Building this model was straight forward for a Jurassic kit. With the movable parts, particularly the gear set up connecting the propeller to the landing gear. That kind of thing was very popular back in the 60's and 70's, especially when it came to Revell and Monogram kits. One complaint I have which seems to be a reoccurring theme when it comes to old Revell kits is every once in a while the kit will come with useless decals that literally disintegrate when they hit water as was the case with this kit. Even after applying decal film. As a result I had to replace many of them from my decal spares box.
The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy (indeed, the last biplane fighter delivered to any American military air arm), and served between the wars. Designed as an improvement on the single-seat F2F, it entered service in 1936. It was retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II, and was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo. The F3F which inherited the Leroy Grumman-designed retractable main landing gear configuration first used on the Grumman FF served as the basis for a biplane design ultimately developed into the much more successful F4F Wildcat.
The Navy's experience with the F2F revealed issues with stability and unfavorable spin characteristics, prompting the 15 October 1934 contract for the improved XF3F-1, placed before F2F deliveries began. The contract also required a capability for ground attack, in addition to the design's fighter role. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior engine as the F2F, the fuselage was lengthened and wing area increased over the earlier design. A reduction in wheel diameter allowed greater fuselage streamlining, eliminating the prominent bulge behind the cowling of the F2F.
The prototype, BuNo. 9727, was delivered and first flown on 20 March 1935 with company test pilot Jimmy Collins making three flights that day. Two days later, six dive-recovery flights took place; on the 10th, the aircraft's pullout at 8,000 ft (2,438 m) registered 14 g on the test equipment. The aircraft broke up in midair, crashing in a cemetery and killing Collins. A second, strengthened prototype was built, but it crashed on 9 May of the same year following the pilot's bailout during an unsuccessful spin recovery. The second prototype was rebuilt in three weeks, flying on 20 June 1935. An order for 54 F3F-1 fighters was placed on 24 August of that year, following the conclusion of the flight test program.
The first production F3F-1 was delivered on 29 January 1936 to the test group at Naval Air Station Anacostia, with squadron service beginning in March to VF-5B of Ranger and VF-6B of Saratoga. Marine squadron VF-4M received the last six in January 1937.
Grumman, wanting to take advantage of the powerful new 950 hp (708 kW) Wright R-1820 supercharged radial engine, began work on the F3F-2 without a contract; the order for 81 aircraft was not placed until 25 July 1936, two days before the type's first flight. The engine's larger diameter changed the cowling's appearance, making the aircraft look even more like a barrel, though top speed increased to 255 mph (410 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,658 m).
The entire F3F-2 production series was delivered in between 1937 and 1938; when deliveries ended, all seven Navy and Marine Corps pursuit squadrons were equipped with Grumman single-seat fighters. Further aerodynamic developments were made to an F3F-2 (BuNo 1031) returned to Grumman for conversion; it became the XF3F-3, and featured a larger-diameter propeller, among other improvements. On 21 June 1938, the Navy ordered 27 improved F3F-3s, as new monoplane fighters like the Brewster F2A and Grumman's own F4F Wildcat were taking longer to develop than had been planned.
With the introduction of the Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were numbered. All F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service by the end of 1941, though 117 were assigned to naval bases and used for training and utility duties until December 1943.
The G-32 and G-32A two-place aircraft were used by the U.S. Army Air Force as ferry-pilot trainers, under the designation UC-103/UC-103A.
A civilian aerobatic two-seat variant, the G-22A "Gulfhawk II," was constructed in 1938 and flown by Major Alfred "Al" Williams (retired), head of Gulf Oil's aviation department.
Today, there are four flying aircraft, three F3F-2 models and the Gulf Oil G-32A, all which were restored by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth. The restorations took four years and consisted of rebuilding the G-32A from original blueprints with tooling built at the Texas Airplane Factory. The wreckage of three -2 aircraft which had originally crashed in Hawaii were utilized to complete the other restorations.
- 0972 – F3F-2 owned by Hawks Zeroq3 in Sonoma, California. This airframe was restored by Chris Prevost and has been on the flight line at Vintage Aircraft in Sonoma, California.
- 0976 – F3F-2 on static display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. This aircraft was ditched off the coast of San Diego on 29 August 1940 while attempting a landing on Saratoga. The fighter was rediscovered by a U.S. Navy submarine in June 1988, and recovered on 5 April 1991. It was restored at the San Diego Aerospace Museum before going on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
- 1028 – F3F-2 on display at the Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.
- 1033 – F3F-2 owned by the Greatest Generation Naval Museum in Carlsbad, California.
- 335 – G-22 on static display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.
- Replica – G-32A owned by Comanche Warbirds Inc in Houston, Texas. This airframe is a replica rebuilt at the Texas Airplane Factory using the identity of G-32A construction number 447, which crashed in 1971.