by: Joel Willstein [ ]
Kit Content:The box contains 8 gray sprue trees with some that were molded in a single large mold containing two sprue trees each, & 2 clear sprue trees.
Tree #1 A1 & A2 sprues
Trees B & C as one large sprue tree
Trees D, E, & F are single trees
Tree G contains the stores and loads (more on that later)
GP & GP1 are clear plastic
One PE sheet
Two decal sheets
A high quality glossy instruction booklet with beautiful color plates for each version offered.
Kit Review:The box is certainly packed quite tightly with all the sprue trees each in their own clear plastic bag, so nothing was damaged or broken in my sample. The kit is not molded in the usual styrene plastic, but rather the same type of plastic that caused such a issue with their F-101C Voodoo. It's soft, yet is brittle at the same time, so care should be taken when cutting off parts from their respective trees.
Looking at various pieces such as the parts for either of the two ejection seats, the nose gun sub-assembly or the photo recon camera sub-assembly, the cockpit floor, both main and front wheel wells, there is a fair amount of molded on and in details, which really adds to the overall effect of a well detailed model.
The exterior fuselage and wing sections are very nicely molded. The depth and size of the recessed panel lines and rivets have a much more to scale appearance then the heavy handedness one finds in some of today's kits.
The cockpit really surprised me. There is a choice between either the Grumman or Martin-Baker Mk.Z5 ejection seats. Seatbelts and harnesses are PE parts which is another very nice touch. There is also two choices of IPs. Unfortunately, there no explanation as to which aircraft uses which ejection seat or IP. Online research via Google, showed that the "B" IP decal is for the fighter version, while "C" IP version would be for the Photo recon version. With further research I'm sure that the ejection seat issue is solvable.
Both Instrument panels are constructed starting with a plastic backing plate, then a PE IP with raised detail, then you decal over the plate for a 3D effect. The few times I've attempted this was with Tamiya's F4U-1 and -1A kits, and both times the end results were less then perfect. Once the detail starts to stretch perfect alignment becomes an issue. I would have much rather seen it designed in the usual way of a solid backing plate, then the IP decal, and a cover colored PE IP. Works every time. Honestly, their decision on the IP assembly makes little sense to me.
Another concern is the the most unusal manner of construcion of the fuselage. You have a choice of nose cone depending on which version you're building. Then a cockpit section which gets attached to the center lower wing sub-assembly. Finally the tail section completes the fuselage. That's a lot of parts that must align correctly for everything to come together in a properly fitting fuselage. I realize that this is so that different versions of the Cougar series can be molded using as many common parts as possible. But I'm concerned about the issue of proper alignment of all these pieces to create two fuselage halves with no steps between the parts, or only a few small steps to deal with. I might be over reacting, but until I actually build the F9F-8, it's a real concern for me.
You also have the option for folding or extended wings. Those two options usually come with the issue of a proper fit one way, while the other way is less then a perfect fit. Usually the extended postion ends up being the step child. And naturally, that's how I want to build my version.
Unfortunately, there are a huge number of ejector pin marks. None seem very deep or that hard to deal with, but they're everywhere, and way too many parts will have ejector pin issues that need to be dealt with.
The kit offers the following options:
Choice of ejection seats
Choice of Instrument panels
Choice of the fighter or Photo recon version
Nose guns or cameras depending on the choice of version.
Positional speed brakes
Folded or extended wings
Positional Flaps, Spoilers, and Rudder
Loads out:4 x AIM-9B Sidewinders
4 x Rocket pods
2 x external fuel drop tanks
One concern is that the kit instructions call out for AIM-9B Sidewinders which is correct version for that era aircraft. But the kit comes with AIM-9L Sidewinders which were operational for F-14, F-15, & F-16 era aircraft. The differences won't jump out at you unless you're very familiar with the AIM-9 series Sidewinders. It's the size and shape of the tails and front fins that are wrong. Some reshaping and sanding will go a long way to correcting this issue. To the purest it's a major issue, but to the vast majority of modelers it's not a big deal even if they notice it at all. Of course just swapping out Sidewinders is a quick and easy fix.
Of a much larger concern is the horizontal tail surfaces which are completely wrong. They're molded as Stabilators. And while they did actually move, they only functioned as a form of trim control. They were designed with the usual elevators. The kit doesn't have the elevators molded into the surfaces. Correcting that will require some major re-scribing, loss of detail, and of course doing the proper research to figure out exactly where they should be scribed. I'm betting that most builds will just be as they're molded.
Painting & Decaling:The instruction booklet has 5 highly detailed color drawing of all five aircraft. The proper FS numbers are labeled where appropriate. Generic colors are called out on each plate as needed.
•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 two decal sheets to cover all 5 aircraft. All the decals look in proper registration, as well as not appearing overly thick. I'm used to seeing the major portions of the decals printed by Cartograf these days. Since there are no indications that the decals were out sourced, I'm going to assume that they were done in house.
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