by Tommy H. Thomason

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blue Angel Blue and Gold (Draft)

The aircraft of the Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, have been painted overall blue with yellow markings, blue and gold being traditional Navy colors, since their first air show in 1946. But what color blue, much less yellow/gold. As anybody who has spent much time on or by the ocean can attest, the color of the sea appears to be different shades of blue from time to time. This is also the case with Blue Angel blue…

Note: The FS in FS 595 stands for Federal Standard. It was developed in 1956 and replaced the previous AN (Army Navy) numbers for colors. Each FS 595 color is defined by five digits in FS 595. Although no color has an official name, many have a widely recognized nickname. Although FS 595 did not exist in 1946, for simplicity I have used it as a reference instead of the equivalent AN color.

1946 F6F-5: There is contradictory information about the color of the F6Fs. According to Robert K. Wilcox's book, First Blue, a biography of the first leader of the Blue Angels, Butch Voris: "For color, they went with traditional navy blue and gold. But to be a little different, Voris picked a slightly lighter shade of dark blue than was normally used on Navy planes in those days. The name of the paint was 'insignia blue'. That was just the name and had little to do with modern insignias since it was out-of-date and little used."

The implication is that there was a suitable light blue paint in stock. However, Insignia Blue, FSN 15044, was neither out-of-date nor little used at the time. It was also darker, not lighter, than Gloss Sea Blue, FSN 15042, which has a bit of green in it. Click Here and Here to see the difference.

Voris' statement that the color was "out-of-date and little used" may reflect the fact that at the time, the insignia blue circle/surround was no longer used on the national insignia of Navy aircraft painted overall Gloss Sea Blue. Since the insignia and sea blues were about the same, only the white star/bars and red bar were put on the airplanes. In most of the few pictures available, the Blue Angels Hellcat does not appear to be very much lighter, if any, than Gloss Sea Blue. However, it does appear to be a lighter shade of blue in this one, taken at their first air show for the public:

There is a possibility that Voris may have been referring to a mix of insignia white and insignia blue that resulted in a “standard” color. There is a Light Blue, FSN 15102, which harks back to the “true blue” that was used for Navy markings in the days of yellow wings. It meets the criteria of out-of-date and a little used but looks light, certainly lighter than the Blue Angels blue used subsequently. Another possibility is the blue used on the prewar red/white/blue rudder stripes, which looks lighter than the current insignia blue but darker than "true blue." Or Voris may have said lighter when he meant bluer…

There seem to have been two slightly different schemes used on the F6Fs during their very short stint with the Blue Angels. In some photos, the leader’s airplane has a distinctive "1", a light color propeller dome, and "US NAVY" on the fuselage with the "US" in 45 degree type; in other photos at a show, the "1" seems a little simpler, the "US" might be rounded and the propeller dome is darker. In conjunction with this, there may have been two sets of aircraft. There was at least one set of four F6Fs specially modified for the Blues at a Navy repair and overhaul depot, removing guns, armor, gun sights, ammo boxes, etc.

John Elliott, in Volume 2 of his Monogram series on Navy and Marine Corps color aircraft states the F6F was "painted in the standard camouflage color Semi-Gloss Sea Blue overall, apart from the forward portion of the spinner which was Orange Yellow. All national insignia was removed and, in its place, the letters for US NAVY, (without periods after the U and S) were applied along the fuselage and the underside of the port wing in Orange Yellow. Centered on the fin was the individual aircraft number which also painted in Orange Yellow...Finally, the whole aircraft was highly polished and waxed." Orange Yellow was ANA 506; the FS equivalent is 13538.

In this photo reportedly taken at Grumman of a Blue Angel passing overhead during their final show in the F6Fs, the bottom of the wing appears to be marked with US on one wing and NAVY on the other. (I’ve crudely enhanced the markings which are barely visible on the photo I have.) This is slightly different than Elliott's description with US Navy on “the underside of the port wing.”

The Draw Decal ( instructions for the Blue Angels F6F state “Paint the entire aircraft FS 15042 – Gloss Sea Blue and the lettering was real gold leaf.” I  would be inclined to paint it Insignia Blue.

