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Monogram 1/48 F9F-5P Reconnaissance Panther Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2005 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject F9F-5P Reconnaissance Panther Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5497 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Only styrene recce Panther in 1/48 scale Cons We may have lost the normal Panther molds (see text)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.50

First Look


As the Navy transitioned into jet-powered fighters in the late 1940s, they recognized that the greater speeds of the jet fighter could be used to gain photo intelligence in hostile airspace. The Navy removed the guns from a number of F9F-2s and installed cameras. These aircraft were re-designated as F9F-2Ps and they proved effective. As Grumman began production of the F9F-5, the US Navy contracted for 36 to be delivered as F9F-5Ps. The main difference between the stock F9F-5 and its photo equivalent was the addition of an autopilot to keep the aircraft stable while the cameras were rolling, and additional mapping and panoramic cameras in an elongated nose.

Most of the F9F-5Ps were assigned to the US Marine Corps, flying alongside the armed Panthers for pre- and post-strike photos in Korea.

Here is the first photo-reconnaissance Panther to be rendered in styrene in 1/48 scale. Revell-Monogram has rendered the F9F-5P nose profile with the requisite camera ports. Prior to this release, one had to find a resin nose conversion and graft it onto the stock Monogram F9F-5 Panther kit.

The downside to this release is that unless I'm mistaken (and it wouldn't be the first time), Revell-Monogram has altered the stock Panther molds.

When they did this with the stock B-25J to add nose guns for a Pacific strafer, the clear nose had holes added to it and now seek an old B-25J release to build a standard late-model Mitchell.

With this alteration, they lengthened the nose in the tooling as well as added camera ports in place of the nose guns. It is possible that Revell-Monogram had a second set of Panther tooling to alter, but I would seriously consider hanging on to your F9F-5 kits as I don't believe we'll be seeing this kit released again from Revell-Monogram.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene, as opposed to the dark blue styrene of the previous F9F-5 releases. The parts trees are completely identical to the F9F-5 trees with the exception of the lengthened fuselage and the new clear parts for the camera ports. Even the weapons trees are included from the original kit.

Other than the alterations made to add the recon nose, the kit is still the same. Panel lines are still raised.

It appears that R-M has a new decal printer. When I pulled the decals out of the box, I momentarily grimaced as these appeared to be stickers instead of waterslide decals. Then I noticed just how sharp the printing is on these decals - very nice. There is even a complete set of maintenance stencils included. Of course you can't see any of them in the image as these are all white on white backing paper intended for dark blue paint schemes.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F9F-5P, 126278, VMJ-3, MCAS Miami, May 1954
  • F9F-5P, 126277, VMCJ-3, MCAS El Toro, Feb 1946

It is nice to see a photo-recon Panther available in 1/48 scale without having to apply the big honking resin nose conversion. With the upcoming Panthers and Cougars from Hobbycraft, R-M may have created a nice specialty market for this tooling.

My sincere thanks to Revell for this review sample!