Grumman Goose JRF-5 by Signifer

1/48 scale
Kit No. 48001
Cost: $50.00
Decals: Four versions; U.S. Navy, French Navy, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, Royal Navy
Comments: Engraved panel lines; highly detailed cockpit interior and docking bay; mixed media kit including injection molded plastic, resin detail parts, and metal parts


The Grumman Model G21, affectionately known as the Goose, was designed in 1936 and flew for the first time on May 29, 1937. The origin of the Goose had nothing to do with military requirements. The idea for a seaplane transport came in 1936, when a group of wealthy industrialists, including Henry Morgan, Marshall Field and E.R. Harriman, wanted an easier way to commute from their homes on Long Island to the financial district of Wall Street.

They commissioned and privately funded Roy Grumman to build ten airplanes that could take off from their private air strips and land on the water near the financial district. The result was a high-wing, twin-engine monoplane with a full hull fuselage and roomy interior that was fully amphibious, able to take off and land on both runways and water. It carried two pilots and up to six passengers.

One innovation the Goose employed was a completely metal skin (save for fabric-covered control surfaces), at a time when much of the aviation industry was still clinging to wood-and-canvas construction. It also featured a somewhat tapered nose, giving it the appearance of a speedboat up front. The Goose was fitted with a manually powered, fully retractable three-point undercarriage

The Goose quickly entered service, initially flying only a select and wealthy clientele back and forth between Long Island and Manhattan. Its passengers travelled in comfort, enjoying luxurious interiors and all the airborne amenities that money could buy, including comfortable seating and full lavatory facilities. By 1938, the U.S. Army Air Corps got wind of Grumman’s new seaplane and decided to procure the type for aerial observation, designating it the OA-9. The U.S. Navy quickly followed suit, designating their birds JRF, which soon triggered an order from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Navy used them as transport aircraft, but the Coast Guard recognized their value as search and rescue seaplanes. The Coast Guard purchased seven JRF-2s and three JRF-3s between 1939 and 1940. Many were fitted with de-icing boots along the leading edges of the wing surfaces for service in northern waters between Maine and Newfoundland. All were fitted with electric starters and automatic pilots and were capable of carrying a single-lens aerial mapping camera.

Here are the parts for the landing gear struts as well as the hatch in the nose for the docking bay. Only one set is necessary, but Signifer has provided a spare.

The Coast Guard purchased 24 of the G-38 model, designated JRF-5G, beginning in 1941. Prior to the war these amphibians carried out search and rescue as well as aerial mapping flights and participated in the Coast Guard’s contribution to the enforcement of the Neutrality Patrols. During the war, the JRFs conducted search and rescue operations, hunted submarines (depth charges or bombs could be loaded under the wings), and transported supplies and personnel.

One of several detail parts for the engine…separating them from the resin block will require care.

During World War II, the Goose also saw service with the both RAF (it was the British who gave it the nickname “Goose” and it stuck) and the RCAF. Prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, the Imperial Japanese Navy evaluated the Goose, but opted not to procure it (which may explain the kit’s Japanese markings). In its export version, the Goose was lightly armed with two 250 lb. depth charges and used to fly anti-submarine patrols. It is worth noting that some wartime military versions of the Goose were pure sea-going aircraft, having their landing gear installations completely removed to save weight.

Among the resin parts are two highly detailed Pratt & Whitney radial engines, together with parts for the engine nacelles.

The JRF-5 was the definitive U.S. Navy/U.S. Coast Guard version of the Goose with 190 machines out of total production run of 367 between 1937 and 1946. These had a hatch for camera facilities, target towing capability, de-icing boots on the wing leading edges, and were fitted with racks beneath the wings for conventional bombs. A special naval training version was developed also. After the war, due to its ruggedness, dependability, and fine engineering, the Goose enjoyed a long life as a civilian air taxi and transport, and many are privately owned and still flying today.

The Kit

The docking bay, a resin plug which fits into the nose of the Goose. From here, a crewman would toss a line to a pier or quay from a hatch in the Goose’s nose.

Signifer’s Grumman Goose is injection molded in grey and consists of 27 plastic parts (comprising mostly the fuselage, cowlings, and wings) and including one clear part for the windshield, in addition to 68 pale blue-green resin parts providing exquisite detail for the cockpit, docking bay, passenger cabin, engines, rudder, ailerons, and landing gear.

The exquisitely detailed cockpit insert consists of a main instrument panel, complete with sidewalls and cockpit floor. A close look beneath the panel reveals the outline of the door to the nose compartment/docking bay.

This part is actually on its side — what looks like the floor is actually a vertical bulkhead containing a door that leads to the cockit; an instrument panel is situated in the ceiling of the cabin. Note the tubing along the bulkhead.

For some reason there is also a vacuform windshield, so the modeler will have his choice. The propeller blades will have to be individually mounted, and the cowlings come in halves which will require skill at hiding seams. The fuselage and wings feature engraved panel lines, and there are resin nacelles and radial engines, which are to be augmented with a bit of wire (provided in the kit) for even greater detail. Resin ailerons and rudder are separately mounted.

The cockpit consists of two highly detailed resin seats that feature both upholstery and seatbelt detail, combined with a breathtakingly complex resin one-piece insert featuring an extremely main instrument panel replete with a maze of dials and instruments, sidewall detail, and a cockpit floor. Once the seats, rudder pedals, and dual control yokes are added, there will not be much else to do. The challenge will be the clean-up required beforehand and the painting.

The kit includes resin detail parts for all control surfaces, as well as the floats, to be fitted to the wing outboard of the engine nacelles

There is a docking bay just forward of the cockpit in the nose, with separately mounted doors on top, that stores an anchor and a length of rope amidst internal ribbing detail and a wooden floor, all beautifully cast in resin. This docking bay appears large enough for a man to stand upright in, and toss the anchor out, or thrown a line to another person waiting on a dock or quay, and although there is a door that connects to the cockpit, from the looks of it, it was a tight squeeze to get under the instrument panel to the door beyond.

Like the ailerons and rudder, the wing-mounted floats and supporting struts are cast in resin as a single piece, and the main landing gear, entirely in resin, consist of four parts each, five if you count the resin inserts, faithfully cast down to the recessed rivet detail, for each wheel bay. There are crisply detailed passenger and crew seats for the cabin, and clear acetate parts for the cabin windows.

Finally, there is an option for two resin 250 lb. depth charges, to be mounted beneath the wings, just outboard of the engine nacelles. Markings are provided for four versions of the JRF-5, the most numerous variant of the Goose manufactured by Grumman Aircraft Corporation. These include the U.S. Navy, Royal Air Force, French Aeronavale, and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.


This is a beautiful rendition of the Goose, easily the most detailed kit commercially available, that will demand patience, but should provide any modeler with hours of enjoyment. This is truly an impressive kit.

Here are the casings for the 250 lb. depth charges and the inserts for the wheel wells.

The only complaint I might have is that the instructions could be a bit more clearly presented in a way that shows a sequential progression of the construction of the kit. They appear to skip certain steps, making the assumption that the modeler will figure out the proper sequence — something like the experience of building a Williams Brothers kit. In that sense, this kit will require the modeler to think about the construction perhaps rather more intently than is usually the case. That, combined with the cost of the kit, may prove a deterrent for some. But Signifer provides quality and detail in abundance for the money. Highly recommended.


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