concerned because metal paints are so thin that they reveal all the best (and worst) parts of your surface preparation !!
Whilst probably not technically needed, I decided nonetheless to apply a very fine coat of Tamiya LP9 Gloss Clear over the metal shades to provide some level of protection from the decaling, masking and weathering to come. Once again based on testing I have settled on the lacquer based clears for use over top of metalisers as I find they produce the least visible impact to the metal finish of all the clears.
The time had come for me to select a final marking scheme. I was initially drawn to the very colourful VMFA-235 Death Angels but I already had my F-8E Crusader in those markings and settled instead on VMF-334 'Falcons' as I liked the red lightning bolt running down the side of the fuselage.
There are several black and white period photos of aircraft 13 from VMF-334 and as I did more research it began to dawn on me that the all too familiar achilles heal of KittyHawk kits had found its way into this release as well. Poor research on the part of the instruction and decals has plagued just about every KH kit I have reviewed. Even a cursory comparison between the colors and sizes of the KH markings showed major errors.
As I consigned the kit decals to the appropriate receptical sitting under my bench I settled down to a session with my computer and the Silhouette designer. The letters and numbers represented no real challenge as we can use normal computer fonts for this task and after a bit of trial and error I was happy with the falcon and lightning bolt masks as well.
As I had recently obtained a roll of Oramask 810, a self adhesive, semi-transparent vinyl masking material I decided to take it out for a run on this project. Starting with an easy one I applied the vinyl mask to the model surface and used some normal tape to protect from any over spray. Of course the USMC decided to apply the MARINES partially over the speed brakes and I wanted to display these open, so I needed to deal with the partial letters on the brake as well.
The result once the black paint had dried and masking removed was some very sharp lettering. The benefit of vinyl masking is that for small subjects like we use in scale modeling the detail is very precise. The downside of vinyl masks is that they have a limited shelf life due to shrinkage and deterioration of the adhesive.
Proceeding carefully I applied the remainder of the masks and sprayed with some Gaianotes Semi Gloss Black, as this was another new brand which appeared in my local hobby shop that I had not seen before. Thinned with Mr.Color Leveling Thinners it sprayed nicely and gave a smooth semi gloss finish. Gaianotes is popular amongst Gundam modellers I believe but is perfectly suited to us aircraft modellers as well :)
I was able to correct the design and size of the KH kit decal for the lightning bolt and this was sprayed before the black falcon and 13 modex number were applied. I was impressed with how the vinyl Oramask 810 material was able to provide sharp lines even over many panel lines and rivets. I did burnish the masks down a bit but nothing extraordinary.
One of the other benefits of making your own masks is that you can easily add omissions from the kit decal sheet. KittyHawk did not include a decal for the MARINES marking under the port wing tip and as this was going to be quite visible once the wing was folded I simply scaled up the tail MARINES mask and cut it out.
I had originally planned to mask and paint the US insignia but I was struggling to get a good result with the multi-part masking needed for the three (red, white and blue) colors. After getting frustrated I cut myself a break and switched back to trusty decals, but certainly not the kit items. The blue used in the kit decals was way off as was the size. Kittyhawk provide four decals of all the same size, for which none is correct. I instead turned to my Furball Stars and Bars sheet and selected 25" markings for the fuselage and the larger 30" for the wings.
I did have to resort to the kit decals for the smaller stencilling as these are beyond the ability for my Silhouette cutter. All of the decals and masked markings were then sealed with another light coat of Tamiya LP9 in preparation for one last round of masking and then panel wash.
I had intentionally left all the painting of the interior bays (wheel wells, airbrakes etc) to the very end. I find it much easier to mask these areas from the outside edge rather than paint them first and mask from the inside. I ended up applying a green primer color as I made an educated guess that given the period when the FJ-2 was in service that manufacturers were still applying these protective colors to such areas. I did find a couple of color photo's that showed the airbrake interior in green and the nose gear door interior and airbrake in safety red.
