Italeri 1/48 F7F-3 Tigercat Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||May 2016||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||2756||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$32.95|
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 The first combat the Tigercat would see was in Korea before being withdrawn from combat operations in mid-1953.
Italeri has reissued the AMT/ERTL 1/48 F7F-3 Tigercat kit. This kit is a clean tooling with scribed panel lines and nice details for the price and age. Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on six parts trees plus one small tree of clear parts. According to the specifications, the kit consists of 91 parts. At least three of the subjects provided in this kit are photo-reconnaissance variants (F7F-3P) though there are no camera ports rendered in this kit.
Before we think about building this kit, there is one consideration to plan for - ballast. When assembled, this model is seriously tail-heavy. I've read some past builds where more than 40 grams were required in the nose and engine nacelles for the aircraft to sit on its tricycle landing gear. The kit includes a two-piece box and oil drum to prop under the tail as an alternate solution.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Nice cockpit out of the box, nice opportunity for enhancements as well
- Positionable canopy
- Flight control surfaces are all molded in neutral position
- Flaps are molded in up position
- Nicely detailed engines
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 six options:
- F7F-3P, 80425, MAG-33, WM/19, Pohang, Korea, 1953
- F7F-3, unknown, VMF-312, A-99, MCAS El Toro, 1946
- F7F-3, unknown, VMD-254, NI, Oakland, 1945
- F7F-3, unknown, G-142, NAS Livermore, 1946
- F7F-3P, 80478, 478, NAS Anacostia, 1950
- F7F-3P, 80442, LV/13, VMP-354, MCAS Cherry Point, 1949
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 two-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 Italeri USA for this review sample!