The 2007 co-release of a new tool F9F Panther by Trumpeter and Hobbycraft was a welcome addition to Korean War era aircraft fans. This was the first recessed panel line kit and the first decent F9F-2/3 version. Prior to this release the go-to kit was the F9F-5 Monogram kit, which was a decent kit from the 90s with raised panel lines.
Notable Kit Features:
Nicely detailed cockpit with photo-etch instrument panel
Fine recessed panel lines (and lots of recessed rivets as well)
Wing assembly builds in separately molded intake trunks
Option of folded or flight-positioned wings
Positionable wing flaps
Gun nose and photo nose variants provided
Two piece canopy (thin as well as clear)
Nice array of external weapons including bombs and HVARs
The F9F Panther was one of the US Navy’s first successful carrier-based jet fighters and Grumman’s first jet fighter. The Panther was used by both the US Navy and US Marine Corps during the Korean War. Typically the F9F provided air cover for the propeller fighter-bombers (F4U Corsairs and AD Skyraiders) as well as providing Flak suppression.
The F9F-3 was externally identical to the F9F-2 but it instead had an Allison J33-A-8 engine which produced less thrust. The US Navy wanted an alternate engine for the Panther in case there were any production problems with the British licensed built engine (Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene turbojet) produced by Pratt & Whitney as the J42-P-6. I found some interesting decals of a US Marines "Panther Face" example that saw action during the Korean War and was set to go with another animated aircraft for the growing collection.
Canopy shape issues reported (Although these seemed to be addressed in later releases)
Apparently the length of the kit is a bit long (if you care to measure it)
No backing of the intake ducts (I used styrene cardstock to blank off these off at the rear of the ducts)
Add nose weight
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Used aftermarket decals for my Panther Face example - Microscale 48-1182 (the kit decal are quite nice)
The paint scheme for this aircraft is fairly basic overall navy blue (FS 15042) with the most challenging part being the aluminum leading edges. The decals were very thin and settled down well even around the curved nose.
The After-Build Report:
This was a nice stress free build that went together well without any issues that I recall. I recommend this kit to model builders of most skill sets as a good kit that will get you a nice display model. I bought one of the Hobbycraft kits as well and built it up as the photo-recon variant of the Panther in US Navy markings. Beginners may want to opt for Monogram's / Revell's kit, as it is a simpler build without the wing-fold or positionable flaps to get bogged down with.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers