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F9F-8 Cougar

Fisher Model and Pattern 1/32 F9F-8 Cougar Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2004 Manufacturer Fisher Model and Pattern
Subject Grumman F9F-8 Cougar Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3202 Primary Media Resin, PE, vac
Pros Absolutely the best resin aircraft kit on the market - no casting blocks, no pinholes, near-perfect fit! Cons Flaperons are positionable, but underbody flaps are molded up and locked. Poor decal placement instructions, spotty decal quality.
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $195.00

First Look

F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar
F9F-8 Cougar

The F9F was a transitional aircraft for Grumman. With the Panther, Grumman produced its first carrier-based jet fighter, but it retained straight wings. The Cougar took the experience of the Panther and added swept wings to give it better speed. With the shape of the wings and wing root fairings, the Cougar gained additional wing area which provided better lift and low-speed handling. The two-seat F9F-8T (TF-9J) Cougar would become Grumman's first trainer derivative from one of its fighter series. Finally, the Cougar would be the first to employ a new weapon of the era, the guided missile, with the installation of the first Sidewinders.

The F9F Cougar entered service too late to see combat in Korea (though it made it into theater just as the treaty was signed) and left service too early for Vietnam, though a few TF-9J trainers were pressed into Forward Air Control (FAC) duties early in that war.

This is the first kit I've seen from Fisher Model and Pattern, though it is their second offering. Their first was the F9F Panther. I've acquired a number of resin kits in my collection and have seen more in others. Never in this hobby have I seen resin kits of the quality and engineering as those produced by Paul Fisher's Fisher Model and Pattern. I had seen the preview photos of this latest kit, the F9F-8 Cougar, but was still a bit skeptical as it is rare that a kit is as nice-looking in person as it is in the promo photos. In fact, when this kit did arrive in my mailbox, I was stunned. If the Panther is as nice as this Cougar, it should be spectacular.

The kit arrived in a non-descript box with its contents well packaged and protected from harm. The parts are cast in a light gray-green resin (almost RLM02) and the casting quality is outstanding. With the exception of the smallest detail parts, none of the parts have casting blocks to remove or even flash from the molds. There are no pinholes or other imperfections in any of the parts. And as seen in the promo photos, the fit of the fuselage and wing is tight and nearly perfect. Details are finely scribed on the surfaces of each part.

As you can see in the photos to the right, the fuselage is a one-piece affair that is cast hollow. The completed cockpit tub slips up into place before the one-piece wing is installed. Since the parts have no casting blocks to remove or clean up, this kit will go together almost like a styrene kit except for the need for cyano instead of liquid cement.

The one piece wing is also a nice work of art with detailed main wheel wells, seamless intakes and even slots for the clear wingtip nav lights and the approach slope indicator light in the left wing root. For whatever reason, the combination flap/ailerons (flaperons) were molded separately to be positionable, but the two flap sections under the fuselage are cast with these flaps up, negating the option of dropping the flaps. On the plus side, the elevators and ventral speed brakes are also positionable.

The landing gear is resin, but it appears to be stout enough to take the weight of the completed model with no problems. One nice touch in the design of this kit is the recognition that this model will be a dedicated tail sitter without ballast. The designer provided a unique tray on the front of the cockpit tub that will accommodate 12 pennies which will provide the needed balance for the completed model.

In addition to all of the resin details that are included in this kit, there is also a fret of photo-etch parts included that provide an instrument panel face, speed brake petals, and other essential details.

In the external stores department, the kit comes with six pylons. You can hang two external fuel tanks and four Sidewinder missiles if you're doing an air-to-air machine, two external tanks and four iron bombs if you're doing a mud mover, or six iron bombs if you're really moving mud. Once again, look at the casting of these parts - they are seamless and flash-free.

The instruction booklet is nicely laid out with photos illustrating the step-by-step assembly of the kit. While the instructions are great for assembly, they are weak on painting and decal placement. Once page shows the placement of the maintenance stencils, but it is almost unreadable. There are no three-view diagrams for any of the four aircraft decal options, just a color print with one front quarter view for each of the four aircraft. You'll need to consult other references to get decal placement for anything on the bottom or left sides of the model.

F9F-8 Cougar

The only real beef I have with this kit is the decals. Four decal sheets are provided containing the markings for one Blue Angel Cougar, two VF-61 Jolly Rogers Cougars (one in the early blue and the other in the later gray/white, and one VT-21 aircraft. On the plus side, the unique yellow markings applied to the VF-61 aircraft come with both white and black outlines to support the blue or gray/white schemes. In addition, maintenance stencils are also provided in white and black for the same reason. On the negative side, my kit came with the yellow US Navy markings for the Blue Angels smeared. In addition, the Blue Angel shield has no white background printed with it, so it is not usable either. Good thing I wasn't building a Blue Angel! The rest of the decals appear to be printed in register and with no other problems.

This is the first resin kit that I've seen that fits as nice as it looks and requires no special preparation to build. At a retail price of $155.00, this is a bargain as Tamiya's 1/32 plastic kits are costing that much now. While resin kits have always been more expensive, and many of these are even more expensive than this kit, you won't find the quality of parts fit and attention to detail that you will get in this kit.

If you're an early jet and/or a naval aviation modeler, this kit is a must have. It is clearly the best F9F Cougar ever done in any scale and is almost simple enough for even the first-time resin builder. This one is definitely highly recommended!

I bought my kit directly from Fisher Model and Pattern.

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