The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft in service with the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and British Royal Navy in World War II. It was the only fighter available in the USN and USMC in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the war. It was outperformed in most categories by the A6M Zero but due to its ruggedness and newly developed tactics, it would claim an air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 6.9:1 for the entire war. 7,885 Wildcats would be built throughout the war even after newer and better fighters were introduced.
The F4F-4 variant of the Wildcat entered service in 1941 armed with 6 machine guns and a folding wing system. The F4F-4 is the definitive version of the Wildcat and saw the most combat service in the early war years.
Marian Eugene Carl was the USMC’s first ace in WWII. He began his career with VMF-211 and was re-assigned to VMF-223. In August 1942, VMF-223 was deployed to Guadalcanal, the first fighter unit ashore with the so-called Cactus Air Force. Over the next 2 months, Carl became the Marines’ first ace, running his tally to 16.5 victories. It is believed that 1 of his victories was against the Imperial Japanese Navy 27-victory ace Junichi Sasai. In 1943, VMF-223 returned to the Pacific. Carl would end his WWII service with 18.5 victories. He is the 7th highest ranking ace in the USMC.
My build depicts (eventual) Major General Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat ‘White 2′ as she appeared in September 1942.
By and large, there’s no better kit out there than a Tamiya one. This one is no different. Made out of about 50 parts, this kit is unfussy, with very nice molding and sharp details. Options are simple: the canopy can be posed open and 2 external fuel tanks. The landing gear however, cannot be modeled raised. There are decal options for 4 aircraft (VF-41, VMF-223, VGF-29 and VF-22) and the instruction sheet is an 8 page foldout assembly diagram. As usual with Tamiya, color callouts are only for Tamiya paints.
I’ve actually started on this kit a few years ago so all the major parts have already been cut from the sprues. Before putting everything together though I decided to add details to the cockpit.
The cockpit was already sprayed in Interior Green previously but since I decided to add some scratchbuilt shoulder and lap belts, this was repainted. The pilot was supposed to be able to look down and out the belly ports for better visibility so I cut open the cockpit’s floor plate. The result wasn’t really visible after assembly but hey, ‘I know it’s there’. Everything else was built out of the box.
The 6 wing machine guns came modeled solid. I tried to drill out the barrels but I messed it up quite badly so I ended up cutting them all off, drilled through into the wings, and made my own machine gun barrels with 0.5mm brass pipe. I think 5 of the barrels stick out slightly too much but I’ll live with it.
After sanding off the sprue marks, the kit came together quickly without much fit problems and a minimal of seamline fixing. I read somewhere that the external tanks were only introduced in 1943. Since I’m modeling a Wildcat in 1942, I left these off.
Colors & Markings
With my WWII kits, I try my best to model an ace’s aircraft or one with some sort of historical significance. This kit will receive the markings of Marian Eugene Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat. The decals come from Techmod, a Polish decal company. The decals are very well done and reacted well to Mark Softer. They aren’t as thin as something from Cartograph though. The instruction from the Techmod sheet also comes with color call outs. I followed this instead of the kit’s.
Wildcats during this period flew with a simple 2 tone camouflage of a bluish gray over light gray. To break up the monotony, I added a marble coat in between the primer and main colors to add some variation to the finish. Usually I’m quite haphazard with the marble coat but I was more deliberate and careful this time. The result looks good. The demarcation line was done with blutack but I sprayed quite close so the line itself was quite solid.
As usual, I did a panel line wash with thinned raw umber oil paint. Once that has dried I went easy with the weathering.
After unmasking the canopy I realized I made some mistakes:
Still, not a bad build at all. The Wildcat definitely has a presence: it’s not pretty nor graceful as a Spitfire but it definitely looks tough and can take a ton of punishment.
Number 3 of 2018
And he’s done!
I just guided verbally but helped out a bit when he got stuck. The approach was to quickly finish the kit and not get bogged down by the nitty gritty details so fixing seamlines was kept to a minimum. No weathering either. This was painted with both airbrush and by hand for the details.
We’ve started on the 2nd kit as we speak. 🙂
A few weeks ago, my boy asked if he could start building some aircraft kits. Now that term break is here, we decided to crack open the Hasegawa 1/72 Spitfire Mk.I kit which looks to be a quick and easy kit to finish quickly.
Previously he tried a Zaku Warrior kit but it didn’t keep his attention so he didn’t finish it. Let’s see if his interest continues after this one.
Media: Injection Plastic
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat, short-range and high-performance fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and her many allies during and after the Second World War. It was the most produced British aircraft in history and spawned many variants, with the Mk. V being the most produced at 6,487 built.
The Spitfire was perceived by the public to the be RAF fighter that won the Battle of Britain although it was the Hawker Hurricane that shouldered the majority of the burden against the Luftwaffe. It did however, suffer less losses and had a higher victory-loss ratio than the Hurricane. It’s much loved by its pilots and it would continue to serve air forces into the 1950s.
