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F9F-5 Panther

Fisher Model and Pattern 1/32 F9F-5 Panther Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2006 Manufacturer Fisher Model and Pattern
Subject Grumman F9F-5 Panther Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3201 Primary Media Resin, PE, vac
Pros Absolutely the best resin aircraft kit on the market - no casting blocks, no pinholes, near-perfect fit! Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $195.00

First Look

F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther
F9F-5 Panther

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' Cougar kit a year or so 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.

A few months ago, Fisher announced that they were lowering the price of their kits for some undetermined period of time, and given my impressions with the Cougar kit I had purchased, I decided to order the Panther as well. Evidently I wasn't alone - quite a few people ordered the Panther and Cougar and it took Fisher Model and Pattern a little time to catch up. Let me tell you, this kit is every bit as nice as the Cougar and was well worth the wait!

Like the Cougar, the Panther features a one-piece wing and a hollow-cast fuselage. As you can see in the third photo, the fit of the wing/fuselage joint is as tight as the Cougar. And as with the Cougar, the Panther kit also features a beautiful cockpit tub that fits up inside the fuselage before the wings are installed.

While the majority of the kit is resin, the kit also includes a large fret of photo-etched parts for the wing fences, speed brakes, canopy radio antenna, rocket fins, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, rear view mirrors, instrument panel, and more.

The canopy is another interesting twist. You have your choice of clear resin windscreen/canopy or a vacuformed version. The vac canopy also includes a resin master should you have to make a replacement for any reason.

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 the external stores department, the kit comes with eight pylons. You can hang your choice of bombs and rockets out there. The kit includes two Tiny Tim (huge) rockets, six 5" HVAR rockets, and eight bombs. As with the full-scale aircraft, external fuel is accommodated with wingtip tanks.

Markings are provided for three aircraft:

  • F9F-5, BuNo 125598, VF-192, B/209, as it appeared in the movie "Bridges at Toko-Ri"
  • F9F-5, BuNo 126195, VMA-223, WP/12
  • F9F-5, BuNo 126070, Blue Angels #5

This is the first large-scale resin aircraft kit from Fisher Model and Pattern and my second. This release is every bit as nice as the Cougar that I started with and I am anxiously waiting to see what is next from this great company.

If you're an early jet and/or a naval aviation modeler, this kit is a must have. It is clearly the best F9F Panther 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.