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Grumman F9F-2 Panther
VF-781, USS Oriskany, 1951
Why this plane?
The navy blue planes from the Korean War era look fantastic. I know, changing to light gull grey and insignia white made sense when you had to worry about being close to nuclear explosions, but something important was lost in terms of the US Navy's unique visual identity and style...
This was the first kit that I was happy with the result (except for my ongoing battle with canopies).
What was added
100% out of the box, apart from the seat belts and seat cushion, which were scratch-built (see below).
Notes and lessons learned
This is a really nice kit. The parts fitted well, zero to no flash. It even comes with some photo etch and film for the instrument panel. A real bargain. It allows the wings to be posed open or folded. I chose...both. Up to this date the wings are not cemented in place. So, excuse me if they may appear misaligned in some of the photos.
I noticed in the Panther I saw in the USS Midway that a little bit of the metal shows at the junction between panels, and near rivets. This breaks the uniformity of the midnight blue a bit, but the effect is subtle. To capture this look, I used Tamiya panel line accent colour light grey, applied after I was happy with the blue (Vallejo Model Air USN Sea Blue), Tamiya clear, decals, and another coat of Tamiya clear. Dry brushing metallic silver to a few places to simulate worn out paint helped to create an authentic look (at least to my eyes).
The decals provided in this kit are a bit flimsy. My biggest problem was the red lightning bolt coming from the nose. I tried to apply it once the model was assembled, and this proved too hard. The decal disintegrated, leaving me with the problem of how to replace it. What you see in the photos comes from masking, and airbrushing (Model Air white, followed by red). These colours matched well those of the other decals (like the lightning bolts in the wingtip tanks). If I were to do this kit again, I would paint the nose cone separately, and apply the decal before inserting the guns through the holes and adding the weight.
I think I did a credible job of masking the canopy and painting the blue frame, but once again success escaped me at the last moment. I tried to use Tamiya clear to keep the canopy shiny, but this did not work. You can see that it looks foggy. I don't know why.
The hook-like things at the front of the wingtip tanks broke multiple times during the construction. I later found out that these were attached to the plane only on the ground. So, if you want to represent a plane flying or ready for takeoff, consider not using those parts. Arguably, they are more trouble than they are worth.
The seatbelts and buckles were not in the kit. I made them from Evergreen styrene strips. The pilot's seat as provided also lacked the cushion that I found in pictures of the real thing. I made something passable by moulding blu-tack into shape, and then painting with black enamel.