by Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

FJ-2/3 Fury Redux

Click Here for a summary of all the production Furies and modelers notes on the XFJ-2. I had intended to provide more information in that entry as to the differences between the F-86 and the FJ-2/3s from a modeler's standpoint, but I've decided to make it a separate one. This has been a work in progress for about a week, with numerous corrections and additions, but I'm now declaring victory. However, it will be updated from time to time as I'm notified of errors or provided with new information. To wit:

3 November 2015: It turns out that there was a difference between the early FJ-2 ADF system and the FJ-3's: see

25 August 2014: Someone occasionally asks if the F-86H is a suitable basis for an FJ-3 conversion. I've posted some thoughts on that here:

12 April 2012 PM: I've added some Craig Kaston pictures of the Chino FJ-3 which illustrate some of the points I was trying to make about the CLE wing...

The bottom view illustrates most of the additions and changes to the fuselage and wing for carrier-basing. The difference in landing gear doors was required due to the nose gear length increase and the main gear stroke increase. The length of the wing slats changed to accommodate the wing fold. The horizontal tail was increased in size for lower approach speeds.

The Sabre wing went through many changes, with one change being the 6-3 hard wing introduced early in F-86F production. For an excellent summary, click Here. The FJ-2 and early FJ-3 wing was the same as the F-86E and early F-86F, with aerodynamically actuated slats. Note that the wings in some model kits may not be the configuration that the kit is supposed to represent.

Click on any illustration for a large, downloadable version. Size the box around the drawing above to 8 inches for 1/72 and 12 inches for 1/48.

I wasn't able to find as good a drawing as I wanted for the F-86 so some of the differences here may just be the accuracy of the original drawings. However, this does illustrate that the FJ-2 vertical fin was moved forward and that the main landing gear  was moved aft as a result of the wider tread (also desirable from a tip-back standpoint). The difference in windscreen side-panel area is also significant. The engine inlet was slightly increased in size for more low-speed thrust. Note that the leading edge of the FJ-2 overlaps the ammo door slightly whereas it does not on the F-86. I had originally assumed that this meant that the FJ-2 had the 6-3 wing, but I subsequently discovered that it was the result of the FJ-2 ammo door extending further aft with the change to the 20mm cannon.
In this case, the box above is 12 inches wide and 6 inches high for 1/48 and 8 inches wide and 4 inches high for 1/72.

This box is the same size as the profile box above.

Because the FJ-2 was powered by the J47 engine like the F-86 but about 1,000 lbs heavier, its performance was inferior to the F-86's.  All the FJ-2s—with an experimental unpainted exterior—went to the Marine Corps, who were very glad to have them.
Marine FJ-2s were occasionally operated from aircraft carriers. Note the extended barrier pickup between the nose and main landing gears.

The FJ-2 was then minimally modified except for the substitution of the more powerful J65 to create the FJ-3. The most notable exterior changes were the deeper forward fuselage and inlet and the change to the small air intakes just aft of the fuselage break.
As best as I can determine, the FJ-3 inlet was deepened by three inches. (Unfortunately, the otherwise excellent North American drawings don't distinguish between the forward fuselage of the FJ-2 and FJ-3.)

The inlets don't look that much different on paper  in profile but they were notably different in appearance from the front as shown here and in the illustration above:

The early FJ-3s had the same wing as the FJ-2. The leading-edge slats were aerodynamically actuated so they were extended when the aircraft was parked. Like the FJ-2s, the FJ-3s did not initially have the small fences on the wing leading edge that were to become standard on Navy swept-wing jets to insure proper barricade engagement. These were subsequently retrofitted to the FJ-2s and the FJ-3s that were delivered without them.

Starting with BuNo 136118 in production, the slats were removed from the FJ-3 wing and a new fixed and extended leading edge incorporating fuel tanks was substituted. Delivered FJ-3s were retrofitted at overhaul. Like the F-86 wing, the leading edge was extended six inches at the root (center line, not side of body) and three inches at the tip but the new FJ-3 leading edge was also cambered (drooped) downward.

I've annotated this Craig Kaston picture of the Chino FJ-3 to show an approximation of the original airfoil and the location of the leading-edge fuel tank connection. (Note that the flap was not usually down when the wings were folded and 2x4s were not normally used for the purpose shown here.)
For more pictures of this airplane, click here.

