Sword 1/72 Grumman
G-21A Goose

By Jim Schubert


For a potted history of the beginnings of Grumman please see the History portion of my FIRST LOOK review of Classic Airframes' Grumman Duck in the July 2001 issue of Internet Modeler.  The Goose amphibian was Grumman's second design to go into series production.  It was also their first monoplane, their first twin engined plane and their first plane designed for the civil market.  The G-21 made its first flight on May 29, 1937.  The two Pratt & Whitney R-985 engines gave the Goose a cruise speed of 150 to 175 mph. Normal fuel tankage provided a range of up to 800 miles carrying four to six passengers, plus baggage, and a crew of two.  The first Goose was delivered to Marshall Field on September 29, 1937.  The first dozen were designated G-21; the remainder of the 30 civilian Gooses were designated G-21A as they had minor changes from the basic design.  All the military Gooses were based on the G-21A configuration and had variations as required by their intended military use.  Military designations for the Goose were:


OA-9 A and 0A-13A & B


JRF-1 through 6, plus letter suffixes



Other nations used one of the US designations depending upon the configuration details of the specific model acquired.

Although designed as a light amphibian transport for private civil use, only the first 30 Gooses went to private buyers.  The remainder of the 1,345 total built went to various military operators including:  US Army, US Navy, US Coast Guard, USMC, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, France, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and the UK.  Post WWII, Gooses served with military, government and civilian operators in many more countries.  Today the Goose is a very desirable antique airplane of great practical value and I'd sure like to be able to afford to have one moored out in front of my house.

Please note, amongst the cognoscenti, the plural for the Goose is always "Gooses" - never "Geese".

The Kit

Being a Czech kit, it comes in one of their standard, patented, flimsy, end-opening boxesthat is guaranteed to collapse if other kits are stacked atop it.  Inside are 63 parts cleanly injection molded in medium gray styrene, 13 parts well cast in resin of the same color, eight side windows injection molded in clear styrene, two vac-formed, bulged side windows and two vac-formed windscreens.  The quality of kits from Sword and all the other Czech manufacturers keeps getting better and better and this kit continues that progression with one significant design hiccup.  Sword did a very good job of modeling the subtle catenary sag of fabric between the wing ribs but the ribs under the fabric covered areas of the wing and tail are represented by scribed lines - shades of the Hawk kits of the 1940's!  If you are an anal retentive, nit-picking AMSer like me, this fact will send you into paroxysms of anguish for there are 222 individually scribed "rib" lines of various lengths to be filled, filed and converted to rib-tape simulations by application of narrow strips of decal stock!  Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the moldings are flawless.

Fourteen very well illustrated construction steps, a parts map, a brief history of the type by Chris Hughes and a colors and markings guide for three different color schemes are all included in the well printed and easily understood 12 page instruction pamphlet.  The colorful, small, decal sheet by Techmod is sharply printed in perfect register and provides three color schemes.  One is for an RAF Goose IA in temperate seaplane camouflage.  The second is for a JRF-6A of the French Aeronavalé in overall sea blue gloss.  The third scheme is for JRF-5, US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics No. 37828 as restored by John Pletcher of Anchorage, Alaska in 1994-5 and given the civil registration N703.

The physical configuration of the kit is based upon the restored, and modified, N703 as it is today with some exceptions.  This fact compromises the accuracy of all three airplanes covered by the decal sheet.  These are the problems:

  1. Only the pre-war G-21s had a window in the main entry door on the left side of the airplane. The kit has this window because Mr. Pletcher added it whilst restoring N703.

  2. The G-21s originally had no spray suppression skirts on the forward chine.  Short side skirts were incorporated on the G-21As and generally retrofitted to the G-21s.  Post war, most Gooses were retrofitted with the wide wrap-around spray suppression skirt included in the kit.

  3. All Gooses were built with two-bladed Hamilton-Standard constant speed propellers, which are the only propellers included in the kit.  N703 was, however, given three bladed props and large sharp pointed spinners that enclose the blade roots during its restoration.

So, here's what you've got to do if you choose to model one of the color schemes given on the decal sheet:

RAF & Aeronavalé:  Fill the window in the door and cut off the front of the spray suppression skirt back to the first vertical panel line on the fuselage and slim down the width of the remaining skirt a bit.

N703:  Find a pair of 7' 10" three-blade square tipped constant speed propellers.  make radar transponder antennae for either side of the fin.  Make a small GPSS disc antenna for atop the fuselage and make two VHF antennae for atop the wing.  Make vac-formed bulged side windows for the cockpit.  No; you can't use the kit's vac-formed bulged windows as they are sized to go over the second side window in the passenger cabin of the RAF plane and are too small for the cockpit.

Am I being too much of a nit-picker on accuracy?  I don't think so; you might.  To each his own.  Always do your own research.  Pick a subject that you can document to your satisfaction and enjoy the project.  The small, low budget, Czech kit manufacturers are at a big disadvantage in that they can't afford to go out and find a survivor of every chosen subject or take the time to access all the extant reference materials and must rely on others for their data and have no real means of verifying much of it.  I have just provided information on a soon to be released British subject and it is with great trepidation that I anticipate seeing how the resulting kit looks.  You'll read about it here.


My nit-picking not withstanding,  this is a very good kit, which will go together easily and make a good looking model straight out-of-the-box.  Congratulations to Sword for another subject that has been ignored by the big name manufacturers of kits in 1/72 scale.


Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Five-Flying Boats:  William Green, Doubleday, New York 1962.

Sport Aviation (monthly journal of the EAA) for August 1998.  Budd Davisson article on N703 - Great photos.

http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=185564  - The photo upon which the kit box-art is obviously based.  This site also has several other Goose photos.

Wings Magazine for August 1994:  Article titled "Grumman Seabirds" by Jack Dean.

Skyways - Journal of the Airplane 1920-1940, Nos. 7, 15 and 34.

Many magazine and personal photos from the files of aviation artist John Amendola.