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Marvin Reyes
30 articles

F7U-3M Cutlass, 1/48th

October 2, 2018 · in Aviation · · 36 Comments

This is the old () -3M in 1/48th scale. I'm sure a lot of you recognise this kit as being pretty crude, devoid of much detail, and just about everything else that modellers these days desire in a model. That's true except for one thing: this is the only injected plastic model of the F7U-3 in 1/48th scale that was ever made. So, if you want one, you have to build this one. Of course there is Lindberg's excuse for a 1/48th Cutlass, but that depicts and early production model, not the operational one. Also, if you have the bucks, Paul Fisher makes the finest F7U-3, in 32nd scale, that builds into a stunner.

This Kitech kit is apparently a knockoff of the Hobbycraft Cutlass, so has all the quirks that a knockoff gives. That said, the original Hobbycraft Cutlass was no picnic to build, if you wanted a presentable model. I wanted to build a F7U-3 for a long time, but the choices of kits really gave me pause; I finally bit the bullet and started the Kitech knockoff (couldn't find the Hobbycraft kit. I know that Hobbycraft relesed their "elite" version, but couldn't find that one either).

The build required a lot of effort, especially having to correct a lot of the deficiencies in the kit. Perhaps the hardest correction was the gun ports that sit on top of the intakes; the kit gunports were not spaced properly, and were all oddly-shaped. I wound up filling in the gunports, then redrilling new ones.

I also wanted to have the flaps and slats drooped, as seen on parked Cutlasses. The flaps were easy, but the slats on the leading edge required some scratchbuilding, using Evergreen sheet plastic, and Plastruct u-channel beams for the extension runners.

I scratched the interior (sorry, no pix), and even scratched one of the ejection seats that was unique to the Cutlass.

The F7U-3M was finished with Model Master Light Gull Grey over white. I know that some F7U-3's wore a silver finish, but this one was grey/white. I used kit decals, which were surprizingly good. The markings depict a Cutlass assigned to VX-4.

Overall, this was a challenging build, and I'm glad it's done and sitting on the shelf. We deserve a new-tool Vought F7U-3 Cutlass, that's for sure.

5 additional images. Click to enlarge.

36 responses

  1. There’s something you don’t see often. Fantastic work on the leading edge slats. Seemless - literally. Controversial aircraft due to the safety record (or is that a myth?).
    Great build and photography. One of these days I’ll learn how to take a photo...

    Well done, Marvin.

    • David: I appreciate your comments about my Cutlass model. The model took a bit of work, but turned out OK. The slats were a bit of a challenge, indeed. Thanks again.

  2. Very nice Marvin. I like the added details and work including the landing gear piping. 🙂 Great job!

  3. I'll bet I am the only one at this site who can say "I saw one of these fly!" It was 1955, I was 10, the Navy Day show at NAS Buckley Field in Denver (since 1958 Buckley ANG Base). The last season the Blue Angels flew F9F-5 Panthers (saw them that day too) and a display by Chance-Vought's chief test pilot, concluding with a low speed high-AOA pass that had it flying at about the angle your model is sitting at.

    That airplane always impressed me with its weirdness. You have definitely gotten the most out of this deficient kit and created an excellent model.

    • Thank you, Tom. I always enjoy reading your narratives and stories...always entertaining. I wish I could say that I saw a Cutlass, but never had the chance to see one of these unusual aircraft. You have even seen one!

      Thanks for your warm comments...I appreciate them, as always.

    • I too saw one about that time-frame at Webb AFB, Texas during Armed Forces Day! This one was on display and later took off and made a high speed low pass over the base!

    • Hopefully us younger folks can say the same in the not too distant future Tom! Al Casby bought the F7U project that was at the Museum of Flight and moved it to Arizona. All fittings for its early (now standard) 3000psi hydraulic system have been replaced with modern components and should eliminate one of the type's two major in-service woes. (Although I do wonder about some things, such as how the flight manual states the ailevator actuators are lubricated by "calibrated leakage".) The other, low power, he is just going to (in reality has to) live with, but since he will never be flying it off of a ship it shouldn't be a big deal. (In Vought related news rumors are out that Micheal Dorn has put the feelers out for an F-8 Crusader. Imagine, a Corsair, Cutlass and Crusader in formation!)

  4. Really nice looking model

  5. US Navy has always seemed a very conservative bunch regarding aircraft design but got off the wide path a couple of times. The Cutlass and Skyray are two aircraft that comes to my my mind not being of a conventional design. There must be a reason for this, don´t you think? Nice build of a seldom seen aircraft.

