Kit Review: Kitty Hawk 1/48 scale Kit No. KH80131; F2H-2/F2H-2P ?Ba
nshee?; (206 in grey styrene, 19 clear styrene, 12 etched brass); r
etail price US$74.99 (average mail order price US$55)
Advantage: new, accurate kit of the -2 ?Banjo? with the nic
e option of the -2P nose and cameras; cockpit and gun bay details; folding
wind and flap options
Disadvantages: relatively expensive for a 1/48 aircraft kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Korean War and early jet fighter fans
One of the early jet fighters adopted for the US Navy was the McDonnell FH
Phantom, which solved the problem of low powered and unreliable jet engine
s by using twin engines mounted in the wingroots. But it was slow and under
armed with only four .50 caliber machine guns, so an improved variant was c
alled for. This emerged in the late 1940s as the F2H Banshee, a larger and
more sophisticated aircraft.
The first model, the F2H-1, left some things to be desired such as longer
range and a better laid out cockpit. Accordingly, the design was modified b
y adding 200 gallon tip tanks to the wings and extending the fuselage and c
ockpit by 14 inches ahead of the wings. The result was an aircraft which co
uld touch 600 mph, fly very high and had a range in excess of 1200 miles wi
th combat loads as well as carry up to 1600 pounds of ordnance. While not a
s maneuverable as the smaller F9F Panther, it was an excellent air superior
ity and fleet defense aircraft.
Back at the end of the 1940s the Hawk model company released a styrene kit
of the F2H-1, but soon realized it was a dead end and then modified it to
be the F2H-2 (or at least said so on the box). The kit was simple: molded i
n Navy blue styrene, it had a pilot on a slab, a Coke-bottle green canopy,
tip tanks and a stand ? all together about 15 parts in the box. Lat
er, in 1957, the kit was upgraded to the current version in grey and now ad
ded landing gear and ordnance with a new part total of 41. But it was still
a modified F2H-1 kit with engraved ?stick here? decal loca
Ten years ago I made one of my rare forays into aircraft modeling and did
a massive rebuild of the 1957 version of the Hawk (then Testors) kit. It re
ceived a scale 14" extension and new canopy, new wheel wells, proper ordnan
ce, scratchbuilt landing gear, intake interiors, cockpit and rescribing whe
re I could find out what the panel lines looked like. I also moved the tip
tanks back 7mm to their proper place and drooping them down under the wings
Now, some ten years later, Kitty Hawk has just released a gorgeous kit of
the ?Banjo? in 1/48 scale. And all of the stuff I had to fi
x the hard way is now done for you in one place!
The kit comes with a very interesting parts breakdown so that the wings ma
y be built in any position the modeler desires - down, folded, down with fl
aps down, or down with the curious dive brakes/spoilers raised. The landing
gear is now accurate with items down to the hydraulic brake lines included
. Two very basic engines are include (no panels open to show them) as well
as intake and exhaust trunking within the wing; some of the engine is visib
le when the flaps are down so this is not a bad idea.
The cockpit now has gone from a slab of styrene to 17 parts plus the contr
ol panel and gunsight; no pilot is included (but considering Hawk?s
pilot was in a USAF pressure suit at least they can?t be called wr
ong!) The nose gear and well are very nicely done.
The -2 gun bay is quite detailed, with all four cannon and ammo cans and f
eeds mounted on a platform with a one-piece nose cap at the front of the ba
y. Bay access doors may be shown open or closed.
The -2P photo bay is just as detailed, with four cameras and magazines as
well as controls provided. A total of ten clear styrene panels are used for
the photo window covers; the bay side ones insert from the inside and the
lower ones from the outside, so this will have to be considered when painti
ng the bay and the model.
While a two-piece canopy is included (comparison shows my take - a modifie
d Monogram F-86 canopy - was the correct size and shape) the windscreen is
missing the defroster tubes on either side, and the sliding hood does not h
ave any provision for the slight rocking back motion of the original; the l
ower section of the canopy is mounted to the fuselage.
Most of the etched brass is for the dive brake/spoiler arrangement (four o
f the parts are the shoulder and lap belts in the cockpit. If not used a si
mple styrene strip covers their openings.
The wings either butt joint with their hinges into the center section or t
he root and wing panels are jointed by another seven parts to create an acc
urate hinge arrangement.
The kit provides two 500 pound bombs and four 5" rockets for armament. Fro
m what the manual says the normal arrangement is bombs under the center sec
tion, rockets on the wings. The only option the kit shows is the bombs and
two rockets on the center section, but as all four rocket pylon mounts are
provided I suggest using the wings as the Navy did.
Four different finishing options are offered in a center-section pullout i
n the assembly manual: F2H-2P, VMJ-1, BuAer 125687 (aircraft 3 MW) in Navy
Blue with mission markers (Korean War); F2H-2, El Toro, USMC, BuAer 124978
(two-tone grey with international orange panels; F2H-2P, VMJ-1, BuAer 12887
0, late 1950s (aircraft 4 YW) (two-tone grey with red trim); F2H-2, VF-11 (
USS Essex), Korean War (aircraft 116 T, BuAer 125068) in Navy Blue with red
Note that four Banshee squadron served in Korea (VF-11, VF-22, VF-62 and V
F-172) as well as two photo detachments (VMJ-1, VC-61). Twelve Banshees wer
e lost in action as well as three photo Banshees. For example, 124978 was h
it by a landing aircraft on USS Essex in September 1951 while assigned to V
F-172 in Korea but repaired.
Overall this is a great kit and many modelers will want two in order to do
both versions. I must admit I did hiccup at the price - the Hawk one cost
me $4 from a trader - but unless you love misery this kit provides most thi
ngs you could want in one place but still leaves room for the super-detaile
5 years ago