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Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat

by Diego Piedrahita


Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat

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Kit: AMT F7F-3 Tigercat

Scale: 1/48

Price: US$ 50 (in Argentina)

Medium: Injected molded plastic, vinyl tires.


  • US Marines, VMF-312, October 1946 (sea blue, white/green bands scheme)

  • US Marines, (?), June 1946 (overall sea blue scheme)

  • US Navy, Delivery sea blue scheme, 1945





Third in the successful line of 'Cats built by Grumman primarily for the Navy, the Tigercat was intended to be both a fleet interceptor and a long-range attack aircraft. With two Pratt and Whitney R-2800 radials, the Tigercat was fast at over 400 mph. Armed with four .50 caliber machine guns in the nose and four 20 mm. cannon in the wing roots, it was also heavily armed. Used as an attack aircraft, the F7F could carry either bombs or rockets. The first operational group reached Okinawa the day World War II ended, so they saw no action during World War II. Later models of the Tigercat saw service in China before the Communist takeover, and in Korea during that war. Tigercats served on in civilian livery into the 1970's as borate bombers fighting forest fires in the Western U.S.



AMT/ERTL's 1/48 Scale F7F


AMT/ERTL has nicely filled the gap in 1/48 scale between the Hellcat and the Bearcat with a well-detailed kit of the -3 model Tigercat. The only other kit in this scale is the Classic Castings resin kit.

My kit represent a beautiful Tigercat of the VMF-312 based at MCAS El Toro in 1946. The white/green bands on the wings and fuselage are used to identify aircraft engaged in instrument training.



For your money you get a well molded kit with recessed panel lines. The kit's plastic is a light gray color, a perfect base color for the overall sea blue worn by most Tigercats. The R-2800 engines are particularly well done. You get both cylinder banks, the ignition harness, and the crankcase for each engine. The front cylinder bank even has dimples on its front side in the proper places where the spark plugs go, in case you decide to wire the engines (I used copper wire from this).



The main complaint I have about the kit are the improper propellers design and the number of mold release pin marks on the various kit parts, some in hard to reach places. Particular attention must be paid to the wheel wells in this regard. A minor complaint was the small amount of flash I found on some parts, particularly on the propeller blades and landing gears.

While I'm complaining, I should make mention of the fragile nature of the main gear. I opted not to put any weight in the nose of this model. Instead I will rely on a scratchbuilt jack to keep this notorious tail sitter on its gear.  






Construction begins with the cockpit, as usual. The cockpit provided is a nice one. I added a correct resin seat from the Verlinden TBF set to dress it up a bit. I painted the instrument panel very dark gray with dry brush white details and black side boxes. All the side cockpit and floor are painted with interior green. The cockpit floor/nose gear well roof was warped a bit on my example. A bead of super glue behind this part held it in its proper place.




The wings of Tigercats had a pronounced dihedral that is built into the kit's design, so don't attempt to "straighten" the wings. I decide cut and dawn the flaps for broken the visual line and add “life”. Parts fit was fair to excellent. Problem areas requiring filler included the wing to fuselage joints, the nacelles to wings joints, and a few spots here and there along the fuselage seam.




The canopy and windscreen have nicely done frame lines, easy to mask and paint, but for open the canopy is necessary change the clear piece for a new vacuformed (I use a Falcon canopy) .

The decals were not as bad as I heard they were. To be on the safe side, I use the kit decals (and extra Microsol) except the green/white bands, substituted for painting. All the lettering are from my spare decal box. Note: cut the decals into individual before application.



If weathering is your bag, you can have a field day with this one. Like most Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, the Tigercat saw long service periods under harsh conditions. Most prominent on the Tigercat were the engine exhaust stains on the nacelles and wings. I like to use a combination of gray airbrushed paint and brown pastel to replicate this effect.




Aside from the few problem areas I encountered, I enjoyed building this kit and would recommend it to anyone.


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Diego Piedrahita
Page Created 03 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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