"Into the evening sun..." 1:72 Lockheed F-94E Starfire, aircraft ‘FA 880/Bu. No. 56-0880 ’ of the 57th FIS ‘Black Knights’, US Air Forces Iceland, Keflavik AB, 1959 (Whif/Emhar kit conversion)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Lockheed F-94 Starfire was a first-generation jet aircraft of the United States Air Force. It was developed from the twin-seat Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star in the late 1940s as an all-weather, day/night interceptor.
The aircraft reached operational service in May 1950 with Air Defense Command, replacing the propeller-driven North American F-82 Twin Mustang in the all-weather interceptor role. The F-94 was the first operational USAF fighter equipped with an afterburner and was the first jet-powered all-weather fighter to enter combat during the Korean War in January 1953.
The initial production model was the F-94A, which entered operational service in May 1950. Its armament consisted of four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns mounted in the fuselage with the muzzles exiting under the radome. Two 165 US Gallon (1,204 litre) drop tanks, as carried by the F-80 and T-33, were carried on the wingtips. Alternatively, these could be replaced by a pair of 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs under the wings, giving the aircraft a secondary fighter bomber capability. 109 were produced.
The subsequent F-94B, which entered service in January 1951, was outwardly virtually identical to the F-94A. The Allison J33 turbojet had a number of modifications made, though, which made it a very reliable engine. The pilot was provided with a more roomy cockpit and the canopy was replaced by a canopy with a bow frame in the center between the two crew members, as well as a new Instrument Landing System (ILS). 356 of these were built.
The following F-94C was extensively modified and initially designated F-97, but it was ultimately decided to treat it as a new version of the F-94. USAF interest was lukewarm, since aircraft technology developed at a fast pace in the Fifties, so Lockheed funded development themselves, converting two F-94B airframes to YF-94C prototypes for evaluation.
To improve performance, a completely new, much thinner wing was fitted, along with a swept tail surface. The J33 engine was replaced with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney J48, a license-built version of the afterburning Rolls-Royce Tay, which produced a dry thrust of 6,350 pounds-force (28.2 kN) and approximately 8,750 pounds-force (38.9 kN) with afterburning.
The fire control system was upgraded to the Hughes E-5 with an AN/APG-40 radar in a modified nose with an enlarged radome. The guns were removed and replaced with an all-rocket armament, which was – at that time – regarded as more effective against high-flying, subsonic bomber formations. The internal armament consisted of four flip-up panels in a ring around the nose, each containing six rockets. External pods on the wings augmented the offensive ordnance to 48 projectiles. Operational service began with six squadrons by May 1954.
According to test pilot Tony LeVier, the F-94C was capable of supersonic flight, but Lockheed felt that the straight wing limited the airframe's potential, esp. with the uprated engine. Besides, the earlier F-94 variants already saw the end of their relatively brief operational life, already being replaced in the mid-1950s by the Northrop F-89 Scorpion and North American F-86D Sabre interceptor aircraft in front-line service and relegated to National Guard service. Therefore, Lockheed launched another update program for the F-94 in 1953, again as a private venture.
The resulting F-94E (the F-94D was a proposed fighter bomber variant which made it to prototype staus) was another, evolutionary modification of the basic concept, which, in the meantime, had almost nothing left in common with its F-80/T-33 ancestry.
It was based on the F-94C, most obvious change was the introduction of swept wings for supersonic capability in level flight. This change also necessitated other aerodynamic adjustments, including a new, deeper fin with increased area and a modified landing gear that would better cope with the increased AUW.
Under the hood, the F-94E was constructed around the new Hughes MG-3 fire control system, similar to the early F-102, but kept the AN/APG-40, even though it was coupled with an enlarged antenna. The respective new radome now covered the complete nose cross section. Furthermore, the F-94 E introduced innovations like a Texas Instruments infrared search/tracking system (IRST), which allowed passive tracking of heat emissions, mounted in a canoe fairing under the nose, passive radar warning receivers, transponders as well as backup artificial horizons.
With this improved equipment the interceptor was now able to deploy semi-active radar homing GAR-1s and/or infrared GAR-2s (later re-designated AIM-4A/B Falcon), operating at day and night as well as under harsh weather conditions.
