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F3F-2

Accurate Miniatures 1/48 Grumman F3F-2 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 (Updated July 2011) Manufacturer Accurate Miniatures
Subject Grumman F3F-2 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 3414 Primary Media Styrene, Photo Etch
Pros Very easy build, beautiful detail Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

F3F-2
F3F-2
F3F-2
F3F-2
F3F-2
F3F-2
F3F-2

Grumman began its Naval Fighter business with the FF and the F2F. With the introduction of the F3F, Grumman had developed a winning airframe that would lead to the early mainstay of WW2, the F4F Wildcat. The F4F was essentially an F3F-3 fuselage with a mid-mounted wing replacing the two wings of the F3F.

While the F3F-1 was entering production, the US Navy was already looking ahead. They issued a contract to Grumman to integrate the supercharged Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine onto the F3F airframe. This required a complete redesign from the firewall forward, but the result became the F3F-2. The new engine raised available power to 950 hp, and while it only represented a 25 mph increase in airspeed, it raised the service ceiling to over 30,000 feet! While the F3F never fired a shot in anger, it was responsible for training the generation of pilots that would lead the US into aerial combat against agile foes.

Here is one of Accurate Miniatures early kits and the pioneer for applying photo-etch for rigging. Released on the heels of their outstanding F3F-1 kit, they produced the updated F3F-2 with all of the changes made by Grumman. As with their F3F-1 kit, this F3F-2 contains everything you’d ever need to build this model including photo-etched parts for engine ignition harness, seat belts and rigging. And as with the F3F-1, this kit has decals that will represent any of the 81 F3F-2s ever built.

Molded in light grey plastic, the F3F-2 kit is flash-free and is free of injector pin marks in inopportune locations. The detailing is finely scribed, with the molding on the wings and tail control surfaces nicely molded to represent the fabric covered structures.

As to be expected with an Accurate Miniatures kit, the fit of the parts is spot-on. This is another one of those kits that you can drop a bottle of glue into, close the lid, shake the box, and presto! Instant F3F! Well maybe there is a little more to the process, but this kit should assemble as smoothly as the F3F-1 and that was a nice build.

The instructions are very nicely laid out, with the steps limited to a few parts each so there is no great overflow of information or confusing diagrams. These are definitely produced by modelers!

If you have been afraid of building biplanes in the past, you might want to take a look at one of these F3F kits. The photo-etched rigging takes away all of the pain! It is so successful that Tamiya produced photo-etched rigging for their Fairey Swordfish kit. Unlike Tamiya, Accurate Miniatures includes the rigging in the kit!

As I stated earlier, the decals contain markings that provide unit markings and aircraft numbers for every F3F-2 ever produced. There are so many spare decals left over, you could use them for some of your other pre-WW2 USN projects as well!

I highly recommend this kit to every biplane builder, as well as to those of you who have hesitated in building biplanes in the past. This kit will take away the fear of rigging and provide you with a lot of fun!

If you'd like to see what one of these kits looks like built, here is an older build of their F3F-1.

Thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this review sample!

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