Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pyro F7U USAF Cutlass

When the F7U came out in 1949 the Cutlass was the first supersonic production aircraft and was rumored to have been based on jet aircraft development by the German firm of Arado during WWII. Designed from the beginning to be a carrier-based fighter and ground attack aircraft it ultimately suffered from many flaws. Although a handling and maintenance nightmare, Wally Schirra (who would later become one of America's most well known astronauts) was able to tame the beast and liked it's handling abilities doing combat maneuvers at high altitude and low indicated airspeeds. The maintenance nightmare was likely the result of forward looking design which suffered from the lack of then current technology. Nicknamed Gutless Cutlass due to its two underpowered Westinghouse engines, it was said at the time that the engines put out less heat than Westinghouse's toasters - ouch! What probably put the final cap on the project was the loss of 25% of the aircraft due to mishaps - an entirely unacceptable number for any production aircraft. As you can see by the photo below, the nose landing gear was inordinately high and apparently quite weak causing a problem for pilots upon landing. By 1956 the Cutlass would be removed from service after only 320 being built.

File:Vought F7U-3 Cutlass.jpg

Sometimes toy companies do screwy things. Case in point. The Cutlass was designed for the Navy as a carrier-based fighter, yet as you can see plainly in the photos has 'USAF' markings under the starboard wing. We can only speculate some 60 years hence as to why Pyro (and Marx as well by the way) would do this. But there you have it. The toy measures 6" (15.2cm) L x 6" (15.2cm) wingspan x 2" (5.1cm) H and although there are no maker's mark on this aircraft, it is Pyro. Enjoy!

Notice how the toy sits nice and horizontal. In reality the front nose would have been raised significantly.

If you enlarge the photo you'll notice three machine guns molded underneath the nose.
Also notice the 'USAF' marking which is molded in raised letters painted black.