First of the Vero Beach Projects- The Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat (1/48th Scale)
I’m not sure what i can say about the Tamiya F4F that hasn’t already been said by others. It marked Tamiya’s return (in a BIG way) to the 48th scale aircraft segment, it filled a ginormous gap in WWII Naval Aviation subjects (and spelled the beginning of a slew of releases from that era), and for the most part, it’s a Hoot to build! I’d characterize the kit as being only ever so slightly more fiddly than Tamiya’s Spitfire I.
it’s a shame that Tamiya didn’t develop their F4F into a full line of Wildcats to include the F4F-3, FM-2, and the French/ British export versions. On the other hand, if you’re a kit manufacturer, you need to make what sells.
This model was my first serious effort at a 48th scale WWII subject, and it kind of started an infatuation with Pacific War, Carrier-Based subjects. I was flight instructing at the time in Florida and this was the first of 5 48th scale projects i started. The aircraft in question depicts James J. “Pug” Sutherland’s “JUNIOR” right before scoring the first US kill of the Solomons campaign, but more significantly the epic duel Pug fought with Saburo Sakai. A fight which came very close to a draw. At the time i had not read Lundstrom’s “The First Team”, so i was not armed with a lot of info on Sutherland’s Wildcat.
I remember first reading about that epic battle when i was in grade school. Not sure which book it was in- might have been “WWII in the Air”, but i remember it was from Sakai’s perspective. I also remember the old Revell “Dogfight Double” release featuring the 72nd scale F4F (which was considered good for its time) pitted against a generic overall green A6M Zero-Sen.
The kit was modified by using a Falcon Vacuform canopy; i added machine gun barrels from hypo needle tubing, nested inside sleeves made from Evergreen tube and installed in the wing (Thank You, Geoff Coughlin!). i also used the last of my PREMIERE injection molded aircraft navigation lights for this build. Finally, i tried making the antenna wire from stretched clear sprue. At the time, i recall it was a pretty cool innovation (credit goes to Bill Bosworth at Accurate Miniatures for suggesting this).
I sanded off the raised rivets on the airframe. Not so much because they were inaccurate or out of scale, but i found that a wash applied over them makes them appear too large and obtrusive. if i were building a pre-war silver painted aircraft i would try to leave those on, since those planes were well maintained and kept clean.
Topside colour was Model Master ANA Blue Gray straight from the bottle. Undersides were originally Model Master Light Gull Gray, but it appeared too dark a contrast with the blue gray, so i overpainted it with Model Master Light Aircraft Gray. It didn’t give me as much of a colour shift when i put the gloss coat of Future over the model.
Decals came from an AeroMaster sheet.
I have another Wildcat, modified to FM-1 Standards waiting in the wings. I’m just looking for the right paint scheme. Have some ideas, but nothing so far that really leaps out at me.
For anyone contemplating a collection of WWII Navy Carrier based subjects, i’d suggest taking on the Tamiya Wildcat first, followed by the Hasegawa F6F Hellcat and SBD. Once those are done, you’re ready to take on the Tamiya Corsair, after that the Accurate Miniatures Avenger, follow up with the Great Wall Hobby TBD, and saving the worst for last, the Special Hobby F2A-3 Buffalo.
Now, if only i could find the motivation to finish my Hasegawa Dauntless….
Hope you likee. Thanks for shopping!