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Geoffrey Abreu
59 articles

1/48 Tamiya F4F-4

May 12, 2023 · in Aviation · · 14 · 588

A rare 1/48th scale build from me. This is the -4. I added some Eduard PE in the cockpit along with oil cooler screens as well as a Ultracast seat, and Aires ventral position lights. I used a vac canopy for the sliding section. Painted with MRP paints and markings are from Wolfpack.

On the morning of 7 April 1943, Lieutenant Swett led a four-plane flight of Wildcats on a patrol, then returned to refuel at Henderson Field. While his fighter, Grumman F4F-4 , Bu. No. 12084, was being serviced, word came of a large group of enemy aircraft approaching from the north. Swett and his flight joined a number of other fighters to intercept the attacking enemy aircraft.

Near the Russell Islands, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Guadalcanal, the American fighters came in contact with an estimated 150 enemy aircraft. Swett, in combat for the first time, quickly engaged three Aichi D3A Type 99 (American reporting name, โ€œValโ€) dive bombers. He shot them down. Becoming separated from his flight, he continued to engage the enemy, shooting down several more. His right wing was damaged by American anti-aircraft guns, but he continued. Having shot down seven Vals, he engaged an eighth. The Val's gunner fired his two 7.7 mm machine guns in defense. By this time, Swett was running out of ammunition, but his final bullets killed the enemy gunner and set the Aichi on fire. Machine gun bullets fired from the Val damaged his windshield, punctured an engine oil cooler and set the Wildcat on fire.

Unable to make it back to Henderson, Swett ditched in the ocean near Tulagi. The airplane quickly sank. It was about 25 feet (7 meters) down before Swett was able to escape from the Wildcat's cockpit. He was picked up by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat. Lieutenant Swett was listed as wounded in action.

During only fifteen minutes, 2nd Lieutenant Swett destroyed seven enemy aircraft and damaged an eighth. He had become an โ€œAce in One Day.โ€

During a ceremony held at Espiritu Santo, 10 October 1943, Major General Ralph Johnson Mitchell, commanding the 1st Marine Air Wing, presented First Lieutenant James Elms Swett, United States Marine Corps Reserve, the Medal of Honor.

Swett grew up in San Mateo California a neighboring city here on the SF peninsula and the city where I went to high school. He went to San Mateo High School and the College of San Mateo before enlisting in the Navy.

Reader reactions:
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11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

14 responses

  1. Nicely done Geoffrey, that Tamiya kit is a real gem of a kit especially for it's age. Nice history lesson as well.

  2. Great build. Well done.

  3. This is excellent for many reasons. I enjoyed reading the article, and your photos of the Wildcat look great too. I remember watching Lt. Swett on a TV show called "Dogfights", during an episode on Guadalcanal.

    Someday I hope to build this exact same plane. When the time comes, I will use yours as a guide for the markings.

    Thanks for sharing this beauty with us.

    • FYI, the entire series (minus the specials) is available on the Apple TV store (formerly iTunes.)
      I know because it was my first iTunes purchase.

      • Hey Dan. Dan Lee (@dbdlee)

        Thanks for this information. Years ago, I was able to get two different CD's that covered all of the series. I'm old school and have yet to make any ITunes purchases. Maybe someday I'll get in the 21st Century. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I really would like it if they continued on with the series. It was really cool to watch... and still is if you can catch a re run on the History Channel.

  4. Very nice Wildcat build. Like the sun fading.

  5. Fantastic Wildcat and excellent article, Geoffrey!

  6. Superbly build Wildcat, Geoffrey @caabreu
    The weathered look is performed very nicely.

  7. Great finish on this Wildcat, Geoffrey.

  8. fabulous-this is a gem. Great job!

  9. Looks really good. This old Tamiya kit still compares well with newer generation kits

  10. Excellent job! Glad you included the narrative.

  11. Well done, Geoffrey. The paint job is top notch

  12. That's a beauty of a Wildcat - well done!

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