by Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grumman Panther

16 September 2011: Updated for new kits.

Another work in progress for which there was a lot of existing material. This one describes the differences between the -2 and -5 Panther, since there are -2s in 1/72 (the Matchbox -5 is not so good) and a -2 and -5 from different kit manufacturers in 1/48. Click Here for my thoughts on the 1/72 scale -2 kits.

There were three notable shape changes between the -2/3 and the -4/5: the fuselage was stretched by eight inches between the inlet fairing and the dive brakes; the vertical fin was revised (a bit differently than shown here); and the wing leading edge just outboard of the engine inlet was bulged forward with a small flow fence added (the fence was added after initial -5 production and retrofitted to -2/3s so it alone is not a distinguishing feature although the -2/3 fence is a slightly different shape). The -5 also had a small suck-in door behind the bigger one that was on the -2.

You have to do some rivet counting to see where the stretch is but it's there. Note also that the fiberglass reinforcement on the aft part of the canopy is wider on the -5, but this appears to have been retrofitted to the -2, so its absence denotes a -2 but its presence does not necessarily denote a -5.
The tail change is a bit subtler than shown on the illustration above. It was actually enlarged all around as depicted here and the -5 trailing edge was 2.75 inches farther aft.
Regrettably, the difference in the shape of the bottom of either fin isn't shown but the following illustration will make up for that. Note that there is also a difference in the gap between the -2 and -5 upper and lower rudders: the -5 gap was rectangular; the -2's was more triangular.
This is another view of the bottom of  the -2's fin:

Other -5 differences are the tail bumper (more on that below), larger stores pylons on the wing, and the configuration of a small "reverse flap" on the wing flap of -5 (See Yves Marino's comment below). On some -5s, the lower aft corner of the larger suck-in door is cut off to clear the engine inlet.

The cockpit was slightly different. The forward end of -2/3 side consoles was stepped up whereas the -4/5 consoles were flat.

Another detail that I hadn't noticed until just now (17 February 2014) is that the tail bumper is slightly different.  It looks like it was part of a fairing on the -2s (see but not on the -5s (see

Since I limit myself to 1/72nd scale, I don't know anything about 1/48th kits other than what I read on modeling websites. In this case, Pip Moss has measured the Trumpeter -2 and Monogram -5 fuselages and reports that the Trumpeter F9F-2/3 is 9.375 inches long along the waterline (37'6") and the Monogram F9F-5 is 9.625 inches long (38' 6"). That means that they are one scale foot different in length (a bit more than the actual 10.75 inches but the difference is approximately 1/32 inch, which is easily attributable to measurement accuracy), and both are a bit short but by less than 1/8 inch. On the other hand, Lewin Jones and others have measured the Hobbycraft (same mold as the Trumpeter kit) -2/3 and Monogram -5 and found them to be the same length, which means the Hobbycraft/Trumpeter fuselage is too long. Use the following illustrations to check for yourself.

One problem with the Hobbycraft/Trumpeter F9F-2/3 is the canopy.  See Michael Benolkin's review Here and Tom Cleaver's Here. Click Here for a description of an aftermarket substitute for the canopy and Here for a source for it.


  1. do you know why there are two different shapes for the area between the upper and lower rudders some are fan shaped and others are rectangular

  2. The F9F-2 had the fan-shaped fixed area between the rudders while the F9F-5's was rectangular. I don't know why Grumman engineers decided to change it but it couldn't have been too significant since it doesn't appear that the change was retrofitted to the -2.

  3. Quote:"...and the presence of a small "reverse flap" on the wing flap of -5 BuNo 125083 and subsequent".
    As a matter of fact BuNo 125083 is a F9F-2!
    This "reverse flap" was first presented on F9F-2. As per "Handbook Structural Repair Instructions for F9F-2, -4, -5, 5P" AN 01-85FG-3 from 15 Dec. 1950, Revised 15 April 1954 there are 4 groups of F9F models with ot without the flap:
    A.F9F-3: BuNo 122560 to 122565 - no flap
    B.F9F-2 and -3: BuNo 125083 and subsequent - flap with simplified form
    C.F9F-4 and -5: BuNo. 123084, -085, 125080 and -081 - no flap
    D.F9F-4, -5, -5P: BuNo 125082 and subsequent - flap with more complex form