In 1945 the US Army lost interest in its XP-61E escort fighter the Black Widow.
The surviving XP-61E was modified to an unarmed photographic reconnaissance aircraft.
All guns were removed, cameras were installed in a new nose and the aircraft was given the new designation XF-15 (in the US Army designation scheme, “F” was reserved for photographic reconnaissance aircraft).
In June 1945 the USSAAF ordered 175 F-15A and these were given the popular name of “Reporter”
The F-15A was a P-61C with R-2800-C turbo supercharged engines, a new bubble canopy,fuselage and new nose carrying the cameras.
The fighter brakes on the wings was also eliminated.
Due to the development of faster jet aircraft the contract was cancelled in 1947 after only 36 aircraft had been built.
The aircraft cockpit had flight controls in both positions; the front was for the pilot and the rear for the camera operator/navigator. As both airmen were to be “pilot” certified, on long missions control could be shared.
9 F-15As were assigned to Air Materiel Command on mainland US and 27 aircraft went to the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron attached to the 35th Fighter Group in Japan.
Mapping of the Korean Peninsular would later in 1950 be invaluable when the Korean war broke out.
Some aircraft served in the Philippines and Celebes.
By the early 1950s spare parts were becoming a problem and many were cannibalized to keep others flying.
Some aircraft were sold off to commercial users for conversion into water bombers
. The last of these crashed on takeoff in 1965 and was scrapped. No F-15s survive.
The kit parts arrived in a strong 9 ˝” X 5 ˝” X 2” top opening box. The canopies packed in a ziplock bag and resin parts in another all wrapped up in bubble rap.
Two one piece vacuum formed canopies are supplied. The canopies are fairly clear. Careful cutting will be required to make an open canopy.
Two castings make up the main fuselage. The pouring blocks for the fuselage are on the underside of the aircraft and are quite solid but should clean up nicely. The wing roots will need to have a slot cut out to match the DML kits wing tabs or make your own spars. The cockpit walls have a lot of nice detail moulded onto them. One fuselage half has the cockpit floor and details moulded on it and the underside has nose wheel well with fine details moulded in. The instrument panel, controls and seats shown but not included in my kit. I will have to use parts from the DML kit . The separate nose cone has the camera ports cast in. Glazing will have to be provided by the modeller
The spinners will be used from the DML kit and prop blades from this conversion kit. The forward portion of both tail booms will need to be cut off and new resin boom castings, engine faces, integrated oil cooler and the new engine nacelles added.
The decal sheet has serial numbers to make two of the 39 aircraft listed. The decals are in register with minimum of film around the edges, they look thin and have a high gloss finish.
Decals for specific aircraft with nose/tail art:
45-59323 8th PRS Clark Field, Philippines 1947 "Bird/8 Ball"
45-59306 8th PRS Clark Fields, Philippines 1948 "8 Ball"
45-59303 63rd PRS Itazuke AB, Japan 1948 " Klondike Kodak"
45-593?? 7th PRS Yokota AB Japan 1948 "The Missing Link"
The instructions comprise three single sided pages. The first page is a copy of a hand drawn parts layout with notes for removal of the nacelle from both booms, wing root slots and cockpit details. The second page has layout of standard markings. A colour layout for airframe 45-59300 which is shown in Arctic Conspicuity Sheme. All serial and tail numbers for F-15A are listed. The third page has unit, decal and colour information for five aircraft. Three of the six aircraft are shown with rubber de-icing boots on the wings and tail.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it will look like a F-15A
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE
This conversion kit will be used as part of my entry in the ongoing informal Aeroscale P-61 group build