Pierre Clostermann was the highest scoring French flying ace who flew for the RAF in the Second World War. Clostermann was credited with 33 victories while flying 432 sorties between 1943-1945 in the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Tempest. He also claimed 225 motor vehicles, 72 locomotives, 5 tanks and 2 E-boats destroyed.
More info on Wikipedia
This kit is my first completed since 2013. Yes, I’ve had a long Dark Age. I started on the Spitfire at the suggestion of my son who watched the episode of James May’s Toy Stories where he built a 1:1 scaled plastic Spitfire kit.
Tamiya is known for their shake-and-bake kits and this one pretty much came together without much problems: everything fit very well and it’s probably the kit with the least puttying I’ve done so far. The only issue construction-wise was the fit of the canopy that I wanted to close: seems like it’s meant to be posed open. I have to say though that the 1/48 Hasegawa Spitfire I did about a decade ago wasn’t complicated either. I find that prop planes have less fitting problems than modern aircraft probably due to having less parts in general. The one thing that’s more difficult on prop planes is masking of the canopy. The Spitfire’s canopy however is probably considered simple on that front.
I decided that this will be a straight OOB build with aftermarket decals: French Ace Pierre Clostermann’s Spitfire from the Eagle Strike 48059 British Thoroughbreds Spitfires Mk V/VIII/IX sheet. I also decided on a clean finish with only some preshading and panel lining. I figured if I’m going to start doing exhaust and gunpowder stains I should go all out with oil streaks and paint chipping too. I think I’ll be doing this KISS approach from now on. I have to reduce my stash quickly. 😀
I used the following colors for this kit:
The biggest challenge for me with this kit is probably the camouflage. I used Blutack masking and I had to do quite a bit of cleaning up after. The end results turned out well enough and in the scheme of things, it was probably the lesser issue of the whole build. Some notes for my reference for future projects:
In the end though, this was the perfect kit to get me back on the saddle: it was a simple and straightforward build. I’m now motivated to start on my next kit as soon as I can.
I have found that Future is a lot easier to airbrush when thinned. It was however, slow going as I let the Future cure for a day between layers. In the end though, I got a decent result out of it.
Time for decals! In my decals stash were 3 remaining markings from the Eagle Strike 48059 British Thoroughbreds Spitfires Mk V/VIII/IX. I chose to do Pierre Clostermann’s markings. Clostermann is the highest scoring French Ace in WW2. He did it all while flying for the RAF. The sheet only came with 1 set of stencils (which I’ve used already previously) so I had to mix and match with the kit’s decals.
One good thing about WW2 subjects is the general lack of stenciling compared to modern subjects. However, the Eagle Strike decals proved to be quite thick and resistant to Mark Softer. On the other hand, the Tamiya decals were very fragile with some shattering when detached from the backing. They also both took their time to separate from the backing. Some of the decals are also supposed to be placed on compound surfaces which caused some breakage and will need to be fixed.
I tried cutting pieces out of the remaining decals to patch up the broken ones but it proved to be time consuming and at all effective so I simply touched up by hand painting. I had to mix some of the paint to get as close as I could. The work wasn’t perfect but it’ll have to do. I was hoping subsequent gloss and flat coat will hide some of the imperfections.
And then the 1st disaster struck. To seal the decals I layered on Future and it was so thick it pooled on some of the surfaces. I carefully removed the pool of Future with windex which caused more than the Future to be removed. Yep. The white is the primer coat.
So then I carefully masked (making sure none of the masking tape touched the decals), then carefully sanded the offending area down, then carefully airbrushed the color.
In the end, I also had to respray some of the black walkway line as I got some green on the original decal. At least it came out OK. I then hand brushed on Future to gloss up the fixed areas to prep for panel lining.
For panel lining I decided to try something new: Vallejo’s Model Wash. It’s a water soluble solution that’s supposed to be used straight out of the bottle.
However, I’ve read that it’s better to thin it first before use so I decided to just try it at 1 part wash to 5 parts water. Using it was simple enough. You simply brushed it on and let capillary action help to get to all the nooks and crannies on the kit.
Let it dry a bit, then use a wet cotton bud to do clean up. Not intense enough for you? Just go over again until you’re happy with it.
I have to say it’s easier to clean up than the usual oil paint + turpentine mix as the wash doesn’t streak as easily as the latter mix.
I was finished in no time at all. Next I added the antenna. This will need to be touched up a bit. After this is the final flat coat, removing the masking tape around the canopy and attaching the rear view mirror, exhausts and spinner. And I’m all done!
And then while writing this entry, the 2nd disaster struck. It turns out the markings for Pierre Clostermann is for his Spitfire Mk. IX, and not the Mk. Vb I’m doing. Nice… /facepalm