The Century Series (part 1)
North American F-100, McDonnell F-101, Convair F-102
The ‘Century Series’ is a name commonly given to a series of high performance fighter aircraft flown by the United States Air Force. From the 1920s the air force began giving sequential numbers to its fighter aircraft, initially as ‘Pursuit’ with the P-1, and then ‘Fighter’ aircraft, and reached F-100 in the 1950s. Not all the aircraft in the Century Series were put into production but all the numbers were allocated, ending with the F-111. After that a new numbering sequence was begun. So let’s look at the first three aircraft in the series.
North American F-100C, F-100D and F-100F in 1/72 by Revell and AMT
The F-100 was the first aircraft in US Air Force service capable of supersonic flight in level flight. They began entering service with that air force in 1954 with the F-100A which was superseded by the improved F-100C and F-100D and the two seat training version, the F-100F. In addition to the United States the F-100 was flown by a number of other nations including Turkey, Denmark and France.
Because the F-100 is such an interesting aircraft that flew in many guises the Museum has three of them. The Revell kit used for the F-100C and F-100D is a reboxing or the Esci kit from 1982 which has also appeared under the brands of Ertl, AMT/Ertl, Italeri, Tamiya and Academy. The other option was the Hasegawa kit, which was first published in 1969, which also appeared in several guises. Both the Esci and Hasegawa kits made reasonable models although some conversion work was necessary to make a F-100C from a F-100D, which I touched on in the Workbench Notes on the F-100s. The F-100F model has the same lineage as the Esci F-100D and was released at the same time, so it too was a nice kit to build. But if I was making these models now I’d go for the Trumpeter kits which come as the F-100C, F-100D and F-100F and date from 2009. They get excellent reviews in Internet Modeller and Cybermodeler.
McDonnell F-101B in 1/72 by Matchbox
This aircraft was the first United States Air Force aircraft to exceed 1000 miles an hour in its original form as the F-101A strike fighter. However, the air force desperately needed an interceptor to counter the Soviet bomber threat so it was substantially modified to include a large radar in the nose and a radar operator, as well as a weapons bay for its missile armament. In this guise as the F-101B, it went into service in 1959, and with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1961. There was also a reconnaissance version with a single seat and redesigned nose.
Hasegawa and Valom offer kits of various versions of the F-101 but the only kits of the F-101B are the Matchbox kit published in 1980 and the Revell in kit published in 1991. Of the two the Revell one looks far more detailed but I had the Matchbox kit and made it anyhow. If you want to make a F-101B, I’d recommend the Revell kit which has to be easier to make than the Matchbox one. There is a short review with photos of the parts available at Scale Modelling Now. A significant problem in making the F-101, and other aircraft flown by the USAF’s Air Defense Command, is the exact nature of the grey in which they were painted. I wrote about my problems with this in a Random Modelling Note which also included the F-102 and F-106.
Convair F-102A in 1/72 by Hasegawa
The F-102 was designed to serve in a similar role to the F-101B, intercepting incoming Soviet bombers. They entered service in 1956 in that role and were later used in limited service as bomber escorts and ground attack aircraft. The were replaced by the Convair F-106 which was an extensive redesign of the F-102 and looks similar in many ways due to its delta wing design.
The Hasegawa kit from which this model was made dates from 1969 and has appeared in several different boxes since then, most notably the Frog release on 1970. Hasegaw has re-released the kit a number of times but it remains basically the same as the original boxing. It was a very good kit in its day but has been overshadowed by two Meng kits which offer two slightly different versions of the wing. There is a good review of this kit from Fine Scale Modeler and a good build review on Scale Modelling Now.