Panther finished

I finally finished my Hasegawa F9F-2 Panther.

The finished article

It’s the first kit I’ve finished in five years, although I did start an Su-27 a few years ago. Until recently I had nowhere to set my airbrush up – I’ve had too many accidents with them to want to risk using one inside the house. It’s amazing how rusty your skills get, especially with airbrushing. Hopefully now I’ve done this one I’ll be able to keep in practice.

The kit itself was straightforward to put together, and it’s a nice kit. The excellent Detail and Scale book points out a couple of areas for correction – the length of the gun barrels and the shape of the nose, but I chose to leave those. I chose the the wrong brass to use on it – there are better ones out there, but the cockpit looks OK. Pay more attention than I did to building the wings, especially the jet intakes at the wingroot as it’s a little difficult to correct any ‘steps’ due to misalignment once they are glued in.

Masking the canopy turned out to be easier than feared. I used Parafilm M and a brand new scalpel blade to do the masking and it worked really well.

The front canopy with Parafilm M masking.

As I hinted at before, painting was more challenging than I thought it would be. I chose the Panther because it is just one colour, gloss Sea Blue FS 15042 – although I knew that the gloss finish is a little harder to get right. I left the airbrush nozzle a bit loose on my first attempt, which caused the entire contents of the paint cup to be launched skywards, and back into the inner workings of the airbrush. Luckily I always put a bit of Glad Wrap over my brush just in case, so that took the brunt of the paint, but it took me a while to get my airbrush cleaned up.

I have lots of kits to make, so as a way of choosing what to do next I thought I’d make groups of kits based on a theme. Last year being the 60th anniversary of the ‘official’ start of the Korean War I have got the Panther, a Firefly, and an IL-10 out. I thought I’d make a Panther from VF-51 or VF-52, which were the first Navy fighter squadrons in combat in that conflict. I poked around on the internet for a while before I chose an aircraft from VF-51. The kit decals were had yellowed a bit (it was second hand), so I only used those sparingly – I only used the white marking showing where the hand and foot holds are near the cockpit, and parts of the build numbers from a Marine Corps aircraft to make my chosen plane’s build number – which looks to be 125125 on the photo. I used Colorado Decals and Tally Ho decals for most of the numbering and the ‘S’ code letters, and a Superscale set for the ‘Stars and Bars’, the ‘Navy’ markings, the rest of the build number area, and the VF part of the squadron marking. I found all of the decals easy to use but I noticed that Tally Ho were a little stingy with theirs – there is a fair bit of empty space on the decal sheet. The upside of that was that it was fairly easy to cut out the decals I wanted to use. The Colorado decals were really crammed onto the sheet. Looking closely at photos of your chosen subject is actually really important when you’re making a Panther. The size of the markings can differ from plane to plane, and so can their placement. For example on the underside of the wings the numbers are sometimes moved to allow for the rocket pylons. I also used a set of Panther stencils from Superscale. This has about 60 decals for all the various warnings and notices that the aircraft was covered in. Stencilling was another thing that varied from plane to plane, and some of the stencils I couldn’t find on any photos – I suspect some of those existed only on whatever manual the decals were based on. I won’t actively hunt down stencil decal sheets for any other kits but they do make the model a little more realistic.

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