Academy 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat, Atlantic Theater
This was a nice little kit – engraved panel lines and some larger fastener details around the cowl/nose area. They were a bit like new Airfix kits, waaayyy over scale! I added a few additional missing panel lines and then riveted the entire aircraft.
The one thing that was REALLY annoying was in the control surfaces. What were supposed to be riveting ribbing strips were instead deeply engraved lines. I tried to get this closer to real by gluing down some narrow styrene strips, sanding them down as close as I dared, and then riveting them. I should have filled in the engraved lines first, as I was afraid to sand too hard to get them closer to scale, as they came out a bit too stark for scale, but look more realistic than what was there. I’ve already come up with a different approach to take with the next one (I have another Academy kit to build soon, along with a few other ‘cats).
Other additions: gun ports were just empty holes. They were also miss-aligned, so I reamed just a bit to restore a circle, then drilled styrene rod for gun barrels and inserted into the holes. There were no exhaust stubs – just a blank where they should have been. I reamed out some holes and inserted some hollow styrene. I added the aerial post on top of the tail and the whip aerial on the spine. Had to do a bit of finagling to get the wheels in the up position – not perfect and they project a tad more than they should, but I’m satisfied. I added filler caps to the drop tanks.
The engine was pretty non-descript and the cylinder heads were ill-shapen. Though it’s hard to see, I added push rods, sparkplug wires and ring, and some additional components to the engine hub.
I hollowed out the nose air intake above the engine opening, opened up both ends of the coolers beneath the wings, and tossed the kit pilot and added a PJ Productions version. There was no cockpit detail – not even an IP – but with how tight it is and how thick the canopy bracing was, I didn’t think you’d see it so didn’t bother. It’s hard enough to see the pilot!
I love the Atlantic scheme, and this was my first attempt. I used MRP paints over blackbasing. The top color was Dark Gull Gray, and I lightened panel centers with Light Gull Grey. Weathered as usual with panel line wash, pastel chalks, AK pencils, paint for some of the chipping, and a little bit of oil work. I tried to use what references I could find for weathering of ship-based aircraft – I made some assumptions about less chipping from thrown debris and less underside discoloration from dirt strips.
18 additional images. Click to enlarge.