Monday, June 8

Nic builds Kittyhawk's 1/48 F9F-8P Recce Cougar and finds no two Cougars are alike

Our man in Belgium Nic has already previously built the Kittyhawk fighter nosed version of the F9F Cougar in 48th scale for TMN. He did a great job amongst some controversial comments about the kit (at that time.) He found no real issues that some had noticed – now round two of construction begins with the longer nosed recon variant – would enjoy the build or no? Let’s see…

Build Review: Kitty Hawk 1/48 scale F9F-8 & F9F-8P “Cougar”
Kit N°: KH80127
Kit type: injection moulded
Scale: 1/48
Sprues: 8 styrene + 2 clear + 1 photo etched
Part count: 245
You can get this kit from one of the many distributors of Kittyhawk’s models Worldwide.

What was it? A year ago when Kitty Hawk introduced the TF9F Cougar? It was the first 1/48 kit of the brand I made and contrary to a rumour that was going around on the world wide web, I found it a very straightforward and easy kit to build. 
So when I got the possibility to build the single seat version, I was pretty confident: this would go with a snap of a finger. Like so often, it’s when you feel like this, things start going unexpectedly.

Lots of decals in this kit and a nice fret of photo-etched parts too!
Decals for 5 different markings are included:
-         F9F-8 Cougar of VF-61 flown by Lt. John D. Middelton in grey livery
-         F9F-8 Cougar of VF-121 in dark blue livery
-         F9F-8 Cougar of the Blue Angels demo team
-         F9F-8P Cougar of VFP-61 in grey livery
-         F9F-8P Cougar of the Recce School in Pensacola - this is the bird we will model here
Kitty Hawk offers you a choice between a Cougar with guns and a Cougar with cameras and because it looks kinda goofy, I chose the latter. I really like the look of the kit and the details are very nice, but it gave me a bit of a fight. I needed quite a bit of putty around the nose and the fuselage and I guess it’s because I was being not precise enough on some parts of the construction.

This kit really contains a lot of parts for a 1/48 kit of a rather small jet: 245 parts + photo etched parts. This because you’ve got two versions in one kit, but even then, you’ll need about 200 parts to build this kit. 

Here is the nose of the gun-equipped version, with some very nice panel lines and rivets.
And the Recce nose, which has a lot of parts. The nose itself has 6 outer parts and many-many parts for the cameras internally.
Many parts are similar to the two-seat Cougar that Kitty Hawk Models released earlier. The wings, aft fuselage, landing gear... The forward fuselage however is new.
This kit might have been developed in the time when the TF9F was introduced, because it has the same large sprue attachments that Kitty Hawk kits used to have. Their more recently developed kits haven’t got those anymore (which is great), so for this one you will have to take care when cutting of the parts from the sprues and cleaning them.
There’s a little flash on some of the sprues, but nothing that can be cleaned. I found no sink marks or ejector pins in vital places, so that’s okay!
First thing I wanted to know was: how those that complex construction of the recce nose go, so I cut of all the fuselage parts for a test fit. And sure enough, you really need to make sure the outer panels are glued perfectly in order to make it fit the front fuselage.
I started this the Cougar with the cockpit. Now, I like the Kitty Hawk kits, I’ve made quite a few of them. And I like the design of the instructions too, but sometimes they just aren’t clear enough. You get two different ejection seats and two different lay-outs for the instrument panel, but what model gets which? That’s something you have to look up yourself. The good news is that the cockpit looks quite nice when built. You get plastic, photo-etched parts and decals to make it look pretty good.
The recce nose was quite a bit of work. Kitty Hawk provided a lot of detail with all the camera’s – I hesitated to open one of the access panels, but I wanted the clean line of the aircraft ...
The lower panel with the two camera windows didn’t fit too well, not sure it was the kit or me though. The front fuselage was no trouble to fit.
I then switched to the part of this kit I knew: the aft fuselage. I used the exact same technique as I did with the two seater: I cut of the supports on the upper fuselage parts in order to glue them to the lower parts. It worked fine the first time, so why shouldn’t it work this time? I also wanted to have the wings unfolded.
You might see in the photo above that some putty was needed: the wings-fuselage joint isn’t the easiest and the slot that is left in the wing – which is actually very handy if you build the kit with it’s wings folded – needs to be filled. It’s a pitty Kitty Hawk didn’t think of this. A coat of paint helped me check this, and I had to redo the area twice to get it right.
Joining the nose, the front fuselage and the aft fuselage was the trickiest part of the build. Again, out came the putty. The nose was complex, lining it up with the front fuselage was not easy and joining it with the wings was quite a lot of work. More putty as you can see in this photo!
Putty on the nose ... I just wasn’t careful enough with lining up the panels parts.
This shows the work that was needed to get the Cougar ready for painting. It took me some time, but I was motivated to get my airbrush out.
After a first layer of white, it was time to get the masking tape out. This is going to be a colorfull bird indeed! I used exclusively Revell Aqua Colors.
The tail needed some careful masking; the serial number and a danger marking near the exhaust needs a white background.
Taking your time to mask everything pays off. The red and black parts were painted and the result is pretty impressive.
In a few areas some touch-ups were needed, but no worries ...
The decals went on great! That is always a relieve for me, I’m not always good with those. It sure brought even more color to the kit!
A very light wash with simple water colors brought out the panel lines and rivets.
One thing I noticed on the instructions for the decals: sometimes you have to guess where decals need to go and this is because the profiles aren’t that accurate. These profiles don’t show the rounded splinter plates in front of the air intakes. I almost goofed up when doing the masking because of this and again when I started placing the decals. It’s a detail, but I think it’s a pity in such a wonderful kit.
All the parts assembled for the final construction ...
So, with those part attached, I was nearing completion. It was just a matter of painting the metal leading edges of the wings and tails.
So, after a coat of mat varnish, a little masking and a coat of Testors chrome, my second Cougar was done!
She sure looks cool, from every angle.
So, with the kit finished, it was time for a couple of photos with both Cougars. Very different, but no two Cougars are the same, right?
So, here are my thoughts about this second Cougar from Kitty Hawk in 1/48. It is great to have a nicely detailed kit of this aircraft available and Kittyhawk offers us great value with the choice between the two single seat versions in one box. It is necessary to test fit the many parts of the kit, especially for the recce-version – this is something I normally do all the time, but being a little too confident, not enough. I found the two-seater easier to construct, but the single-seater sure looks impressive when done. Would I build another one? Well, to be honest, I’d like to do two more: a single seat fighter and a Blue Angel.
On the plus side, this second Cougar is a highly detailed kit with extremely nice panel lines and rivets. The decals are good, nothing much to ad in the cockpit and the canopy is very clear. On the downside, you have to fill uip those gaps in the wings when you build the wings in the lower position and the instructions are not always accurate. Take your time and you will get a fantastic result!

Nicolas Deboeck

My thanks to Kitty Hawk models for sending the kit, it was a pleasure to build!