Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of MM1 Donald Runyon in 1/72 Scale

Machinist’s Mate First Class Donald Runyon grew up on a farm in Alamo, Indiana and joined the Navy at the age of twenty-one.  He earned his wings as an enlisted Naval Aviation Pilot.  Assigned to VF-6 operating from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) in August of 1942, he scored a total of eight victories in the Wildcat during the Guadalcanal Campaign, including three Aichi D3A Vals and an A6M2 Zero on 24AUG42.  Rising to the rank of Lieutenant, he added three more victories during a second tour with VF-18 aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).  Runyon survived the war, an ace with eleven victories to his credit.

Hasegawa Grumman Wildcat V of 842 NAS in 1/72 Scale

HMS Fencer (D64) was a Bogue-class escort carrier transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, where they were known as the Attacker class.  Fencer operated in the Atlantic in the convoy escort role, typically carrying a composite airgroup of Wildcats and Avengers.  This is a Wildcat V of 842 NAS which operated aboard Fencer during the Summer of 1944.  The aircraft is camouflaged in the Temperate Sea scheme, decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72-141.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of Captain Marian Carl in 1/72 Scale

Marian Carl opened his account while flying from Midway Island on 04JUN42, downing a Zero.  He was among the ten fighters from VMF-221 to return to the island out of the twenty-five sent up that day.  Carl then deployed with VMF-223 to Guadalcanal, where he became the Marine Corps first ace, eventually raising his score to 16.5.  He returned to VMF-223 as Commanding Officer for a second tour in the Solomons, downing two more aircraft to bring his total to 18.5.

After the war Carl became a test pilot and set speed and altitude records.  He served in Vietnam, where he flew combat missions but refused official recognition or medals for his actions.  He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 1973.  He was killed in 1998, protecting his wife from a home intruder.  He was 82 at the time of his death.

Hasegawa Grumman Martlet III of 805 NAS in 1/72 Scale

805 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm operated in the Mediterranean protecting Allied merchant shipping.  In June 1941 they were based at Dekeila, Egypt, where they traded in their Brewster Buffalos for Grumman Martlet IIIs.  The model represents a Martlet III of 805 NAS in North Africa in 1941.  These aircraft were repainted in the field and the colors used are a matter of debate.  I used the Mid Stone / Dark Earth over Light Grey here.

Regardless of what is on the Hasegawa box, the basic kit inside is an F4F-4.  For this model the wings were replaced with Quickboost resin -3 wings and modifications made to the cowling.  The cockpit and wheelwells are True Details resin, an almost mandatory addition for the Hasegawa kit.  Decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72-141.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of LCDR Jimmy Thach in 1/72 Scale

This is LCDR John “Jimmy” Thach’s Wildcat which he flew during the Battle of Midway.  After the loss of USS Lexington (CV-2) at Coral Sea, VF-3 was quickly re-assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) for Midway.  Thach was credited with three Zeros while flying this aircraft, but it was pushed over the side after Yorktown was damaged.  Thach survived the war with six victories.  In addition to several Squadron commands, he served as Captain of three aircraft carriers.  Jimmy Thatch retired from the Navy in 1967 as a full Admiral.

This is the Hasegawa kit 51324 (AP24) F4F-4 Wildcat, built with the True Details resin cockpit & wheelwell sets.  This kit has been re-boxed several times with various stock numbers, but all versions contain the same sprues for the F4F-4.  The kit is excellent, but including the True Details set is almost a requirement to dress up the rather Spartan cockpit and close up the otherwise empty wheelwells.  I added some wire & Evergreen details to the interior and wired the engines.  Tailwheels on the carrier-based aircraft were scratched to better represent the solid wheels used there.  Starfighter decals sheet 72-114 was used for the markings.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat of LT Butch O’Hare in 1/72 Scale

This model represents the F4F-3a of LT Butch O’Hare of VF-2, “White 15”, BuNo 4031.  This is the aircraft O’Hare flew on 20 February 1942 while defending the USS Lexington (CV-2) from Japanese bombers.  He and his wingman were the only two Wildcats in position to defend Lexington from an attack by nine G4M “Betty” bombers of the 4th Kokutai, but the wingman’s guns jammed and would not fire.  Undeterred, O’Hare made four deflection passes through the Japanese formation.  He shot down three Bettys and damaged four others.  One of the damaged Bettys (carrying the flight leader, LCDR Takuzo Ito) attempted to crash into Lexington but missed, another ditched on the return flight.  O’Hare was credited with destroying five aircraft to become the Navy’s first ace, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

Markings are from Mark’s Starfighter Decals sheet 72-142 USN Hit & Run Raids Feb-Apr 1942.  All behaved flawlessly. The model got the Quickboost resin -3 wings, and the scoop on the top of the cowl was filled with superglue and sanded smooth.  The True Details cockpit and wheelwell set was also used.

