The Wildcatfish (Tamiya 1/48 F4F-4 conversion)
A nice way to turn a $30 kit into a $150 model. Tamiya’s excellent F4F-4 with the Cutting Edge conversion set to do the F4F-3S “Wildcatfish.” and the Just Plane Stuff F3F-3 wing set. The sets included new non-folding wings (JPS) and the pontoons and pylons (CE), along with a True Details vac canopy. The exact positioning of the struts to the floats is not that apparent in the design of the parts, and then there is the problem of getting the struts to attach to the airplane at the right places so that everything is the same on both sides. This involved a lot of test-fitting, trimming, re-fitting, re-test-fitting, wishing for a “Doc Ock” tentacle set to enable me to hold everything in position while applying cyanoacrylate glue and Zip Kicker. Overall, this is not a conversion for the uninitiated. The whole thing is further complicated by the fact that there are only two sets of drawings – and they are incomplete – that show this sub-type, and there were never that many photos taken of the original, and none close up. I would have to say that what finally resulted is a good approximation of the F4F-3S, that looks good on a shelf behind glass from a distance of a couple of feet or more. Definitely a model that gets a second look from viewers and one of only a handful in existence that I know of. If you’re a floatplane fanatic, it’s one to get (if you can find it on eBay nowadays and don’t have a heart attack looking at the price), though be aware the project is expensive and difficult. I did t his back in 2005, when one only had to pay what CE and JPS were charging while they were still in business and in production. This represents the one-off prototype
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.