For a panel wash I wanted a color that would subtly emphasise the surface details without too much contrast (which never looks very realistic). For the job I selected the Tamiya Dark Gray Panel Liner which is a very thin enamel based wash product. The wash was liberally applied over the model surface because I find a little grime outside the recessed details never goes astray. Most enamel washes can be best removed with a very mild solvent such as White Spirit. I try and avoid the use of more refined products like thinners for this task as they tend to be 'hotter' and more agressive risking damaging your underlying paint coats, even if you have applied a clear coat !!
The end result we are looking for is a finish that makes the panel and rivet detail more realistic but is not overpowering. The surface detail is not meant to be the star of the show, it has a supporting role. If you find your panel lines screaming at you try to tone them down with a lighter, more subtle wash color.
The other side affect of a good panel wash is it darkens the overall 'gleam' of the metal finish. It's also true that some of the 'matt' wash pigment is left outside the panel lines and this also helps to cut the shine of the metal just that little bit.
With the main finish now mostly complete I turned my attention to several of the smaller last minute details. One of the eye catching features of the Fury over its land based cousin is undoubtedly the wing fold. I particularly like this type of fold where it's just a few degrees over 90 as it does not obscure any of the wing or fuselage on the model. Many of the photos of Fury flight-lines show support struts in place and I reproduced these from 0.019" brass rod. Being safety equipment these would now be painted red.
As happens to us all, I misplaced (aka lost) the wing tip pitot tube. This turned out to be a good thing as it forced my hand to scratch build one from brass rod (which look way better and more in scale). The unusual kink in the pitot is to ensure the leading edge slats to not hit it when they extend.
Before attaching the canopy I had to make up a part to represent the loop antenna for the ARN6 Radio Compass which sits on a shelf just behind the seat. For this I grabbed some clear sprue and used my Dremmel like a lathe to round off the end. This was painted using clear orange/smoke. This photo also shows the extended boarding steps on the fuselage side.
Whilst I was generally happy with the metal effect I had achieved I still felt the overall finish of the model was too fresh/clean. To address this I used the airbrush to apply grime in very targeted areas. The grime was achieved by mixing Tamiya Red Brown / Rubber Black and super heavily thinning use pure IPA (not normal X-20A thinners). This mix allows you to airbrush the 'filter' onto the model without it making a mess like you would normally get with over-thinned paint.
Using this filter grime mix you can keep coming back and slowly build up the opacity of the effect as can be seen around the filler caps on the drop tanks. These areas would quickly become grotty due to fuel spillage. As with any weathering effect, less is more.
The final assembly of the undercarriage, wingfolds, airbrakes, arrestor hook and drop tanks had to undertaken with increasing care as each new addition made the model harder to find a safe holding point but in the end it all came to together. Here are some final photos to show just how it all worked out in the end.

CONCLUSION - Kitty Hawk 1:48 FJ-2 Fury (80155)

It's normally with some apprehension that I embark on the build of any new KH kit as in my mind they have developed a habit of getting their kits 'almost right' or 'often wrong'.

This typically means parts 'almost fit' and the shape/accuracy in general is 'almost correct'. Markings and colors are 'close enough' to be frustrating but not fatal. I'm not saying that they need to get it perfect all the time, but I've built and reviewed enough KH kits to notice this pattern.

So it is with this kit. In many ways KittyHawk have certainly improved. The fit of this kit is very good, the kit does not feel as over-engineered as some of their previous releases and the number of mis-formed or short shot parts has pretty much been eliminated.

The area where KittyHawk consistently drop the ball is around their research (or lack thereof) for the aircraft markings and paint schemes, especially in boxings where you have a choice of variants.

In my build I chose to use my own masks (because I could), but I feel sorry for other modellers who need to use the kit decals because they will ruin what is otherwise a truely nice kit.

So would I recommend this kit? Hell yes I would, it's a very good representation of the FJ-2 Fury in 1:48, probably the best we have (or are likely to have). However, unless you can make your own decals or masks I would strongly suggest you source an after-market sheet, at the very least for the national insignia.

Appendix