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TF-9J Cougar

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 TF-9J Cougar Kit First Look

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review July 2014 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject TF-9J Cougar Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80129 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros New-tool kit of this subject Cons Nothing major noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look

TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar
TF-9J Cougar

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. The two-seat F9F-8T (TF-9J) Cougar would become Grumman's first trainer derivative from one of its fighter series and the TF-9J would be the only variant of the swept-wing Cougar series to see combat with the US Marines employing the two-seater as a Fast-FAC (Forward Air Controller) in Vietnam.

This is the first time a company presents the Cougar in plastic and in 1/48th scale (the Revell Cougar was 1/52 scale). The F9F Cougar has been done in resin magnificently by Collect-Aire (1/48th) and by Fisher Models (1/32nd).

I was worried a bit about what would be in the box but after seeing the first built that Kitty Hawk posted in the forums, I felt a bit better. So let's see what is in the box.

Six sprues of plastic, one sprue of clear parts, one photo-etch fret, one metal ball bearing for the nose weight and two decal sheets with four decal options.

The surface detail is fine. More rivets than necessary are present but they are not obnoxious.

Constructions starts with the cockpit and the first observation is that both the early Grumman ejection seat and the later Martin Bakers are included. Choose carefully based on your references because most Cougar trainers in my images show the later Martin Baker seats and I think all the decal options included require the later bang seats.

All instrumentation is represented by photo-etch and/or decals. I would rather have nice relief 3D switches and screens but this has been how Kitty Hawk has been doing it. I do like that cockpit sidewalls are also provided. A very nice touch is the provision in clear plastic of the rear internal windscreen for the instructor.

The forward fuselage is provided as a plug so other single seat variants can be created down the road.

A little work will be required to plug the forward gun openings if you want your trainer unarmed.

The front landing gear is presented in its compressed form. Judging from the built example it gives the Cougar the wrong stance and makes it look like if it is on catapult ready to be launched.

Also a little nit is the inclusion of two tiny air scoop parts that the instructions show as being on each fuselage side. These are parts A37 and A38. On the port side there is an opening that looks like an exhaust as in the provided image. Omit part A37 or modify it and turn it around. A36 is fine on the starboard side.

F9F-8T F9F-8T

The front under-fuselage speed brakes and cavity look good.

The main fuselage is a top bottom construction. Unfortunately the under fuselage flaps are molded shut. I have no images showing the speed brakes open on the ground without the flaps being down as well.

The wings can be posed folded and there is internal detail at the wing folds. The clear part on the port wing side near the intake is for the angle of attack indicator lights and it should have a small backing scratchbuilt with red/orange/green dots painted on it. Unfortunately this same part repeats on the starboard wing. You would need to cover this part up.

The canopy could have been done a bit better with a more bulbous cross section, especially pronounced over the forward cockpit.


Two tanks are provided, four rocket pods and four Sidewinders. Incidentally, do not paint the Sidewinders black as per the instructions! Look at your references for weapons load-out for a trainer or for a Vietnam FAC.

The decals look OK. Decals are provided for four subjects:

  • TF-9J, 147384, H&MS-13, YU/2, USMC
  • F9F-8T, 147387, VT-10, 2N/517, USN
  • TF-9J, 145417, Blue Angel 7
  • F9F-8T, 3-A-151, French Navy

Overall this is a nice kit as I see it in the box.

I hope to be building it in the near future.

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