Profile Photo
Rick Wilkes
20 articles

Airfix 1/72d F4F-4 Wildcat …Year of the Cat & 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway(late)

I had originally planned to have this build included in my Battle of Midway Hiryu vs Yorktown
adversaries collection, but never got it started before the Midway GB window had "closed"
Hence the Year of the Cat.

I must admit I did not enjoy building this kit with the landing gear extended and the wings folded. The landing gear cannot be installed after the fuselage is assembled. To get around masking the gear for painting, I painted the camouflage on the areas around the wheel wells prior to joining the fuselage. Then I touched up the seams later.

Attaching the outer wing panels in the folded position was a challenge, for me anyway. There isn't a structure that makes for a solid joint. The round hinge sort of fits into a small depression in the stub wing and there is a raised gluing surface on the underside of the outer wing panel that butt joins with the triangle door on the stub wing. None of that is especially clear in the instructions. You'll have to hold the joint together while the glue sets up and I recommend that you give the glue a day to set up, unless you want to start over when the joint pops. However once the jury struts are attached it's pretty stout.

Be advised that with the wings folded the model is very top heavy and without much provocation will happily roll like a ball, right off your bench. Fortunately being a product of the Grumman Iron Works the only damage was to the antenna on the vertical stabilizer which I replaced with brass rod. I used fine E-Z line for the rigging, but even though I pulled very taut i think it's to big for 1/72d scale. I also used fine wire for the "plumbing" in the wing fold.
I used the last of my Polly Scale USN Blue Grey for the topside color and Tamiya Grey Primer for the underside. I used Flory wash and various powders and stains to grunge it up a little. The decals are a combination of the kit decals and Starfighter Decals sheet for the Battle of Midway. That concludes the Year of the Cat section.

For the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway GB my original plan was for this sort of presentation:

This represents Lt(jg) Art Brassfield's White 10 of VF-3 flying off the USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway & Lt Kobayashi Michio's Val Dive Bomber from the IJN Hiryu.
Lt(jg) Brassfield's section engaged the first echelon of Lt Kobayashi's dive bombers, breaking up the formation, causing several aircraft including Lt Kobayashi to jettison their bombs. Lt(jg) Brassfield shot down 3 Val's in this attack, later as the surviving Val's were withdrawing after bombing the Yorktown, he shot down another Val that was about to strafe
the crew of a VT-3 Devastator that was abandoning the aircraft after ditching.
Lt Kobayashi had remained in the area sending strike reports and homing information back to the Hiryu and was shot down by Wildcats from the USS Enterprise sent to reinforce the Yorktown CAP.
Lt(jg) Brassfield survived the war with 6.5 victories and eventually rose to the rank of Captain and commanded the USS Hancock CVA-19 in 1963-64.

Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

30 responses

  1. Very nice modelling Rick.

  2. It looks nice with folded wing. I didn't know the folded wing ties in this way

  3. Excellent work Rick, congratulations!

  4. I wish you guys would quit posting such nice builds in that small scale...makes me look even worse! 🙂

    • Craig, the blame rests squarely on Airfix. They keep issuing these new kits that are just to nice to leave alone. In the last 3 years I've probably built more 1/72d scale kits than I did in the previous 52. Yikes that makes me sound old lol

  5. Congratulations Rick. Well done for perservering with the folding wing the finished article looks great.

    • Thanks David, I think I popped the right wing off twice, dropped 3-4 times trying to hold it like an egg shell, and it rolled off the work bench a couple of times too. And that was just in the last two days when I was finishing it up. How it managed to stay out of the trash can I'll never know lol

  6. Wow, great work Rick. Quite a challenge by reading the story of the build but it looks excellent..

    • Thanks Ferry, the greatest challenge may have been overcoming my own clumsiness. Seems I have to drop things
      every few minutes when I'm at my work bench. So far I have avoid the hobby knife sticking out of my leg or foot, but there's still time to work that in.

  7. Great work Rick.
    Despite the challenges of the kit it turned out really well. Is the Val an Airfix kit too?


  8. Great looking "cat!"

  9. Here's another masterpiece ! I really like this one Rick...
    It looks fantastic and I like how you have displayed it next to a plane that it shared the skies with on that fateful day...
    The folded wings really make the Cat stand out from the crowd. Two thumbs up Sir !

  10. Thanks Louis, got one more pair of aircraft to do for Midway, a VB-3 SBD orphan vs a Akagi/Kara/Soryu A6M orphan for the final attack on the Hiryu. Then if I feel really froggie I may do a 1/700 Yorktown & Hiryu.
    Thanks again for sponsoring the BoM GB, really got me motor-vated

    • I'm glad you enjoyed yourself with the Midway GB. I had a lot of fun too, and had some help with it.
      A Yorktown & a Hiryu would both be excellent choices, especially since they would be in the same scale for a size comparison.
      Currently we have the Year of the Cat going on... How's your Mercury Cougar coming along ?

      • Been waiting for the humidy to drop enough to shoot the color coat on the body. We are having August in September after having had October in August. The new Academy 1/700 Enterprise looks to be pretty good. I'm hoping someone will do a conversion to do the Yorktown at Midway.

  11. Got this one in my stash. You did a brilliant job mate.

  12. A superb build Rick. Great photos & history too. The story of the man in the cockpit always adds to the appeal.

  13. Looks like a 1/32 scale plane! Well done! Excellent build Rick!

  14. outstanding sir

Leave a Reply