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.

2021 Year in Review

2021 saw a return to some degree of normalcy, but as with any great disruption there have been some re-definitions of just what that means.  There was a return to live in-person shows which was sorely missed.  What has changed with the shows is now they are bigger and better attended, with more vendors, more model entries, and an overall increase in quality of the builds.  Fewer group activities have translated into additional modeling time for many people, and for socially introverted types this appears to have been a good thing.  It has certainly resulted in more and better models on display at the shows!

The display area of the 2021 Military Modeler’s Club of Louisville IPMS show.

I was able to go to three shows this year, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.  All three were held in new venues, and all three were very successful and saw half again as many entries above what was normal for the club, if not more.  Many inspiring and innovative builds, and fellow modelers are always happy to share new techniques and tips to try out.  The guys at Plastic Model Mojo have taken their show on the road, and I was able to sit down with them and catch up in person, in addition to listening to their podcasts while I model.   Plastic Model Mojo here:  https://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/

Mojovians Dave and Mike in front of an Fw 190 replica at the Cincinnati IPMS show at the Tri-State Warbird Museum.

For bibliophiles the news is still not good.  Publication dates on many new books have slipped.  The secondary and overstock markets have fared little better, with fewer selections and higher prices all around.  After two years the Half Price Books traveling blow-out sale is still nowhere on the horizon, and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever return.  Hopefully soon!

Blog Statistics and News

The Inch High Guy blog has completed year three!  A big thanks to all who visit on a regular basis, whether new or old.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, although there were a couple of near misses.  The blog received 139,675 views and 55,483 visitors, up from 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors last year.  The most popular post again this year was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 3,267 views: 

https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Guess what? If you can see the ribbing on interior of a Fortress it should be Natural Aluminum, with only rare exceptions. Interior Green is for Warbirds!

Models Built in 2021

34 completions, 24 aircraft and 10 vehicles.  In addition I painted 42 figures, 14 horses, and constructed 8 diorama / vignette bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, construction posts and additional finished pictures can be found by searching the blog.

Arma Hobby FM-2 Wildcat x 3

Azur Martin B-10

Trumpeter T-55

Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter

Airfix Spitfire Vc x 4

Vickers Mk. VI light tank resin print

Cunningham T1 light tank resin print x 2

Brengun Yak-1

Arma Hobby Yak-1b x 3

Hasegawa Yak-3

Dakoplast Yak-7 x 2

Valom Yak-7

Emher Yak-9

Hasegawa Fw 190D (old tool)

Hasegawa Fw 190D

Tamiya Fw 190D

Dragon Messerschmitt P.1011 x2

Dragon Julia

Revell Fw Fitzer

Revell Ho 229 (repaint)

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222

First to Fight Sd.Kfz. 247

Dragon Krupp Protze Kfz. 70

Italeri sK 18 10.5 cm Field Gun

What’s Ahead in 2022

This has been a year of exciting announcements for 1/72 scale modelers.  The new Focke Wulf Fw 190D series from ICB looks spectacular, and it even includes an accurate wheelwell for the first time in the scale.  The family will cover all the Dora subtypes.  Flyhawk released a new tool SBD Dauntless which will fix the dive brake issues with Hasegawa’s kit, and will hopefully continue to be available – something which can’t be said for several Hasegawa kits.  To top it off ICM and Special Hobby have both just announced a new-tool Ki-21 “Sally” for late 2022, a subject which has long been on the list of several modelers. The Sally was strangely missing from Hasegawa’s new-ish series of Japanese twins, modelers who had to have one searched for the MPM or 1976 Revell kits.

The big news for many modelers is that Arma is now shipping their P-51B/C kits.  The previous attempts from Academy and Hasegawa both suffered from fatal, difficult to correct shape issues.  Finally, for the first time, an accurate P-51B/C is on the way!  This kit should prove to be a license to print money for Arma, here’s hoping it is a windfall for them!  I have long agitated for this subject, so to put my money where my mouth is I have placed an order through my Local Hobby Store (support your LCS!) for one.  Case.  For starters.

Now Arma, if you’re listening, we could sure use an accurate Ki-43-II Hayabusa “Oscar” in 1/72 scale.

Arma’s P-51B/C

The second big release (for me) has a much more personal connection.  Takom has announced a U.S. Navy 16”/50 caliber triple turret in 1/72 scale, packaged as Turret One from USS Missouri (BB 63).  This kit has parts for the rangefinder which was later removed from the first turrets, but with a few modifications could represent any of the main battery turrets on the Iowa class battleships.  Now for the connection part – I served in the Navy, Missouri was my ship, Turret One was my turret.  1/72 scale Missouri’s in both the WWII and 1980’s configurations are on my bucket list, and this kit makes that project one step closer.  If the appropriate 5”/38 Mark 28 mount is ever kitted that would cinch the deal (the 1/72 scale 5”/38 Mark 38 mount included in Takom’s 1/700 Gearing class kit has an unarmored gun house, appropriate for destroyers but not battleships).

Takom’s 16″/50 turret

Lastly, we have purchased a wooded plot of land along the scenic White River, where we intend to build an energy efficient (net zero) home.  This is obviously a time-consuming project, and will inevitably impact time available for modeling and blogging.  In fact, the effects have already begun to be felt as I have been busy on the property cutting down the invasive Asian Bush Honeysuckle which is crowding out the native trees.  Hopefully there will still be opportunities for modeling, but the pace may slow a bit.  If I miss the daily posting on the blog in the coming months this will likely be the reason.

