|1. Plastikmodellbauclub Nürnberg e.V.|
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|Model and photos by Wilfried Eck|
Why I had to waint more than 40 years for a 1/48 kit of the F9F Cougar is beyond my imagination. After all this aircraft - successor of the F9F-2, to -5 Panther - was the mainstay of US Navy carrier fighter and Marine Corps fighter bomber units. But the Cjhinese company Kitty Hawk has filled this gap by now, presenting the last variant F9F-8. In a huge box in an equivalent price one gets everything to make the modeller's heart beat faster, especially as not only the fighter type, but also the later recce plane can be built. The construction leaflet - though conventional in kit assembly - excelling in the last pages with colour paintings of not less than four different machines in four side views on high gloss paper. Obviously K.H.'s intention was to fulfill every conceivable modeler's wish.
I began with the ammunition bay. As you can see in the photo at
left there are only some cables left to be added to make it a showpiece in
Regrettably K.H. leaves the question of colours to the imagination of the modeler. In a b/w photo of the original aircraft one could clearly see the fighter nose wasn't black. I came out with middle gray (Dark Gull Gray?), Interior Green beeing definitely out in this timescale. In the photo nose I used mostly black.
But then I switched to the camera nose as the -8P photo plane seemed to be even more attractive. Again, every camera on its shelf, nothing to complain about. The question was what one could see when the maintenance panels were lifted to the horizontal. Either one fetched and turned the model or one took a look with his cheek on the table. But who likes to let some visitor leave greasy fingerprints on a work of pure art? Not to forget the aircraft appearing to sport canard wings. So all panels were left shut.
In the cockpit PE parts are provided for the instrument and side
panels, to be covered with appropriate decals. Fine idea. But
why an all black instrument panel for the gray/white fighter one can build too?
In this time black paint was out, the cockpit being painted in "Dark Gull Gray, FS 36231. So in this
case no use for the decal, paint PE part by hand. Contrary so in case of the
side panel PE parts having holes instead of knobs and other protusions. So again of
no use. Luckily applying the decals only looks fairly good.
Though otherwise there are a wealth of parts a throttle is missing and had to be made. Also the horizontal handgrip for the early ejection seat. The ejection seat itself needed a considerable portion of pressure to geht into the cockpit tub. In the real one there is some room left on both sides of the seat so in the outcome as the kit tub is too narrow the seat is too narrow too. This made it impossible to fit a normal size pilot figurine in. A seat cushion made of "FIMO" knead was added, the straps are K.H. PE parts.
Concerning the cockpit hood detail mania had had a feast. Whereas all fuselage surfaces show hundreds of small holes depicting rivets the real Cougar never had (being glass smooth) the lower part of the hood is furnished with rows of protuding rivet heads, and to show modelers where to place masks that are not supplied the struts are of considerable height, and, as the glass is the lower surface, the aft sheet metal end protudes in the same way, three to four fingers high in the real thing. Too much in my opinion so the hood was made of stretched PVC (see German modeling page C). Though the outline of the completed model is o.k., the cockpit section degrades the whole appearance.
As K.H. provides separate air
brakes and landing flaps one naturally wants to show them in the extended
position. Is to say immediately before launch or after touchdown. But not so
after I had fnished the cockpit. A Cougar with "everything out" needs a pilot as
extended air brakes and flaps are retracted as soon as the aircraft has settled
down; in the start phase air brakes aren't of any use and extended flaps produce
drag. So in this case too the pilot selects "up" as soon as possible
too. This makes a model
pilot mandatory, but it wouldn't fit into the cockpit. Never, never, does a Cougar without pilot show flaps and brakes hanging down (it
isn't a Mustang!). So to my great regret brakes and flaps had to be cemented in
a closed position. Besides: The Cougar had two sets of flaps. One in the outer
wings and one below the wing-fuselage section. In the kit the latter ones are
just engraved so cutting out and detailing the insides would have been
This leaves the PE parts for the upper side of the wings to be shown open. - Certainly not! In the Cougar these parts were spoilers replacing conventional ailerons and quite natural they were opened only on one sideand not both, and seldom on the ground. Only on folded wings one could see both slightly open.
Then do it yourself was needed. Providing PE parts for the wing fences is a good idea, but the shallow ridge provided for fastening raised doubts about a secure fix. So I cut slits and made the wing fences out of thin aluminum (beer can). The boundary layer split plates in the air intakes area were replaced likewise. This was a must as the original plates were flat ones, K.H.'s are rounded and have no stand off as they are to be cemented onto the fuselage sides. Also they are much too think.
The real Cougar sits with tail slightly down. In K.H. model form it sits horizontally. To correct this the nose gear was made from a piece of nail of appropriate diameter shortened to the required length. This part has a natural metal look and makes painting unnecessary. It was covered with a close fitting Evergreen-tube on the upper part, some detailing added, the rest are kit parts.
The K.H. air intakes are completely bare. Your can look through right to the inner end of the wings. So intake trunks were made of thin plastic. Cut and bent to form. As the intakes have a slight step inside mating was no problem.
In the last step nothing had to be done to show folded wings. K.H. provides a simple and convincing plug in solution, the wing bulkheads being adequately detailed.
Now comes the "highlight" of the
construction leaflet. The colour informations. Seldom did I see so much wrong in
one place (if provided at all). With "Midnight Blue" though still a little bit
too blue one could live with. But making it even more blue by adding "Bright
Blue" is pure nonsense. "Glossy Sea Blue" (FS 15042) is nearer to black-blue
composed of five components including 5% Green. "Glossy Sea Blue" can be
obtained in model paint form but makes the model appear too dark as this colour
needs bright sunshine to appear right whereas a model is seldom presented in
sunlight. One could add Dark Blue, but in my opinion it's easier to mix Black
and Dark (Midnight) Blue with a tiny bit of Green until it appears right (check
colour photos and internet).
Concerning the gray/white paint scheme the upper sides were painted "Nonspecular Light Gray" (FS 36440), K.H. stating glossy FS 16440, but this is only a minor mistake as a final coat of semimatte (not dull) paint will remedy this. Concerning an enigmatic dull FS 36622 Gray for the undersides Gray is definitely wrong. The real colour was (glossy) "Insignia white" (FS 17875).
In all cases landing gear and insides of the wheel wells were the same color as the undersides. What appears to be bare metal on all leading edges in reality was paint on aluminum basis.
The recce F9F-8P is shown in white and red color. White is correct, but as these Cougars are from the Photographic School in Florida they should have had the standard trainer scheme "Insignia White" and "Orange Yellow" (FS 12197). Before applying the latter paint I applied a thick coat of White to make all those little holes trying to represent rivets less obvious. The real Cougar was glass smooth, not a single rivetwas to be seen. Another case of gross overdetailing. Orange color was mixed from Revell 12 Yellow and 34 Red according to a paint chip of the original color. High gloss sheen slightly toned down after the decals were applied.
As the maintenance and warning inscriptions are a little bit on the big side I used only a few to prevent an ad poster appearance.
As I wanted to show a miniture replica of a F8F-8P Cougar and not a piece of art there is nearly no "ageing" and definitely no chipped paint to be seen. Bleached paint maybe, but nothing more. In The US Navy corrosion prevention is mandatory and as it is usual in other cases too mechanics like to present their aircraft in an as good as possible condition.
All in all: This kit makes your mouth water, but at a closer look not everything makes sense and not everything is correct. A great chance was given away.