1946-1949 F8F-1: These aircraft were configured without guns, gun sights or tail hooks. The first set did not have the turnover structure behind the pilot’s headrest.

The overall blue is now definitely a light blue, lighter in some pictures than others. It was probably a mix of Insignia White and Insignia Blue but the proportions are not known for sure and it's almost certainly not the shade on your monitor. My guess is that the "gold" was Orange Yellow, but I'm far from sure about that.
There were at least three slightly different marking schemes. The one above appears to be the original one with a slanted "S". The next one, evidenced by the addition of the turnover structure, had a square "S" and simpler numbers. This picture is dated 26April1947:
The final scheme added a silver, polished aluminum, or gold leading edge on the wing and tail surfaces; and “Blue Angels” in cursive writing on the cowling.
Early on in the Blue Angels career, in keeping with the claim that they were demonstrating typical fighter maneuvers, an opponent was included in the show and shot down. The first of these was an SNJ, probably painted Orange Yellow (although possibly Yellow as in "yellow peril"). It had a red "meatball" on the aft fuselage and a "0" on the tail (Zero, get it?).

The SNJ was eventually replaced with an F8F Bearcat, again probably painted Orange Yellow with Blue Angel blue markings and "Beetle Bomb" on the cowling. Note the "silver" leading edges, which suggests that this is the treatment of the leading edges in the last F8F color scheme.
After the transition to jets the opponent was phased out.

1949-1950 F9F-2: The Blue Angels initially thought that removing the Panther’s tip tanks would provide better visibility for close formation flying as well as reduce weight. However, the Panther’s tip tanks were necessary for cross-country flights and were not intended to be readily removable (they weren’t even jettisonable) so the concept was short-lived.

The blue is probably one part Insignia White, three parts Insignia Blue.

1952 F7U-1: Two Vought Cutlasses were assigned to the team for the first few months of the 1952 season. These appear to have been painted in the one part white, three parts blue mix. The Vought logo on the fin was replaced with a number for their air show appearances.

1952-1954 F9F-5: The team was reformed with -5s after a hiatus for the Korean War. In this case, there is a credible report on the colors. Bob Moore was an enlisted mechanic on the team who also assisted in painting them:: "The paint used on F9F-5 was nitrate lacquer. We mixed the colors one part insignia white (to) three parts insignia blue. The yellow was AN Yellow." The FS 595 equivalent of AN Yellow is 13591.

F9F-6: The team picked up six Cougars from Grumman in August 1953, painted the same as the F9F-5s. The ferry flight home was marred when the team leader, Ray Hawkins, experienced a runaway pitch trim at 42,000 feet and had to make a near-sonic ejection when the airplane bunted into an outside loop. He wasn’t badly hurt but the Cougar control system had to be modified so the Blues returned the F9F-6s to Grumman and flew the F9F-5 for another year.

1955- 1957 F9F-8: In John Elliott's Official Monogram (not the toy company) US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide Vol 3 1950-1959, he cites a Grumman Aircraft Engineering Drawing SP10106 for the six new Blue Angels F9F-8s that stipulates the basic overall color as Blue Angels Blue: one part Insignia Blue to two parts Insignia White. This sounds backwards particularly since he goes on to report that the drawing notes indicate that the color previously consisted of one part Insignia White and three parts Insignia Blue. (The "gold" was two parts Orange Yellow (13538) and one part Insignia White.)

1957-1958 F11F-1 (early): In Volume 4 of his Color Guide, citing a Grumman drawing, John Elliot writes that the F11F-1 blue was one part Insignia White to two parts Insignia Blue and the "gold" was straight Orange Yellow 13538.

The short-nosed Tigers were only flown by the Blues for two seasons but they were in two different sets of markings. For the first, partial season, “Blue Angels” was in cursive on the side of the engine intake and the Blue Angel badge was applied to the nose. For the second, “Blue Angels” was presented in block letters and the badge was replaced with a horizontal stripe.

