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Cobra Company's 1/72 F-7F-3N Tigercat Conversion and Cockpit Set

By Chris Bucholtz

While Monogram's old 1:72 F7F-3 is a nice kit, it doesn't depict the only Tigercats to ever bare their teeth in combat. The Marines flew F7F-3N nightfighters both as interceptors and as nocturnal intruders in Korea, where the type scored several victories before the need for a jet nightfighter emerged. The Tigercats also provided ground support for Marines in the wee small hours, where the sound of two R-2800 engines at low altitude in the pitch darkness undoubtedly had as great an impact on the enemy as the relatively small ordnance load the F7F-3N could carry.

I built an F7F-3P from the Monogram kit just three years ago, so I'm familiar with this old bird and the aftermarket additions that go with it. Cobra Company has borrowed very heavily from another cockpit set for the front office, adding a little detail to the right side console but otherwise reproducing the cockpit tub, seat, control column and sidewalls unchanged. While there was room for improvement in the original set, I wish that Cobra had started fresh rather than take this shortcut. This part would have avoided the fit problems also found with the original conversion. The instrument panel is resin, and the entire cockpit tub is quite nice when pieced together. Both the Model 19 and Model 20 gunsights are provided, a nice touch.

The rear cockpit has been the stumbling block for other small parts people, but Cobra Co. does its usual excellent job with the back office. The tub in my set had the control panel broken off, but it is fairly well detailed and a separate radar hood will add to the detail. The set also includes rear cockpit sidewall extensions to add some detail to the rear compartment.

The nose is produced in two pieces, fore and aft. The aft piece includes a wheel well with rudimentary detail; mine had a number of indentations inside the well. The tip of the nose joins to this. Careful sanding will be needed to get a good mating surface for these parts to join, as the pour plug is on the mating surface on both pieces.

The set also includes two vacuformed canopies. The most important of these is the rear canopy, which has the proper bulge at the back for the radar operator's head; this is well done with very minor blemishes that can easily be remedied with a bit of polishing and a dip in Future floor polish. The front canopy and windscreen are a disappointment; five large deformities make my example unusable.

The instructions walk the modeler through the conversion process in a very orderly manner, although no painting instructions are provided. The spots the modeler will need to cut are clearly spelled out, a big help.

Although a single-piece nose would have been very much appreciated, this set will get the Monogram kit from a -3 to a -3N more quickly and more easily than any other route in this scale.




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