1/72 Revell F-89J Scorpion

Gallery Article by Carl Jarosz on Mar 8 2019



F-89J Scorpion 58th FIS, Walker AFB (N.M.) 

Sometimes it helps to have somehow purchased two of a particular kit: By doing so, an untold number of years ago, I was able to build my second F-89J Scorpion after completing a first build just weeks ago. This one was built a bit differently from the previous submission you may have read and seen on ARC: For the first 'J' Scorpion, I used decals showing the 59th FIS markings; for this second build, I used Skylancer decals showing the 58th FIS markings. Both units served at the same time, in the 1950s and 1960s.

As mentioned in my previous F-89J ARC submission, the 'J' version did away with the less than effective 2.75 in. FFAR wing tank pods that characterized the 'D' version, which as the version built in greater numbers than the other four versions of the Scorpion. The 'J' relied on two modes of attack in its fighter interceptor role: Falcon and Genie air-to-air missiles. The Falcons relied on contact to explode, which was highly doubtful against a maneuvering enemy aircraft; the Genie was a mini-nuclear bomb that saturated an area in air where enemy aircraft would be located. 

The early builds of the 'J' version had three rails (pylons) on each wing: two for Falcons; one for a Genie. As the Falcons were not that great, plus allowed down the speed of the F-89 to where it would never catch up to enemy bombers if attacking from the rear, the two rails on each wing for Falcons were removed. Later builds of the 'J' are seen with only Genies attached to a single pylon on each wing. I built my kit showing an early build of the 'J,' but without Falcon missiles, representing the USAF movement made to only stay with the Genie.

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I had another straightforward build. This Revell Germany release has all the basics for a F-89J, using the proper set of parts in the kit, even including a clear canopy piece termed a "blast shield" for the rear RIO. Read my previous ARC F-89J submission for the reason for the blast shield component. 

Another little enhancement I employed was jet intake covers, made from Tamiya masking tape. I cut a piece a bit larger than the intake opening, then using a fresh, super sharp X-acto blade, I cut along the edge of the intake. I used Testor's "Fire red" enamel paint (#2972) on the tape, virtually an exact match to the decal's triangular marking on the side of the intake. 

As this aircraft was an earlier made 'J', it was left in natural metal condition; later build 'J's were involved with the USAF decision to paint the F-89s an overall aircraft gray shade. I therefore employed Bare Metal Foil (BMF) in high polished chrome and matt aluminum condition. I covered more panels on this build than my previous one, as photos showed this unit's aircraft were not as worn (newer looking) than aircraft from the 59th FIS, the difference considerably due to where one was based, i.e., a much harsher weather environment, in Labrador, Canada vs. an AFB in the hot, dry southwest USA. As I mentioned in a previous build using BMF, one can get intermediate shades of bare aluminum by varying the amount of polishing on the applied pieces, using Q-tips and/or a soft cloth. 

The decal sheet used for this build, from Skylancer (copyrighted in 1998, so I doubt if it's easily available), depicts an aircraft that served with the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, based in New Mexico, in 1957. The decals required a bit more masking and painting, however: The wing tanks had a diagonal two-color layout for the outer half. The decal's stylized, non-descript flying bird was printed at an angle, so that the bird would straddle the colored areas, in the proper location on the wing tank. Properly done, it reveals a distinctive look.

Carl Jarosz

Photos and text by Carl Jarosz