Accurate Miniatures' 1/48 scale
Grumman F3F-1

by Brett Green




Here is my Accurate Miniatures 1/48 scale Grumman F3F-1 in 1/48 scale.

The model was built straight from the box, but what a great box it is!



This kit has been engineered to deliver perfect fit, including traditionally troublesome areas such as the alignment of the top and bottom wings. You do need to take care to follow the instructions exactly though, especially in a couple of areas. These include the installation of the gear doors, which have to be carefully twisted and pushed into place, and the main rigging wires, which should be slightly bent at the ends before installation.

I strongly suggest that you visit Accurate Miniatures' website and thoroughly read the F3F-1 "Online Build", which offers some additional hints and tips on top of those supplied in the instructions.

Kit detail is excellent. The cockpit looks great straight from the box with its photo-etched harness and clear instrument panel.



The engine includes a photo-etched ignition harness and plastic pushrods, delivering a very convincing result for this prominent aspect of the build.

Painting and Markings

The model was finished using the Testor Aztek A470 airbrush fitted with the "Fine" Tan coloured tip.

Due to the complex paint finish and the nature of the biplane's structure, I applied paint and decals while the model was still in sub assemblies.

Recently, I received a copy of the new book from Model Publishing, "First and Foremost - An Illustrated History of Carrier Air Wing One Part One 1934-1957". This book clearly documents the colourful pre-war markings applied to the aircraft of the Air Group on USS Ranger. There is a terrific in-flight photo of VF-4 Section 3 Leader. The photo is in black and white, but I could just imagine how the Willow Green tail, Orange Yellow upper wing and True Blue section marrkings would look on the three-dimensional canvas of the Accurate Miniatures kit.

I confess that I have a bit of an enamel phobia, but all this has changed now. The only Willow Green I could find was in the Testor Model Master enamel range, so I decided to give it a go. After a few experiments, I thinned the enamel paint with lacquer thinner. The result was an ultra-smooth, high gloss finish that was effortless to spray and very controllable. I waited 24 hours before masking, which was quite sufficient.

I will be using Model Master enamels again!



Prior to applying decals, I sprayed all the sub-assemblies with Polly Scale Gloss. The kit decals performed very well, although the black outlines to the True Blue Section 3 markings were fiddly to apply. Accurate Miniatures supplies markings for virtually every F3F-1 ever flown, but I did have to improvise for the double diagonal markings under the gunnery "E" on the fuselage sides. I modified the black "I" digits, then cut off the white stroke from the letters "F" and "M". The resulting white stripes were applied over the black stripes to obtain the drop shadow effect.

Weathering was kept to an absolute minimum, with only the hinge lines on the control surfaces slightly emphasized with thinned black acrylic paint, and an oil wash on the engine, propeller hub, gear struts, wheels and bombs.

The final coat was a 50/50 mix of Polly Scale Flat and Polly Scale Satin. This delivered the semi-gloss finish that I was looking for. While full gloss undoubtedly looks striking, I was not sure that it was entirely authentic in 1/48 scale. Even Polly Scale Satin was a bit glossier than I wanted, but mixing Flat and Satin in equal quantities did the trick.



Final assembly took place after the top coat had dried, followed by installation of the photo-etched rigging and aerial wires from elastic E-Z Line.

After finishing this kit, I have acquired a bit of a taste for US Navy between-the-wars colours. I'd love to have a crack at a Navy Hawk or F4B-4. Does anyone make a 1/48 scale O2U Corsair?

Bring on those yellow wings!

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Copyright 2006 by Brett Green and The Testor Corporation