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Hobbycraft Canada 1/48 scale F7U-3/3M Cutlass

Kit: No. HC1613
Scale: 1/48 Manufacturer: Hobbycraft Canada 905/738-6556
Price: $36.98
Comments: Injection molded, 72 parts, decals
Pros: Interesting subject, beautiful decals
Cons: Poor instructions, poor clear parts, basic interior detail, poor fit in spots, ejector-pin marks, pointy nose
Hobbycraft first issued its 1/48 scale Cutlass around 1990, and it has been unavailable for more than 10 years. This reissue features the same plastic parts, but has a n ew comprehensive decal sheet that's vastly better than the original issue.

The parts breakdown and details are similar to the Fujimi 1/72 scale F7U-3 kit. It has a retractable canopy kit, featuring a two-piece canopy and optional Sparrow I missiles and launch rails for the F7U-3M version. Missing, however, are the modified intakes of the missile-carrying Cutlass. The instruction sheet is poor, with rough illustrations and vague part- location indicators. The marking diagrams, on the other hand, are well printed in color on the bottom of the hinged box.

The parts breakdown is typical for a kit of this vintage. The cockpit and wheel-well details are basic for the scale. No mention was made of adding nose weight, but I did to ensure the finished model wouldn't be a taildragger.

In step 3, the intake trunks must be tipped outward at the top to fit properly inside the fuselage. Although not shown, the turbofan bulkhead must fit forward of a brace in the upper fuselage half. The locations of many small parts are merely shown with arrows in the instructions. Good references or perhaps a nearby 1/72 scale Fujimi kit will be helpful.

The joints between the main fuselage and the nose, intakes, and exhaust housing all needed to be filled and sanded. Something went terribly wrong with the fit of the fins. The front ends of these assemblies fit into wedge-shaped holes in the top half of the wing, and then drape over the trailing edge to meet the moldedin landing-gear fairings. Both right and left fins missed their marks by 1/16" to the outboard side. Could I have mixed up the right and left fins? I don't think so.

I found the main gear door assemblies too wide for the wells, and the curvature of the drop-tank pylons did not match the shape of the undersurface of the wings. Three part No. 39s are provided, but only one is shown in step 5.

While assembling the forward fuselage, I noticed that the radome was too pointy, so I sanded the tip down a bit. I had to spend time cleaning up ejector-pin marks on the interior, landing-gear struts, and tires. There were a few sink marks in the wings, too.

I painted my model with Floquil railroad platinum mist and Model Master Metalizer on a few panels. For VA-12's 1957 squadron color, I used an old bottle of Floquil military USAAC blue (FS 15102).

The high-gloss decals were trouble-free. I used Micro Set to make the images snuggle down, followed by a light coat of Model Master semigloss clear.

The finished model looks acceptable, not great. I worked nearly 40 hours on it, but wish I had done more dry-fitting to help solve the fit problems.

- Al Jones


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