Hasegawa/Airmodel 1/72 F9F-8T Cougar

KIT #: ?
PRICE: 11 euros for each kit
DECALS: None supplied with the conversion
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Airmodel F9F-8T conversion kit No.49


Developed from the single seat F-9F8 the last squadron of which, VMCJ-3, converted to Crusaders in 1960, the first F9F-8T flew in August 4, 1956 and the 399th and last fighter-trainer of the type was delivered to the Navy on February 2nd 1960. In addition to training the F9F-8T can be used as a fighter. It carries two 20mm cannons mounted in the nose out of the 4 carried by the single seater.  This was the only member of the F9F8 family that had two seats and served as a trainer. The lengthened fuselage allowed for the second cockpit. The F9F-8T was fully retired from service in February 1974 after being replaced by the TA-4 Skyhawk. 


The 1/72 scale model of the single seat F9F8, a Hasegawa model, although it lacks some detail normally expected out of Hasegawa I still used this kit for the triple conversion for an F9F-8T issued by Airmodel. This vac form conversion also contains camera nose extensions to make the early reconnaissance F9F-6P and F9F-8P. The A4 size instruction sheet contains two side views suggesting Cougar liveries associated with two different types namely F9F-8T in Blue Angels aerobatic team livery and an F9F-8P of VFP-61 USS Shangri-La 1958. There is also a partial plan view and also a side view and partial plan for an F9F-6 and F-7, which have narrower wing chord than later variant. However all the drawings and conversion details are not to a scale of 1/72 and therefore gives only an indication of the arrangement. I resorted to scale plans from Aviation News Vol. 17 No. 15, issue January 1979.


 This is not a complicated kit conversion and the vac-kit is still available direct from www.airmodel.de from where I got mine. In fact I found that this could also be an opportunity for anyone to make a start on vac form kit building. This is the way forward that one can build something authentic and out of the ordinary.

 The kit forward fuselage is first parted with an exacto saw blade as shown in the instructions scrap view, which is a vertical line ahead of the air intake. The main 2-seat vac form canopy transparency for the F9F-8T is then first trimmed from excess acetate backing using a pair of scissors.  The vac form forward fuselage parts is also cut and sanded and glued together. The nose wheel well aperture and air brake area were cut with a sharp trimming blade. The Hasegawa kit parts namely the wheel well and lower front fuselage; the forward cockpit bathtub and instrument coaming detail is added and inserted into the one-piece forward fuselage for the 2-seat version. The back seat area was scratch built using plastic card pieces and a spare seat added. Two control columns were fixed in place. A rear cockpit windshield was added. This was made from a piece of acetate bent to shape and fitted at front of second seat. In a small compartment inside the nose I encased lead weight pieces so that the kit will counter balance on nose wheel, ensuring a non tail-sitter. The interior was painted in light grey while instruments were in shades of black and grey. I also added some interior detail utilising parts from the Airwaves accessories AC72116 for the Cougar.

With the forward fuselage of the injected kit removed the two rear halves were glued together. The two sub assemblies were then fitted together forming a complete fuselage. The tail pipe was then assembled in the rear of the fuselage, including the arrestor hook. Pilot figures were painted in accordance to Hasegawa instructions. Ejection seat handles were added to top of each seat. The new cockpit canopy was carefully trimmed with a sharp knife until the best sit fit was achieved. I also noticed that the Airmodel vac canopy was a bit proud at the rear and so I sanded this area as much as allowable giving it a better appearance when glued in place with Kristal kleer. Areas requiring a little filler at the joining of the fuselage to nose section were attended to and sanded smooth. Two guide rails for the rearwards sliding canopy were added in form of two narrow strips cut from a narrow piece of plastic card.


 Going through Steve Ginter book No 68, which deals with the Cougar twin seat version, was creating a difficulty to select one colourful scheme to finish my model, as there are so many to choose from. My choice in the end fell on F9F-8T Bu No. 147288 of Attack Squadron VA-43 “Challengers”. The squadron provided replacement pilot training for both the Tiger and the Skyhawk. VA-43 only trained 8 Tiger pilots before retiring the F11F-1s. The Squadron then took a new mission, which was to take over instrument training mission VA-44. On 1st June 1973 VA-43 became VF-43. I used Model Master paint mainly semi gloss white and Fluorescent red FS 28195.  Lettering decals came from Aero Master decal sheet 72-011. Insignia came from Super Scale decal sheet with star and bars.  I added white outline to star and bars by first fixing decal on white decal sheet and cut periphery allowing a white outline. I finally gave the model a coat of Johnsons Klear.


 Another trainer aircraft added to my collection. This was a kit build recommended to those who want to try their hand at a model conversion giving pleasing results.


Steve Ginter book No 68.

Carmel J. Attard

December 2011

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