F7F-2/N Tigercat by Akos Szabo
Brand: AMT
 Scale: 1/48
Modeler: Akos Szabo
 AddOns: -



After the attack against Pearl Harbor, the US Navy decided about designing a high performance carrierborne aircraft. It was the Tigercat. More than one year after the first flight of the base model, the new version that was capable for night operations rolled out from the hangar. It entered the service in Ocober, 1944 at VMF(N-531). Until this the Japanese opposition lost itís strength, so Tigercats continued the service primarily as escort fighters. When US dropped the first atomic bomb, they were anchored near Guam. After that they flew to Iwo Jima, and were deployed to China in operation ĄShow the FlagĒ in October. Then these aircraft were doing recce missions. Tigercats were used in the early stages of the Korean war too.


This version is operated two crews instead of one as the fighter version. The cal .50 guns were taken out to accomodate the AN/APS-6 radar designed for night operations, so this version was equipped with 4 of 20mm guns only. The underwing stores (2x500kg) and the pylons of the 8 unguided missiles are remained intact, and operable. In the case of some planes downgraded to day fighters every movable and not spare parts were removed from the rear cabin, they planned an 80 gallons fuel tank to fit it, and the plexy parts were replaced witgh metal covers. Nose guns were built back.

This model was built based on a photo taken in the Pacific Ocean theater, in the carrier operations evaluation period.

This model is the AMT one from 1995, itís good quality, accurate and has nice details. The engraved panel lines are nice, and are in the good positions. Each of the sprues can be found in separate bags. Itís a nice touch that the oil barrel that was used in the real life to avoid the plane sit back, is included in the kit. The cockpit detailing is fine, something like the new and best revell kits. Separate sidepanels are included, and the instrument dials has recognizable calibration. The wheel wells features oil bottles, braces, wires in hogy detail levels. Iíve never seen this detailed laning gear strut, although Iím over the build of several Tamiya kits. The only feature I dislike is the little bit soft plastic. The tires are really made of rubber, and has good textures. The only problem with the rubber tires that it bites into the connecting plastic parts. I did not belive it for a long time, but as this model was on a rest for several years in my stash, the tires really hurted the plastic! It can be avoided by painting the connecting plasticís surface before attaching.


- Seat belts made of colored paper strips and buckles made of wire
- Throttle, handles from stretched sprue
- Ingition wires in the engines made of copper wire
- Gun barrels made of syringe
- Lights on the wingtips

Click on the image to enlarge! 



Construction was fast and straightforward, I had to fill and sand only at connections of the wheel wells to wings and the wings to fuselage areas. I used 2 component filler to do this. As I have some real parts of WWII US aircrafts from the wheel wells and cockpit I used these as a reference to mix the correct colors to paint. I gently painted the surface with thinned Rotring ink, and then I removed the excess. Then I drybrushed with lighter colors over it.


Sometimes painting a simple dark colored aircraft is a harder task than camo colors. There are several models out there with nicely airbrushed dark colors, but with the details smoothed in. In this case panel line wash with black wonít help either. On the top of this, this aircraft is a relatively new in the timeframe I wanted to present, so I had to handle weathering very carefuly, and I used a different method than itís usual to do this.
The external painting is Model Master. First at all I airbrushed the main coat, then I airbrushed around the panel lines with a lighter tone of the base coat, with taking care to keep the subtle difference between the colors.

When I built my older models I always had a problem with the decals and decal solutions, somehow these never gave a satisfying result to me, so I did not used any decals in this case. I scanned the decals to adhesive paper, I cut them aroung and I used these for masking. The small text were handrushed with a very thin brush, and these are lloking great even from checking them closely. Then I sealed the paints with a mix of Model Master gloss and semi-gloss clear coats. I didnít wanted to build a bright gloss aircraft, they never appeared gloss on the archive photos. Several months of sea service they appear more flat.

Click on the image to enlarge! 

The only thing left to do was the weathering. Interestingly the exhaust gases made this blue colors more like a sand color after a few actions. Itís specially appeared at the tigercats, as they didnít drived the exhaust gases to a common rail, the exhaust pipes simply ended beind the engine to achive more power. Because of this I slightly fogged a lighter coat behind the exhaust areas, and I sprayed the dark onto these areas. Some smoke color were applied to the guns as well. I simulated paint chipping with applying humbrol aluminium to the weared areas.

The diorama base was scratchbuilt using a screwdriver and a home made punch tool.

The model was completed in two weeks approximately 20 hours. It was the easiest build since Iíve started modeling 20 years ago. This kit is highly recommended although itís not that easy to put your hand on it.

Photos and text © 2005 by Akos Szabo

May 20, 2005