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24-hour build: Airfix 1/72 Wildcat

On one of the other modelling forums I frequent, there’s an annual Group Build in which participants build an unstarted kit of their choice in a 24-hour period. Frequent updates have to be posted, with progress photos taken including a timepiece to ensure no cheating… It’s actually a lot of fun and requires careful planning (check stocks of paint, make sure the airbrush is clean, ensure one’s better half is onboard). It also inevitably means some compromises in quality, so being able to accept that up-front is essential. Choice of kit is key, too, and the later 1/72 single-engine Airfix subjects are ideal.

I settled on this Airfix F4F-4, and having studied the instructions decided I could cut some time by building the complex undercarriage retracted, although it meant painting a pilot figure (not my strong suit) and making a simple base to pose the aircraft in flight.

The model went together surprisingly quickly leaving me more time than anticipated for painting and weathering. Paints used were all Tamiya acrylics thinned with Gunze self-levelling thinner, and the panel line wash was heavily-thinned oils. A hair-dryer was used to accelerate drying times. Aerial wire was a length of Uschi van der Rosten thread.

I had a wooden base from a previous project so it was sprayed flat black, the model mounted on a short metal rod and a simple ink-jet printed label added. The prop was left loose, and the hairdryer pressed into service again to spin it while the photos were taken. I scraped across the finish line with about 20 minutes to spare.


Although the finished model is far from perfect (the fit of the canopy continues to bug me), completing a 24-hour build always makes me question why – if I can build a model in a day – do I not complete more kits in a year?

4 additional images. Click to enlarge.


21 responses to 24-hour build: Airfix 1/72 Wildcat

  1. One minor point. “Marion Carl’s Wildcat” never flew. According to the story General Carl told me back in 1992, when he and the rest of the squadron got back to Espiritu Santo after their tour on Guadalcanal, he was informed he was to make himself available to the press, and that they wanted photos of him on “his” Wildcat. The only problem was, no one at Guadalcanal had “their” Wildcat, not to mention all those Wildcats he had flown were up at Henderson Field. As he put it, “You flew the first one you got to that worked.” So he and an old Gunnery Sergeant went out to the field and found this hangar queen that was being robbed for parts. The closed her up so no one would see all the missing stuff, slapped 16 Japanese flag stickers on her and put his name on the canopy with a stencil and – voila! – “Marion Carl’s Wildcat” was born and he was photographed on it and who are you going to argue with when you can obviously see he’s sitting on it and it has his name on it and his score on it? Of such are many of the “facts” of aviation history created.

    But that is in fact quite a nice model, and since 98% of modelers will agree with you that it is indeed “Marion Carl’s Wildcat” who am I to argue? I mean, outside of this book I just wrote that has that story in it. 🙂

    More Mike Grant goodness.

  2. Mike: I can do this within 24 hours…
    Me: I need 2 months to build something even close to that!

    Awesome work, man!

  3. Yet another GR8 build from you! The paintjob and photos are true gems – like it a lot!

  4. Great work Mike!
    Like the wheels up and prop turning!

  5. Hello Mike,
    Interesting story. The Wildcat looks excellent. Especially the light weathering.
    Further, I think that the inspiration to start, continue and finish a model has all to do with inspiration. Me, personally, sometimes get sidetracked. Mostly after visiting a large model venue.
    This can cause you to wonder off track and at the end of the year, the production has been below average. But it is a hobby, so nothing to worry.
    Regards to all, Dirk – The Netherlands.

  6. Can’t believe it took only 24 hrs to reach such a good level of finish!
    The good engineering of the new Airfix kits certainly helped but certain accelerations in the building processes are due only to the modeller’s skillfulness.
    Very inspiring, especially for snail’s pace modellers like me!

  7. The spinning prop cancels out the canopy issue for sure. BUT a pinky full of white glue shmeered along the seam will get rid of (camouflage) that gap. It’s a great build no matter anyways.

  8. Nicely done Mike, and in 24 hours none the less. I also have wondered why it takes me weeks to build just one decent kit. I’ll never finish my stash for sure. Good looking Cat.

  9. 24 hours ? great job!

  10. This is one impressive model, even more when I read “made in 24 hours”. Really?? I can’t even finish a simple cockpit in a couple of days… your model proves that fast isn’t the opposite of good, solid work. Thumbs up to you Mike

  11. That’s beautiful.

  12. OMG – if only I could get a plane assembled in 24 hours, not to speak of paint, decals, weathering, etc! I love you last thought…if only!

    And – what a beauty of an airplane, time constraints or not!

  13. Nice challenge and impressive job. Hard to believe it was made in such a short time ! The overall look is very consistent.

  14. The Tamiya 1/48 Wildcat would’ve also been a good choice! I did mine in a weekend and I wasn’t rushing the clock! Having a great kit once in a while is really nice so one can concentrate on painting and assembling rather than bodywork! Any newer Airfix offering is also a good contender. You claim a compromise in quality but I see none here. The only problem I noticed on the canopy was in the last shot when you can see daylight through the frame and fuselage, otherwise looks fine! (That last shot is the coolest of the bunch though!) Great job on getting it done! Now, if the club does this next year, you COULD get a pack of six Trumpeter 1/350 navy planes and trump everyone! (I built the A-5 Vigilante once just because they’re neat little kits!)

  15. I’m building that kit too, and yours is an inspiration…thanks for sharing

  16. Hello Mike !!!
    I tell ya, the Wildcat you built in 24 hours looks better than a lot of my builds, ones that were built at my leisurely pace !!! This 24 hour build idea sounds interesting, but I don’t know if I could manage completing a kit in that short of a time……………..much less add some weathering like you have done. Yours is very impressive, even more so for this very reason. The photographs taken with the prop spinning are my favorites.

    Well done and a great big “liked”.

  17. awesome …all the way

  18. Awesome work. Real beauty. No way I could pull that off in 24 hrs

  19. 24 hours is a tough time limit. Every model that I’ve “rushed” (24 hours, 24 days or 24 weeks) to build has looked like hot garbage. Your model is what i wished mine could be.

    Excellent job.

  20. Great job, Mike.
    It is impossible for me to finish a model within 24 hours, even if it is very simple.

  21. Nah…you used Philip K. Dick’s time pincer on this, no way such a fine model was done in 24 hours! What a gem!

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