1/72 Rareplanes FJ-4B Fury

Gallery Article by Carmel J Attard on Jan 20 2011


North American FJ-4B Fury

Perhaps the most graceful of all shipboard fighter aircraft design produced by the North American Company evolving from the F-86 Sabre, the FJ-4 Fury was the last of the very successful Fury line. It started with the straight wing version FJ-1. Then developed into FJ-2 and FJ-3 and finished with the FJ-4, which had vastly improved performance over its predecessors. It was designed specifically as a fighter-bomber incorporating the stiffened wings of the F-86H that went in service with the USAF. The FJ-4B had six wing pylons and was equipped with LABS bombing system making it suitable for the nuclear role.

The FJ-4B was one of the earliest to carry effective air to ground missile system and was capable of carrying five ASM-N-7 bullpup ground attack missile with the guidance transmitter on the sixth under wing station. It was also suitable for use as an in-flight refuelling tanker, which carried large underwing, tanks that contained fuel, hose reel, and drogue-stabilised refuelling receptacles. The type was easily distinguished as it carried a generator run by a small propeller in the nose of the fuel tank that provided power to operate.

Between December 1956 to May 1958 the North American’s Columbus Ohio factory 374 FJ-4Bs were built. They went in service with the nine Navy and three Marine attack Squadrons starting with VA-1216 and VMA-223 respectively. The type remained in service until the early 60s to make way for new Navy attack aircraft.

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The kit

Make: Rareplanes
Scale: 1/72
Cost: £5
Type: Vacform type of kit, lots of surface detail, contains no decals or metal parts.

This is one of Rareplanes best vacform kits and is suitable for those new to the method of building vacform types as well as those who have experience. Even when compared with later release in injection type form by Emhar the Rareplanes in my opinion remains the more accurate type at the nose contour and shape of the canopy. The Rareplanes model comes in two thick sheets of white styrene containing all the parts including five accurate Bullpup missiles and a guidance transmitter pod. There are also two massive in flight refuelling pods for the tanker version. Panel line detail is of top quality as generally found in all Rareplane kits. There are sufficient parts to make a well-detailed cockpit interior without adding extra scratch built parts. No decals come with the kit and on the negative side are the wheel legs that I preferred to build from scratch using stretch sprue parts as the kit ones were difficult to cut. The kit was produced long before Rareplanes started to incorporate metal parts for these.

As with any vacform kit a little more effort is needed in cutting down the parts followed by rubbing down and this should never deter anyone indulging in this sort of work. Only sufficient patience can overcome this minor problem. In the case of the FJ-4B kit, the styrene was thick enough to provide suitable key all around the fuselage and wing joints. However to play safe I added small stabs of plastic to assist with self-locating the fuselage halves when these are brought together. Any ‘pips’ on the surfaces which are left in the moulding process are removed with the tip of a knife blade. Wing parts, fuel tanks, and missile parts are all cut and items joined together. A refuelling probe is made from stretch sprue; the shape and size are obtained with reference to the excellent five-view drawing that comes with the kit. I did not use the bullpup missiles as I decided to make both kits as refuelling tankers. (At the time Tankers were lacking in my collection of combat types) and the Bullpups were left to fit in a future FJ-4 I might build.

Having cut the parts from the backing sheet and assembled the small items, the next step was to bring the fuselage, wings and tail unit together. Weight was needed on the nose of the model and a nose wheel well box was also constructed from backing acetate. The cockpit interior was well represented in the kit. This was cut and shaped to fit and join up with the top of fuselage where it contained the upper part of the ejection seat. The lower part of the seat was made from plastic pieces cut to required shape. The nose air intake is made separately from three plastic pieces consisting of two cylindrical halves and an air intake lip. When put together in one piece they fitted snugly in the fuselage front space. A jet pipe was made from a used ball pen that had the correct diameter to fit inside the fuselage. A length was cut and was blanked at the inside end. The open end mated with the engine outlet orifice eliminating see-through when viewed from the rear. Liquid polystyrene cement of Humbrol brand was used throughout the building process.

The cockpit office consisted of instrument panel, cockpit interior, control column, rudder pedals were added and the whole area painted dark grey with black touches and white dots for instruments. Gun ports were also opened on each side of the nose. Reference to the Squadron Signals publication FJ Fury In Action series No 103 proved to be a good source throughout the kit build. The two fuselage halves were then joined together, applying liquid cement at the mating seams. The main wing was then assembled and any gaps that showed up were treated with Revell Plasto filler. Tail planes were put in place and careful checks ensured exact position and alignment right in their place. Sanding down the filler was a little time consuming and in the end a small piece of wet and dry paper was used to smoothen up the area.

The undercarriage legs described earlier were fitted in small holes drilled in the wheel wells. I used the vacform wheels provided which fitted perfectly to the legs using a tiny amount of super glue for quick drying. I needed checking to get the correct attitude ‘sit’ of the fuselage that is evidently a characteristic of the Fury when it is on the ground. Smaller detail like wing fences, refuelling probe, pylons, and arrestor hook were all added at this stage. The cockpit was also cut with a trimming knife and fitted in place using white glue.

Painting and Decal application.
Cockpit, which was now firm in place, was masked. I applied an undercoat of matt white overall to the model and any blemishes were attended to. A final coat of semi gloss white Model Master 1596E was applied. Elevator, tail plane areas, rudder and lower surfaces were masked with Tamiya tape and the kit airbrushed in Gull Grey Humbrol USN5 FS 36440. Finally there was some touching up done when all masking was removed. My first FJ-4B was completed as a Marines Fury belonging to VMF-354. The red bands across the fuselage and tail fin and rudder were airbrushed and the speed bird motif was drawn on a black decal, cut with a sharp knife to appear superimposed across the fuselage band. My second FJ-4 represent the type circa 1962 during a time when it was phased out of front line use and were operated mainly by reserve squadrons. Unlike the FJ4B, the FJ-4 carried no additional lower fuselage speed brake and hence was removed from the kit. The Fury is shown in markings when it was assigned to the Navy Reserve Air Unit (NRAU) at NAS Memphis during summer of 1962.Model Master Day-Glo orange/red was used at different areas shown. Wing leading edges were painted silver. As for decals all lettering came from Super scale sheet letters and numbers. Other standard markings came from spares decal box. My third FJ4 was an updated kit from the Emhar injection moulded Fury belonging to Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-323 during spring of 1958. Markings came from Xtradecal sheet XO-37-72. The kit was converted to FJ-4 by removing under fuselage speed brake, carried only 4 under wing pylons, and used a spare Rareplanes canopy, detailed cockpit and slightly modified nose shape and nose wheel door.

I always seem to get a feeling of satisfaction when completing a vacform type of kit and making two of the type gave all the more. It is becoming difficult to get a model of the Rareplanes FJ4 these days and it is still possible to find one from e-bay but for a price that goes beyond the value when the kit was first released.

Ref: Squadron /Signals publication FJ Fury in action No 103

Carmel J Attard

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Photos and text © by Carmel J Attard