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Drew Tarter
27 articles

1/48 Hobbycraft F7U-3M Cutlass

August 14, 2013 · in Aviation · · 21 · 4.3K

I built the many years ago, and so far it's my first and only attempt at a natural metal finish. The Cutlass had a very short career in the fleet for several reasons, mainly due to it being dangerously underpowered. But you can't beat it for looks.

The kit is fair at best in term of fit and detail, but it's the only game in town if you want a 1/48 scale Cutlass. I build only Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, and I love the futuristic lines of the Cutlass, so it was this kit, or no Cutlass at all. I dressed up the cockpit and ejection seat with details from the scrap box, and added wires, cables and brake lines to the gear and wheel wells. Lone Star Models makes an excellent resin replacement cockpit and seat for this kit, and I highly recommend it. I bought one after I completed this build, to use in another Cutlass I have in the stash.

The main issue with the kit is that the shape of the entire nose, from the intakes forward, is incorrect. This is readily apparent when comparing profile photos. The shape errors were beyond my abilities to fix, so they went unchanged. I used an old MicroScale sheet for markings for an -3M of VF-124 deployed aboard USS Hancock in 1955.

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21 responses

  1. A very nice example from a so-so did an excellent job on that NMF I might add. Nice work, Drew.

  2. Drew...Wonderful execution on a poor kit. I always thought it was a cool design but then I didn't have to fly it. Very nice natural metal finish, and now I want to pull mine out and build it. Thanks for the heads up on Lone Star's cockpit...I'll have to see if Mike brought one with him to Loveland this weekend.

    • Thanks, Jack. Mike West makes some great stuff. Besides the F7U cockpit, I bought his Stearman PT-17 and OS2U Kingfisher cockpits, and his JD-1 conversion set. All are excellent. Wish I were going to the Nats!

  3. It's a beauty of a model. Great job and an intriguing aircraft.

  4. another fantastic job drew and lovely finish

  5. Commendable results from a crummy kit. Great NMF.

  6. Well done, Drew. It looks great !

  7. Thanks to all for your comments!

  8. Actually that's not a "natural metal finish," but a clear preservative over an unpainted airframe, an attempt by the Navy to reduce costs that was ultimately a failure. A NMF airplane in a marine environment corrodes so fast you can see it happening.

    Nice work on it even if it is "wrong" shapewise. Looks like a Cutlass to me. I was fortunate at the 1955 Navy Day air show (last before "Armed Forces Day" took over all the others) at NAS Buckley Field in Denver to see an F7U-3 flight demonstration - the guy closed it off with a low-speed/high-AOA pass with the nose up a good 45 degrees. I can still see it in my mind's eye, an amazing-looking airplane. You've captured the look very nicely.

    • Thanks, Tom! And you're right of course about the finish. I need to break myself of the habit of calling it' NMF'. Didn't Collect-Aire make a correction for the Hobbycraft kit nose several years ago? Really wanted to get one, until I saw the price...

  9. Drew,

    I like it. You did a very nice job on this. Like you, I think it is a good looking airplane. When I went aboard BHR in 57 there was one F7U aboard for a very short period of time. It did not fly off it was lifted off and went who knows where. It was left over from a squadron and left for some reason.

    Using the same kit you used, I built a model of that airplane. I'll do an article on it soon. I also felt this was a very basic kit to say the least but good or bad it is the only game in town.

    Again, I like what you have done here. Semper Fi

  10. Well done Cutlass Drew. When we cleaned out my Grandmother's house I found what I think was a Lindberg Cutlass. Has to be one of the very first models I built but I don't remember building it. Surprised that I have never built another.

  11. Drew, I really like the the looks of the metal finish you did on your Cutlass as opposed to the usual gull grey over white. Great looking AC, underpowered and that front landing gear was prone to shooting through the cockpit floor and into the pilot upon hard landing-Ouch!

  12. Wow. Looks great. The kit is presented so well that the nose issues don't matter. Hope mine comes out as well.

  13. I know little about aircraft, but this one certainly looks cool, and you've got a great finish on it.

  14. one of the coolest planes ever...i remember the one the blue angels used as a demo bird in the 50s

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