Arma Hobby General Motors FM-2 Wildcat Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Arma Hobby is beginning to make a name for itself by releasing subjects which have been long overlooked in 1/72 scale. On my bench are a small batch of just such a subject – the FM-2 variant of the Wildcat. This version was produced by General Motors so Grumman could focus on Hellcat production and was produced in greater numbers than all the other marks of Wildcats combined. The FM-2 had a more-powerful Wright 1820-56 Cyclone engine, a taller tail, and a four-gun foldable wing – in other words Arma will need a new tool for the fuselage and wings to kit the earlier F4F Wildcats.

Here is the main sprue. All details are crisp and sharp. Panel lines are recessed, but there are a few panel lines missing so check your drawings if such things bother you. The engine features separate push rods. There are two propeller bosses and you have the option of mounting up to six rockets under the wings.

The second sprue has two drop tanks, the FM-2 often carried an asymmetrical load of only one. You get two types of wheels and the elevator is molded separately from the horizontal stabilizer. This boxing is the “Expert Set” which contains PE and Kabuki tape masks, a welcome touch. The clear sprue contains the windows under the fuselage which were used on the F4F Wildcats, so a little foreshadowing of things to come there!

The sprues are designed to stack! I assume this was done to help Arma with their production or packaging, but it sure is convenient if you’re building these kits in batches. But that’s just crazy talk!

Construction begins with the cockpit. I actually hate that phrase because you read it too often, but here it is true. I drilled out the limber holes behind the seat. The PE fret includes a replacement part for the instrument panel but I saw no advantage in using it so I stayed with the plastic part. The other PE parts were useful and not overly fiddly so they were added.

Here are the cockpits all painted and washed. Arma does a good job with decals for the various panels and placards which is a nice touch. Their decal labeling is also thoughtful – cockpit decals are marked DC, rocket decals are marked DR, engine decals are DE, etc.

The PE for the engine and firewall is useful and fits well. The landing gear retraction mechanism on all Wildcats was driven by a “bicycle chain” type linkage. The engine PE is nicely done and will save time in wiring.

Here is the engine all painted and washed.  Arma has included decals for the prominent placards on the engine, a nice touch.

Part II here: