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TF-9J Cougar

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 TF-9J Cougar Build Review

By Larry Horyna

Date of Review December 2017 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk
Subject TF-9J Cougar Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80129 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros New-tool kit of this subject Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $45.99

Build Review

For a brief discussion of this subject and a look at this kit out of the box, look here.

My primary interest in aircraft spans WWI through WWII. However, I get commission requests for jets now and then and they are a fun departure from what I would normally build for myself. Recently, I was asked to build a 1/48 Grumman TF-9J for a retired Navy pilot. The Kitty Hawk kit had just come out and Furball made a decal sheet that had his squadron markings, so we were set to go!

The Grumman F9F Cougar was essentially a swept wing version of the Panther with the TF-9J being a two-seat trainer version. I have built a handful of Kitty Hawk kits, so I will get the biggest caveat out of the way. Anyone with moderate modeling skills can make a nice-looking model from a Kitty Hawk kit. But in my experience so far, you have to work a little for it. The TF-9J was no exception.

The model was built out of the box. The cockpit is nicely detailed with PE parts. Fit of the cockpit was good. The nose section is a separate piece, obviously to accommodate both single and two seat versions of the airplane.

TF-9J Cougar

I understand the separate nose, but rest of the fuselage is five main pieces. There is probably a very good reason why they chose to tool the model this way but as a builder, it looked like it might be a challenging fit. It was. There were a number of gaps that needed filling. There is also a very confusing area on the instructions regarding the fit of the nose section. There are two small spacers that DO NOT get attached if building the two-seat version. I made the mistake of attaching them and fighting the forward fuselage fit until I figured out that the spacers were causing the hold up. It is not terribly clear in the instruction sequence that you don't attach these when building the two-seat version.

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The kit is also tooled for the option of folding the wings. The outer wing panels did not fit that well in the extended position. There were no major fit issues, just lots of little ones. If you do not fold the wings, you will have to fill two large rectangular slots in the upper wing. Honestly, I do not know why these slots are there. They are not on the real airplane as far as I can tell from photos. If you do not hang any ordinance you will also have some large holes and slots to fill on the underside of the wings as well. The sprue attachment points are a little heavy, so care will be needed in removing parts without damaging anything. I found many parts easier to remove with a fine PE saw as opposed to nippers. Some of the smaller detail parts were very tricky to remove without breaking them.

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Once the airframe was together and all of the gaps filled and sanded, everything went pretty smoothly. The landing gear fit well as did the canopy. Speaking of the canopy, it does suffer from a common Hasegawa flaw, a nice little casting seam running right down the middle of it. It's not a big deal to take care of but it's just another little thing in a long list of little things.

TF-9J Cougar

The Furball decals were great. The model was painted with Tamiya acrylics and panels were highlighted with Tamiya enamel panel washes. So, to sum up I will refer back to the beginning. This makes into a very attractive model of a much-needed subject in this scale. Just keep in mind that you will need to take your time and test fit and fill a bit. I don't want to bash Kitty Hawk as I think they are really filling some big voids in modeling subjects. I just wish they would take a little more time and care in their tooling and research as I think they could make a stellar product instead of an average one. I look at them the same way I look at Special Hobby. If it's a subject you love in a scale you want and there is no alternative, buckle up, take a little more time and you will be rewarded with a nice-looking model.

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