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F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion

CollectAire 1/48 F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion First Look

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review October 2005 Manufacturer CollectAire
Subject F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4880 Primary Media Resin & White Metal
Pros Beautiful Detailing Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $89.98

First Look

F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion
F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion
F7U-3 Cutlass Conversion

The Chance Vought F7U Cutlass was one of the most unusual aircraft of the U.S. Navy. As the confiscated German aeronautical research data was becoming deciphered in the USA in the late 1945, details of tailless design works done by the Arado company picked the interest of U.S. aeronautical engineers.

The Cutlass had broad swept wings and twin tail fins mounted on them. Since it did not have tail wings, the pitch and roll control was provided by elevons.

The first Chance Vought Cutlass was the F7U-1 which flew on March 1, 1950. Difficulties with the underpowered Westinghouse J34 engines led to an extensive redesign of the Cutlass resulting in the -3 variant which became the definitive production version, with 162 aircraft equipping four USN squadrons.

The F7U-3 armament comprised of four 20 mm cannons in the upper lips of the intake fairings. There was provision for underwing rocket pods and various other ordinance stores. Later in its life the F7U-3M version of the Cutlass was modified to carry four Sparrow I missiles. The F7U-3P Cutlass was the camera-equipped variant.

The Cutlass production ended in December 1955 with 290 F7U-3 Cutlass variants delivered in total.

Sometimes some model kits are just rough approximations of the intended subject. This is the case with Hobbycraft's Cutlass. I have no idea who the maker was and what references he used but the resulting model looks very little like an F7U-3. Most modelers noticed it soon after they opened the box. Most just put it away and forgot about it. Some braver souls tried to fix it and some got it to look a little better and closer to target. The thing with the Hobbycraft Cutlass was that it had so many problems that I had no idea where to start from. It was not just the canopy cross sections, not just the nose length and cross sections, not just the intakes... the wings were ok thought!

Well, it was very early 2004 when I got whiff of some interesting developments and the emergence of a full conversion that was supposed to bringlife back to the hopeless Hobbycraft kit. Pictures were taken, books studied, etc, etc, until all the info was gathered again and then work started. A master was done and scrapped because something was amiss. Another master was made that answered the mail as close as possible. You see the Hobbycraft kit is so off that a really new kit was necessary.

The new conversion is actually very nice and it will bring life to those Cutlasses that are stashed away in the attic.

Important highlights:

Fuselage length. Canopy shape. Proper length gear legs to give the proper stance. Depth and shape of the intakes. Very nice ejection seat and good cockpit. So far nobody has gotten the ejection seat correctly.

The relevant instructions are provided here to show how simple but comprehensive the conversion is.

Decals are provided for four variants spanning from 1955 to 1959. The decals include common stencils, insignia and walkways as well.

This conversion is very much recommended for the modeler who cares about how their Cutlass should look. I am hoping to start work on this conversion in the near future. My wife was gracious enough to paint one up for me in the scheme as I was going to build my Cutlass.