This is a work in progress. Corrections welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, a 1/72 kit of the photo-reconnaissance F8U/F-8 Crusader! And the first impression before building it is excellent (Sword was also provided with pretty good Vought drawings of it). This is Sword's test assembly as an RF-8G"+":
To answer the two most frequently asked questions: there is no option to raise the wing and while some of the detail parts like the nose landing gear resemble that of the Academy F-8E/F-8E(FN), F-8J kit (Tom Weinel's preference: see https://superheatmemorial.blogspot.com/2018/12/172nd-f-8-kit-review.html), it is also clearly different in most particulars. One small flaw that Tom noted in all? F8U kits that Sword also included: there is no fairing or bulge on the upper wing surface at the wing fold joint on any Crusader.
Pictures of the sprues and decals are here: https://aeroscale.net/news/crusader-box-contents. Note that there is no difference in the kits with respect to the plastic, resin, or even instructions. The only difference is the decal sheet. Additional markings will be forthcoming from Caracal Models. Also, don't loose track of the small rectangular tan piece of paper. Barely perceptible on it are the masks for the canopy, wind screen, camera ports, and the view-finder window.
The F8U-1P prototype (a conversion of F8U-1 BuNo 141363) first flew on 15 December 1955. The last flight of one, an RF-8G"+", was to the National Air and Space Museum on 29 March 1987, over 30 years later. There were numerous detail changes to the configuration over that time. Sword made a valiant attempt to provide the most obvious ones in this kit.
There were three basic versions, not counting details like DECM antenna fairings and camera ports:
F8U-1P/RF-8A: The most notable omissions from the kit are that the first F8U-1Ps were delivered with a Vought ejection seat and a nose-wheel hub with spokes. For those, see https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2009/10/f8u-crusader-variations.html. For more on the landing gear changes, see https://superheatmemorial.blogspot.com/2018/12/f-8-landing-gear.html. The kit only provides a Martin Baker seat that might be either a Mk 5 or a Mk 7. However, in 1/72 scale, these can be distinguished by painting the parachute housing accordingly (see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2011/02/transition-to-martin-baker-ejection.html).
RF-8G: 73 RF-8As of the original 144 were remanufactured to be RF-8Gs. These were delivered between 1965 and 1970. The most obvious external change was the addition of the ventral fins under the aft fuselage to increase supersonic directional stability. For some reason, five USMC RF-8As got the ventral fins with no designation change. The G changes included a beef up the landing gear; the differences might not be readily apparent in 1/72 scale (see the landing gear link above). The tail hook shank went from squarish to round (the kit's looks squarish, i.e. RF-8A).
RF-8G"+": The + is a notation that Tom Weinel added to differentiate it from the G's that were modified to this configuration beginning in 1978. The major external difference was the addition of the cooling scoops on the top of the tail pipe and blocking off one of the small vents on the right side of the fuselage just ahead of the wing. For more on the afterburner differences, see https://superheatmemorial.blogspot.com/2018/12/f8u-engines.html
For more general background, see: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2013/12/photo-gator.html
Which DECM antenna configuration you use can only be established by reference to the RF-8 that you are representing.
The first one on at least a few RF-8A/Gs as early as 1966 is the same as on the Crusader fighter:
The second one looks like this:
It uses parts 27, 28, and 30. It appears on Gs in pictures dated 1967 through 1972.
The next one deleted the antenna on the leading edge beginning in 1969. The trailing edge fairing extended farther forward on the fin (the tail light was embedded in the fairing) and there appears to have been two different fairing and antenna configurations. One had multifaceted lumps and appears to have been retained for the remainder of the RF-8's service life:
It resembles kit parts 57/58. Note that it was accompanied by two antennas between the main landing gear doors and flare/chaff dispensers, neither of which are in the kit:
The other was shaped like a bullet and the fairing extended the farthest forward.
This would be kit parts 65/66.
Finally, an antenna was eventually scabbed onto the right hand underside of the G+ inlet.
The F8Us did not originally have anti-collision lights on the top and bottom of the fuselage.
The photoflash cartridge dispensers, one on each side of the upper fuselage aft of the cockpit, are usually covered by a panel that was removed when required for night missions (for illustrations of previous Navy photo flare dispensers, click HERE).
An F8U-1P with the small diameter flare dispenser:
An RF-8G with the large diameter flare dispenser:
The F8U-1P Camera System:
Still to come: RF-8G camera port configurations...