"No Mom, I donít want to go to bed! I havenít finished my Crusader!" Mrs. Hamilton might have a spelling test scheduled tomorrow in your class but who cares, you have a spanking new model of hottest jet in the navy, the F8U Crusader, in front of you. In the time before the Phantom, the Chance-Vaught Crusader was the best in the west. Yes all of the big name companies had their own versions of the Crusader. Sure Revell was probably at the top but wait, the old patsies Aurora and Lindberg pulled out all of the stops on their versions of this hot mean machine. Each had their own angle in an effort to wrest the "Top Gun" crown from Revell. Aurora had snazzy decals and a kit far superior to their mid 1950s aircraft. You could even take the tail off to show off the jet engine! Neat! Cool! And what booze were the designers slurping when they put that lance on the nose. Lindberg? Now, Lindberg kits are considered bottom feeders but in 1960 their Luftwaffe aircraft kits were better than any others. Who can forget their first Lindberg Me-262 with opening cannon doors or Ju-88 with opening engine cowlings. Lindberg had a gimmick for their Crusader, Motorized Jet Sound, which involved putting an electric engine in the fuselage, which twirled turbines. For me, my favorite was the Aurora bird.
Of course big Crusaders were not the only models of the F8U. The 1:540 scale modernized Essex class kits had the Crusader as part of the air complement. The original Revell 1:540 scale Forrestal kit came with that marvel of modern technology, the Cutlass and not the Crusader. Since the Cutlass did not last long in the naval inventory, the Forrestal surely could have used some Crusaders. Of course the Essex class could not operate the F4 because of their weight and retained Crusaders as the fighter complement in their Vietnam tours. You still can find these early Revell kits at somewhat reasonable prices and now you can add all the Crusaders you want with Starfighter Models Pro1 set of resin 1:540 scale Crusaders. Each pack comes with six aircraft, plus decal sheet. The F8U is a one-piece resin casting with separate plastic rods for struts and discs for wheels. The landing gear is somewhat rudimentary but the aircraft are far better than the kit aircraft with their plastic stump landing gear. The decal sheet provides markings common with the Crusaders but not distinctive squadron insignia. Unfortunately, I discovered that the decals in the Aurora Crusader kit, although much more colorful, were a trifle too large for the Starfighter aircraft.