Hobby Boss 1/72 F9F-2P Panther
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer's first jet fighter and one of theU.S. Navy's first successfulcarrier-based jet fighters. The Panther was the most widely used U.S. Navy jet fighter of theKorean War, flying 78,000 sorties and scoring the first air-to-air kill by the US Navy in the war, the downing of aNorth KoreanYakovlev Yak-9 fighter. Total F9F production was 1,382, with several variants being exported toArgentina. The Panther was the first jet aircraft used by theBlue Angelsflight team, being used by them from 1949 through to late 1954.
The kit comes with four sprues of which one is for the clear bits. Molding is very good and typical of what one comes to expect from Hobby Boss. A very nice surprise is that this kit has the photo nose as part of the fuselage halves. Frequently kit makers will simply have the builder graft one on or provide the fuselage tooling with separate nose sections. This way, there is no seam to deal with and it just makes things so much nicer.
The cockpit is well appointed with a tub, seat, stick, rudder pedals and an instrument panel. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and the side consoles have raised detail. Though the seat is devoid of a harness (pretty typical for 1/72), it would not take much to add in some belts from photo etch or tape. There is no indication that nose weight is required, but the wise will stick some in there anyway. No cameras are provided, but again, little is to be seen in there. The windows for the openings are to be installed from the outside, another nice touch.
The wings have a lower full span and separate upper sections. Short runs of intake are also supplied. The kit instructions would have you open holes for pylons, but photo birds were interested in speed over the target so rarely if ever carried any ordnance. For that reason, one full sprue that has the weapons can be relegated to the spares box. I found it interesting that the two piece tip tanks were separate items as often these are molded in with the wing halves.
The kit provides few options, but one of them is to have the tail bumper lowered. While the windscreen and canopy are separate, there is no indication that the canopy can be posed open. As many of you know, the inner main gear doors are always closed except during maintenance and during gear recycling. This is provided by having both of these doors molded as a single piece the simply drops in place.
Instructions are well drawn with the usual Gunze references. I would be cautious about all of the color information provided. One is that it calls for the nose gear well to be painted white. This is quite incorrect as it will either be one of the two chromate colors or even the underside color. No color information is provided for the inner gear doors or the main gear well. I highly recommend doing some research to find out what shades these areas were normally painted. The rest of the airframe is gloss sea blue with bare metal leading edges on all the flight control surfaces. Generally the entire front of the tip tanks were unpainted metal as well, but this shows only a tiny bit in this shade. While it would be folly to say they were never done as shown in the instructions, I will say that I was unable to find a photo of the tip tanks so painted. The decals provide markings for two VC-61 aircraft during the Korean War. One on the box art was aboard USS Essex in March of 1951 while the other, named "Life" and similarly marked aside from no nose flash, was aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard in October of 1961. The decals look to be quite usable as finding aftermarket at this time will be difficult. I should mention that I darkened the heck out of them to show the white.
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