17 December 2014

FJ-3M Fury – RVHP Model Kit Review

1. Introduction
Aircraft: North American FJ-3M Fury
Model kit manufacturer / country: RVHP / Czech Republic
Scale: 1:72
Catalogue number: 72013
Release time: probably late 1990s or early 2000s

Basic information on the FJ-3 Fury is available in Wikipedia (link) and will not be repeated here. For more detailed information on the aircraft see books [1], [2] and [3] listed below in the "Reference Data" section.

2. Kit
2.1. Box
The box is compact (18 x 13 x 4 cm) and extremely sturdy. Large resin pats are left to rattle inside the box; smaller parts have their individual zip-lock plastic bags. The boxart is a copy of a drawing from a Squadron/Signal book.

2.2. Instruction
Instruction is provided on one black & white A4 sheet. It explains the building process adequately, but very little information on painting is supplied.

2.3. Resin Items
The kit is cast from pale cream resin. Parts have smooth surface, the quality of cast is acceptable for the larger parts but is less so for the smaller ones. Recessed panel lines are unmistakably hand-made: some of the lines waver, there are T-shapes instead of straight angles, and so forth.

While the quality of parts could be assessed as mediocre, the accuracy and geometry is, unfortunately, even worse. And I do not do guesswork here: you can see all for yourself on the attached comparison pictures. The key points are as follows:
 - Inaccurate air intake shape.
 - Wrong wing sweep angle, both for leading edge and trailing edge (RVHP kit: 39° leading edge, 30° trailing edge; hard wing FJ-3M: 38° leading edge, 27.5° trailing edge).
 - Wing chord is too short; it would probably be right for a slatted wing but not for a later "3-6" hard wing. Such wing cannot, therefore, belong to an FJ-3M (see [5] in the "Reference Data"), but only to an early production FJ-3.
 - Inaccurate vertical stabilizer and rudder detail.
 - Inaccuracies in the geometrically sophisticated area around horizontal stabilizer fairing and exhaust.
 - Slots for the arrestor hook are different on left and right fuselage halves (which is, of course, incorrect).
 - Wheels are inaccurate and very poorly cast.
 - Dashboard detail does not resemble the real one even remotely.
 - Gun troughs lack both crispness and depth.
 - No details whatsoever are provided for cockpit and wheel wells; landing gear detail is very sketchy and tail bumper is absent.

2.4. Clear Parts
The kit contains a vacu-formed canopy of very poor quality. It's surface is uneven and highly distorting. Furthermore, the lower part of the FJ-3's canopy frame has sophisticated, curved shape and "intrudes" onto the fuselage side significantly. The kit's parts lack this feature.

2.5. Metal Items
Landing gear legs cast from white metal are included. They are very sturdy and the cast quality is acceptable. However, their shape is grossly simplified in relation to what we can see on a real FJ-3.

3. Decal
One decal option is provided for the following aircraft:
 - BuNo 135990 / NF00. U.S. Navy, squadron VF-51, USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), 1957.

I cannot find a clear photograph of NF00, but photographs of NF101, 103, 104, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112 and 113 all show consistency in the application of markings. Therefore I will use those photographs in my analysis. And this analysis shows that the kit's decal has, alas, a whole collection of inaccuracies.

1) The proportions of three red fuselage bands on the decal are incorrect. Decal's white space between the bands is as wide as 81% of the band (red with black outline), whereas on real VF-51 Furies this ratio is 32%.
2) The thin black outline is lacking on the decal's red fuselage spine stripe, whereas on VF-51 Furies all red trim is outlined with black.
3) The unit code on the vertical stabilizer - the slanted NF - is not accurate on the decal. On VF-51 Furies the F's middle bar sits closer to it's topmost bar.
4) The font of the BuNo, modex and NAVY letters on the decal is incorrect. Note the thickness of letters and the spaces between individual letters on the historical photograph.
5) On the decal, the modex in the wing combination is too small: it is as tall as 70% of the unit code, while on real VF-51 Furies this ratio is 91%. Then, the presentation of NF for the wing combination is incorrect: on real VF-51 Furies the N and the F are connected.
6) The "Rescue" arrow on the VF-51 Furies is red with white lettering; on the decal, it is yellow with black lettering.
7) The blue on the decal's national insignia is too light.
8) Two last digits of the modex also appear on the VF-51 Furies nose landing gear door. This element is lacking on the decal.

4. Alternatives & Aftermarket
There are no other FJ-3 Fury model kits in the 1:72 scale as of December 2014. And there is no aftermarket either.

5. Conclusion
 - Nothing.
 - Major inaccuracies in shape and geometry, namely: air intake shape; wing sweptback angle and wing chord; vertical stabilizer and rudder shape; horizontal stabilizer fairing and exhaust area; wheels.
 - Total lack of detail in cockpit, landing gear, wheel wells, air intake and exhaust areas.
 - Poor quality canopy.
 - Mediocre quality of casting.
 - Inaccurate decal.
 - Exorbitant price (~$66 in 2005 at Hobbyshop.cz).

The conclusion is, therefore, as follows: no 1:72 scale model of the FJ-3/3M Fury exists today. We will have to wait until some manufacturer comes up with a new kit – and, hopefully, with an accurate one.

6. Reference Data
[1] North American FJ-3/3M Fury | Naval Fighters Series # 88 | Ginter Books, 2010
[2] FJ Fury | In Detail & Scale Series # 68 | Squadron/Signal Publications, 2003
[3] FJ Fury in Action | Aircraft in Action Series # 103 | Squadron/Signal Publications, 1990
[4] An excellent photo walk-around: link
[5] Some useful notes by Tommy H. Thomason: link and link