by Tommy H. Thomason

Monday, August 25, 2014

North American FJ-3 Redux

One of the topics of conversation at the excellent IPMS National (U.S.) Convention this year, at least among the folks I talk with, was the ongoing lack of a good injection-molded 1/72 (or any scale, for that matter) FJ-3. Note: I have provided material on it whenever asked and a previous post,, illustrates a lot of the detail differences in its configuration over time.

Since there is a pretty good 1/72 F-86H kit available and it has a bigger inlet like the FJ-3 (it had a more powerful engine), there has recently been a discussion as to whether it would be a suitable basis for conversion. Suitable, of course, varies by individual, ranging from minor alterations to, as the late, great Bondo said, "practice bleeding".

Herewith an illustration of the basic differences (the F-86H has the wing-tip extension and many detail differences but that's no hill for a stepper; the basic empennage is pretty close):
So far, so good. A comparison of the North American drawings illustrates some of the shape and size differences in profile. The FJ-3 lines are in general less dark; I didn't bother to determine if either drawing needed to be resized vertically for accuracy. However, it's pretty clear that the F-86H has a deeper fuselage in addition to being longer.

Vertical fin overlay:

Wing root overlay:

Windscreen overlay:

The consensus was that if you just had to have an FJ-3 now, the Falcon conversion (which is still available) is the better bet; it consists of fuselage halves and a pretty good canopy but no decals. This R.J. Tucker's build combining it with an Academy F-86. Note that the F-86 horizontal tail might be too small. See more photos and a summary of the build here:
Print Scale put a couple of FJ-3 schemes on an FJ-4 sheet:

As of this writing, the Falcon conversion is available from Hannants and Falcon (click HERE). I couldn't find it on the Squadron or Sprue Brothers website.

The best single reference is Ginter's monograph Naval Fighters Number Eight-Eight:


  1. I am glad to see this discussion came up at the Nats. I don't remember exactly when I first posted about doing this, but, here are the parts I came up with to do it.

    I bought two of the Falcon conversion kits, mostly to get the Canopies. I bought two of the Special Hobby F-86H kits, to get a large inlet model. A short stack of Hobbycraft and Academy kits with the separate wing slats. And some with the solid wings. Multiple Emhar FJ-4B kits, mostly for the landing gear. (and Fujimi RF-86 for the "blank plates" to change the gun ports around)

    My plan is to kitbash front fuselage from the SH, Canopy from the Falcon, rear empennage from whichever has the closest tailplane fairing shape and size (this could take care of the fuselage length), and move the slats back for "non 6-3" wings with slats, all for the early Blue FJ-3, and "non 6-3" wings without slats for the later FJ-3 and FJ-3M

    all the extra parts can then go to make FJ-2s and those two prototypes (The Falcon fuselage may help with this)

    It won't be the cheapest way, by far,,,,,,but, with a nice sharp razor saw and a bit of time, I believe that we could make a couple of very "FJ-3 looking" models,,,,,even if they ended up with just a bit of a belly bulge

    It's still better than painting an F-86F up in Navy paint and decals, lol (don't ask what SWMBO thinks of the large stack of Sabres and Furys to make so few models)

    1. Rex,

      Please hurry up in finishing your FJ-3 kitbash - you can almost certainly be guaranteed of the announcement of a injected 1/72 kit within a week of you finishing it!

      Rex in NZ

    2. Rex in NZ,

      I actually just realized a very good reason to build at least 3 of these kit-bashes sooner rather than later. Aside from the fact that I "need" to build two to cover VF-73 and VF-173 in my collection, and one more for Printscale's early FJ-3 VF-21 in Blue paint. I will try to have a "batch of Furys" done by next July, FJ-1 to FJ-4B. If a kit comes along after I get done, that will be great,,,,,,but, I have already figured out other aircraft to build for every other FJ-3/3M unit.

  2. I just remembered the approximate timeframe and place that I posted it. It was on Modeling Madness, and the thread is dated sometime before the Jay Sherlock Sabre and Fury CD came out. That makes it about 2 years ago,,,,and I have all the kits I mentioned gathered together now,,,,,but, I am busy building Skyhawks and Phantoms, lol

  3. Rex - your solution sounds like my effort to build the B-17D Swoose, involving four kits and too many resin and PE accessories to count. The Revell kit for the landing gear wells, the C because I thought I could find decals and make the swap (I couldn't, so I bought the D), and a B because it came as a package deal from a fellow modeler at a price I couldn't resist. So now I'm conjuring ways to use the other kits (eventually - as if I have room to display four B-17s in 1/72nd scale).

    Thanks for your insights on what it will take to get the FJ-3 - I think I'll wait on some genius manufacturer to kit it, as if I took your approach, I'd have just started cutting plastic when a "real kit" would come out (as happened to me earlier this year with the Lindbergh/Revell PT-17.

  4. Tommy, Thanks for the plug! I'd pretty much forgotten that model until the FJ-3 Fury discussions on a couple of forums made reference to it. To see it your blog brings back some fond modeling memories. Now, RoG, Special Hobby, Academy, Airfix, Hasegawa get off the couch and make us modelers happy! (Right after your AD-5/A-1E release.)


  5. The FJ-2/3 Fury is certainly an odd combination of features that have been found in various members of the Sabre family. Even odder is that nobody, not even the Czech companies, has attempted to do a mainstream model kit of it (besides Esci, which was just a warmed-over F-86 Sabre. Even the wingspan falls somewhere between the Canadair Sabre 6 and F-86F-40.)

    For the FJ-3 series, it would appear that the inlet, windscreen and belly are very similar to the FJ-4 series. The vertical and horizontal tails are similar to the F-86H, with a few notable differences. The rest of the fuselage looks like an F-86F, and the wings are similar to either early narrow-chord Sabre wings, or hard 6-3 wings depending on whether you're talking about the early or late FJ-3. The aft canopy and main landing gear seem to have no relation to any Sabres or Furies that came before the FJ-2. So if I was attempting a kitbash, at least three kits would be sacrificed for my FJ-3. Maybe it'd be possible to cut down the F-86H fuselage and wings instead of sacrificing an F-86H. Either way it's a lot of plastic surgery!

    Luckily I got my paws on the Falcon FJ-3, which sadly imitates the incorrect wingsweep of the Heller kit. It's not quite Rareplanes-quality, but it's the easiest way to get an FJ-3 right now. The Falcon FJ-3 tails represent the early design without external ribbing. It's a pretty comprehensive kit, and only the wings, cockpit, tailhook and landing gear need to be added from donor kits. Of these items, the new Airfix F-86F is an inexpensive wing donor; Airfix also got the fuselage width correct, and Fujimi/Academy/Hobbycraft actually have too much width built into the wing center section. Fujimi's Skyhawks (A-4E and later) include two options for nose landing gear, so the spare might be a good starting point for an FJ-3 nose gear. The spares box will have to provide the rest of the parts. Special Hobby's F-86H comes with two sets of horizontal tailplanes, and the spares might be a better substitution for the Falcon FJ-3 tailplanes.

  6. The FJ-3 is always at the top of my Most Wanted Kit list!

  7. A renewed discussion on the Fury on Tommy's Blog site. Mainly converting a -4 fuselage and mating it to the ESCI wings and gear. Hopefully all the renewed interest will prod a manufacturer to produce a -3 Fury. I find it interesting that Czech Models did a 1/48 FJ-1 and not a -3. I'll bet they sold tens of them. If they did a -3 they'd sell hundreds if not a few thousand.