With the addition of a mid-span fence, this "hard wing" retained good low-speed handling qualities and maneuverability at altitude as well as providing space for a much-needed increase of internal fuel. The drawback was an acceptable reduction in top speed.

The four small "fences" are not aerodynamic; they were added to snag the vertical straps of the barricade for the quickest and straightest stop when a normal arrested landing was not possible.

The 6-3 extension resulted in more of an overlap of the wing on the ammo door.

The box above is 4" by 4" for 1/72 and 6" by 6" for 1/48.

Instead of a bit of the leading edge being part of the door as on the slatted wing, there was only a transition fairing on the ammo door. A triangular piece of the leading edge had to be swung downward out of the way so the ammo door could be opened.

I thought I might have exaggerated the droop of the cambered leading edge on my drawing but apparently not looking at the Craig Kaston photo above.

Note: I've yet to see a picture of a blue FJ-3 with the hard 6-3 wing or a gray/white one with slats.

The FJ-3 above has the rudder with trailing edge external stiffeners that was substituted for the original rudder at some point to eliminate a rudder "buzz" problem. (The very first gray/white FJ-3s didn't have this rudder so it appears to have been incorporated in production after that and then retrofitted.) It was also retrofitted on some FJ-2s.

The elevator also got the trailing edge external stiffener treatment at some point. However, while there are photos of FJ-3s with the externally stiffened rudder and clearly plain-skin elevators, I have yet to see a photo of a deployed (as opposed to static display or Navy reserve) FJ-3 with the externally skinned elevator. That said, most available pictures are taken from the side or from far enough away so that the configuration of the elevator cannot be determined. (Craig Kaston photos).

The retractable barrier pickup was removed in production beginning with BuNo 141364 since it was unnecessary on angled decks. It was removed on delivered aircraft during overhaul. I have seen one picture of a gray/white FJ-3 with it extended so the color scheme change can't be used as an effectivity break as it can be for the slatted versus hard wing.

As of BuNo 136118, FJ-3s had provisions for two pylons on each wing inboard of the existing ones for external tanks, for a total of six. The FJ-3s were also retrofitted for inflight refueling with the installation of a fixed probe extending from the left wing.
FJ-3s wired for Sidewinders were designated FJ-3M.

Another major change from the F-86 was the ejection seat. Although the XFJ-2s had the F-86 seat, production FJ-2s and -3s had a seat designed to Navy crash and other design requirements, like the initiation of ejection with a face curtain pull.

As with most of my topics, this one provides only the basics on the aircraft in question. The model builder will probably want to buy or borrow a book that covers the subject in more detail. In this case, Steve Ginter has just published his long awaited monograph on the FJ-3 to complement the ones on the FJ-1, -2, and -4. It is available directly from him, click Here, and from Sprue Brothers, click Here.

A commentary on the drawings: These were created on Illustrator based on North American 4-view drawings of the F-86, FJ-2, and FJ-3; the FJ-2/3 SAC drawings; the FJ-3 fuselage stations drawing in Ginter's monograph: and photos. As usual, there were were conflicts between, and errors on, the drawings so I had to guess as to which one to rely on. Or neither. For example, the horizontal stabilizer on the fuselage stations drawing appears to be placed too high based on the other drawings and photos. What's worse, the planform of the horizontal stabilizer on the page with the FJ-3 stations drawing of the fuselage and wing is that of the F-86, not the bigger one that is on every other FJ-2/3 top view. In this case, I went with the higher stabilizer position but the bigger planform.

The FJ-2 inlet on the North American drawing is the same as on the FJ-3 drawing, when clearly it should be smaller. Even more confusing, the front view of the inlet appears to be more like an FJ-2's and the side view is very like—but not exactly like— the depiction on the FJ-3 fuselage stations drawing. I used photos and an analysis of the SAC dimensioned drawings to determine that the FJ-3 inlet was deeper than the FJ-2's by about three inches and develop my best guess as to the difference in shape of the two inlets from the front.

Another discrepancy becomes apparent on many top and front view original drawings because I can very precisely trace one side of them using Illustrator and then copy and flop it to create the other side of my drawing. The flopped trace rarely matches the other half on the original within a line width and sometimes the difference is notable. Which side of the original is right? Probably neither.

My drawings, therefore, are not necessarily exact and should not be slavishly followed as to shape or even size.

