Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
Among the first model planes I built as a boy, the Grumman Panther/Cougar was an early favourite, close behind the Hurricane and the Bf 109; for some reason, I wasn't attracted to the Spitfire, and a remnant of that lack of interest lingers in my sub-conscious. Nor did I pay much attention to the F-86, though I've made up for that in recent years.
It may be that the film “The bridges of Toko Ri” was instrumental in my attraction to the Panther; I saw it probably in my mid-teens, and now have only the haziest memory of the film, but I do remember the vividness of its portrayal of the Korean War. As a kid, I don't think I would have been critical of the lack of balance that the film probably displayed.
The Initial Image
The model is professionally photographed, sharp all over and very evenly lit. The latter has a down-side, because the finished image may look too flat.
Treatment of the Image
All the selection work went easily, and I had the luxury of being selective with the internal details I needed to clarify. In practice, I did do quite a lot internally. For example, the two red strips across the mid fuselage have a disjunction at the inner edge of the wing. In an effort to improve the modelling, I darkened a lot of the soffit edges, and increased the rather subdued highlighting in some areas.
A small point about the accuracy of this model, which I found repeated on many kit offerings, is that the sliding part of the canopy is not bulbous enough. My study of my archive photos tells me that the complete upper profile of the whole canopy is a singe smooth curve, with no hint of a discontinuity at the front of the sliding bit. I have shown it like that.
One of the items that I collected in my trawl for reference material was a profile of another aircraft of ATU206, which was a degree more colourful than the model. I made a new version of my airframe image to portray this machine, with the wing leading edges in red, the trailing edge features in white, and all the markings revised. The perspective distortion of the original model is quite small, so I made no changes to the geometry of the airframe for its use as a secondary aircraft in my final image.
I was pleased to get re-acquainted with the Panther. It has something about it that it shares with all Grumman productions – a straightforward common sense in the design's conception and detailing, along with great robustness. It's the same feeling I get with the Fw 190 in all its forms. I must do some more.