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale Book Review

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale

By Bert Kinzey, illustrated by Rock Roszak

Softcover, 108 pages, heavily illustrated with photographs, drawings, and color profiles

Independently published, printed on demand

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎ 1729119751

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1729119754

Dimensions: ‎ 8.5 x 0.3 x 11.0 inches

The Detail & Scale series needs no introduction to modelers.  This is volume 7 of the new series which is intended to be purchased electronically as an e-book, but can also be printed on demand for those who prefer a physical copy.  Luddite that I am, I prefer a hard copy for a number of reasons but know there are those who would rather see history through a glowing rectangle.

The new series paradigm is to re-work a title from the original D&S series and expand upon it with additional photographs and information.  D&S previously published two print volumes on the Wildcat, Volumes 30 and 65 in the original series.  This volume expands on the content of the previous works, with 108 pages as compared to 80 pages in volume 65.  The two sections which have benefitted most from the expansion are the Modeler’s Section which as gone from 2 to 11 pages, and a new 9-page section on Paint Schemes & Colors which gives a succinct overview of the changes made to U.S. Navy camouflage and markings as they evolved throughout the war.

The ”walk around” and historical sections have also been expanded.  Much of the material is new, with only a small percentage being re-used from the previous volumes.  The evolution of the Wildcat is more complex and convoluted than a casual observer may realize, and the major strength of this book as a modeling reference is the explanation of the detail differences between the various sub-types and foreign orders.

One weak point is the quality of the print on demand copy.  The paper is inferior to the original series.  There is not as much contrast in the black & white photo reproduction, and the color pictures appear too bright and “loud”.

For quality of content on the Wildcat family this book sets the standard as a modeling reference.  This is not a simple reprint of the original work, the older volumes still retain their value as much of the content in this book is new, not simply augmented.  The new Arma Wildcats are not reviewed in the Modeler’s Section as this book pre-dates their release, but just about every other kit is included.  Highly recommended as a modeling reference.

Grumman F4F Wildcat Mishaps, Part III – USS Sable

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The USS Sable (IX-81) was a coal-fired, paddle-wheeled, fresh water aircraft carrier used by the U.S. Navy to train carrier aviators during the Second World War.  She was converted from the passenger ship Greater Buffalo by removing the superstructure down to the main deck and installing a steel flightdeck.  No hanger deck or armament were installed. She and the similar USS Wolverine (IX-64) were homeported in Chicago, Illinois and together qualified almost 18,000 Naval Aviators in carrier landings.
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An FM-2 Wildcat has nosed over on Sable’s flightdeck.  This photograph provides an excellent view of her rather Spartan island structure.  Flight operations were sometimes restricted as Sable’s maximum speed was limited to eighteen knots.  On days without wind she was unable to generate enough air flow across her flightdeck to safely operate some kinds of aircraft.
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A similar incident involving another FM-2 as viewed from the island.  This Wildcat has engaged the barrier after missing the arresting wires.  Barely visible at the top of the picture, a second Wildcat goes around to wait for the flightdeck to be cleared.
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This FM-2 has suffered a landing gear collapse and a bent prop.  One of the many advantages of training on Lake Michigan was the proximity of several airfields, if aircraft could not land aboard the carrier there was always another field nearby.  Since the paddle-wheel carriers were converted without hanger decks, the aircraft flew out to the ships from NAS Glenview.
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A different FM-2 in the barrier with Sable’s island in the background.  Sable was equipped with eight arresting wires.  If the aircraft missed these a wire barrier would stop it from going over the side, although this often resulted in damage.
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This Wildcat has spun into the island.  Unlike the wooden flightdeck built on Wolverine, Sable’s deck was made from steel so she could be used to test various non-skid coatings.
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Deck crew right an F4F-4 Wildcat, giving a nice view of the underside markings standard in the summer of 1943.  Many of the aircraft initially used for training were timed-out “war weary” planes which had seen extensive combat in the Pacific.
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In what must have been a frequent occurrence, deck crewmen shelter in the catwalk as a student pilot careens down the deck.  For all the mishaps, only eight pilots and forty crewmen were killed while training on the Great Lakes carriers.
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“Mobile sand bags” rush into position to weigh down the wing of this FM-2 after the port gear has collapsed.  Many of Sable’s original crew came from the USS Lexington (CV-2) after she was lost in the Battle of Coral Sea.
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An F4F-4 begins its journey to the bottom of Lake Michigan.  More than 130 naval aircraft of several types are known to be at the bottom of the lake.
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More than thirty five aircraft wrecks have been recovered so far, most have been quite well preserved by the cold fresh water.  Many of the naval aircraft on display in museums across the U.S. have been recovered from Lake Michigan including the F4F-3 on display at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/f4f-wildcat-mishaps-part-1/

