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Grumman F3F-3
“Last U.S. Navy Biplane Fighter”

Special Hobby, 1/72 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Special Hobby SH 72109 F3F-3 Biplane Fighter
Scale: 1/72
Contents and Media: 51 dark grey plastic parts on one sprue, 1 clear injected plastic canopy on one sprue, 7 cream coloured resin parts on three casting blocks, 24 PE parts on one fret, decals for three aircraft plus an A5 sized, 10 page instruction booklet with history, parts plan, 4 pages of build drawings and 3 pages of paint/decal instructions.
Price: From GBP£8.21 available online from Hannants and specialist model retailers worldwide
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Good detail for a Braille Scale kit, injected plastic canopy, excellent decals.
Disadvantages: Instructions are a bit vague in places, no full rigging diagram, multi-media, not for beginners
Recommendation: Highly Recommended to experienced modellers.

Reviewed by Glen Porter

 Special Hobby's 1/72 scale F3F-3 will be available online from Squadron.com


A Brief History

The Grumman F3F was designed in the mid-thirties as a replacement for the F2F. The F3F-1 entered service in January 1936 followed by the more powerful F3F-2 with VF-6 Squadron on USS Enterprise, late 1936 early 1937. December 1938 saw the introduction of the F3F-3 with VF-5 (Yorktown) and VF-7 (Wasp). This was the last of the series and the last Biplane Fighter flown by the Navy. The last operational unit was Marine Squadron VMF-211 who retired their F3F-3s on the 10th of October 1941.

The Model

This is the third F3F issued by MPM/Special Hobby. The first was the F3F-1 under the MPM label about four or five years ago and then came the F3F-2 by Special Hobby (Kit No SH 72106) in 2005. This F3F-3, also by Special Hobby, is almost identical to the -2 and I would suggest reading that review first before this one.

The differences between the two kits, apart from the instructions, decals and box art, is this kit has both cowlings (-2 had only one) and two resin bombs ( the -2 did have the bomb mounts).


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The kit contains only one plastic sprue in mid grey with, as we've come to expect from this manufacturer, next to no flash, some ejector pin marks but only on interior surfaces and very fine engraved panel detail, raised where appropriate. Most parts will require a small amount of clean-up.

The small injected one-piece canopy is very clear and thin and may be able to be displayed open.

Four of the seven resin parts are for the cockpit interior, floor, two side consoles and a small box glued onto the right hand console. The other three are the two bombs and a small matrix for the under-nose air intake. The two bombs need a casting block removed from their rear and PE fins bent up and installed. Unfortunately, this is not mentioned or shown in the instructions so look at the parts carefully.


The PE fret by Eduard has instrument panel, rudder pedals, lap harness, bomb racks, bomb tail fins and various other small parts, some for the interior and exterior.

Decals by Dead Design are well printed with good register, colour density and minimum carrier film and cover three aircraft in the very colourful pre-war scheme.

  • “A” is F3F-3, BuNo 1445, USS Yorktown USA East Coast, Nov, 1939, with Red trim.

  • “B” is F3F-3, BuNo 1451, USS Enterprise, August 1940, with Blue tailplane, fin and rudder, Light Green lower cowling and upper wing chevron but no fuselage band.

  • “C” is F3F-3, BuNo 1454, USS Ranger in the Atlantic Ocean, 1940, with Light Green Tail surfaces and Black cowling, upper wing chevron and fuselage band.



All necessary markings are present on the sheet.



Known as “The Flying Barrel”, the F3F is one of those aircraft that is so ugly it becomes attractive and is now well catered for in both major aircraft model scales.

Because it has “N” shaped inter-plane struts it should be a little easier to mount the top wing than most biplanes with individual or “V” struts. However, these struts lean out-wards so care will still need to be taken.

Apart from that, and the inclusion of resin and PE, there is nothing here to tax the modeller too much and it is an aircraft that every good collection should have.

Highly Recommended to experienced modellers.

Thanks to MPM/Special Hobby for the review sample.

Review Text Copyright © 2007 by Glen Porter
Images Copyright © 2007 by Brett Green
Page Created 25 September, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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