1959-1968 F11F-1 (late): The forward fuselage markings changed again with the receipt of the long nose F11Fs from the second production lot. “Blue Angels” was in cursive again but placed on the nose and the Blue Angels badge was reinstated, this time on the side of the engine intake and larger. The blue may now be darker but it's impossible to be sure from pictures.

1969-1973 F-4J: With the retirement of the F11F, the Blue Angels reportedly specified specific commercial aircraft paints that did not correspond to a particular Federal Standard color. According to Elliot, the yellow was to match 13538 but was bought as De Soto Company number 826-L-001. The Blue was bought as De Soto Company number 823-L-722. FS 15050 is supposedly at least in the ballpark for the blue. However, some people think that it photographs "dark" and others that 15052 is a better match.  I have to admit that 15052 looks like the real deal on my monitor. Click Here for the two different blues.

A formula developed by Hal Tippens for 15052 is to combine part of a bottle of Model Master 35044 Insignia Blue (empty it until there is 21 mm of paint left measuring from the outer bottom surface of the jar) and a full bottle of Testors Dark Blue #1111. Plasticoat 1134 “Royal Blue” is also reputed to be a close match.

1974-1986 A-4F:  In his Volume 4, Elliot states that the Skyhawks were originally painted with Finch Paint and Chemical Company Blue Gloss number 643-14-14 and Yellow number 643-13-6. In 1980, this was changed to Ameron Jet-glo enamel blue stock number 572-511 and yellow 574-570, which was reportedly chosen to be the equivalent of FS 13655 rather than 13538. (For the two different "yellows", click Here.)

In other words, the Blues picked colors out of commercial catalogs as they had for the F-4Js. In Volume 4 Elliot provides color chips for Blue Angel Blue on the A-4s for six different years: 1974, 1980, 1982-4, and 1986. 1974 is a different shade of blue from the others, similar to the difference between 15050 (1974) and 15052 (the other years). I can't see any significant difference among the other five. They also all look darker than 15052 but many who have painted a house a color selected from a chip in a paint catalog are familiar with the possibility of a perceived difference between the two-inch square in the catalog and the side of a house...

1987- F-18:According to Elliot, these were originally painted using specific commercial colors, in this case from Pratt & Lambert. Anecdotally, the colors were the same as used on the A-4.

However, I recently saw a claim that it is touched up using Krylon True Blue, which is readily available. It's worth a try but another modeler insists that it's much too bright, at least for an F-4. It may be that it does work for an F-18.

A cautionary note (in addition to not relying on computer images to determine color): Based on the Bureau Numbers, this pair of pictures show two different Number 7s, presumably on different days (the tail number could be changed pretty quickly if a replacement airplane was needed). Is the color difference real or is it an artifact of lighting, the camera settings, etc?

For more on the Blue Angels airplanes, click Here.

Kinetic S2F Kit Redux

I've seen a couple of incidences now of modelers referring to S2F slats. The S2F had a fixed slot in the leading edge ahead of the feel ailerons. Kinetic molded this section of the leading edge separately, presumably because of molding problems with providing a good slot but possibly because they also thought this was a slat. I don't know what their instructions show. I've added some pictures of the slot to the end of my S2F blog entry. Click HERE.

Fotios Rouch has an excellent build article on Cybermodeler. Click HERE

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweeping Change - The Bell L-39

In early 1946, the Bureau of Aeronautics issued a request for proposal for a high-speed, carrier-based jet fighter. Swept-wing designs were expected to be necessary to meet the top-speed requirement but little was known about the low-speed characteristics of swept wings. These had to be acceptable for the takeoff and landing speeds required for operation from aircraft carriers. The result was a requirement for an aerodynamic demonstrator, the Bell L-39, created in only ten weeks from surplus Bell P-63 fighters. For more information on the program and additional pictures, click Here.

The conversion couldn't have been simpler. The outboard wing panels were removed from two P-63-A-9s and replaced with swept wings created from P-63E outboard wing panels.
(The wing sweep along the main beam was 33+ degrees but the sweep on the quarter chord of the wing, which is how aerodynamcists define it, was 35 degrees.)

