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F7F-3 Tigercat - BuNo 80405 - VMF 312 MCAS - El Toro, CA 1946

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Thanks all!  


Yes, this one by far and away has been blowing my mind with regard to how its supposed to go together.  Its really tough on my OCD, as NOTHING "pops" or "snaps" into place, and everything is just a bit off here or there, requiring guestimations, scratch building and loads of cursing. Combine that with flubs in manufacturing from the factory, and instructions that really are images only, and even then don't always show how or where exactly things are supposed to go. 

Its maddening at times honestly, and if the F7F was not my all time favorite aircraft, Im not sure Id persevere on this one. 

I'll NOT be giving up on this one however..........as at some point next year, I WILL have a finished 1/32nd scale F7F Tigercat!!


On a good note however, the latest factory flub in the kit (engine bearer brace being WAY too short) I think has been fixed, and that has lead to (hopefully) one of the last major "how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-this" moments of the kit:


I managed to cut open the port side engine bearer brace that was too short and add some styrene tubing to that, sanding it down to fit over the internal wire. From there, I used some larger aluminum tube for the bearer bases. Its not perfect by ANY means, but after about two hours of drilling holes in the wrong spot, cutting the new brace open a couple times, because the angles didnt match up to the starboard side, I had a pair of somewhat matching engine bearers:










You can see the styrene tubing extensions on the back and front of the outer port brace. In retrospect, it wasn't off by a mm or two but more like 5 or 6mm. Enough to where it should have been VERY noticeable it was not the same as the other 3:







This then will lead me to building the rest of the engine mounts which consist of two V shaped upper side parts, two V shaped lower side parts and a front hoop that the engine will rest on. Getting these last engine bearer parts assembled will be one of the last really tough parts to do.  You can see what the finished bearer is supposed to look like once all parts are glued on in the lower left side of the instruction book:





There was a very nice build of an HpH Tigercat by a Czech gentleman that has helped me considerably. I have used his build pics quite a bit to help me understand where things actually are supposed to go. Here you can see how the front engine bearer "hoop" must align just forward of the firewall itself, in order to have the engine where it needs to be inside the cowl:


Forward engine mount and firewall:







As you can see here, the engine mound hoop is JUST barely smaller than the opening in the firewall:







With this being said, theoretically when all 4 of the outer engine bearer parts are put together correctly, they come together at a single point at the top and sides (the bottom has a space in-between the braces unlike the top and sides). That seems WAY easier said than done with the inconsistencies of the resin parts in the kit. 

You can see here in the Czech gents build, how the firewall must be blended with the nacelle exhaust cutouts. The firewall then protrudes off of the nacelle by 4 or 5mm;







This leads to the main issue with the engine hoop. The nacelles themselves need to remain separate until all the internal wheel well detail is added, BUT the engine bearers need to be build before the nacelles can be installed..........yet you NEED the nacelle installed with the firewall installed on it, to make sure the engine bearer hoop will like up correctly with the hole in the firewall.


You can see here how the engine bearer hoop must align exactly with the hole in the firewall, and also must protrude ever so slightly (about the thickness of the hoop itself) in order to get the engine seated where it needs to be in the cowl:







Im really looking forward to figuring out this issue, as once I DO do that, The rest of the difficult parts will be things like the landing gear, and clear parts, but those I dont think will take NEARLY the mental fortitude that all of the rest has taken to this point. 


Man, this kit really makes you want it bad if you are going to see it all the way to completion!! 


Ive got the fire in me for this one boys, so Im going to utilize that feeling to press on through the crappy parts of the build, then onto the good stuff, like detailing and painting.


Cheers until you older! 


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Thanks guys. Ive been working on a small side project for an LSPer, (Ill let him reveal what it is at his discretion) so have taken a short break from the big cat. No issues there, as I kinda needed it to figure out what I'm going to be doing about the rest of the engine mounts. Ive got a sorta-kinda plan in my head, but have to attempt to implement first. Im planning on fiddling around with things tonight if work isnt a killer as I go on-call today for the next week. 



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Without sounding like a lazybones, it seems to me that all one need do is locate shims into the firewall opening and glue the ring to them.  That would set the ring where you want it.  All the business in the nacelle forward of the wheel well doesn't really need to meet the ring, but part of it should be there for effect.  Is this blasphemy?




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I have thought about that Mark..............

I'm just not sure my conscience will let me do that or not!


I've got a bit of a plan to see if I can temporarily attach the nacelles to the wings to establish where the ring should be, and will make a small jig on the front of the firewall to hold the engine ring where it needs to be.


If all that fails, then yes, I'll likely just glue the ring to the firewall and go from there on installing the rest of the engine bearers.

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Good Lord Brian - what am amazing project!!! Just saw it today.  I did a resin Rutman P-47 in 1/32 years ago, and also a Rutman P-51B.  So I can relate.  Each piece was a "diamond in the rough" requiring lots and lots of work.  Must say they were exhausting efforts.  And you know I love the R-2800.  Great work!  Subscribing.

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I was going to return to work on the insides of the nacelles with getting on with the interior green as I needed to install the firewalls on the nacelles to continue the engine bearer work. I cant install the firewalls until the interior green is painted and I cant paint that until I install the last wheel well interior part which is the very tiny square bit of resin that attaches to a similar square bit molded inside the wells to accommodate the MLG. This solution probably will work Ok, and support the very heavy weight of the model (like a the heaviest model I will have EVER made by far, as I have OVER 10oz of lead in the nose alone), as long as its attached well. Although the CA Ive been using throughout seems to work really well, Ill be using the same thing I glued the wings on with, JB Weld epoxy. Its by far the strongest glue Ive ever used, and I have Gorilla, 15 min Hobbypoxy and a few other brands. 


Ill let this set up for a full 24 hours before touching it:









Since that takes at least 24 hours to dry, I figured I assemble some flying surfaces, the nacelles and cowls and take some glamour shots to remind me where all this is supposed to be heading!
















Here is an idea of size on the big Tigercat. This is another single seat US fighter, most are familiar with the Has 1/32nd P-40E. The big F7F pretty much dwarfs it by comparison:









The other good news which unintentionally resulted from the glamour shots, was the ability to more or less confirm she wont be a tail sitter! 


I busted out the trusty artists pyramids and stacked 5 aside, in roughly the position the main supporting leg of the gear will be. With the solid elevators and rudder on, all 4 flap sets as well as the ailerons, nacelles and cowls, I figured it was also a good time to see if all of that 10+ oz of lead up front was enough...........



I still have both engines to add in front of the CG, as well as not much at all to add behind the CG, so I think Im in good shape!











Mind you, another few mm forward and that 10+ oz wouldn't be enough, so Im hoping all my calculations have been fairly on up to this point, and it seems like they have. 


Ill be back on the nacelles tomorrow barring any disasters at work







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Looking good, Brian!  You're really excelling at a very difficult kit.  I was surprised you are using JB weld.  I used it a long time ago to fix leaks in an aluminum canoe I got second hand from a place that rented them out.  The JB weld never leaked.  Amazing stuff!



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Thanks gents! 



Yes, JB Weld is an old standby for me! I've used the stuff since back in 2010 and even used it on my other earlier projects like the SU-30. You just have to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that whatever you are gluing is exactly where you want it............otherwise you are NOT getting the parts apart. 


I used in on the F7F wings, and it really held SUPER well, as most any other times I've used it. When you need *absolute* strength, I always go for JB Weld, bar none

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