The mighty White River

May you each live long enough to build every model in your stash!

Arma Hobby General Motors FM-2 Wildcat USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) 1/72 Scale

This FM-2 Wildcat from Composite Squadron 96 (VC-96) was finished in the late-war overall Gloss Sea Blue scheme.  It flew from the Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) during the Okinawa campaign in April, 1945. Other than correcting the curve of the wingtips this was built out of the box.

DSC_7692

DSC_7693

DSC_7691

DSC_7690

DSC_7689

DSC_7669

DSC_7668

DSC_7665

Build posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/arma-hobby-general-motors-fm-2-wildcat-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

Arma Hobby General Motors FM-2 Wildcat USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) 1/72 Scale

This FM-2 Wildcat (BuNo 16262) was assigned to Composite Squadron 10 (VC-10) embarked on the escort carrier USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73).  On 15JUN44 pilot LT Herman J. Hardess belly-landed this aircraft aboard the Gambier Bay, it was later jettisoned over the side.

DSC_7687

DSC_7686

DSC_7685

DSC_7684

DSC_7688

DSC_7673

DSC_7672

DSC_7671

DSC_7670

More completed FM-2 pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/25/arma-hobby-general-motors-fm-2-wildcat-uss-guadalcanal-cve-60-1-72-scale/

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

FM2_31
Wildcats on a stick! Here they are primed and re-scribed, ready to begin painting. The rudders and elevators are molded separately, I have attached them with random slight offsets.
FM2_32
Here is the beginning of the Atlantic scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White. The White is masked off with putty and tape. The front windscreens are attached at this point to check the seam which was good.
FM2_33
The graded scheme gets the same masking treatment. The foam protecting the cockpit is packing from Eduard aftermarket sets, something which you just knew would be useful for something someday.
FM2_34
Painting is done and a gloss coat applied in preparation for decals. Notice I have put on the wheels, I try to put on as many parts as I can before the clear coats to ensure an even finish. In addition, the clear will act as a weak adhesive and solidify the glue joints a little more.
FM2_35
The overall Gloss Sea Blue scheme is the easiest. I have added antenna wires from 0.004” Nitenol and IFF antennas from 0.005”. Outside of the rounded wingtips the build is OOB.
FM2_36
All three finished models together.  Arma includes six marking options, there are variations of these schemes plus a Royal Navy Wildcat VI in the Temperate Sea scheme which is very attractive.  I should have bought one more kit!

Completed FM-2 pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/arma-hobby-general-motors-fm-2-wildcat-uss-gambier-bay-cve-73-1-72-scale/

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

FM2_11
The landing gear on all Wildcats is complicated and there is really not a painless way to represent the intricate strut arrangement. I followed Arma’s instructions and had no major issues, but you do have to proceed carefully. Here is the first step with the firewall and internal bracing mounted.
FM2_12
Here it is with the fuselage closed up. Technically there should be engine accessories protruding into the gear bay, but the view is obscured by the strut assembly so it would be very difficult to notice.
FM2_13
This is the stage in the construction which is causing some confusion amongst modelers, I would advise studying the instructions carefully and making sure the arrangement of these parts is clear before proceeding. Part A18 is molded flat and has to be bent down to the proper angle, as can be seen by comparing the upper left and upper center assemblies here. Parts A11 and A12 are molded with a connecting bar which must be removed before the ends can be joined, seen in the lower left and lower center of this picture. In the end you want everything to look like the assembly on the right.
FM2_14
The gear struts snap into place from below, the fit at the rear of the well was tight on mine but I was able to press it in (firmly) with a little MEK. The main gear legs (parts A28 and A29) mount to the firewall and then there are three attachment points to each leg for the struts. Just follow the instructions and let the glue set up firmly and you’ll have good alignment and a surprisingly strong assembly when you’re done.
FM2_15
A valid criticism of this kit is the shape of the wingtips, they should be more rounded than they are molded. I was hoping for an out of the box build but felt obliged to fix this with some plastic stock. If you don’t want to go that route you could get an improved profile by rounding off the front and back edges of the wingtip.
FM2_16
The engine from the front. The cowling will sit about a millimeter too far forward if you don’t do something, and this will be apparent as the exhaust stubs will protrude too far past the cowling when viewed from the side. I shaved off the mounting ridges inside the cowling and thinned the trailing edge which allowed the cowling to be pressed back enough. An easy fix but a trap for the unwary.
FM2_17
Fit of the parts is excellent.  I used a little Mr. Surfacer 500 along the fuselage seam lines to counter the tendency of the seams to draw in when using thin glues.

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/arma-hobby-general-motors-fm-2-wildcat-build-in-1-72-scale-part-iii/

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

FM2_01
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.

FM2_02
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.

FM2_03
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!

FM2_04
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!

FM2_05
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.

FM2_07
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.

FM2_06
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.

FM2_08
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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/arma-hobby-general-motors-fm-2-wildcat-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Grumman F4F Wildcat Mishaps, Part III – USS Sable

Sable_01
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.
Sable_02
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.
Sable_03
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.
Sable_04
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.
Sable_05
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.
Sable_06
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.
Sable_07
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.
Sable_08
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.
Sable_09
“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.
Sable_10
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.
Sable_11
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/