Italeri 1/48 F7F-3N Tigercat Kit First Look
|Date of Review||June 2006||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||2660||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$36.95|
Grumman was the leader of US Navy carrier aircraft from the days of its FF biplane fighter until the retirement of the last F-14D Tomcat. Even as Grumman transitioned its fighter designed from the biplane F3F to the monoplane F4F, company designers and the Navy were interested in developing a twin-engined fighter that could operate from the carrier deck. The XF5F Skyrocket never moved beyond the prototype stage, but the lessons learned with that design led to the F7F Tigercat.
The F7F contract was given to Grumman in mid 1941 and after some teething problems, would enter service in 1944, but even then, it was unsuitable for carrier operations. Production aircraft were allocated for land-based operations with the US Marine Corps. By the time the Tigercat reached the Pacific, the war with Japan was over. It would have been a formidable heavy fighter - twin-engine reliability thanks to a pair of Pratt & Whitney R2800 engines (equivalent power to two F4U Corsairs strapped to one airframe) and heavy firepower with four 20mm and four 50 caliber machine guns.
The first combat the Tigercat would see was in Korea, with F7F-3N night fighters deployed in late 1950. The Tigercats would score a few Po-2 night raiders before being withdrawn from combat operations in mid-1953.
Italeri has reissued the AMT/ERTL 1/48 F7F-3N kit. This kit was a clean tooling with scribed panel lines and nice details for the price. While the cockpit isn't bad, Cutting Edge produced a replacement cockpit set for this kit to make it 'just right' for the AMS modelers.
The propeller blades were always an interesting glitch in the kit as the pattern maker basically got the direction of rotation and pitch angles right, but somehow got the shape backwards with the trailing edge out front. Not many people would really notice such a thing, and those that are concerned can raid their other kits for replacements.
The engines are rather nice looking and capture the look of the twin Wasp, especially what little you'll see of them through those tight cowl openings.
While the flight control surfaces and flaps are all molded up or neutral and integral with the wings or tail, a little surgery will allow you to pose them in a more dynamic position, should you care to add that extra touch to your model.
The front canopy is molded separately from the windscreen which means that you'll have the option of positioning your front and rear cockpits open or closed.
External options with the kit include a centerline fuel tank, a pair of bombs on the inboard pylons, and rockets on the outboard sections of the wing.
The kit decals provide four options:
- F7F-3N, WF/2, VMF(N)-413, Kangnung (K-18) AB, Korea, 1951
- F7F-3N, WF-20, VMF(N)-513, Pyontaek (K-6) AB, Korea, 1952
- F7F-3N, WH/7, VMF(N)-542, Kimpo (K-14) AB, Korea, 1950
- F7F-3N, Z65, VMF(N)-534, NAS Miramar, USA,
I'm happy to see Italeri reissue more of AMT/ERTL's classic kits as this was definitely one of the better kits produced by that firm. Even today, this tooling and its single-seat sibling are still the best F7F Tigercats produced in any scale.
If you're looking for a simple build of this Grumman hot-rod, look for this kit on your retailer's shelf.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!