This kit comes in a side-opening box and contained parts trees and decals in ziplock bags. My kit was purchased second-hand from eBay.
I chose this kit because I am doing an anthology of the Felix Squadron, from 1935 to the present. VF-31 flew this aircraft from 1957 until it was replaced with the F-4 Phantom II in 1964. This release has decals for VF-31, AC105, bu. #143489, “The Last of the Fleet Demons”. The pilot was Cdr. Wayne Welty. This is the version I built.
The Demon was a historically troubled aircraft, the instructions give a very good history of the aircraft and outline the problems it encountered. It’s probably fortunate that it was replaced at the outbreak of the Vietnam War. I know of no other manufacturer that produced this aircraft, and Sword seems to have done a very good job with this kit.
There are no locator pins for the fuselage halves or any other parts. There are small indentations on the fuselage and wings for placement of stores pylons, pay close attention to their location as to not obliterate them during assembly. With that said the overall fit and finish of this aircraft is above average, only some slight filling and sanding being required, particularly at the joint where the fuselage meets the nose section on the bottom, just aft of the nose wheel well. Pay close attention when installing the nose section to the fuselage as I popped off the PE intake vanes several times. It is a very tight fit.
There are two options for ejection seats, both are resin parts and very well detailed. Other resin parts are the inside mount for the exhaust tube and the exhaust can. The cockpit itself has nice raised detailing that is easily painted, there is no panel decal on the sheet. I didn’t look for an aftermarket cockpit but I would say the cockpit is good enough as is.
External stores include two fuselage-mounted fuel tanks and options for both Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles. There are two variants of the Sparrow missile included, one with a very sharply pointed nose and one of the more familiar visual configurations. You can do two of each missile with the available rails which are separate from the underwing pylons.
The landing gear is very accurate according to the ample online photographic research I was able to find. Again fit is superb, but please use available photos as the instruction locations are somewhat vague. The balance is good, I did not have to add any counterbalance at all.
Okay, now for the bad news, which isn’t all that bad. The panel lines on the aircraft are very shallow and could do with some re-scribing. The upper wing air brakes are not recessed into the wing, with them laying on top of the wing surface it just does not appear right. The PE brake is thin, but it still looks different than actual physical pictures of the aircraft. The resin ejection seat material is very brittle, I managed to break the ejection initiation handles for the option I wanted and wound up just using the other seat.
Overall I would give this kit 4 out of 5 stars. The only lacking issues are the panel lines and the one fit issue I addressed….which could have just been my assembly skills being lacking. Historically speaking this is an important US Navy aircraft, it came at a time of relative peace between Korea and Vietnam. Despite a lack of combat experience I would say include this one if you are looking for something different for your flight deck. You won’t be disappointed.
Happy Building !