1/48 Revell  F-89C Scorpion

kit no. 85-4825

By Bradley D. Chun IPMS #33945

Copyrighted 1999


Scale: 1/48th

Price: $ 21.00


Manufacturer: Revell-Monogram


Address: 8601 Waukegan Road

Morton Grove, IL 60053

The sleek F-89 Scorpion was the first turbojet, all-weather, fighter/interceptor developed for the United States Air Force. Designed as the successor to the P-61 Black Widow, the F-89 Scorpion would serve with the U.S. Air Force and National Guard units for almost 20 years. 

The F-89C incorporated all the changes demanded by the Air Force to make the F-89A fully operational and safe. Externally, the F-89C differed little from the F-89B with one exception. The first forty F-89Cs had the external mass balance horns on the horizontal stabilizers deleted. These would be replaced with internal balance mass balances. 

Internally, several system upgrades were made to the F-89C to improve its performance. A fuel purging system was added to the fuel system which decreased the possibility of fuel vapor explosions. The wingtip fuel tanks had dump valves installed in them, which allowed the wingtip tanks to be emptied while in-flight. The cockpit air-conditioning and pressurization system was also upgraded, and a Lear vertical gyro was added to provide artificial horizon information for the autopilot. 

The Scorpion continued to be plagued by technical problems, including engine failures. This problem was solved by retrofitting early production F-89Cs (Blocks -1, -5, -10, -15, and -20) with Allison J35-A-21A engines. Beginning with Block -25 aircraft, the engine was changed once again to the Allison J35-A-33A, creating 5,600 lbs thrust. The Allison J35-A-33A engine not only had more power, it also featured a redesigned inlet, de-icing equipment, inlet guide vanes, and redesigned forward engine mounts. 

Although the F-89C had made its maiden flight 18 September 1`951, the engine and wing failures kept the Scorpion from reaching its intended force levels until 1954. In January 1952, the 74th FIS based at Presque Isle AFB, Maine, was declared operational with the F-89C. Soon, other units would follow, but most were grounded due to wing failure. The wing failure was due to wing attachment points that filed under high "G" maneuvers and aero-elasticity that caused the wing to twist at the wingtip. The Air Force was anxious to get the F-89 back into service as soon as they were modified. With the modified wings and upgraded engines, the F-89C would become one of the safest aircraft in the United States Air Force. The 74th FIS completed a full year in Thule, Greenland without any accidents. 

The F-89C would be phased out of service when newer F-89s would become available. The F-89Cs would then be transferred to the Air National Guard, becoming a vital interceptor force, equipping up to seven squadrons. National Guard squadrons would fly the F-89C into the 1960s. 

I had known about the Revell 1/48th scale F-89C Scorpion for some time now. I knew that it was originally tooled back in the late 80’s/early 1990, but wondered if it would ever see the light of day, with the exception of a few, very few, molded prototypes. Needless to say, I saw an ad in a model magazine and low and behold, the F-89C was finally released. 

Upon opening the flimsy, clam-shell, cardboard box, the modeler will find an instruction sheet, one bag containing the "new" fuselage and wings, another bad containing the detail parts, a clear sprue, and decal sheet. 

The instruction sheet is typical of what Revell-Monogram has been supplying in their kits as of late. It is 8 pages in length and contains a brief history of the F-89C Scorpion, the usual "universal" assembly symbols, the "read before you begin" warnings, a painting guide, five step assembly process(with many sub-steps), and decal placement section. Revell-Monogram has once again included the parts name with the parts number. Detail painting is also called out during the assembly steps. Even though there isn’t a lot of text in the assembly diagrams, the drawings are clear and concise and do not leave the modeler "guessing" as to where each part is to be assembled. Some other manufacturers should take notice to Revell-Monogram’s style of instruction layout. 

The first bag of silver-grey colored injection molded sprues contains the parts that are specific to this version that wasn’t available in the previously released F-89D/J version. These parts include the "new" F-89C fuselage, vertical fin tip, and wings. The F-89C fuselage has the six cannon nose and the wings have the rocket launch rails. The F-89D carried its rockets in the nose of its wingtip tanks and the six cannons were deleted for a radar equipment bay. The detailing is of the raised variety and no flash could be found on these parts. 

The second bag contains two more sprues of silver-grey injection molded parts. One sprue that is shared with the previous F-89D/J kit has the ejection seats, nose landing gear, nose wheels, nose gear bay with doors, main landing gear, doors, and wheels. The RIO instrument panel and jet exhausts are also on this sprue. The second sprue, parts of which was included in the F-89D/J release has the jet engine faces and intakes, fuselage bottom, cockpit, pilots, and canopy frame. Attached to this sprue is the "new" parts specific for the F-89C, and these are the rockets, wingtip tanks, radome, and pilot’s instrument panel. As with the other sprue, detail is of the raised variety and no flash was found. 

The clear sprue, which surprisingly wasn’t bagged separately, contains the windscreen, canopy, landing light, radio compass, and support peg. It would have been nice if this sprue was bagged separately also as my windscreen detached itself from the sprue. There are a few scratches on the canopy, but its not something a little polish or a dip in Future can solve.

The decal sheet contains markings for two versions. The first version is an F-89C-30-NO, Bu. No. 51-5777, from the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Presque Isle, Maine, and is a natural metal aircraft with black bands with white stars, and black and white checkerboards on the main landing gear doors. The second version is for F-89C-40, Bu. No. 51-5851, from the 74th Fighter Interceptor squadron, Thule, Greenland, and is also a natural metal aircraft with the insignia red panels. The decals are printed in Italy and no doubt by Cartograph. The USAF and stars and bars markings for the 74th FIS are printed on a silver background so the modeler wouldn’t have to mask off the insignia red on the wings. Nice touch Revell-Monogram! I could find no problems with registration. 

If the modeler looks under the left wing, they will notice the typical Revell-Monogram trademark copyright, and they will also notice that the copyright year is 1990. As many know, or don’t know, Revell had tooled this version a long time ago, and for some reason, a company decision maker decided not to release it back in 1990. I have in my possession, a prototype version, that was tooled by Revell. These parts that I now have were once owned by the late Mike Dario. As far as I know, there are only a few of these sets around. These early release parts have the Genie rocket mounting holes in the wings with the rocket rails, and are molded in bright red styrene)an obvious sign of its prototype stature). I’m happy that Revell-Monogram finally decided to release the F-89C and I will build my kit as a tribute to Mike. Here’s to you Mike!