1/48 F7F-3 Tigercat

Next up is the Italeri 1/48 F7F-3 Tigercat with Eduard photo etch details. The F7F-3 aircraft entered service late in the war in 1944. They were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions. They were originally designed to be carrier based but there were some issues that caused them to fail carrier qualification. They ended up being used by the Marines and did most of their service later during the Korean War.

Starting off with the cockpit, the dashboard was detailed with photo etch parts. The photo etch seat was adorned with the seat belts then mounted to the cockpit. While assembling the cockpit to the fuselage I noticed the kit did not have parts for the front a rear bulkheads of the nose gear bay.

I used a contour gauge to measure the fuselage and cut out the bulkheads from sheet styrene. They grabbing so extra photo etch parts from my spares drawer I detailed the bulkheads . with a little minor shaping they fit right in.  Another detail I did was to drill out the gun barrels of the nose guns for a more realistic appearance.

More progress on the Tigercat. I first cut out the molded wing tip lights. Later I will add clear parts to make the lens. Next I assembled and detailed the main gear bays with some photo etch and detail painting.  Moving onto the engines I used the photo etch wiring harness. The engines were painted with aluminum for the cylinders and black for the pushrod covers. The wiring was painted burnt umber and the front cover was painted light gray with chrome bolts. The landing gear was then detailed. The main struts had the hydraulic lines molded on. I cut them off and replaced them with black sleeved 32 awg wire. I drilled a small hole at each end then stripped the sleeving off to the bare wire and CA glued the wire into the holes. I added the one for the nose gear as well.

When assembling the fuselage I filled everything forward of the cockpit to the nose with lead weights. Alas even with all the weights the aircraft still wants to sit on its tail. There just isn’t enough room to add more weight due to the sleek fuselage. I am most likely going to make a display base for the aircraft to sit on so that it displays correctly. The fuselage has been base coated and the decals will be the next step.

I am getting closer to completing the Tigercat.  This week I put on the decals and sealed the aircraft. Once sealed, I added some weathering to the exhaust areas using light blue, brown, gray and finally black pastel chalk. Next I added the recognition and wing tip lights. I finally added the antenna wire using EZ-line.

You can see how I did them in my tips and tricks section. Tips and Tricks

I started working on the HVAR (High Velocity Aerial Rocket) and that’s when the problems arose. First the kit rockets have a cut-out area where the fins are mounted. Second the rockets are about .2” too short. I tried using the photo etch fins to see if I can make them look decent then realized the photo etch set only has enough fins for only four of the rockets. So I opted to buy the Eduard “Brassin” HVAR set.  These look  a lot more realistic than the kit rockets and even include the rocket to aircraft ignition wire. Once I finish the rockets I will then start on the display base. Stay tuned for next weeks update on making a display base for it.

The Tigercat is now complete. The HVAR’s have been replaced with Eduard Brassin rockets. These look way better than the kit rockets. The photo etch mounts look great as well.  I then built the base using Tamiya’s accessories, the oil barrel with crate from the kit, resin wheel chocks, and a Scene-A-Rama kit that I found at a local arts and crafts store. The Scene-a-Rama comes with many nice features. It has grass mats, bushes, trees, gravel, and many other items. I did have to purchase the sand mat separately.

I bought a wood base and using contact cement spray I attached the sand mat and trimmed the edges. Using the white glue in the kit I put a coat of white glue on the edges and on the edge of the sand mat. I sprinkled the road gravel and built up the area behind the barrels and gas cans.  I painted the oil barrel black and the crate green drab then weathered with light and rust pastel chalk. The Tamiya fuel barrels and gas cans were painted olive drab and weathered the same way. The folded tarp was painted desert tan with dark tan in the folds. This was then weathered with tan light tan and brown pastel chalk. I used 80 lbs test braided fishing line to create the rope and weathered with dark gray pastel chalk.

The resin wheel chocks were painted safety yellow. To keep the aircraft stable and mounted to the base, I use 28 awg wire and drilled a hole in the bottom of each wheel. Then I drilled corresponding holes into the base. I used CA glue to glue the wire posts to the base. The white glue from the kit was used to attach the other accessories.

As for this build, I really like how this came out. Aside from the weight issue trying to keep it from tail dragging and the poor kit HVAR’s this was a nice kit to build. The decals were very good. If you build this kit the only other thing I would like to note is the main landing gear is a little tricky getting mounted. It takes some tedious work to get it inside the bay and lined up.  Overall it presents great. Thanks for following along. On to the photos!

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