The McDonnell F2H Banshee was the third fighter design to come out of the relatively new McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. Their first design, the XP-67 Moonbat, was a sleek advanced propeller driven aircraft that had a lot of potential but didn’t get past the prototype stage. The second design was for a carrier borne jet fighter, the FH Phantom, and like many of the first jets it left a lot to be desired.

       Even before McDonnell began production of the 60 Phantoms that were eventually produced the engineers at McDonnell started to improve the design and eventually decided that an entirely new aircraft was needed to meet the requirements for a design that more heavily armed and longer ranged than the Phantom.

       The prototype Banshee made its first flight from Lambert Field in St. Louis Missouri on January 11, 1947. During this flight it demonstrated a climb rate of 9,000 feet per minute, almost double that of the Navy’s primary fleet defense fighter at the time the F8F Bearcat. The following May an order was placed for 56 F2H-1s. The most produced variant of the Banshee was the F2H-2 with 494 produced. There were 364 F2H-2s, 27 fighter-bomber variant F2H-2Bs with strengthened wings, 14 night fighter F2H-2Ns and 89 Photo-Recon F2H-2Ps.

       The Banshee saw heavy use during the Korean War as both a ground support aircraft and in the photo recon role. It was only jet powered carrier based aircraft used by the Royal Canadian Navy. By the early 1960s Banshees were no longer in front line service.

       Upon opening the box of one finds 3 large grey sprue trees, 1 small clear tree, a photo etched sheet and small decal sheet for the instrument panels and a large decal sheet for the 4 possible marking options. There is also a detailed 24 page instruction booklet.

      As mentioned there are 4 marking options that come with the kit. There are two options for the F2H-2 fighter variant and two options for the F2H-2P photo recon variant, each of these has a Gull Grey/White and a Dark Sea Blue paint option. I chose to build the kit as a F2H-2P Marine Photo Recon variant of VMJ-1 based at Pohang, South Korea during the Korean War.

       While the kit offers the option to open up the nose bays for the fighter version it does not do so for the photo recon version. I came across an article on the Modeling News website that told how to do so:

Modeling News - Kitty Hawk Photo Banshee

       I was able to do so successfully. I did not take advantage of the many options to open up the flaps and dive brakes etc. but I did originally intend to have the wings in the upright folded position.

       The kit goes together really well. The parts fit precisely and very little sanding was necessary before painting. I ran into problems after I had painted and decaled the model for I had left the outer wings to be assembled after they were finished. Big Mistake! The folded wings are held in place by a series of 6 pieces and I found it near impossible to hold the wing upright while getting these pieces into their proper place and alignment. I eventually gave up and glued the wings in the down position.

       I am happy with the results of this build, but I would have been happier if I had been able to complete the kit with the wings in their folded positions. I have a second Kitty Hawk Banshee kit and plan on giving it another go soon. This time I will assemble the wing fold mechanism before I insert it in the wings.

Bibliography:

       Naval Fighters No. Two McDonnel Banshee By Steve Ginter

       Naval Fighters No. Seventy - Three Early Banshees By Steve Ginter ISBN 0-942612-73-6

       Squadron Signal Aircraft Number 182 FH/F2H Banshee In Action By Jim Mesko ISBN 0-89747-444-9

       Wikipedia Article on the McDonnell F2H Banshee

       Boeing Company - History of the McDonnell F2H Banshee

       Air Vectors - McDonnel F2H Banshee

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