Fisher Model and Pattern 1/32 F9F-2 Panther Kit First Look
|Date of Review||August 2007||Manufacturer||Fisher Model and Pattern|
|Subject||Grumman F9F-2 Panther||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||3206||Primary Media||Resin/PE/White Metal|
|Pros||Still absolutely the best resin aircraft kits on the market - no casting blocks, no pinholes, near-perfect fit!||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$195.00|
The F9F was a transitional aircraft for Grumman. The early F9Fs, the Panthers, featured straight wings to maximize lift and minimize airspeeds at launch and recovery aboard the aircraft carrier. This platform was Grumman's first jet-powered fighter, and just like the Lockheed F-80 and Republic F-84 for the USAF, this platform was a learning experience for the service, its pilots, and for the manufacturer.
The learning curve was quickly raised as the Panther (and its USAF compatriots) were thrust into combat operations during the Korean War. As developments in aerodynamics improved (thanks in part to the captured German research from WW2), the aircraft and engine developments led to better versions of the Panther.
Then there came a point when straight-winged fighters were reaching their performance limits. Grumman swept the wing of the F9F and the Cougar was born (Republic would sweep the F-84 to create the Thunderstreak and Lockheed attempted to sweep the F-80 to create the F-90, but that project was cancelled).
Resin kits are usually limited run projects that leave a lot of engineering 'opportunities' to the modeler to successfully complete the project. The advantage to these kits is that you'll get kit subjects in scales that have never been addressed before, but you're sometimes left with kits that are virtually unbuildable. Before you shell out $150-$300 for a resin model from any manufacturer, check reviews and chat room comments to see if you might be walking into one of those stinkers.
When I first looked at Fisher Model and Pattern' F9F-8 Cougar kit a few years ago (look here), I was very impressed with the resin casting techniques and general engineering used in the development of that kit. The one-piece wing and hollow-cast one-piece fuselage are still the best-cast large resin parts I've ever seen. The mechanical fit between the wing and fuselage is virtually perfect. This is probably one of the best kits for a styrene modeler with multimedia experience to step over into the world of the all-resin model.
Since that time, Fisher Models has released the F9F-5 Panther (look here), TF-9J 'Twogar' (look here), and Hawker Sea Fury (look here), and each is a masterpiece of its own right. Well Fisher Models has come back with another key milestone in the Grumman F9F story, the early F9F-2 Panther and it is another beautifully designed model.
So you ask "is this just a modified F9F-5 kit?" While some of the smaller parts are common to the F9F-5, look at the images in the F9F-5 review (link above) and see that the fuselage is a little different, Fisher Models captured the subtle differences in this new fuselage.
The wing is completely different - the flaps and ailerons are integral on the -2 Panther where they were separate on the -5. This isn't a big deal since most folks will pose the flaps up anyway. The intakes are redesigned for the -2 shape.
Also new are the tip tanks - these were one-piece solid castings in the -5 kit, they're hollow-cast three-piece tanks here that capture the rear dump vent detail much better.
Look at that fit. Just sitting on the table with no tape, no adhesives, that wing/fuselage join is tight straight out of the box. This is no surprise as all Fisher kits are crafted this way.
As with the previous releases from Fisher Models, the details are cast in resin and are also provided on a fret of photo-etch. New with this Panther installment is the white metal landing gear - these were previously rendered in resin and I hope that Fisher Models will offer the white metal landing gear as an upgrade for those of us with their previous releases.
Speaking of upgrades, one upgrade for this kit that is in the near future is a new wing. This optional wing will provide the outboard wing panels set up to be folded. Keeping this extra detail separate keeps the cost lower for the basic kit for those who wouldn't care for the folded-wing Panther option.
These were not yet available for this review. I'll update this section when the decals arrive and this kit is formally relased.
While I still don't have the planned retail price for this kit, some readers might consider a resin kit of this quality too expensive at around $200. If you're a 1/32 modeler, have you priced the Trumpeter kits in this scale lately? They're approaching this price point and I dare say that you won't have any challenges assembling and painting this kit.
If you're an early jet and/or a naval aviation modeler, this kit is a must have. It is still one of the best F9Fs ever done in any scale (the others are also from Fisher) 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.