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World War II: USA
Aircraft of the United States in WWII.
Hosted by Rowan Baylis
Monogram F3F-3 from many moons ago
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 03:54 PM UTC
Is there a statute of limitations on wanting to kick a hobby manufacture in the butt?

Once again I find a model company that is more than willing to sacfice accuracy for profit and in this case sacrifice it in a big way!

As some will already know I have recently ventured over into the aircraft side of the hobby after a break of some fifty years. My interest normally being armor, I like the large scale stuff, so I thought I would start things off with some of the MUCH less expensive, older models. First up was the Monogram/Matchbox Lysander, a very respectable and enjoyable model. Second was the Monogram/Revell Grumman F3F-3 yellow wing, an early US carrier aircraft.

I have now started this model and am doing my research when I find that back in the late fifties Monogram was offering a similar model of a well known civilian stunt plane called the Gulfhawk. The real aircraft was literally an F3F only with a shorter wingspan for greater speed.

Well when it comes time for the management at Monogram (this idea HAD to come from management.) It was decided " no let's not spend thr money to tool up a wing of the correct span," "let's just slap a slightly different cowl on it, put it in a new box and sell it as is."

The short and the long of it: I find that I can now either chuck the model in the bin right now OR I can go out and buy a SECOND model to get the necessary parts to add back the missing one and a quarter inches of wingspan that this model is missing and actually make it a correct F3F-3. (In 1/32nd scale this small biplane should have a full 12" wing span!)

I am beside myself that a manufacture would stick us with such a huge and blatant error just to save a bit on tooling cost.

I know, I know; what the heck am I saying. This is proof again of what manufacturers have been doing for years. "Let's leave this out, save a few pennies. They (the customer) will never know?"
165thspc
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 04:09 PM UTC
Some will say just build it as is. For me that is not an option.
Bravo1102
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New Jersey, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 04:10 PM UTC
That model is probably over 62 years old and collecting it's pension and should be enjoyed for nostalgia not accuracy. Back then it was amazing if a kit had an interior or wheel wells let alone accurate dimensions. I just built the fifty plus year old Airfix and Revell B-24s. Totally misshapen and the Revell had better cowlings even if there was no interior and 1/90 scale crew.

But swapping one easy piece and calling it another version is an old time honored tradition done by nearly every company at one time or another and in some recent kits. It's an occupational hazard in this hobby and almost not worth complaining about, just noting it and hoping the company corrects it or at least modelers are aware of it and find their own solutions.
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 04:18 PM UTC

Quoted Text

. . . . modelers are aware of it and find their own solutions.



That last line of yours is the only reason I mention this at all.
Bravo1102
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New Jersey, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 04:22 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Some will say just build it as is. For me that is not an option.


In an ancient scale modeler circa 1972, the guy used laminated plastic sheet to build up the wing. It might even require two splices as the missing span can not simply be added in the middle.
flyerhank
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Virginia, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 09:14 PM UTC
Lone Star models offers parts for the corrected wing span and a full interior. Check them out!
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 09:59 PM UTC
Found an article on "expanding" the wingspan using a second model and a nice set of correct scale drawing. Also quite a few cockpit photos.

Had already added some simple additional details to the cockpit; (Internal framing, a few buttons and the proper headrest.) I was not trying to build a super detailed model but I was blown away when I found that a totally incorrect set of wings had been substituted.

Wings an inch and a quarter short I just could not take.
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 11:42 PM UTC
The Monogram F3F kit was originally designed, like many other kits of the era, for " Play Value". Not accuracy. It was also marketed as the F3F Gulfhawk, the shorter- winged acrobatic version at the same time, with a different cowling. It falls into the same category as Monograms Phantom Mustang, the ITC (Ideal Toy Company) motorized Deusenberg, Missile submarine, and the M41 Walker Bulldog motorized kits. Accuracy was not the main point-- action was the main point. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and remember these and other action kits well. The manufacturers preferred "working landing gear" ,"dropping bombs" and moveable wheels because that's what the public wanted in those days. And they sold millions of these kits to us at the time-- for the whopping price of $1.29-$2.98, smaller kits were cheaper- .15 - .29 cents. I could actually afford to ride my bike to the local drugstore and buy a couple of kits once a month on my .25 cent allowance per week, and have enough left over for a cherry coke or ice cream cone at the soda stand. That was the point of these kits at the time-- not accuracy. I still have two unbuilt kits from my youth-- the Monogram Jeep and 37mm gun and the Monogram F3F. I've built both in later issues, but still have the original boxings. The other kit you refer to is the Monogram F3F Gulfhawk Flown by Major Al Williams. It's true, the wingspan was shorter for that kit (and the figure that comes in the F3F kit is actually supposed to be Al Williams-- not a US Navy pilot of the 1930s). And for its time, it was the most accurate F3F on the market-- and still is in 1/32 scale (Accurate Miniatures released a very accurate 1/48 F2F several years ago). Using an aftermarket engine, scratchbuilt or aftermarket cockpit, and, as you said, lengthening the wingspan, you can build a nice accurate model of the F3F using the Monogram kit, because the one thing Monogram got right was the fuselage shape and dimensions. Now you know the genesis and background of this well worn kit from the dawn of model building. I own three of them-- an Al Williams Gulfhawk, the original 1957 issue, and a later white box version I bought just for the wings. Didn't pay more than $25 for all three.
VR, Russ
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 12:43 AM UTC
I realize what you are saying. I too owned and enjoyed the visible P-51 and the cut away USS George Washington.

