Sweet Aviation Model Division 1/144 FM-2 Wildcat Build Review
By Loren A. Pike
|Date of Review||August 2005||Manufacturer||Sweet Aviation Model Division|
|Kit Number||14103||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$16.00|
The FM-2 was designed by Grumman and eventually was built by General Motors after Grumman started production of the F6F. It was Grumman’s first monoplane, after a long series of biplane fighters for the navy in the F3F – series. For the first year of WWII, it was the primary naval fighter engaging the Japanese in the Pacific. Once tactics had been worked out (don’t try to turn and dog-fight a Zero!), it became a very useful fighter and “held the line” until the improved F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair became available in sufficient numbers.
7,251 Wildcats were produced through May of 1945 with 4,777 being the FM-2 variant produced by General Motors. The Wildcat had been the right aircraft at the right time. Wildcats, both in British and US service, made a significant contribution to the final Allied victory in the Second World War. In the Atlantic, US Navy and British Wildcats helped keep the vital shipping lanes open and free of prowling German U-boats. In the Pacific, Wildcats were the mounts of a string of US Marine Corps aces at Guadalcanal, men such as Major Joseph Foss, Major Marion Carl, Major John Smith and Lt James Sweet, who are legends in the Marine Corps history. A total of eight Wildcat pilots earned the highest award the American people can bestow, the Congressional Medal of Honor, a fitting tribute to the Wildcat and the men who flew them. (Squadron/Signal F4F Wildcat in Action)
Sweet #14103 FM-2 Wildcat in 1:144 th scale. There are 2 Wildcats in the kit. The kit is very finely molded, with no trace of excess “flash”, and it has a very correct outline and details. Once built, it looks like a Wildcat.
I started the assembly with a quick painting of the interior by brush. Not much can be seen once the canopy is in place, so don’t spend much time in the cockpit. Throughout the assembly sequence there are a number of Japanese language “tips” – not being fluent even a little bit in Japanese, these pretty much were passed over. BUT, the exploded view assembly instructions are more than adequate.
The next step was to join the fuselage together and attach the wings. The wing gas tanks were assembled and attached to the wings.
In assembly step number 2, I painted the engine a “steel” color with a much diluted flat black wash after the steel was dry. The engine and cowling was then glued in place.
The only difficult step is number 3 where you assemble the undercarriage support structure. Since I had left off the undercarriage “U” assembly in step number 2 to paint the area (a chromate green for the inside of the fuselage and a “steel” for the “U” of the undercarriage), I left off this supporting structure until I had airbrushed the entire rest of the aircraft.
In step number 4 I attached the tail planes, the canopy and antenna but left off the propeller until painting was complete. I then masked off the canopy with Bare Metal Foil™ and stuffed damp facial tissue (Kleenex™) into the engine area with a protruding toothpick for a painting handle and the wheel well area.
Once main fuselage painting was complete and dry, I then attached all the “bits” that had previously been left off and moved on to the decaling.
I chickened out and choose the simplest scheme – VC-93 operating off the USS Petrof Bay (CVE-84). This scheme was basically a solid blue (Testor’s Model Master Dark Sea Blue FS 15042). I did not add any “lightning color”, but upon reflection, maybe there should be as the blue is a little bit TOO BLUE ! It is very glossy and pretty though.
The undercarriage, the undercarriage bracing, and the tires/wheels were all brush painted as was the canopy after I removed the masking. All flowed together with a topcoat of Future™ (product of Johnson and Johnson here in the U.S.A. It is an acrylic clear overcoat that can be easily brushed on with a wide brush and is “self-leveling” – no brush marks when dry). This sealed both the paint and the decals. Only the tires and the supporting undercarriage remain “flat” colors.
The decals were several shamrocks and national insignias along with several individual aircraft numbers (20). All went down on the glossy blue paint very well with no silvering.
This was a very enjoyable build. Since I usually “multi-task” when it comes to building kits and have several that I’m actively working on, I can’t tell you how long it took me. I would say that except for the paint drying, this kit is easily a “week-ender” project. Try one of these small kits. I sure you’ll be “hooked” on them like I am!