1/32 Revell F4F-4 Wildcat, Lt Cdr John Thatch, VF-3 USS Yorktown, Midway June 4, 1942
Tonight’s article is about a 1/32 scale Wildcat model that I built just before the Ki-43 in my previous post. It’s the Revell re-boxing of the old Monogram kit, (which I think in turn was originally a Revell release back in the late 60’s / early 1970’s), kit number 6876. The nice thing about this kit is that it came with a good book by Bert Kinzey on US Naval fighters of the era. It also had a great decal sheet with markings for seven planes. There were numerous Naval and USMC “Aces” represented on this decal sheet. Joe Foss, James Swett, Marion Carl, the one I used to depict this plane are for John Thatch, and three others.
I was inspired for this build after purchasing the book called “The Blue Devils” by Mark Styling and Barrett Tillman. In this book there are numerous profile art works on F4F’s, F6F’s, and F4U’s, with some in FAA markings. (It is a good read too and covers a lot of things about WW2 Naval aviation).
Lieutenant Commander John Thatch is well know for developing the “Thatch weave”. (I’m pretty sure it’s still taught today but it’s called the “Beam defense maneuver”). This tactic was used to allow two fighters the capability of covering each other as they “scissored” back and forth crossing each others flight path. If an enemy plane was in pursuit it would become a nice target for the covering plane.
My Wildcat shows Lt. Cdr. Thatch’s plane as it looked during the Battle of Midway on June 4th, 1942. It was bureau number 5093, “White 23”. Thatch used this particular F4F to shoot down 3 A6M “Zero’s” on this date. Later that afternoon he was flying another F4F “White F-1” and destroyed a torpedo bomber (probably a B5N Kate) and claimed another as a “Probable”.
This brought his total kill tally to 6 plus the probable. Apparently he had another kill from a previous engagement.
This plane was lost only two days later when it was pushed overboard. The Yorktown was hit and listing badly. In an effort to save the ship the crew jettisoned this plane along with a lot of other stuff to reduce the topside weight to keep the carrier from capsizing.
Lt. Cmd. Thatch went on to become a tactics instructor and developed things like “The Big Blue Blanket” to combat Kamikaze attacks. He was also present on the USS Missouri during the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. He commanded the aircraft carriers “USS Sicily” and the “Franklin D Roosevelt” during the Korean War, and was later promoted to Rear Admiral in 1955.
He earned TWO Navy Cross medals, which is only one step below the “Congressional Medal of Honor” as far as precedence goes.
Sadly he passed away at the age of 75 on April 15th, 1981 in Coronado Ca. (just 4 days from his 76th birthday). Most of this information came from Wikipedia, and my book. I have included two photos of him in his “F4F office”, with one in color. I also included one of the profile art works from “The Blue Devils”, along with a cover photo of the actual book.
The molds are showing some wear in this release as my example had a little flash. But it’s not anything that a few minutes of clean up couldn’t handle. The wings are a multi piece arrangement, that allow you to build the plane with folded or fixed wings.
I chose the folded version and decided to give it a go at scratch building more details in this area. In doing so I went online and found that in almost every photo with the wings folded, the ailerons were not centered and both pointed outwards. I tried to replicate this as well. Then there were small “stay poles” that were about 3 feet long and were normally used to help secure the wings in the folded position. These poles held the wing tips securely by anchoring the front leading edge corner of the stabilizers to the wing tips. I chose not to attempt these since the attachments were very thin. (plus by now my patience was wearing thin and I simply wanted it done).
If memory serves me correctly, I added some details to the cockpit seat using my Waldron punch set and plastic card stock, to make it look more like the real one.
One other modification was the repositioning of the elevators. If you look closely you will see that the elevators on this plane are drooped.
Due to my changes with the wing folds, it made it very hard to get the wings to stay in alignment. I tried to duplicate the actual wing fold mechanism. In hind sight, the stay poles would have helped to secure the wings…
I replaced the kits exhaust pipes with two small pieces of aluminum tubing, which I cut and bent into approximate shape.
The model is finished using Model Master enamels. This one would have benefited from the Tamiya “smoke” in the cockpit to bring out details. After I applied the kit details I sprayed Dull coat from a rattle can. I noticed in these photos that there is a slight mottled effect, which isn’t really all that noticeable in person.
I didn’t weather this model very much because the real plane had a short life. VF-3 turned in their F4F-3’s at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in May, 1942 when they were re-equipped. In reality this plane was probably in service for a little over two months when it went overboard.
As always, comments are welcomed… Enjoy.
32 additional images. Click to enlarge.