These swept wings were mounted on the P-63's stub wing with no dihedral and configured with leading-edge slats in five equal segments extending along the full length of the outboard panel. Each segment could be fixed open or closed on the ground.

To minimize cost, the main landing gear was fixed down and the wheel wells closed off. However, the nose gear was still retractable. The nose-mounted cannon and machine guns were removed to reduce weight and move the center of gravity aft.
The box around the illustration is 12x6 inches for 1/48th and 8x4 inches for 1/72nd.

A flight instrumentation boom was added to each wing tip. The left boom was tipped with a standard aircraft pitot head. The right one was configured with pitch and yaw vanes and a gimbaled total pressure sensor. The plexiglass was removed from the canopy aft of the pilots seat and replaced with hinged sheet metal doors. This area now contained a panel of instruments that were photographed with a 16 mm camera. Two cameras were also mounted on the top of the canopy, one for each wing, and a third camera was mounted on the left inboard side of the horizontal tail, pointed at the left wing root.

Narrow white stripes were painted on the wings going straight aft from the ends of the leading edge slat segments. The wings were tufted with short lengths of white cotton string to provide a visual indication of the flow on the wings.

The L-39-1 was assigned BuNo 90060*. It was reportedly flown initially with the P-63's four-bladed propeller but if so, it was soon replaced with a lighter P-39 propeller to move the center of gravity aft. After the first several flights, a plug was inserted in the aft fuselage to locate the empennage further aft and tilt it so the stabilizer was more leading edge down, proving additional nose-up trim. A larger ventral fin was also incorporated. L-39-2, BuNo 90061, was first flown with the plug and an even larger ventral fin.
The box around the illustration above is 12 inches square for 1/48th scale and 8 inches square for 1/72nd.

I had always assumed that the L-39s were painted gloss sea blue but realizing that I'd never seen a color picture of it, I called up Corky Meyer, a former Grumman test pilot who flew it and is an acquaintance. He said, without any hesitation, that it was olive drab "like all the Army airplanes." I responded "not gloss sea blue?" to give him a chance to reconsider but he was adamant. He was 88 at the time but still sounded sharp so it's the way to bet until someone comes up with a color picture.

Which appears to have happened. The following picture was brought to my attention by Ted Smith, who got it from the San Diego Air and Space Museum. I then found it on the excellent Facebook page of the Niagara Aerospace Museum (Home/Photos/Albums/ Rare Bell Aircraft Photographs). It doesn't appear to have been colorized and Bell took many color photographs of its airplanes at the time. I flopped it (the propeller was backwards) and took out the blue color cast.

The olive drab color made sense because of the use of surplus P-63s. In all likelihood, the airplanes used were already painted and given the program cost and schedule pressure and its limited objectives, it would have been appropriate to just give the completed aircraft a touch-up with olive drab. Or they were painted after Corky flew them although the picture is of the early configuration. Or one of them was olive drab...

Note that some doubt has been placed on this picture not being colorized after correspondence with the Niagara Aerospace Museum: there reportedly was a volunteer there, now deceased, who experimented with colorizing gray-scale pictures of Bell and Curtiss aircraft. A former Bell XS-1 engineer, now in his 90s, remembered that the L-39s were olive drab, agreeing with Corky.

CMR re-released its 1/72nd resin kit of the early L-39-1 configuration with corrections and decals:
Another approach to an L-39 model is to bash a P-63 kit together with a cut down, thickened F-86 wing.
The box is 12x12 inches for 1/48th and 8x8 inches for 1/72nd.

You might think twice about going to the trouble of incorporating the fuselage plug. Getting enough weight in the nose to keep the early L-39 configuration from being a tail sitter will be a challenge. Extending the tail aft and adding the dorsal fin will exacerbate the problem...

*I didn't realize that there was any question about the BuNos. There are several good pictures of L-39-2 marked with 90061. This is the best that I have of L-39-1's markings. Note the missing hyphen.

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.