A collection of Wildcats and Martlets by Stephen Keogh 2016

The kit is Tamiya’s 1:48 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat

The kits in this feature are all derivative of the Tamiya kit with all of the changes homemade. Although there are many different aftermarket resin cockpits, wings and photo etched parts for the many different marks and versions I decided that I would do most of the conversions myself. Some of the versions were very easy to represent and others are more representative of the mark/version of aircraft as major surgery would have had to be undertaken.

There are just less than 60 parts that come on two large spures and one small clear spure with great surface detail and clean moulding.

The kit itself is in my opinion is one that is accurate and quite cheap to buy. One of the reasons I ended up making the different marks was the fact they I had many in the stash and somehow even more decal sheets for the Wildcat and Marlets that l can never remember buying!  Add to this the Kergo Wildcat book which also has a different selection of decals and there was only one option – build the lot!

The main feature of the kit for me is the fact that the engine fits nicely to the firewall which connects to the cockpit floor which connects to the head rest behind the pilot’s seat. The headrest section does require some dry fitting to fit nicely into place. The seat also needs some work for more a better look. Add to this the undercarriage then fits into the cockpit floor and back of the wheel well. Amazing engineering that we take for granted when building a Tamiya kit. There is not a lot that I can find wrong with the kit.

As with any kit if you try hard enough us modellers can always find some aspect that is quite not right. If you want to be picky the canopy is overly thick and can easily be replaced with a vac form one, the exhaust will require thinning out and I remove all of the rivets that are on the fuselage and wings. To me they are a touch over in scale – it’s just a personal call. The machine gun barrels in the wings require replacing – I used evergreen plastic rod drilled out with a fine drill, a very simple but effective technique.

As the cowling is quite open, a large amount of the engine can be seen from the front behind the prop. I have noted that some modellers replace the push rods and add ignition harness to add detail. The engine paints up well if you only require OOB. You could cut the openings too give a thinned out look for the cowling flaps. All of the flight control surfaces and flaps are moulded closed.

F4F-3 / F4F-4, Wildcat cockpit and wheel bay colours varied from aircraft to aircraft and lot depends on the production block and manufacturing company of the a/c in question. As is the case from time to time, my references also varied – I had to go with common sense and trust in what the experts write in the many books that I spend so much of my spare time in any given week poring over. Bronze green was painted above the floor and the fuel tank under the cockpit was light grey or black with an interior green supporting structure. The area below the floor was Interior Green. The inside of the engine cowling and main gear bay were Light Grey, as was the interior of the fuselage all the way back to the tail. Tri-colour aircraft would have had Insignia white wheel bays. All of this subject to change of course!

In a nut shell – the kit has suburb engineering and fit of parts – no filler required – makes into a great looking kit – impossible to make a mistake. The finished kit captures the look of a strong well-built aircraft that was reliable in combat and with relatively heavy armour and self-sealing fuel tanks helped the pilots of the day make it back safely from combat to fly another day.

F4F-3 of VMF-224 / Flown by Maj. Robert Galer:

  • Colours – Blue grey over light grey
  • Main landing gear – top half light grey / bottom black
  • Red cowling & fuselage stripe
  • Cockpit interior – Dull dark green
  • Decals – Super scale – USN & USMC F4F Wildcat aces / 48-397

FM-1 Eastern Aircraft / Black 4 of VC-58 USS Guadalcanal/Flown by Captain Norman Hodson:

  • Colours – Dark Dull Grey over insignia
  • Main landing gear – top light grey / bottom black
  • Cockpit interior – Interior green
  • Decals – Kagero / Monographs #12

Martlet IV/ 893 Squadron / HMS Formidable / Mediterranean Sea / October 1942:

  • 893 Squadron provided fighter cover during Operation Torch – the allied landings in North Africa
  • Colours – Dark slate grey & Extra dark sea grey over light grey
  • Main landing gear – Black
  • Undercarriage – Light grey
  • Cockpit interior – Interior green
  • Decals – Grumman Martlets 1941-1944 / Eagle strike decals

Martlet II / 888 Squadron / Based at Oran – Algeria – Dec 1942:

  • Colours – Dark slate grey & extra dark sea grey over sky
  • Main landing gear – Top light grey / bottom light grey
  • Wheel well– Light grey
  • Cockpit interior – Interior green
  • Decals – Grumman Martlets 1941-1944 / Eagle strike decals

Martlet III / 805 Squadron / Gambut / Libya 1941:

  • AX761 was part of an original undelivered Greek order that was taken over by the Royal navy for their Western Desert Fighter unit.
  • Colours – US Non-specular Grey
  • Main landing gear –grey
  • Undercarriage – Light grey
  • Cockpit interior – Interior green
  • Decals – Grumman Martlets 1941-1944 / Eagle strike decals

F4F-4 of VMF – 223 / Flown by Maj. Marion E. Carl:

  • Colours – US Blue Grey Over Light Grey
  • Main landing gear – Black
  • Undercarriage – White
  • Cockpit interior – Interior green
  • Decals – USN & USMC F4F Wildcat Aces / Super Scale International

References:

  • The Grumman Wildcat in FAA service – By Bruce Archer
  • F4F Wildcat walkaround – Squadron/Signal Publications #4
  • F4F Wildcat Kagero – Monographs #12
  • The Grumman Wildcat – Scale Aviation Modeller – Nov. 2001 By Richard Caruana
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