Cold War Interceptors
Gloster Javelin FAW.9 – McDonnell F-101B – Tupolev Tu-128
During the first decade of the Cold War the great fear held on both sides of the Iron Curtain was fleets of bombers armed with nuclear weapons destroying their countries. To counter them both sides designed and made interceptors, aircraft specifically designed to meet and destroy those bombers before they were able to deliver their weapons. Let’s look at three aircraft designed to fill that role. Their main armament was missiles with which to destroy the enemy and they all had operators in a rear seat for the large radars they used to find their targets.
Gloster Javelin FAW.9 in 1/72 by Frog
Design of this aircraft began soon after the end of World War II as an all-weather counter to the threat of Soviet nuclear armed jet bombers. Due to defense cutbacks development was slow and the first prototype did not fly until November 1951. They began entering service with the RAF in February 1956. A total of 436 were manufactured and they remained in service April 1968. The Javelin entered service only four years before the first BAC Lightnings. The Lightning was twice as fast but had limited range and only two missiles as its main armament so the Javelin remained in service until the much improved Lightning F.6 began entering service in the mid 1960s.
This model was made using the old Frog kit that was first published in 1975. In its day it was an advanced kit but these days it is lacking is many of the details and refinements we’ve come to expect. I wrote a Workbench Note you might want to look at about building this kit, which is the final operational version, the FAW.9. The other options are also the old Frog kit in different boxes and slightly different versions from Eastern Europe companies and the Heller Javelin T.3 which was reboxed by Airfix in 1994 so you can make it as a FAW.9. There is a short article on iModeler.com about making a couple of other marks of Javelin using parts from both kits which is worth reading.
McDonnell F-101B in 1/72 by Matchbox
Initially this aircraft was designed to escort bombers in the same role that Allied fighters had escorted bombers during World War II. It also included features that made it a fighter-bomber. However, due to delays in developing a United States high speed interceptor the F-101 was heavily redesigned with a new nose with a more powerful radar, a second seat for the radar operator and its cannon armament was replaced by missiles. In this form the F-101B began entering service with the US Air Force January 1959 and a slightly different version, the CF-101B of the Royal Canadian Air Force, entered service in 1961.
This model was made using the old Matchbox 1/72 kit which was first published in 1980. The review of this kit in Modelling Madness is straightforward, this is a kit ‘that most modellers won’t touch’ but is fine for ‘beginners or a youngster’. I didn’t mind making it but trying to find a fair looking F-101B in the parts was not easy. When I made this model I was under the impression that the Revell kit of the F-101B that was first published in 1991 was a reboxing of the old Matchbox kit (which a lot of Revell kits are), but it isn’t. If I’d known that when I felt the need to make a F-101B I would have used the Revell kit instead which is, by all accounts and iModeller.com , a much better kit.
Tupolev Tu-128 in 1/72 by Amodel
The Tupolev Tu-128 (with the NATO code name ‘Fiddler’) was the largest fighter ever made. It’s size was the result of the Soviet Union’s need to defend its 5000km northern border against attack from bombers flying over the north pole. Consequently it needed very long range and an ability to stay on station for several hours. It was supersonic and armed with four large missiles. They were introduced into service in 1961 and finally retired in 1990, being replaced by MiG-31 interceptors.
I made this model using the Amodel kit that published in 2003. What was I thinking? Building this was one long exercise in self inflicted pain and torment. The fact that I completed it at all is a testament to my perseverance, if not my sanity. I wrote a Workbench Note about this which is not a happy read. My only excuse is that this was the only kit if the Tu-128 around until Trumpeter published their version in 2018, which Fine Scale Modeller found most agreeable. A review of the Amodel kit of the trainer version of the Tu-128 in Cybermodeler Online concludes: ‘Patience, a steady hand and a lot of aftermarket resin parts … could really bring out the beauty in this beast. Recommended for experienced modellers’ That might well be true but, take it from one who’s been there, go for the Trumpeter kit instead.