    • Stellan: Aerospace design in the 1950's certainly was entertaining, and yielded a lot of very interesting designs, with the Vought Cutlass being one of the most interesting.

      Going to military airshows used to be great, with such a variety of aircraft displayed on the ramp. Now, we get a few, namely Hornets, Eagles, and Fighting Falcons. I guess the weaker designs finally got weeded out, and now we are left with the most successful ones to see at airshows.

      Thanks for your comments...I appreciate it.

  6. great job Marvin...the design came from the fact many "paperclips" worked for Vought...1/4 of all made cracked killed 4 test pilots and 21 naval aviators...seriously under powered and flamed out in the rain...Vought would have gone under if the Crusader hadn't come along on time but it looks like an ET...wonder how many got called UFO's in 1948

  7. Yep...what they said - stellar work, sir..!

  8. Hey Marvin,

    You didn't miss anything not being able to find the Hobbycraft "elite" boxing. I have it and its not that big a deal- a smidge of etch added to the initial kit. You did an excellent job on your kit!

    There was a company that put out a nose correction- the details escape me, but I did get an Argentinian company's intake improvement and decal set- Condor I think. I will have to dig out the kit and provide info, now that I have started to write about it!

    I also think I got a Lone Star Models cockpit for it. I also have the CollectAire Cutlass kit, as I absolutely HAD to build the Blue Angels Cutlass. I have not put it together yet, but will be eventually!

    • Thanks, Dan...I appreciate it.
      A cockpit detail set will really help with this kit, although there's not much room to see anything, once the seat goes in. If the set provides a seat, you will be way ahead. As for the nose, the kit's nose piece is too symetrical and needs to be flattened on the topside; a few strokes with a file and some sanding will work. The cockpit set would provide a lot of detail over the kit parts, and would provide a great starting point for this kit, "elite" or otherwise.

      Thanks again.

    • Collect-Aire is the company that made the correction set for the -3 and IIRC a complete -1 as well. (Sadly out of business. I wanted one of their 1/48 Savages) Basically a new forward fuselage, cockpit and intakes. From there back the kit is pretty good. You might be able to find one on the interwebs.

  9. Nice work, Marvin. That was a truly dangerous airplane. An old time naval aviator at Pensacola told me that several of the fatal accidents involved the nose gear strut penetrating the cockpit floor on hard landings. Good job on completing that kit. I’ve had a Hobbycraft F7U about half finished in a box for about 7-8 years.

    • Thanks, John. The Cutlass was back in the early days of jet development, and, indeed, suffered from a high accident rate. Still, the F7U-3, quirky as it is, does provide a change from the usual jets and props of that era.

      Lots of stuff was happening at that time, and the Cutlass was right in the middle of it; consider that the advent of A2A missiles was happening, the change from props to jets was occurring, as well as the change from Sea Blue to Lt Gull Grey/White...the Cutlass was right there mixing it up.

  10. Great build Marvin - it still has a wonderfully futuristic look about it!

  11. Very nice! I've got a 1/72 version of this, and as with most items in my stash - just itching to build, and every time I see something that's in my stash built up it sort of rises to the top of the "must-do" pile! Thanks for providing a little adrenalin kick!

  12. Looks real nice! A part of early NAVAIR jet history. You must have needed a lot of nose weight.

    • Thanks, Robert. I just don't recall using weights, or how much was used. I'm sure there's some in there, but old-timers disease is catching up with me, so I don't recall.

  13. I know about the aging effect, I'm dealing with manual dexterity issues.

  14. I've built a couple of these and rather enjoy it. Yours looks great in the VX4 markings. Do they come in the kit or are they aftermarket?

  15. Marvin you did an amazing job on a kit that many modelers would rather leave alone. The Cutlass was one of those Vought marvels that were decades ahead of its time but the jet engine technology was not as advanced yet, to give it the power it needed. Too radical for its time, accident prone, and not a pilots aircraft made it very unpopular. Sad that this is the only 1/48 release. One of my prized kits in the stash is the Fisher 1/32 Cutlass, a true marvel of model engineering as only Paul Fisher can!

    • Thank you, Morne, your kind comments are appreciated.
      I agree about the 1/32nd Fisher is a marvelous piece of art. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Paul Fisher at couple years ago; Paul came to our IPMS regional contest in Fresno, where he had a table and displayed some of his most excellent products. Paul Fisher is not only a fine craftsman, but he is certainly a gentleman, as well.

  16. This is really rare bird on modeler's bench. Great build.

  17. Wow. Super job on the Cutlass Robert! I would love to add one to my '50s jets collection and that's the only way to go in 1/48 I guess. Wouldn't a new F7U and F-11 be nice to have? Great work again Robert!

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