F-80C – Saggin’ Dragon Completed

This was a very enjoyable kit and renewed my faith in HobbyBoss products.  

One thing I learned in researching this project is that the first jet fighters (and the F-80 was America’s first active duty fighter) were real gas guzzlers!  Of course, the F-80C “Saggin’ Dragon” was first based at Misawa AFB in Japan and was flying missions the length of the Korean Peninsula requiring some extra fuel load.  Plus, it was often carrying a ton of bombs, not a light package for a single jet fighter.

The large tip tanks were dubbed “Misawa tanks” as they were produced locally from a field expedient design.  They were unique to the F-80.

When it came time for weathering, I only weathered the wheel wells.  This was not a matter of “end of the project laziness” (something I could rightly be accused of a time or two in the past).  It was from looking at the photos of the F-80 fighters serving in Korea.  There were no prominent panel lines, exhaust stains, etc.  The surface of the aircraft appeared to be flat dull aluminum.  I looked at mine which had been sprayed with Vallejo Satin Varnish (70.522), and I thought it looked quite like the actual aircraft. 

In three years of war in Korea (1950 to 1953), the United States Armed Forces suffered 33,651 battle deaths, tens of thousands of wounded and thousands more who died of accident or disease serving there.  The totals rival those of the ten year long Vietnam War.  Yet, calling the Korean War the Forgotten War is accurate.  I think it is time for me to do some studying and remembering.

I really like this model, and it will  be the first of several Korean War models I intend to build next.

I liked the color scheme, but the decal of the nose decoration was never going to fit correctly, at least if I was the one applying the decal. And I thought the decal was too light a blue anyway. It was more likely an insignia blue color. And the dragon design was separate from the blue stripe.
So, I photocopied the decals. I used the photocopy as a pattern to make a mask to copy the Vallejo Air Insignia Blue paint I sprayed on the nose and tail.
Being so used to seeing streamlined modern bombs on Vietnam Era aircraft, the old WWII type bombs looked out of place on this jet. I imagine there were thousands of the older bombs left over in 1950.
The decals went on perfectly and responded well to Microsol and Microset.
It was rare to see an F-80 with its flaps and dive brakes lowered while on the ground. However, the detail of the parts invited me to lower them rather than cover them up.
The seat belts were supplied in the kit on a photo etched fret.