HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
|GRUMMAN F3F-1 (BuNo. 0227), 5-F-16 of VF-5B, USS RANGER c. 1936
by George Grasse
ACCURATE MINIATURES 1:48 SCALE PLASTIC KIT AM3413 OF THE GRUMMAN F3F-1
ACCURATE MINIATURES GRUMMAN F3F-1 BOX ART
GRUMMAN F3F-1 THREE-VIEW PLAN
|Image credit: United States Navy and Marine Corps Fighters 1918-1962, compiled by Paul R. Matt, edited by Bruce Robertson, Harleyford Publications, published by Aero Publishers, Inc., Fallbrook, CA, 1962, page 186.
GRUMMAN F3F-1 NOTABLE NOTES
|The F3F-1 replaced the
F2F-1 largely to correct serious stability problems.
Note the larger tail and longer fuselage.
of the F3F-1 (XF3F-1) were built of which two crashed before
modifications were made.
|The F3F series
(-1, -2, and -3) were the last armed forces biplane fighter.
|The F3F-1 production run of aircraft (BuNos 0211-0264) began with deliveries in January 1936 and was completed by September 1936.
|The primary operators of
the F3F-1 were:
VF-5B USS Ranger (re-designated July 1937 VF-5)
VF-6B USS Saratoga (re-designated July 1937 VF-3)
|Later, in December 1939
when the USS Wasp went into service, its VF-7 received half the
complement of VF-3 which was re-equipping with the Brewster F2A-1
|Armament consisted of one .30 caliber and one .50 caliber.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #1
|COCKPIT: Impressive cockpit detail and great instruction pamphlet.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #2
|COCKPIT: The major sub-assemblies that go into the fuselage interior. The step-by-step process was followed exactly per the instructions. I jumped ahead to do the twin-row radial engine just to have it ready.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #3
|FUSELAGE HALVES: The fuselage halves had plenty of locator pins for the cockpit, fuel tank, and tail wheel/hook sub-assemblies and all matched up quite well.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #4
BODY WORK: The
landing gear proved to been quite challenging. Actually, the
small doors shown hanging down were impossible to insert as per the
instructions (my patience ran out). I resorted to the X-Acto
knife and trimmed the fore and aft tabs and the two doors went in
easily. The long legged strut was glued to the inside top of
the wheel well and to the two articulated legs. At first, I
thought that this would never work but it did! At this point,
I set the model aside to let the glue dry thoroughly.
The top forward fuselage deck was supposed to have the two kit machine guns glued to its underside but I left them off. Later, I will insert brass tubing to represent the .50 caliber's blast tube and a smaller diameter brass tube to represent the .30 caliber barrel.
The tail unit was assembled straight forward as per the instructions. At this point, I jumped ahead and added the rudder.
Overall painting of the model to this point was with Tamiya's AS-12 Glossy Aluminum. Note that the cockpit area was masked off with a bit of tissue stuffed into the cockpit and covered with Tamiya's masking tape.
The engine was pre-assembled with the PE spark plug wires glued in place. It was then painted flat black and allowed to dry. Next, I dry brushed the whole thing with Model Master 1778 Chrome Silver and, when dry, glued it to the front of the fuselage.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #5
PAINTING INITITATED: The
fuselage cowling was initially painted in Model Master 2023 Lemon
Yellow but the brushed finish of the first coat was awful. I
used trusty lacquer thinner and carefully removed the paint. I
mixed a bottle my own using various Vallejo yellow acrylic paints (I
lost the formula!). The front part of the cowling is painted
in this color. What appears to be more yellow on the rear half
of the cowling is actually masking tape.
The tail unit was hand-painted entirely in Model Master 2028 Willow Green straight from the bottle. It needed two brushed coats plus a little touch up.
The top half of the upper wing was sprayed first with two light coats of Tamiya 8046 Light Sand then two coats of Tamiya 8034 Camel Yellow. The forward edge was wrapped around with the same application. The Navy painted about 4" inboard on the underside of the leading edge.
The undersdie of the top wing and both sides of the lower wings were sprayed with Tamiya AS-12 Gloss Aluminum.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #6
FUSELAGE PAINTING AND DECALS: The
'lemon yellow' I finally settled on for the cowling to match the
section leader's fuselage band was Vallejo's VC0953 Flat Yellow and
took several coats. The next step was to apply the black pin
stripe which went on quite easily.
I decided to continue with applying fuselage decals using Yellow Wings decal set YW4027 for the Grumman F3F-1 which includes all of the decals shown except the squadron insignia (from the kit's decals) and the section leader's fuselage band which came from Yellow Wings decal set YW4030.
One problem that bugged me was the unavoidable marks and scratches on the fuselage finish. At the beginning of this project, I knew I had to paint the overall model in aluminum. I rarely use spray paint and rely on the brush but hand-painting metallic colors except on small parts is not advisable. So, I used Tamiya's Gloss Aluminum AS-12 Gloss Aluminum sprayed over a light coat of primer. It came out as shown above.
But, what to do about the marks and scratches? I solved that problem by spraying a small amount the size of a quarter onto my paint palette and hand-brushed over the marks and scratches. It took two sometimes three coats of thin gloss aluminum but it did the trick and blended right it in with the overall finish.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #7
TOP WING ATTACHMENT:
Before wing attachment, I carefully glued the .50 and .30 caliber
brass tubes into the forward top deck. These were pre-painted
with a mix of semi-gloss black and Vallejo Metallic Gray.
Also, I carefully glued the canopy pieces in place and then
hand-painted the frames using a splash of Tamiya Gloss Aluminum on
my paint palette.
This was a pretty easy step because the bulbous ends of the inter-plane struts fit nicely into corresponding large holes on the wing underside. Note that the wheels have been painted and attached to the landing gear struts. The wing tilts easily for alignment.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #8
|BOTTOM WING ATTACHMENT: The underside of the top wing had the outer strut locating holes drilled out a bit to take the strut pins. The bottom wings, one at a time, were glued to the fuselage. The 'N' struts were next glued in place. The model was set aside for drying.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #9
|RIGGING: After several weeks working on other projects, I returned to the F3F-1 to address rigging. Try as I might, the kit-supplied PE rigging material was a no-go. I attached Eduard PE attachment pieces to the model and strung it with .005 MFT. Just onE more sitting for touch up remains: radio antenna wires, wing walk black, paint touchup.
FINISHED PHOTO #10
FINISHED PHOTO #11
FINISHED PHOTO #12
FINISHED PHOTO #13
FINISHED PHOTO #14
FINISHED PHOTO #15
|Tamiya AS-12 Gloss Aluminum 4
|Overall except as noted below
|Vallejo VC0953 3
|6th section nose cowling color
|Model Master 2028 Willow Green
|Tail Color (USS Ranger)
|Tamiya 8034 Camel Yellow 1
|Upper Surface Top Wing Only and slight border to the underside
|Model Master 1778 Chrome 2
|Landing Gear Struts and touch up
1 Sprayed over two light coats of Tamiya 8046 Light Sand
2 Mixed with one third Model Master 1781 Aluminum
|3 Matches the Yellow Wings section leader's fuselage band
|4 Throughout this article I use the paint from this spray can to hand-brush any errors