The F9F Panther was the fifth Grumman “Cat”, following in the lineage of frontline US Navy fighters named for felines. It was Grumman’s first jet powered aircraft and the first jet to see widespread use by the US Navy and a Panther was the first carrier based jet to score and air to air victory.

       The prototype Panther (Grumman Model G-79) first flew on November 21, 1947 powered by a license built Rolls Royce Nene engine with 5,000 lbs., of thrust. The Pratt & Whitney J-48-P2, which was a license built Rolls Royce Tay, was to power the production models of the Panther. Total F9F production was 1,382 examples.

       Because there was insufficient room in the fuselage and wings for fuel to feed the thirsty engines permanent wing tip fuel tanks were added to the design, which also improved the aircraft’s roll rate.

       Armament was to be 4 20mm nose mounted cannon, underwing rockets and up to 2,000 Lbs. of bombs.

       The Panther was the primary jet aircraft used by the US Navy and United States Marine Corp during the Korean War, with over 78,000 sorties flown. The aircraft was used as both a fighter and a ground attack aircraft. As a fighter, Panthers shot down two Yak-9s and seven MiG-15s and as a ground attack aircraft Panthers were known for their ruggedness and ability to sustain operations.

       Panthers were also used by the Argentinian Naval Air Forces, with 28 ex US Navy F9F-2B being transferred to that service in 1957.

       The subject of this article is F9F-3 Panther BuAer 123071 of VF-51 that is credited with the first US Navy shoot down of an enemy aircraft during the Korean Conflict.

       One of the options of the Hobbycraft F9F-2/-3 Panther Korea kit # HC1421 offers is markings for BuAer 123071 both before and after its historic downing of the Yak-9. The kit is made up of four plastic trees, a photo etched instrument panel and a decal sheet. Assembly is straightforward, I did vary from the instructions by eliminating part # C1 that is meant to prevent the model from resting on its tail opting to put weights in the nose as a counter balance. The kit gives you the option of having the wings folded in the upright position or locked down ready for flight. You can also make several different underwing armament selections. I chose to mount the pylons without hanging any bombs or missiles from them..

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