Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Vought F7U-3 Cutlass

by Fulvio Felicioli


Vought F7U-3 Cutlass


Hobbycraft's 1/48 scale F7U-3 Cutlass is available online at Squadron




The Vought F7U-3 Cutlass project was born in June, 1945.

The Cutlass was the first tail-less fighter of the US Navy, the first Navy fighter carrying a swept wing and the first Navy fighter equipped with afterburners. It was also the first Vought design with a pressurized cockpit.

Although the Cutlass proved to be a sturdy aircraft, it was a poor fighter. Many problems plagued the airframe throughout its career. These included troubles with the forward landing gear, stability, less-than-desirable landing attitude, occasional flame-outs during cannon firing, bad visibility from the cockpit and some serious issues with the center of gravity of the airframe which lead to uncontrollable spin, forcing a number of pilots to eject.



Further, the chronic shortage of thrust of the engine powerplant forced the Vought engineers to install a couple of afterburners to the J46 in order to guarantee take-off from the carrier. Even this modification never totally solved the problem, and the Cutlass was not underpowered throughout its operational life.

Replaced by the A4D and F9F-8, the Cutlass sunk into aviation obscurity. Nevertheless, It deserves a bit of attention by the modelers interested in the US Navy history.



The Hobbycraft Cutlass in 1/48 Scale


The Hobbycraft kit is quite crude but permits a good reproduction of a F7U-3 with some minor modification.

The shape is correct, flaps and slaps are separated stuff and surface detail is engraved.

The bad points are a very basic cockpit and very thick transparent parts. Keeping this in mind, with the Naval Fighter on my workbench, I started work on the kit.



As mentioned earlier, the cockpit detail is sparse and inaccurate. The ejection seat is a mass of shapeless and hopeless plastic, and the instrument panel is wrong. I scratchbuilt both of these items with plasticard and a set of Waldron’s instruments.



Early ejection seats were no more than a set of metallic plates joined together, so I followed the same approach for the reproduction using plasticard cut in strips and some copper details for the details. The panel is a sandwich of plasticard and clear film, drilled to install the Waldron instruments. Some of the cockpit’s details come from a Reheat photoetched sheet.

I noticed that the forward undercarriage bay is not deep enough, so I scratchbuilt it again with plastic sheets cut in the correct shape. The leg of the front undercarriage is obtained from aluminum rod, detailed with plastic parts.


Left Avionics Bay

Ginter’s “The Naval Fighter” provides some very good drawings and pictures of the Cutlass’ avionics bay. The temptation was strong enough to persuade myself to accept the challenge to reproduce at least one of them in the open position.



Needless to say, it is totally built from scratch.


Additional Modifications

The kit construction is quite straightforward, the only difficulties being the join between the fuselage and the air intakes which require some adjustment to obtain a proper fit. I decided to cut the airbrakes and to build a vacuform canopy.



The refuel probe is an aluminum pipe cut and fitted with the reproduction of the valve which comes from my spares box


Painting and Decals


My Cutlass was assigned to the VF-124 in the 1960s. The livery was the standard Navy camouflage of the period - Light Gull Gray over White. The airbrakes inside was in Red. For the avionic bay interior I choose the classic Interior Green, but this interpretation is opened to any comments. Some pictures on the book seem to confirm this color, but with the early jets who know.



Decals come from an old Superscale sheet.

The afterburners section is painted with Testors Metallizer. My references show any red warnings on the intakes and no fading of the paint job on this specific aircraft. For this reason I apply only a light wash with oil colors on the model to highlight the recessed panels.





Hobbycraft’s 1/48 scale F7U Cutlass is a demanding model!

If you ever want to put a Cutlass in your collection of early jets, you must be ready to spend a lot of time and to at least scratchbuild the cockpit. However, the kit is quite impressive once finished and now sit between my Panther and my Fury, proudly displaying its crossed cutlasses on the tails.



References and Additional Information






Additional Images


Click the thumbnail below to view larger images:

Text, Images and Model Copyright © 2002 by Fulvio Felicioli
Page Created 23 February, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Features Index