Grumman F4F Wildcat Mishaps, Part II

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An F4F-4 of VF-9 hung up in the catwalk aboard USS Ranger (CV-4).  Note one of Ranger’s smokestacks in the lower left of the photograph.  Ranger’s stacks hinged down to clear the flightdeck for air operations.
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Flightdeck crewmen rush to clear a Wildcat after a landing gear collapse.  Crews were trained to move quickly as other aircraft could not be recovered as long as the deck was fouled.  The tailhook has successfully engaged the arresting wire.
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Sailors vs. an overturned Wildcat in a tug-of-war aboard the USS Makin Island (CVE-93), a Casablanca class escort carrier.  Fifty Casablanca class carriers were built for the USN in less than two years, making them the most numerous class of aircraft carriers ever built.
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Another Wildcat suspended in a catwalk, giving a good view of the underside.  The arresting wire is still caught on the tailhook.
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Deck crew struggle to right an F4F-4 early in the Pacific War.  The tail stripes were ordered to be removed on 06MAY42.
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An FM-2 of VC-68 ditches as the pilot quickly leaves the aircraft.  The Wildcat was originally designed with floatation bags in the wings which would deploy automatically when the aircraft entered the water, but these were deleted as a weight saving measure.
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One of the lesser known Wildcat variants, this is an F4F-7P of the U.S. Marine squadron VMO-251, damaged after ground looping on New Caledonia.  The -7P was a dedicated photo-reconnaissance version which traded all armament to carry additional fuel tanks and cameras.
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Crewmen hit the deck as an F4F-4 crash lands aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26OCT42.  The Enterprise was hit by two bombs but remained in action, however her sistership Hornet (CV-8) was sunk.  At that point Enterprise was the only U.S. fleet carrier left in the Pacific.
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A rather violent crash as a Wildcat misses the barrier and impacts the aircraft spotted forward.  Flightdecks remain one of the most hazardous working environments in the Navy.
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An F4F-4 of Escort Scouting Squadron 12 crash landed on Guadalcanal.  Note the tents on the hillside in the background.
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In the debris field of the USS Lexington (CV-2) the RV Petrel discovered this F4F-3 resting on the seafloor, her paint remarkably intact after seventy-six years under water.  The aircraft has been identified as that assigned to LT Noel Gaylor, his kill markings and VF-3’s famous Felix the Cat insignia are still visible.  Gaylor was awarded three Navy Crosses for his service with VF-3, and eventually rose to Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC).

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/f4f-wildcat-mishaps-part-iii-uss-sable/

Grumman F4F Wildcat Mishaps, Part 1

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During testing the XF4F-2 prototype experienced an engine failure on 11APR38 and was damaged in the subsequent forced landing.  The rugged airframe was salvageable, and Grumman rebuilt it as the XF4F-3 with many improvements.
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Another Wildcat on her back, this is an F4F-3 from VF-41 at NAS Glenview.  Note the small size of the national insignia on the fuselage.  The overall Light Gray scheme was authorized from 30DEC40 and superseded by the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme on 20AUG41.  VF-41 was assigned to the USS Ranger (CV-4).
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Ranger supported the Allied invasion of North Africa during Operation Torch on 08 – 09NOV42.  For that operation U.S. aircraft received a yellow surround to their national insignia, and British aircraft were painted in U.S. markings in the hopes that the Vichy French would not fire on American aircraft.  Those hopes proved to be in vain, VF-41 wildcats claimed 14 Vichy aircraft shot down for the loss of 7 of their own.
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British carriers operated the Wildcat as the Martlet.  Here a Martlet has gone over the side of the HMS Searcher, a Bouge-class escort carrier provided to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease program.
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Wildcats were also operated by U.S. Marines from land bases.  This is a well-known photograph of a damaged Marine Wildcat from VMF-221 taken on Midway Island shortly after the battle.  Less than a month before the battle ALNAV97 directed the red centers to the national insignia and the red and white tail stripes be painted out to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru marking.  Blue Gray paint was apparently unavailable to the Marines on Midway, many of their aircraft had the rudder stripes painted out with a darker blue.  The SB2U-3 Vindicators of VMSB-241 display the same improvisation, as can be seen here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/25/the-sb2u-3-vindicators-of-vmsb-241-during-the-battle-of-midway/   Note the bombed out hanger in the background.

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Two shots of an FM-2 Wildcat missing the wire and slamming into the aircraft spotted forward aboard the USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95).  Bismarck Sea was a Casablanca class escort carrier.  She was sunk off Iwo Jima on 21FEB45 by a pair of Japanese Kamikaze.
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This Wildcat has gone over the side of the USS Charger (CVE-30) on 28MAR43 but has become entangled in the catwalk.  Charger served in the Atlantic, primarily as a training carrier.  The pilot can be seen climbing up the starboard side of the aircraft.  Note the stenciling on his seat cushion still in the cockpit.
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This pilot has found himself in an even more precarious position and is being hoisted back aboard the old fashioned way.  Floater nets can be seen hanging behind the aircraft.
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This Wildcat pilot is less fortunate still.  Going into the water directly ahead of the carrier adds the significant hazard of being run over by the ship.  The ocean immediately forward of the bow is not visible from the bridge, the OOD must guess where the aircraft crashed and turn immediately to avoid hitting the aircraft.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/f4f-wildcat-mishaps-part-ii/