Kit options: So far, the only complete FJ-2/3 Fury kits in 1/72 scale are from RVHP. Now out of production and not readily available, these were produced in resin with cast metal landing gear and a vacuform canopy. There were three different kits:  FJ-2, FJ-3, and FJ-3M. I only have the FJ-3, but my guess is that they only varied in the decals provided.The wing appears to be based on the Heller kit, so it has a bit too much sweep and does not have either extended slats or the 6-3 extension. The fuselage has the FJ-3 inlet and the FJ-2 aft fuselage air intakes. There is a detailed inbox-review here:

Still available is the Falcon Triple Conversion IX which included a vacuform FJ-3 fuselage, lower inboard wing, canopy, and external tanks. (The other conversions in TC IX were a C-2 fuselage and canopy and an AD-5W radome and aft compartment enclosure.) No decals or landing gear were provided. The instructions imply that the FJ-3 conversion was designed for the Heller kit.

There are several 1/72 F-86 kits. I've converted the Heller kit into an XFJ-2, which requires the least number of changes from an F-86E or early F-86F. As noted above, it has the original wing with a bit too much wing sweep and the slats fixed up. Fujimi produced at least two different variations, one with the 6-3 hard wing (#F-19 or fuj25019) and another with the wing span increase. The 6-3 hard-wing version appears to have more of a 6-6 leading edge extension but in other respects it is an excellent kit. The Hobbycraft/Academy F-86E kit is reviewed here. The newer Academy F-86F kit is reviewed here. The newest kit, from Airfix, is described here.

In 1/48, beware of the Esci FJ-2/3 kit. It has a woefully inaccurate fuselage and canopy. For more details on that, see

A more expensive option is the Collect Aire FJ-3, described here. However, it is no longer listed on Collect Aire's web site, so you might consider converting an F-86 kit as described here.

In June 2017, Kitty Hawk released CAD illustrations of a 1/48 FJ-3 kit but did not commit to a date for availability.


  1. Excellent information, Tommy. I'm currently cutting up an ESCI F-86 with the hope of creating an acceptable -3. This information will prove invaluable.

  2. This is an excellent translation of what we see in photos, rather than relying on published "drawings" - none of which will be totally accurate. Now kit manufacturers have no excuse for neglecting this damn pretty airplane!

    Paul Boyer
    Senior Editor Emeritus
    FineScale Modeler

  3. This was excellent info! I've been looking for accurate info on the -3 Fury (especially the air intake change) as I too want to convert a Hasagawa F-86F into an accurate FJ-3M. Thank for the hard work on this subject. I found more changes were made than I thought!!!

  4. I'm building a FJ-3 Fury for control line pulse jet power,i would like to know if the elevator stiffeners were the same below the elevator as they are on top.Does this apply to the rudder as well?

  5. Neither Craig or I have hard evidence, but looking closely at the elevator picture it looks like the lower surface of the trailing edge was not ribbed but smooth. However, for sure the rudder is ribbed on both sides.

  6. Can anyone inform me of the type of ejector seat as fitted to the FJ-3 Fury and where i might find a drawing/photograph of same.
    Thanks for earlier information of elevator/rudder extensions.

  7. I've added a couple of illustrations of the seat...

  8. I can find little on the paint finishes as applied to the operational FJ-3Fury.Most photos show a semi gloss/matt finish,while preserved aircraft show gloss.Which is correct?

  9. The blue airplanes had a gloss finish. On the gray/white airplanes, the gray was "non specular", which was pretty flat, and the white was gloss. Preserved aircraft are painted inaccurately for various reasons, but gloss paints are easier to clean...

  10. Great blog post! It shows the mind of a true engineer at work, and clearly lays out the convoluted differences between the FJ Fury variants.

    Is it safe to say that all gray FJ-3's with 6-3 wing also had the external stiffeners on the rudder and elevators? If so, this picture
    would seem to be clear proof that the external stiffeners were only on the topsides of the elevators, not the bottoms.

    1. As it turns out, Craig Kaston had already provided me with photos of the underside of the elevator to go with the ones of the upper side that show that it had the same configuration. I've added one above. (Aerodynamically, the trailing edge probably had to be symmetrical to provide the benefit.) For sure we can't rely on the 6-3 wing as the point of change since there are several pictures of grey FJ-3s with the solid-skin rudder. (I'm not yet certain that the elevator modification was introduced at the same time as the rudder change; it might have occurred subsequently.)