I considered trying to track down a set of Gulfhawk decals and simply building it as a civi aircraft but then I woul have the wrong cowl. I guess it is a personal thing but I just think failing to add a correct, revised 32' wing sprue but still billing the model as a F3F crosses a line.

Second kit has now been ordered!
rdt1953
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Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 01:06 AM UTC
If my memory serves me well these kits had complex retracting gear that was operated by the propeller . If you pulled the prop out and rotated it the gear would retract - rotate in the opposite direction and the gear would extend . I also recall that the assembly of said gear required " flaring" of the articulated components by melting the end of axles with a hot knife. Quite an engineering feet for a sub - 10 year old to tackle but I did it ( IIRC ). This technique was used on a few other Monogram kits of that era - I remember well because I caught holy hell from my mother for using her keepsake butter knife left to her by her mother for the task. The heat discoloration on the end of the knife was a reminder of the error of my ways for many a mealtime in the ensuing years .
Perhaps the lesson in mechanics was more valuable than an accurate wingspan to a young boy but I suppose it would have been better to have both !
Thanks for the nostalgic trip gents - Richard
165thspc
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Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 02:08 AM UTC
I have a similar story Richard in that I used my Dad's favorite small screwdriver from his small tools kit. Clearly I ruined the temper of the steel because the next time he tried to tork down a screw the blade split! It didn't bend, it split, long ways down the blade. I was not in trouble b/c he did not know what I had used it for.

So in other words these models are responsible for creating many fond memories from our childhood.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 04:07 AM UTC
Michael, I’d send you my Gulfhawk decals— but you wouldn’t like them either— they are way overly thick, are nicely yellowed, and have lots of little cracks running through them. Yellow Wings decals makes a really nice aftermarket set for the F3F kit though. As for the landing gear— you can actually make it work as Richard said. I built the kit for my wife’s classroom several years ago (a Historymakers boxing). I carefully built the engine prop and landing gear mechanism, and it still worked when she gave the model away two years ago. Unfortunately, the engine cylinders are out of scale, have rather poor detail. And part of the gears stick out through the fuselage. If you want accuracy, you reall need to replace the “retraction” mechanism”. This is a fun kit, and could be built into a nice model with some care. I agree though, it’s time for a new one. And I also agree that it would have been easier to make a longer wing and cut it rather than to graft in parts of a second kit, but I don’t think Monogram or anyone else really cared at the time— it shows you how sophisticated we modelers have become over the years!
VR, Russ
165thspc
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Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 04:57 AM UTC
Russ, I appreciate the offer but then I would have a civilian Gulfhawk with a USN cowl. I have already ordered a second model to make the conversion.

By the way last night I found a group casting the working landing gear in white metal for those fearing the gear breaking.

I am in the process of deciding if I am going to go for the working landing gear or glue it in the down position and be able to skip the partial gear hanging out the starboard side of the cowl, etc.
165thspc
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Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 06:20 AM UTC
Like I have already said I had a bit of work invested in the model already before I found out about the wingspan issue. Paint, some additional cockpit detail and a better looking engine.

165thspc
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Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 06:24 AM UTC
At this point I had already added some internal ribbing to the fuselage and installed a headrest in place of the directional antenna that was originally in the civilian Gulfhawk. I included a kick board on the front edge of the floorboard so the cockpit would not be so "see through" down into the landing gear wells:


I had also added some gauge rings to the control panel as well as Future Floor Wax "glass" to the gauges:


The engine is cast in very low relief on the stock model. However I realized if I simply cut out the fake flat filler areas (shown in red) BETWEEN the engine cylinders the engine would then take on the appearance of being much more 3D.

(I think it is interesting that the exhaust collector ring has been cast into the firewall behind the engine. Even though the ring would have been totally invisible on the original model if built stock.)

You can just see this ring between the cylinders in the finished engine photo. Now instead of being invisable, the exhaust ring adds to the detail.




