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SH-2F Seasprite

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 F9F-8/F9F-8P Cougar Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2015 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject F9F-8/F9F-8P Cougar Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80127 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First new-tool kit of this subject in decades Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look


The F9F was a transitional aircraft for Grumman. With the Panther, Grumman produced its first carrier-based jet fighter, but it retained straight wings. The Cougar took the experience of the Panther and added swept wings to give it better speed. With the shape of the wings and wing root fairings, the Cougar gained additional wing area which provided better lift and low-speed handling. The F9F Cougar entered service too late to see combat in Korea (though it made it into theater just as the treaty was signed) but it would be the first to employ a new weapon of the era - the guided missile - with the installation of the first Sidewinders.

This is the first time a company presents the F9F-8 in plastic and in 1/48th scale (the Revell Cougar was 1/52 scale). The F9F Cougar has been done in resin by Collect-Aire (1/48th) and by Fisher Models (1/32nd). You'll recall that Kitty Hawk previously released the TF-9J (F9F-8T) kit which was a first in plastic (Fisher Models also produced the 'Twogar' in resin in 1/32 scale).

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautifully detailed cockpit
  • Choice of Grumman or Martin-Baker Mk.Z5 ejection seats
  • Positionable canopy
  • Splitter plates provided for later F9F-8 blocks
  • Choice of gun nose (F9F-8) or camera nose (F9F-8P)
  • Detailed gun nose bay
  • Detailed camera nose bay with positionable access doors
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable wings (extended or folded)
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable spoilers
  • Positionable rudder
  • Detailed landing gear

External stores include:

  • 4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • 4 x rocket pods
  • 2 x external fuel tanks

Markings are provided for five subjects:

  • F9F-8, 141124, VF-61, E/209
  • F9F-8, 138837, VF-121, D/121
  • F9F-8, 131205, Blue Angel 1
  • F9F-8P, 144408, VFP-61, PP/968
  • F9F-8P, 141702, Photo Recon School, 4P/107, NAS Pensacola

There are a few points worth noting:

  1. The F9F-8 gun bay is very nicely detailed, but if you follow the instructions, you close all of that detail up never to be seen again. On the full-scale aircraft, the nose slides forward on rails to allow the ground crews and the pilot pre-flight inspection access to the bay. It won't be hard to modifiy the nose to do this and you'll want the Detail and Scale F9F Cougar reference for this as it has excellent photos of the exposed gun bay (as well as the rest of the aircraft!).
  2. The horizontal tail is set up like a stabilator in the kit complete with positionable hinge. Unfortunately the F9F had a conventional tail and while the horizontal surface did move, it was only slightly used for trim control. The Cougar had conventional elevators on the trailing edge. You'll have to scribe the elevators into the kit parts (use the above Detail and Scale F9F Cougar reference) or cut the trailing edges clear and re-engineer these into positionable elevators (they sometimes drooped on the ground).
  3. The kit instructions correctly show that the Cougar can be armed with up to four AIM-9B Sidewinders and the illustrations of those weapons are also correct. Unfortunately the kit sprues provide four AIM-9L Sidewinders which are great if you're arming an F-14, F-15, F-16, etc. You'll have to go aftermarket to get the AIM-9Bs. Eduard released a nice set of these.
  4. The decal instructions show placement of the various markings for Blue Angel 1, but as Bert Kinzey of Detail and Scale points out, the Blue Angels' Cougars didn't carry maintenance stencils. This is an easy fix - don't use the stencils.

Overall, this kit looks nice and should go together fine, especially from the multitude of test-build photos that have been previously released. We shall soon see ourselves. The issues above are relatively minor and easily addressed, especially with that handy Detail and Scale F9F Cougar reference on my iPad.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!