Sword 1/72 F9F-8T/TF-9J Cougar

KIT #: SW 72093
PRICE: $27.99  SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit with resin seats


The Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on Grumman's earlier F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panther's straight wing with a more modern swept wing. The Navy considered the Cougar an updated version of the Panther, despite having a different official name, and thus Cougars started off from F9F-6 upward.

F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958-59, replaced by F11F Tigers and F8U Crusaders. The Naval Reserves used them until the mid-1960s, but none of the single-seat versions were used in the Vietnam War.

The only version of the Cougar to see combat was the two seat TF-9J trainer (until 1962, F9F-8T). Detachments of four Cougars served with US Marines Headquarters and Maintenance Squadrons H&MS-11 at Da Nang and H&MS-13 at Chu Lai, where they were used for fast-Forward Air Control and the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1968. The TF-9J had a long service with the U.S. Navy, but the proposed Cougar modification (reengined with a J52 engine) was rejected, and the Navy selected the TA-4F Skyhawk. The last Cougar was phased out when VT-4 re-equipped on February 1974. A F9F-8T, BuNo 147276, is displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola. There are several others extant in museums as well, including the one at Pima, Arizona.

The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was the Argentine Naval Aviation, who used the F9F Panther as well. Two F9F-8T trainers were acquired in 1962, and served until 1971. The Cougar was the first jet to break the sound barrier in Argentina. Serial 3-A-151 is on display at the Naval Aviation Museum (MUAN) at Bahía Blanca. 


In Sword's usual end-opening box, you will find, as did I, a  zip bag containing the kit, instructions and decals. There are a pair of grey sprues, a smaller bag with the clear bits and two resin seats. These seats are nicely done but have no belt detail molded on. The cockpit tub has a separate back and no front. There are separate rudder pedals, control sticks and instrument panels. A panel between the front and rear seat is included and this will eventually house the blast shield. There is minimal sidewall detail in the fuselage halves and you will find nicely done detail on the instrument panels and side consoles. Sword would have you paint the interior light grey with black details. I am thinking this should be done with dark gull grey as that has been a standard cockpit interior since the Navy did away with black in the early 1950s.

An interesting addition are little plastic ovals that are designed to be attached to the fuselage around the wing opening to provide tabs on which the wing assembly is mounted. The nose gear well is built up of three parts and there is a nicely done main gear well. No speed brake well or separate speed brakes are provided. I would recommend enlarging the gear attachment holes prior to installing either of these items to be sure the gear will have a solid seat.

Intakes are made up of two pieces per side and there is no compressor face. There is one for the exhaust. The wings have a single lower piece and two upper sections. The wing fences are separate and really too thick to fit into the very thin slot in the upper wing. It is almost as if this area was designed for p.e. wing fences. Landing gear are fairly well done with separate oleo scissors and tire/wheel pieces. Only the outer doors are provided for the main gear as the inner doors are molded shut. This will make attaching the retraction strut a bit tricky.

A pair of wing pylons are provided, and again, one should enlarge the attachment holes. There are no wing tanks or other items to attach to these pylons and in fact, the bottom is smooth without even anti-sway pieces so it will be impossible as the pieces are molded to attach anything to them. A nose refueling probe is provided and one option does not have it so the hole in the nose will need to be filled. Though a vacuform canopy is shown in the parts layout, none was included in my kit. There is a separate windscreen and canopy so this latter item can be posed open. While nose weight is indicated, no amount is provided. However, there should be sufficient room for what is needed to keep it from tail sitting.

Instructions are nicely printed and in color. Three markings options are included, all in white and international orange. One is from VMT-1 based at Cherry Point in 1962. Then there is one with FT-10 at NAS Miramar in 1973 and finally one with VT-23 used during carrier quals aboard the USS Lexington. Decals are nicely printed by Techmod and include wing walk areas and a lot of stencils. It will remain to be seen if the white is opaque enough to prevent bleed through of the underlying color when the insignia are put in place. I plan to use some of Fantasy Printshop's white insignia under the kit decals just to make sure.  The markings look to be very thin so care will be needed when applying them.


I am a fan of the two seat Cougar and so am pleased to see this kit released. However, it is still a short run kit and so you'll have to deal with removing small ejector towers from a lot of large pieces prior to assembly. You'll also have to deal with heavier than normal  mold seams though to be fair, the ones in this kit are not as prominent as with other short run kits. The kit will take a bit more effort to complete, but it provides a type in this scale we have not seen before and should make into a very nice model.

Late note: According to Sword, the instructions showing the vac canopy are in error and should have had that section purged prior to printing.



May 2016

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