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Author Topic: Skyray Saga  (Read 776 times)

Pen-Pusher

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Skyray Saga
« on: December 08, 2017, 03:29:34 PM »
Sixty-five years ago next month, the USN/Douglas XF4D-1 Skyray fighter flew for the first time at Edwards Air Force Base in California with Douglas' test pilot Robert O. Rhan at the controls of the single-engine, carrier-based, supersonic-capable aircraft.

The Douglas XF4D-1 was the prototype version of the United States Navy’s F4D-1 Skyray. Designed to intercept adversary aircraft at 50,000 feet within 300 seconds of take-off, development of the Skyray began in the late 1940’s. As an aside, the Skyray nickname derived from the type’s large delta wing which gave it the appearance of a Manta ray.

The Skyray was originally designed to be powered by a Westinghouse XJ40-WE-6 turbojet capable of 7,000 lbs of sea level thrust. However, when significant developmental problems were encountered with that power plant, Douglas substituted an Allison J35-A-17 turbojet to support early flight testing of the XF4D-1. With a maximum sea level thrust of 5,000 lbs, the J35 rendered these early airframes significantly underpowered.

Extensive flight testing of the Skyray, including carrier trials, continued through 1955. The Westinghouse XJ40-WE-8 appeared on the scene during this time. Rated at 11,600 lbs of sea level thrust in afterburner, this power plant allowed the Skyray to establish several speed records in California during October of 1953. Specifically, a speed of 752.944 mph was registered within a 3-kilometer course over the Salton Sea followed by 100-kilometer closed course mark of 728.11 mph at Edwards AFB. Unfortunately, the XJ40 would prove to be very temperamental and unreliable so the service eventually opted to fit production aircraft with the Pratt and Whitney J57-P-8 turbojet (10,200 lbs of sea level thrust).

The Douglas F4D-1 Skyray went on to serve with the United States Navy and Marines from 1956 through 1964. A total of 420 aircraft were produced. While never used in anger, the Skyray was a solid performer and served well in its intended role as a point design interceptor. The Skyray also holds the distinction of being the last fighter produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company before this legendary aerospace giant merged with McDonnell Aircraft to form McDonnell Douglas.

There are several models available in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales. Lindberg and Aurora issued kits in 1/60 and 1/68th respectively complete with engines and engine inspection hatches. Then there was the little known Starfix kit at 1/96th and the surprisingly good Woolworths (1/80 approx) 'Build and Play' in pre-coloured plastic and stick-on markings. As I build in 1/72 I'm not knowledgeable to voice an opinion on the larger scales but if you wish to build the 72nd, one of the most accurate (and in my mind much understated kit) is the Airfix F4D-1 (03027) which appeared in 1977 and re-issued in 1979. With 71 parts cleanly moulded in white plastic this kit subsequently appeared in several boxings from the parent company and other licensed issues followed.

I haven't built one for many a year so here goes....
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 10:24:05 PM by Pen-Pusher »

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2017, 03:33:38 PM »
The main body and wings are fairly large pieces but despite its age, still clean and well fitting. (That's probably because I'm building one of only two issues Airfix did of this kit). I added a fan cut from an old Harrier kit to add a little detail - but unless you squint into the air intakes... this isn't a necessary addition.

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 03:37:19 PM »
With the fuselage complete there are only two 'trenches' to fill so I chose to mask the areas before using my 'sprue-goo'... leaving this overnight before sanding and avoiding damaging some of the surface detail in the immediate vicinity?

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 03:41:53 PM »
(I should've mentioned the kit was bought on evilbay and there were some issued where a start had been made in the build. I had to spend a few hours gently separating those bits - fortunately they'd used a cheap tube glue which had dried out so the bits did come apart without too much hassle!)

Carrying on with the build the, you can see the results of my applications of 'sprue-goo' - now just thin grey lines which will paint over nicely. I've also carefully removed the seams where the wing and fuselage halves meet (a complex mating if ever there was one) and the dry-fit of the wings is 'encouraging....?'

Roger

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 08:29:53 PM »
A lovely looking aircraft, good to see one being built.
Roger

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2017, 10:07:49 PM »
Thanks Roger. The majority of the kit is now complete and ready for some painting. Haven't quite decided on a scheme - maybe one of the test aircraft rather than a service one....

bridlufc

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2017, 10:27:59 PM »
I must admit I like delta wing aircraft, I have several in my stash which I have yet to build.  Looking forward to the finished article.

Bridlufc

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 08:18:10 PM »
One little issue with both the 1/72 Tamiya kit and this one from Airfix is the slight droop on the underside of the nose... That isn't there on any version as these photos show, so a judicial amount of sanding is required!

Pen-Pusher

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2017, 06:12:26 PM »
There were some curious anomalies in the Skyray that the 'conscientious' modeller must take some cognizance of. The leading edge slats were not controlled by the pilot, but free to move as determined by gravity. When the airplane was static they would fall open. In flight, aerodynamic and inertia forces determined their position. (When on the ground with the wings folded, gravity closed the slats on the folded section).

The large triangular surfaces inboard of the elevons were giant pitch trimmers. They could be angled 28.5 degrees above their faired position but only 1.5 degrees below. They were trimmed up trailing edge up for takeoff and landing and are almost always seen in this position when the aircraft was on the ground.

The rudder was in two separate sections. The lower section was a true rudder; the upper used for trim and yaw damping. It was not unusual for the two sections to be in different positions. The pod on the centre line that looks like a streamlined bomb (Photo #1) was a Navpac and nearly always carried. It contained marker beacon and civil VOR omni receivers.

The Skyray had no built-in air-to-air refuelling so this was done via a specially adapted wing tank (next task)

With neither 1/72 model providing the control surface options... there is a decision to make? (Maybe next time) At least it sits on its nose wheel - so far!

Bigkev

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Re: Skyray Saga
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2017, 07:41:58 PM »
Hi Pen Pusher,
A nice looking model so far, looking to seeing it completed.
Cheers,
Bigkev