All missiles were carried externally on underwing pylons. Beside the original main wet hardpoints outside the landing gear (typically a pair of 165 US Gallon (1,204 litre) drop tank, that were carried on the wing tips on the former versions), two additional pairs of lighter pylons were added under the wing roots and the outer wings.
Typically, a pair of SARH- and IR-guided AIM-4s were carried, one per pylon, plus a pair of drop tanks. Alternatively, the F-94E could carry up to 4.000 lb (1,816 kg) of ordnance, including up to six streamlined pods, each holding nineteen 2 ¾” in (70 mm) Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets. Any internal armament was deleted.
The F-94E's new wings allowed a top speed of 687mph at sea level and a top speed of 693 mph (1,115 km/h) at height – compared with the F-94C’s 640 mph (556 kn, 1,030 km/h) a rather mild improvement. But the enlarged wing area resulted in a considerably improved rate of climb as well as good maneuverability at height. The F-94E's performance was overall on par with the F-86D, with the benefit of a second crew member, while its weapon capability was comparable with the much bigger (but slower) F-89.
Both of these types were already introduced, so the Air Force's interest was, once more, less than enthusiastic. Eventually the F-94's proven resilience to harsh climate conditions, esp. in the Far North, earned Lockheed in 1955 a production contract for 72 F-94Es for interceptor squadrons based in Alaska, New Foundland, Greenland and Iceland.
These production machines arrived to the Northern theatre of operations in summer 1956 and featured an improved weapon capability: on the wet wing hardpoints, a pair of MB-1 Genie (formerly known as ‘Ding Dong’ missile, later re-coded AIR-2) nuclear unguided rockets could be carried.
For the missile pylons under the wing roots, twin launch rails were introduced so that the F-94E could theoretically carry a total of up to eight AIM-4 missiles, even though the wet pylons were typically occupied with the drop tanks and only two pairs of AIM-4A and B were carried under the wing roots. The J48 engine was slightly uprated, too: the F-94E’s P-9 variant delivered now 6,650 lbf (29.5 kN) dry thrust and 10,640 lbf (47.3 kN) at full afterburner.
Keflavik Airport, Iceland, although controlled by Military Air Transport Service (MATS), was the first base to be equipped with F-94Es as part of the 82d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in early 1957, where the machines replaced F-94Bs and F-89Cs.
The type was popular among the crews, because it coupled a relatively high agility (compared with the F-89 Scorpion) with the psychological benefit of a two men crew, not to be underestimated during operations in the Far North as well as over open water.
The F-94's career didn't last long, though, the aircraft soon became outdated. The last F-94E was already retired from USAF front-line service in November 1962, only three years after the last F-94C Starfires were phased out of ANG service. Eventually, the fighters were replaced by the F-101, F-102 and the F-106.
Length: 44 ft 11 in (13.71 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 10 in (12.16 m)
Height: 14 ft 6 in (4.43 m)
Wing area: 313.4 sq ft (29.11 m²)
Empty weight: 12,708 lb (5,764 kg)
Loaded weight: 18,300 lb (8,300 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 24,184 lb (10,970 kg)
1× Pratt & Whitney J48-P-9 turbojet, rated at 6,650 lbf (29.5 kN) dry thrust
and 10,640 lbf (47.3 kN) at full afterburner.
Maximum speed: 693 mph (1,115 km/h) at height and in level flight
Range: 805 mi (700 nmi, 1,300 km) in combat configuration with four AAMs and two drop tanks
Ferry range: 1,275 mi (1,100 nmi, 2,050 km)
Service ceiling: 51,400 ft (15,670 m)
Rate of climb: 12,150 ft/min (61.7 m/s)
Wing loading: 78.6 lb/ft² (384 kg/m²)
Six underwing pylons for a mix of AIM-4 Falcon AAMs (IR- and SARH-guided),
pods with unguided 19× 2.75” (70 mm) Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets,
a pair of 165 gal. drop tanks or a pair of unguided nuclear MB-1 Genie air-to-air missiles
The kit and its assembly:
Another entry for the Cold War GB at whatifmodelers.com. This build was originally inspired by profiles of a P-80/F-86 hybrid, and respective kitbashings from other modelers. An elegant, though fictional, aircraft! Nevertheless, I wanted to build one, too, and take the original idea a step further. So I chose the F-94 as an ingredient for the kit mix – a rather overlooked aircraft, and getting hands on a donation kit took some time, since there are not many options.