Again I was more than a bit put out after doing all these modification/improvements to find that the model manufacture had recycled a shorter length, incorrect wing from a similar but totally different aircraft. Not cool!
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 09:16 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Lone Star models offers parts for the corrected wing span and a full interior. Check them out!



Found the cockpit update at Lone Star. Did not find anything on a replacement wing. - Just say'n.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 01:05 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Lone Star models offers parts for the corrected wing span and a full interior. Check them out!



Found the cockpit update at Lone Star. Did not find anything on a replacement wing. - Just say'n.



Michael, your work so far is excellent. I love updating these old kits, with some extra work they can make nice models — sometimes rivaling the latest offerings. Along those lines I see Hasegawa has again issued their F4B-4 yet again in “Top Hatters” livery. Pretty good mileage for a 60s kit. Yeah— I don’t think Lone Star made a replacement wing, they do make a replacement cockpit though. It’s just too easy to graft the correct size wing together from a second kit. Neo-Mega (I think that’s the name) did a replacement engine though, but it wasn’t a drop in fit as I recall— I have one with my future build, along with the Yellow wings decals, which I highly recommend, they put the kit decals to shame.
VR, Russ
165thspc
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Kentucky, United States
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 01:34 AM UTC
Just as an F.Y.I. - here is the Lone Star F3F Cockpit:



The website can be found at:

http://www.lonestarmodels.com/store/508/lsm-30286-f3f-3-cockpit

p.s. I am told pilots had no shoulder belts in those days.
165thspc
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 01:35 AM UTC
Russ thanks for pointing out the F4B. It is a beauty that I did not know about.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 05:15 AM UTC
Michael,
Yes— Hasegawa has made a killing with their FB2C, P-12, F4B, and P-26 they released in the late 60s— first as Minicraft kits, then under thier own label. They are much more detailed than this old Monogram offering, but they still have their issues. The “Top Hatter” F4B is the latest re-issue released, but they revisit the molds of the others every so often. The most unforgiving mistake in those kits (to me anyway) is the way the top wing is molded which leaves a difficult to fill seam along the bottom of the wing in line with the ailerons. They have sparse (but buildable) cockpit detail too. I built one on a carrier deck extension which resides over on Large Scale Planes— if I can find the link I’ll post it. There are several great resin kits of 30s aircraft too- Lukgraph makes an F2B, and Silver Wings has an excellent P-6E Curtiss Hawk. The SW Hawk has everything in the box you need for a great kit. Yellow Wings has aftermarket decals for all the Hasegawa oldies, and more. There’s also the Williams Brothers kits too— the Sparowhawk is particularly colorful. If you’re into golden era biplanes, this is “the golden era” for kits!


VR, Russ
flyerhank
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 10:05 AM UTC
The F3F-3 corrected span wing set is LSM30380 and retails for $35.00
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 10:23 AM UTC

Quoted Text

The F3F-3 corrected span wing set is LSM30380 and retails for $35.00



Yep-- You're right Hank. Not to sure about the casting quality though-- the photos look a little rough, and for $35 it seem like it would be just as easy to graft a new set of wings and cheaper too. I wonder how heavy they are. One thing I don't like about LSM is they don't say much on their web site. They do make stuff that nobody else does though. Here's a link to the F4B I built over at LSP:

http://www.largescaleplanes.com/articles/article.php?aid=3127

Still a nice kit after over 40 years-- just goes to show some of the old stuff is still the "good stuff".

VR, Russ
165thspc
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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 01:03 PM UTC

Quoted Text

The F3F-3 corrected span wing set is LSM30380 and retails for $35.00



Sorry but not sure just which hobby manufacture you are referring to. Oh wait a minute; Lone Star. I got it!

I have already ordered a second kit but it would be good to view their product for a working reference.
165thspc
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Posted: Friday, January 26, 2018 - 01:34 AM UTC
Here is a shot of the corrected wings for the F3F-3 right off the Lone Star website.
(With a little bit of Photoshopping to make them a bit more visible.)



You can find this item on the Lone Star website at:

http://www.lonestarmodels.com/store/51j/lsm-30380-f3f-3-corrected-span-wing-set
165thspc
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Posted: Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 06:22 AM UTC
Question: The Monogram F3F model comes stock with a very nice all silver overcoating. Could some one tell me, is this shade of reflective silver close to correct?

I have read that in actuality only the wings where coated, with a silvery dope over the cloth. The rest of the aircraft's metal body was spray painted. What color was this paint? I have seen one museum photo where the fuselage looked like it was painted in almost a creamy/white/lite gray color and not silver at all.


Note the color change where the upper wing spars meet the underside of the top wing.