Hobbycraft 1/48 F7U-3/3M Cutlass
KIT #: 1600
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Pretty much the only game in town in this scale.


The Vought F7U Cutlass is a United States Navy carrier-based jet fighter and fighter-bomber of the early Cold War era. It was a tailless aircraft for which aerodynamic data from projects of the German Arado and Messerschmitt companies, obtained at the end of World War II through German scientists who worked on the projects, contributed, though Vought designers denied any link to the German research at the time. The F7U was the last aircraft designed by Rex Beisel, who was responsible for the first fighter ever designed specifically for the U.S. Navy, the Curtiss TS-1 of 1922.

Regarded as a radical departure from traditional aircraft design, the Cutlass suffered from numerous technical and handling problems throughout its short service career. The type was responsible for the deaths of four test pilots and 21 other U.S. Navy pilots. Over one quarter of all Cutlasses built were destroyed in accidents.


Hobbycraft released this kit in 1990 and was reissued twice after. It was also re-boxed by Kitech sometime after 2006. That was it. Since it is a fairly early Hobbycraft kit, the molding is good, but not great. The cockpit is six pieces of which two of those makes the seat. The wing/fuselage sections are split horizontally with short intake trunking and a piece that provides initial compressor stages. Exhaust consists of a pair of short sections with burner cans. Those can be installed after the kit is painted.

The forward fuselage is split vertically and after the cockpit is installed, there is room in the nose for any weight you might need. With the forward fuselage installed the tail fins, separate slats and separate elevons can be installed. The two latter items can be posed down.

Landing gear is nicely done. For things under wings you have a choice of either four Sparrows and pylons or replacing the two inner ones with fuel tanks. There is a centerline pack that is optional depending on the variant you are building.

Instructions are rather basic, but adequate to build the model. What few colors are indicated are generic. Two markings options are provided, neither of which is the same as the box art. One is an unpainted metal aircraft from VC-3 while the other is light gull grey over white with VX-4. Decals are nicely printed, but since this is an early Hobbycraft kit, should be suspect so try one that you won't be using to ensure that they will stick.


This is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to the 1/48 F7U-3. Lindberg released an F7U-1 many years before this one and it is still fairly easy to find. I'm not sure why one of the other manufacturers hasn't done an update version, but it could be that this one didn't sell all that well. The Hobbycraft kit can be found, but it tends to be in the $60-110.00 range, meaning it isn't cheap.  



June 2023 

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