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Terry Schuler
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Year of the Cat Group Build. 1/48 scale Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat

February 16, 2018 · in Aviation · · 22 · 2.8K

When Louis announced this group project I had already been eyeballing my trusty old kit that had been sitting on shelf for some time. This was just the excuse I needed to get it going.

I choose to go with the classic pre-war/early war markings of the the USS Ranger, thats right! the same one everybody has seen over and over. Unfortunatley most of these red-ball markings on wildcats were on early versions, so options are few ! The kit provides these markings but I also had in my stash a trusty old set of Aeromasters decals that still looked good.

The first thing to do was to cut out the cockpit floor so that my pilot could actually utilize the windows in the bottom of the cockpit. I then added some photo etch seatbelts and some gauges from the Mike Grant gauge set. I replaced the oversized control levers and added some wire to busy up the office.

The fuselage is the big issue with this old kit. The raised rivets are hot and cold with me. Yes, they look nice but they also look a little large and are hard to work around, "so off with their heads!" I then had this great idea to fill in all 10 million little tiny rivet holes on wing surface. Big mistake, as this took days. Once I was finished, I gave it a nice light cote of Mr Surfacer 1500, then sanded it to a nice glossy shine with some 8000 grit micro mesh.

The canopy on this kit is actually the right size to be closed, but sits too high in the open position. To correct this I sanded the inside of the canopy down until it sat at a much lower and more accurate postion. If you try this, I caution you to be extra careful when repolishing the canopy because to get it thin enough, it becomes very thin and fragile, and easy to snap in half or crack it if you apply too much pressure. Once I got it polished and clear enough I dipped it into my old bottle of Future, and let dry for a few days. Then masked and painted with the rest of the model.

The model was painted with Model Master enamels, including the stripes on the tail.

Reader reactions:
12  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

22 responses

  1. Beautiful work, Terry...lots better than the few Tamiya Wildcats I've done.

  2. Outstanding Terry ! Your Cat looks great and was a welcome addition to the "Year of the Cat" GB.

    I have built two of these Tamiya kits, and like Craig stated, yours is "Lots better than mine".

    You mentioned all of the "trouble spots". Even with these areas, I still like the Tamiya kit a whole lot. I'll bet it was a lot of work on the rivets... Well done Sir !

    Thanks again for participating in our GB, and posting the end results. Take care my friend.

    • Thanks Louis, This is my third build on this kit, and I have to say I've built all 3 differently. I took a few more risk on this build, then on the others and am happy with the results.
      Thanks again for stirring up this group build. It was a lot of fun !

  3. Superb looking Wildcat. Really nice model.

  4. Beautiful work, Terry. All that extra effort really paid off as the attention to detail really shows up well in that light paint scheme. This is exactly how I'd like to model if I had the skill.

    • Thanks David, believe me, I wouldn't have tried some of the things I did on this build a few years ago, a lot of trial an error experience (more on the error side) got me to this point, namely the canopy thinning and the tail stripes. I can't tell you how many times I've tried painting stripes like this, only to give up and go to another scheme, and how many clear parts I've destroyed.

  5. That's an attractive and very accomplished 'Cat' build Terry, I've looked at the pictures over and over - really faultless!

  6. Good looking kitty Terry really was worth all the extra time and effort I say. Only build one Tamiya F-4 and was very pleased with the detail and fit. The canopy in the open position however, is an issue. You certainly conquered that problem. Well done.

    • Thanks Tom, I have to say the canopy work, was the one area I thought might kill this project. I've sanded down canopy's before, but never this much. It was a great relief when it finally fit where I wanted it.

  7. Terry that finish is spot on with the fading factor figured in on the USN Blue/Grey scheme, for years the Wildcat was neglected in this scale, I think only Monogram had one but more toy like than a display model. A very important aircraft at the start of WWII in the Pacific. Until Tamiya put this out in the mid 90's. And since then others have produced a series of them. I have built this one as well when it first came out, loved it from the start despite the minor flaws as you described. I don't think I would ever deal with the rivets as you did. Yours came out very well. I like the outcome, well done and thanks for sharing

  8. Beautiful work, Terry.

  9. Superb work in every respect on your Wildcat, Terry! I built the Tamiya Wildcat years ago, right after it came out, and the fit is a darn near perfect. I'm working on the HobbyBoss F4F-3 right now, and so far it goes together just as well and the Tamiya kit..

    • Thanks Drew, although not the super kits you see coming out now, Tamiya really set the stage with generation of kits. With a little work and additional detail it can still be built into a wonderful model.

  10. Nice job on that Terry.

  11. Great Wildcat! excellent detail.

  12. Nice clean build - that kit's always a winner.

  13. Another excellent addition to the group build.

  14. Very sharp, clean build. Love it!

  15. Terry,
    You turning this great kit into a stunningly beautiful model. What a superb job you did and it reflects your great talent.

  16. Lovely Kitty, Terry! It looks very well in that early-war scheme and makes a great addition to the Build.

  17. Brilliant build, Terry.
    I've seen your Wildcat number 2... i didn't know this one was number 3 (!)


  18. Geez Terry. I almost cringed reading how you did the canopy. I actually broke mine and had to use a Squadron replacement.
    Look forward to seeing this in Sept. at the Portland Show!

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