Grumman began its Naval Fighter business with the FF and the F2F. With
the introduction of the F3F, Grumman had developed a winning airframe
that would lead to the early mainstay of WW2, the F4F Wildcat. The F4F
was essentially an F3F-3 fuselage with a mid-mounted wing replacing the
two wings of the F3F.
While the F3F-1 was entering production, the US Navy was already looking
ahead. They issued a contract to Grumman to integrate the supercharged
Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine onto the F3F airframe. This required a complete
redesign from the firewall forward, but the result became the F3F-2. The
new engine raised available power to 950 hp, and while it only represented
a 25 mph increase in airspeed, it raised the service ceiling to over 30,000
feet! While the F3F never fired a shot in anger, it was responsible for
training the generation of pilots that would lead the US into aerial combat
against agile foes.
Accurate Miniatures has done it again. On the heels of their outstanding
F3F-1 kit, they have produced the updated F3F-2 containing all of
the changes made by Grumman. As with their F3F-1 kit, this F3F-2
contains everything you’d ever need to build this model, photo-etched
parts for engine ignition harness, seat belts and rigging. And as
with the F3F-1, this kit has decals that will represent any of the
81 F3F-2s ever built.
Molded in light grey plastic, the F3F-2 kit is flash-free and
is free of injector pin marks in inopportune locations. The detailing
is finely scribed, with the molding on the wings and tail control
surfaces nicely molded to represent the fabric covered structures.
As to be expected with an Accurate Miniatures kit, the fit of
the parts is spot-on. This is another one of those kits that you
can drop a bottle of glue into, close the lid, shake the box, and
presto! Instant F3F! Well maybe there is a little more to the process,
but this kit should assemble as smoothly as the F3F-1 and that was
a nice build.
The instructions are very nicely laid out, with the steps limited
to a few parts each so there is no great overflow of information
or confusing diagrams. These are definitely produced by modelers!
If you have been afraid of building biplanes in the past, you
might want to take a look at one of these F3F kits. The photo-etched
rigging takes away all of the pain! It is so successful that Tamiya
produced photo-etched rigging for their Fairey Swordfish kit. Unlike
Tamiya, Accurate Miniatures includes the rigging in the kit!
As I stated earlier, the decals contain markings that provide
unit markings and aircraft numbers for every F3F-2 ever produced.
There are so many spare decals left over, you could use them for
some of your other pre-WW2 USN projects as well!
I highly recommend this kit to every biplane builder, as well
as to those of you who have hesitated in building biplanes in the
past. This kit will take away the fear of rigging and provide you
with a lot of fun! My sincere thanks to Accurate
Miniatures for this review sample!