AMT 1/48 F7F-3P Tigercat

Kit Number: 8843

Price: $19.25

Media: Injected Plastic

Decals: Three versions: all USMC and it doesn't matter as the decals are truly horrid

Date of Review:  20 November 1997

Reviewer: Scott Van Aken

If you have read the other two reviews of this plane, then you know about the history of the type.  The AMT kit is actually an F7F-3P as it is the only one of the -3 subtype that was used much.  It served with at least four USMC squadrons for a number of years, with some being replace by -4Ps.  The biggest problem for me, was finding decals for it.  In the end, I had to mix and match.  My good friend, Tom Cleaver, sent me the remainder of an Aeromaster sheet for the -3N which I gleaned for insignia and some other bits and pieces.

Well, on with the review.  The kit is molded in a rather soft medium grey plastic with fine engraved panel lines.  Looking at a number of photos and drawings of F7Fs, a number of the panels are either of the wrong shape for this subtype or added or missing.  This leads me to believe that AMT had given us a generic Tigercat.  Not a problem for me, but the truly nitpicky will have some filling and rescribing to do.

Rule one with this kit.  If you can find space forward of the main landing gear to put weight, pack it tight.  This kit must have taken five pounds of weight and it is a marginal nose-sitter.  I packed it everywhere I could and it will tail-sit if bumped hard.  The cockpit is rather nice although I'm sure it could do with some resin, it is nice enough for me.  It was painted in a darkened chromate green as were the wheel wells and gear doors.  The struts were painted blue as were the wheels. The fuselage halves fit together beautifully as did the wings and stabilizers.  Most -3Ps had wing tips where the front of them had a notch in it to assist handling.  This is not represented by the kit, but I left it alone as I could not tell from the reference photo if the one I portrayed had this feature. I also had to clean up flash from a number of parts.  Nothing difficult, just unexpected in a kit this new.  Maybe it is a result of making them in Mexico??

Where I really had a concern was installing the landing gear.  This was done after the kit had been painted (dark navy blue, of course), and I was not sure they would fit.  It took quite a bit of oomph and I thought I would break them, but they clicked positively into place and are very well secured. Other modifications were the addition of an ADF football from a Monogram DC-3 kit as most -3Ps had one just forward of where the hatch on the night fighter version would go.  I also wanted an open canopy to show off the interior, but the kit transparency was way too thick.  No problem.  Some quality time with Thermoform and the kit canopy and I had a replacement.  In order to get it to fit in the open position, the radio mast had to be removed and located farther aft.  The canopy is held in place by small dabs of superglue. I also covered the wheels with bare metal foil prior to adding the lovely rubber tires.  I had heard that the rubber eats plastic so I hope this will be a good fix.  If not, then I can always get a resin set from True Details. Final mod was to clip the prop tips and square them off.  Many Tigercats had this done as the props would dig up the ground when taxing over uneven surfaces

Rummaging through the spare decal box and Tom's sheet gave me the right size numbers and letters to do a F7F-3P that served with VMP-354 in the late 40's/early '50s.  It is a big kit, but really looks like a fast plane just sitting there.  Highly recommended.

Late note. The rubber tires with this kit succeeded in melting the wheels after about 6 months so were replaced with resin ones. If you have this kit, you will need to replace the wheels so do yourself a favor and get a set when you buy the kit.

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