I wanted to use the F-94C as starting point, which is already considerably different from the F-80/T-33. Adding swept wings (from a Hobby Boss F-86F, with larger “6-3” wings) changed this look even more. So much that I decided to modify the fin, which did not look appropriate anymore.
The fin and the spine’s rear end was replaced with the fin of a Kangnam/Revell Yak-38. In order to unify shapes and make the donation less obvious, the Yak-38 fin’s characteristic, pointed tip was clipped and replaced by a more conventional design, scratched from a piece of 1.5mm styrene sheet. In the wake of this modification, the round elevator tips were clipped, too.
Using the F-94’s landing gear wells as benchmarks, the F-86 wings (which had to be cut off of the Hobby Boss kit’s integral, lower fuselage part) were sanded into shape and simply glued into a proper position.
This worked so well that a completely new and plausible main landing gear installation was created. As a consequence, I used the F-86’s landing gear struts - they are much better detailed than the Emhar F-94C’s parts. The front wheel strut (it’s a single piece) was transplanted too, even though the suspension was switched 180°.
The Emhar F-94C’s cockpit is pretty good (esp. the seats) and were taken OOB. I just covered some gaps in the cockpit walls and under the windscreen with paper tissue, soaked with white glue.
The nose was replaced by a bigger radome, taken from an Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF.14 (Matchbox kit). Its diameter and shape fit almost perfectly onto the F-94C’s front end, and the result reminds a lot of the EF-94C photo reconnaissance test aircraft! Under the nose, a shallow fairing for the IR sensor was added, and all four air brakes were mounted in open position.
The underwing pylons come from the scrap box (one pair from an Airfix A-1 Skyraider, another from an ESCI Kamow Ka-34 ‘Hokum’ which also provide the launch rails for the ordnance). The drop tanks come probably from an Italeri F-16 (not certain) while the four AIM-4s come from a Hasegawa USAF air-to-air weapons set.
Painting and markings:
This was supposed to become a classic USAF aircraft of the late Fifties, since the F-94 had never been exported. I was actually tempted to add Red Stars, though, because the overall shape has a certain Soviet look to it - esp. the nose, which reminds a lot of the contemporary Yak-25 interceptor?
But the original USAF idea won, with an all-metal finish. In order to brighten things up I chose a squadron that served with the Northeast or Alaskan Air Command, which added orange-red high-viz markings to wings and fuselage.
The NMF sections were primed with a base coat of Revell’s acrylic Aluminum. On top of that, single panels and details were painted with Alu Plate and Steel Metallizer from Modelmaster.
The International Orange markings were created with Humbrol 132, slightly shaded with orange (Humbrol 18).
Part of the nose section and the spine were painted in ADC Grey (FS 16473, Modelmaster), just for some diversity. Cockpit interior and landing gear wells received a coat of US Cockpit Green (Humbrol 226), while the interior of the air brakes was painted in Zinc Primer (Humbrol 81), according to pictures of operational F-94s.
The landing gear struts and the inside of their covers became Aluminum (Humbrol 56). The anti glare panel in front of the cockpit was done with dark olive drab (Humbrol 66), the radome flat black and weathered with wet-in-wet streaks of sand brown.
Operational F-94s show serious weathering on their di-electric noses, so this detail was taken over to the kit. Other weathering with paint, beyond a basic black ink wash and some shading on the orange areas, was not done.
The drop tanks were painted with Steel Metallizer, for a different metallic shade from the fuselage, and the AIM-4’s received a typical outfit in white and bright red with different seeker heads.
Primary decals come from a Heller F-94B kit, which have the benefit of a silver background – even though this does not match 100% with the paint. Squadron markings come from an Xtradecal F-102 sheet, tailored to the kit. Most stencils come from the Emhar OOB sheet, plus some more from the aforementioned F-102 sheet.
After some soot stains around the exhaust were added with graphite, the kit was sealed under a coat of semi-glossy acrylic varnish. The anti glare panel and the radome were kept matt, though.
A pretty result. Mixing parts from a Shooting Star and a Sabre (a Shooting Sabre, perhaps?) results in a very elegant aircraft. And while the F-94 lost much of its original, elegant appeal, the combo still works with this later interceptor variant of the F-80. Very plausible, IMHO.