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paul teixeira
98 articles

Grumman Cat: The 1/48 Trumpeter Grumman F9F-3 Panther

February 18, 2018 · in Aviation · · 16 · 5.7K

Few weeks ago I watched an old, favorite movie. Bridges of Toko-Ri. Just loved those Navy -3 Panthers. So I had to build one and realized I still had one in my stash. Upon opening the box of my HobbyCraft/ kit I also discovered that years ago I purchased an upgraded Pavla Resin cockpit for this exact kit. Love those sort of surprises. This kit really impressed me and IMHO is one of Trumpeters better molds. You really dont even need the resin cockpit b/c base cockpit detail is nice, and appears accurate, but I used the resin anyhow. This kit was well engineered and really fell together with great fits everywhere. The only place I needed a drop of filler is the windscreen to fuselage fit. Very minor gap. The other aspect of kit which could of been better was the flap assembly. You can position the separate flaps down but there is one major issue. The Fuselage split-flap portion is molded shut and would need real major surgery to open up and drop. I do not think you would find a real displayed like my model; wing flaps are down, but fuselage flaps still up. I went with a well weathered look and patchy paint effect using a little artistic license to break-up the mono-chromatic base blue paint job. Also scratch-built a little detail behind the seat and under the canopy. Comments welcomed hope you enjoy the photos.

Reader reactions:
15  Awesome

19 additional images. Click to enlarge.

16 responses

  1. Now that's a really nice lookin' build - one of the netter ones I've seen. 🙂

  2. Nice work on this kit. I wish it was dimensionally accurate to be an early F9F as it claims to be. (the fuselage is the same length as the dimensionally-accurate Monogram F9F-5). It's possible to make a correction, but it falls under "major surgery." For 99% of modelers other than "Panther Panters" it's just fine.

    FYI, the Panthers in Bridges at Toko-ri are F9F-5s. The F9F-3 was an F9F-2 with an Allison J-33; they were an "alternative" in case the F9F-2's Nene derivative didn't work out. Fewer than 100 were produced and all became F9F-2s when they were re-engined. The F9F-3 did see combat at the outset of the Korean War, equipping VF-51 and VF-52 on USS Valley Forge and operating over Korea from the Pyongyang strikes on July 3/4 1950 to the end of the Chosin campaign.

    VF-51 next went aboard Essex for her first deployment to Korea in the fall of 1951 with their F9F-2s. Of note, "109-S" on the second deployment was the airplane flown by Ensign Neil Armstrong, who first demonstrated his cool thinking in emergencies when he hit a wire at low altitude that took off the right tip tank and three feet of wing, then flew back south of the battle line before ejecting. A trait he later demonstrated taking manual control and flying The Eagle with only 20 seconds of fuel left to avoid landing in a boulder field in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969.

    • This is some great information about Panthers. The odd thing that you mentioned Ens. Armstrong hitting a cable caught my attention. I had the opportunity to meet Neil at the Cape many years ago. Quite a gentleman.

      Shortly before my Dad passed away he started opening up about his Korean War experiences. He told me that the Chinese / North Koreans would occasionally string cables across valleys... Just so they could possibly damage or destroy a low flying UN plane.

      Dad also said that these places with the cables were "Hot" and had numerous AA guns placed on top of the mountains, along the ridge lines. The proverbial death trap... Korea is very mountainous terrain. And the perfect place for tactics like this.

      One more thing Dad said about Korea and it's mountains... and I quote.
      "If you could flatten the place out, get rid of those damned mountains, it would be bigger than Texas !"

      • Your dad was right on all points.

        As we have talked about Toko-ri, "Men of the Fighting Lady" was also made by Paramount. The flying scenes were out-takes from Toko-ri. The story was based on Howie Thayer and Ken Schechter, and how Thayer guided Shechter back to safety after he was blinded by flak. In actuality they were in Skyraiders, not Panthers, and Thayer guided Schechter to land at K-18, an emergency field ashore. However, there was a Panther pilot who struck one of those wires they stretched across a river, and was nearly beheaded by it and blinded. His wingman talked him through landing back aboard the carrier - this was adapted into that movie.

  3. Excellent work Paul ! and a worthy addition to the "Year of the Cat" ! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. Nice work! I wish the trumpeter rivet monster had not had their way with this kit. And yes as Tom says it is not dimensionally accurate. You did however capture the look wonderfully!

  5. A fine looking Panther! A book called 'Such Men as These' tells about Navy air ops in Korea, Quite interesting.

  6. Paul, I find making a one color airplane model interesting has its own challenges, but you've got that covered here. This looks very nice. I really like wear you applied, gives it a nice realistic look. Well done !

  7. Nicely done Paul, like the realistic weathering as well. The dimensions may not be correct, as stated above, but it looks like a Panther to me. Good job.

  8. Excellent! Your effort to make a monochromatic scheme visually interesting paid off in spades.

  9. The weathering is out standing. The model looks used and abused with the primer coat and bare metal showing on the wings and fuselage. Amazing how a book written by James Michener, was made into a movie starring William Holden, can still effect people and inspire them into doing a little research and build a model. Two thumbs up Paul.

  10. A lovely looking model, the blue colour scheme with just the right amount of wear and tear really sets it off.

  11. A superb job of weathering Paul. Really adds interest to the one-color scheme.
    I particularly like the wear on the wing roots & cockpit sills & the way you've shown the primer & bare metal showing through. I know & love Michener's book & I guess one has to forgive the substitution of Panthers for the Banshee in the film!

  12. Do you know if this jet actually received a kill marking in real life?

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