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Marcello Rosa
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A colourful cat: Italeri 1/48 F7F-3P Tigercat (VMP-354)

May 5, 2022 · in Aviation · · 19 · 1.6K

Here are some photos of my , completed in 2020 about the same time the news services were starting to talk a lot about a virus spreading from Wuhan. I consider the Tigercat a really good looking plane, with the combination of the sleek fuselage and massive engines creating a nearly perfect balance between elegant and aggressive looks.

Building this kit was a pleasure in many ways, with everything fitting well and the serious filling and sanding being restricted to the usual places (like the seam between fuselage halves). The panel lines are recessed. The engines were a bit basic, but suitable for adding details (as shown in the pictures below). I used decals straight from the box, representing a Marine photo reconnaissance plane in the late 1940's. The decals are excellent; although their sizes don't always match those in the instructions sheet, they seem correct in comparison with photos of contemporary Tigercats.

Although the building was great, maintaining this model in presentable conditions has proven hard work. In fact I decided to take these photos now, following the second refurbishment of the undercarriage in just over 2 years, as a record for the future, before it deteriorates further. The root reason for this is that this is the ultimate tail-sitter. As a result one has to add A LOT of weight to the nose (and, as it turns out, also the inside of the engine nacelles). I have more details and photos of how much weight in my web page, if you are interested ( The point is that this proves, with time, too much for the plastic undercarriage. It has collapsed twice since, even with wire reinforcements, and at the moment it is in a precarious balance. I avoid aftermarket, but if I were to build this kit again I would almost certainly invest in one of the available white metal undercarriage sets.

Additions to what came in the box include the engine details, aerials, ventral recognition lights, all home-made.

In summary, I was impressed by how much value for money this kit represents. It gives you a model of a beautiful plane with little in terms of headaches during the build...but mind that undercarriage! I have additional photos and construction tips in, but also feel free to send me a message if you want to talk about any specific steps

Reader reactions:
17  Awesome

18 additional images. Click to enlarge.

19 responses

  1. A wonderful result, Marcello!
    The chosen scheme is eye-catching!

  2. Great job on one of my favorite birds.

  3. Nice work, Marcello.

  4. Awesome Tigercat, Marcello @marcellorosa1
    Nice presentation on your website as well.
    You did add a LOT of weight indeed.
    Hopefully she will look like this for a lot more years.

    • John, as you may have seen in the web site I filled every possible space in the nose with line sinkers…and still was not enough to avoid the tail sitting. In desperation I added 2 additional line sinkers to each of the nacelles, and that was just enough.
      Interestingly I am having a deja Vu experience right now, building a P2V-7 Neptune. Another extreme tail sitter. This time I had to add weight even to the front of the wingtip fuel tanks!

  5. @marcellorosa1, I love it Marcello! ? You've done a superb job on this model! ? I'm sorry to hear of the undercarriage problems but I'm not surprised. Is this Italeri kit the same as the AMT version? If so, then I am a bit familiar with the issue. I built the AMT model and also used a lot of weight that turned out to be insufficient in the end.

    The Tigercat is a beautiful aircraft and you have truly done it justice here Marcello. I appreciate the scheme you've chosen too as it it seldom seen in modeling this bird. I chose a different look for my model as well, and here's a look at it if you're interested in seeing another. ?

  6. Beautiful scheme - where does that stem from? Love the F7F - so sleek (fuselage is so slender it almost looks like a cartoon/paper airplane!).

  7. Wonderful build. Color scheme makes the completed model...oh-so-cool. Great job.

  8. One of my favorite planes and model. You did a great job on this Tigercat. Interesting markings. I would also like to know the story behind the color scheme you chose.

  9. Sharp looking Tigercat. I like your extra detail work on the engines.

    • As mentioned the engines "out of the box" were very, very basic (see photo below), but suitable for enhancement. A nice side project, and fortunately there are lots of images online of what the actual thing looks like.

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  10. Looks great Marcello! A nice unusual scheme on this big cat.

    I have started my kit some time ago an shelved it, but I recall a barrel for propping up the tail... This may seem a cope out, but remember, these planes had a tendency to sit back if not careful. A few examples can be seen in this post, including the use of the barrel:

    • Hi Andrew
      I managed to get the Tigercat in its proper stance, but as you've read I am now paying the price, with the model being too heavy for the undercarriage...
      But on the positive side I got to reuse the barrel and ammo box as part of a simple diorama for my Malta Hurricane:

    • Hi Andrew. I don't know if you noticed this, but the Flickr links in your Britmodeller WIP thread have expired. I would love to see the photos of your Tigercat, so consider repairing the links of re-posting here in iModeler.

  11. Looks great! I did the old Monogram F7F, it too is a tail sitter, because I didn't add enough weight, I ended up propping it up with a piece of plastic part tree under the belly tank.
    VMP-354 received F7F's from VMD-954 when it decommissioned in1946. When 354 decommissioned in 1949 its A/C went to the photo section of HEDRON-2 and 2nd MAW. According to the MCARA web site.

  12. Unusual scheme and a great result - what's not to like?

  13. Nice scheme selection, and a beauty of a build, Marcello! Looks amazing.
    I tried searching 'VMP-354" Tigercats and now yours comes up about a dozen times. 😉

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