The F7Fs were ordered at the same time the F6F prototype, June of “41”. For two years the Navy had been studying the war in Europe and concluded the following were needed in an aircraft; self sealing tanks, armament, protective armor and a powerful engine. The Navy asked Grumman for a fighter that had two hundred times heavier firepower than current fighters and at over 4000 H.P. Grumman was to match this aircraft to the Midway Class carriers then being constructed. The aircraft proved too fast and large for these carriers, but it proved more troublesome running on one engine and the arresting hook was having issues. Thus becoming land based with the Marines, which ordered 500 of them.
Production deliveries began in April of “44”, but operational teething slowing it’s clearance to use until the last few months of the year. Thus an aircraft developed at the height of the war missed the big one. With no war to fight the cat had few versions, but the Marines did use them in China, post WWII, to protect U.S. interests from the oncoming communists.
The large airframe provided many possibilities for armament and the Tigercat received the best of both. The Navy liked the rapid fire of machine guns, the Russians and Germans knew the lethality of cannon fire against bombers. So, 50 calibers were fitted in the nose and 20MM cannon in the wings, the -3N though having the MG’s removed for the radar, but retained the lethal cannon. Additionally two 1,000 lb. bombs and 8 rockets could also be carried along with the flight extending drop tank. This large aircraft was often seen sitting on its long tail, as this model does, but once loaded with fuel would gradually ease back on its tricycle gear.
Only 60 -3N night fighters were built being equipped with the APS-6 radar. Changed to alleviate shortcomings, with two higher performance engines and larger tail upped the speed to 435 MPH, provided a ceiling of 40,700 ft. and range of 1200 miles fully loaded coming in at 25,775 lbs. But it still failed carrier acceptance and remained land based, the only version cleared for carriers was the -4N.
images below to see larger images
The Korean war brought the Marine
VMF(N)-513 “Flying Nightmares” F7F’s stationed in Japan, into the fray to stop the communists. These were used for Night Intruder missions, initially painted Sea Blue with white markings, to flat black with white markings in “51”, to flat black with
low-vis red markings in “52”. Marine night fighting Corsairs also followed these painting changes. Tigercat (8842) had the distinction of getting the first night victory for the U.S. Marines as well as the first ever victory for the F7F. The aircraft was crewed by Capt.
E.B. Long and W.O. R.C. Buckingham on the night of July 1st 1951 when they intercepted a NKAF PO-2 north of
Kimpo. Being a very slow target made of fabric, it was difficult to intercept, but a burst of 20 mm flamed the under matched PO-2. Later after another Marine aircraft dispensed a third PO-2, the North Koreans quit running nighttime heckling missions for the rest of the summer. The Tigercat was withdrawn from service in 1954, later giving honorable service fighting forest fires.
The Tigercat was originally named Tomcat, but negative connotations caused the name change.
Kit was built OOB. I placed as much weight in the nose as possible, but it still tail sits, a common position for the actual plane. The aircraft is painted flat black, with white decals used for a
VMF(N)-513 Tigercat, based at K-18 at Kangnung airbase, in the winter of “51-52”
The kit was very good with a simple cockpit that could use extra detailing, had no build problems except for lack of having enough weight in the nose, but the aircraft does sit on its tail.
Italeri instruction sheet.
Combat Aircraft by Salamander Books
Thanks to Steve for his great site and providing readers a means to provide articles.
Mark L. Rossmann