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F9F-8 & F9F-8P Cougars

by Fotios Rouch


F9F-8 and F9F-8P Cougars


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The F9F-8 was the last production variant of the Cougar family. It was an all around improvement over the F9F-6. It first flew in January 1954.

600 F9F-8 aircraft were delivered to the Navy up to 1957. The F9F-8 served with the Navy squadrons up until 1959. They served with the reserves up to the mid-60s. The Cougar was replaced by the F11F starting in 1957.

The F9F-8P was the photo recon version of the Cougar and it carried no weapons. The bigger droopier nose of the 8P carried forward, vertical and oblique cameras. It first flew in 1955. 110 recon Cougars were delivered to the Navy but they were made obsolete by the F8U-1P Crusader. The last F9F-8Ps served with the reserves up to the mid 1960s.


The F9F-8 was well liked by its crews for its handling characteristics and robustness but it was soon surpassed by faster supersonic navy jets.



Collect-Aire's Cougar


The Collect-Aire Cougar is mastered by the Russian maker and like all of his other works it is very good. I got my first one some years ago and soon followed it by another one. The reason was that I could not make up my mind about which configuration I liked the best.

The kit gives an extra nose to do the reconnaissance version as well as the standard gun nose. It also gives decals and mod instructions to do the Blue Angels variant but I am not into aerobatics teams. I let the kits seat in the closet for a while and then one day I decided to start work on both of them at the same time. I have not done that before with resin kits. I thought that if I encounter a problem with one of them, I could learn and make the other one better.

The kit offers decals for a white/orange VT-26 F9F-8, a VFP-61 recon F9F-8P circa 1961 and the Blue Angels one.





The usual caramel brown color is used again as it seems to be a favorite of the US resin shop. It certainly has a smell to it and it is a bit brittle but the resin shop does a good job with it. I need to mention also that this resin shop has some idea about quality control and a grasp of more modern casting methods.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The fuselage is split in left/right halves. It is a little sensitive and a little prone to warping because it is so elegant and thin. Pay attention to remove any warpage with hot water before assembling anything. I found that I had to do a little trimming on the cockpit sidewalls so the fuselage would close with no squeezing anything. I also trimmed the bottom rear edge of the cockpit assembly so that the wing would make a good fit. You might need to insert a "spacer" to push out the fuselage edges where they will meet the wing tops for a good fit. The rest of the kit will go together reasonably fast. I had few pinholes and other resin defects. The scribing is exemplary again and there is great correspondence of the panel lines on the fuselage left/right halves.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The only inaccuracies on the kit are found on the flaps and the flap bays. The flaps look like they belong to a Panther. The flap bays do not match what I have seen on the real Cougars from the museum. Some time ago one of the flaps of one of the Pima Museum Cougars became unhinged and dropped in the open position. It was left like that for a while before the museum maintenance crew got to screw it back together. I took a lot of pictures of how the flap looks inside and out. The pictures were sent to Collect-Aire and the next release of the Cougar (TF-9J or F9F-8T) will have the flaps redone. This indicates commitment to the product on their part since they could have easily ignored the problem and reused the existing masters.

Using the pictures I took, I fabricated the inside surface of the flaps with plastic strip. I left the inner flap surface alone.


Another thing I had to fabricate was the antenna loop that is found at the front of the F9F-8 nose. I made it with bent wire and plastic rod.

The F9F-8P went together okay as well. I had to cut off the nose at the specified panel line and insert the new nose but it went together so well that I did not have to use any putty. The only difficulty with the recon nose is the little camera windows. The instructions give you a template as a guide and also some clear stock to use. I made scans of the template and flipped it in my software so I could have both sides in one sheet of paper. I used left over Black Magicä to make the little camera window masks and it worked great for me. I used also a mixture of Tamiya clear tints to make the dark tinted look of the camera windows but I made it too dark and you cannot see the cameras inside the nose.

The cockpit on both variants is good and certainly adequate with the canopy closed. Two instrument panels are provided for the two variants. The maker used Reheat parts for the instrumentation and they make for a nice looking cockpit (even if a bit inaccurate).


I drilled the soft metal spoilers for a more realistic look. I also inserted hypo needle tubes to represent the machine gun nozzles.

The decals worked ok. They are a little matte in finish. Since I had two kits I doubled up some decals wherever there was darker color underneath. I also had to find all of the warning decals from the spare box since there was very little provided in the kit. The rescue arrows are identical and not handed.


Other helpful hints

Thin the metal wing fences as much as you can to get a scale look. Optionally, redo the area were the tail hook comes out of per the pictures in the provided walkaround. Do not make the mistake I made when I missed painting a white border around the national insignia on the orange portion of the top wing. I caught it late and did not fix it. The decal if researched properly could have solved that.


The Cougars will come out seating a little low as when seen in the fully loaded position. This does not bother me. You might want to extend the main gear struts for a more elevated stance.





Collect-Aire's Cougar is a very enjoyable build for both kits with little fuss. The best advice is to test fit things many times before you commit them to scalpel or glue but that goes for every modeling venture outside of the mainstream injected model kits.


I still recommend them as very nice and accurate models. Who knows, maybe one day Hobbycraft will find someone else to master the Cougars for them and they will proceed past the box art stage…. Until then (and maybe even after that) these are the best Cougars in any scale.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2002 by Fotios Rouch
Page Created 10 October, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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