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F4F-4

Revell 1/32 F4F-4 Wildcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2005 Manufacturer Revell
Subject F4F-4 Wildcat Scale 1/32
Kit Number 6876 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Still a nice kit, now with new decal sheet and Bert Kinzey book Cons Molds are getting old - signs of flash on parts trees
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $30.65

 

 

First Look

F4F-4
F4F-4
F4F-4
F4F-4
F4F-4

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the monoplane derivative of the F3F series. Designed around the standing aircraft carrier operations requirement, the F4F provided additional firepower, greater horsepower, and less lift as it lost the upper and lower wings of the F3F in favor of a fixed mid-wing configuration. In keeping with the F3F legacy, all versions of the F4F retained the non-folding wing until the advent of the F4F-4 and Goodyear-derivative FG series.

In initial combat operations, the F4F didn't fare well against the agile A6M and other Japanese fighters. The problem then is the same one that has existed since air combat began. Pilots tried to dogfight one another on equal terms and the best maneuvering aircraft won. It wasn't until Wildcat pilots began using tactics to exploit the weaknesses of the Zero that the F4F began to hold its own (and then some) against the opposition. The 'Thatch Weave' was one such tactic that would usually sucker a Zero pilot into guns range.

Once pilots began fighting the Wildcat's strengths against the enemy's weaknesses, it proved to be a valuable air asset throughout the war. In fact, the F4F was a key asset for the growing number of fighter squadrons that were deploying with the new Bogue-class 'Jeep' carriers. While Grumman developed the F4F-4 with its six guns and folding wings, the Navy wanted Grumman to focus on the F6F Hellcat, so production of the Wildcat would move over to the Eastern Division of the General Motors Corporation as the FM series. The FM-1 was essentially the F4F-4 with a few minor differences.

This re-release of the Monogram F4F is a welcome sight. Long before there was a Trumpeter 1/32 F4F-4 or even a Trumpeter Corporation, Revell was turning out 1/32 scale aircraft that still are some of the better kits on the market. While the molding technology has certainly advanced over the years, and this kit does show its age with the raised details on its surfaces, kits like this captured our imaginations as many in this series featured working details that would teach us some aspect of aviation. In the case of the F4F-4, the wing fold mechanism was functionally correct. The F3F-2 had working retractable landing gear that is still one of my favorite models.

Molded in light gray styrene (as opposed to the dark blue styrene in earlier releases), the kit looks like it did when I was in the early stages of modeling. Construction is simple and the details are still accurate. What some modelers will complain about are the raised details and funky access panels in the sides of the cowling. The raised details are a common feature on most earlier Revell and Monogram aircraft kits. The funky cowling panels allows the engine details to be seen after completion, though this is easy enough to glue and fill out of existence.

F4F-4 While some modelers will opt for the more expensive Trumpeter kit, this release is ideal for the average modeler and especially for the younger modeler wanting to learn about military aviation at an affordable price. To this end, Revell has been pushing up the stakes in the education department. In this release (hence the higher retail price), we have a special edition of a Detail and Scale publication by author Bert Kinzey that walks through Naval Aviation's premiere WW2 fighters and some that didn't go quite as far. This 48 page book takes a brief look and the history, colors and details of the F2A Buffalo, F4F/FM Wildcat, XFL-1 Airabonita, XF5F-1 Skyrocket, F4U Corsair, XF-14C, F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat, F8F Bearcat, XF8B-1, XF5U-1 Flying Pancake, FR Fireball, XF2R-1 Dark Shark, and XF15C-1 Stingaree.

Markings are provided for seven aircraft:

  • F4F-4, VMF-121, USMC, 1942 as flown by Capt Joseph Foss
  • F4F-4, VF-29, USN, 1942 as flown by Bruce Jacques
  • F4F-4, VMF-221, USMC, 1943 as flown by Lt James Swett
  • F4F-4, VMF-223, USMC, 1942 as flown by Capt Marion Carl
  • F4F-4, VF-3, USN, 1942 as flown by Lt Cdr John Thatch
  • F4F-4, VF-11, USN, 1943 as flown by Lt William Leonard
  • F4F-4, VF-9, USN, 1942 as flown by Lt Cdr John Raby

I am happy to see this kit back on store shelves. Even with the extra book, the kit still provides an inexpensive alternative for a 1/32 F4F Wildcat and the kit still builds up into a nice model.

My sincere thanks to Revell for this review sample!

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