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F4F-3

Trumpeter 1/32 F4F-3 Wildcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2225 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Excellent detailing throughout Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look

F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3
F4F-3

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the monoplane derivative of the F3F series. Designed around the standing 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 General Motors-derivative FM series. The F4F-3 was the principal carrier fighter in the early days of World War II. It was initially considered inferior to the Japanese Zero until experience showed that what the F4F lacked in maneuverability, it more than made up for in firepower and the ability to take punishment. The F4F-3 was armed with four 50 caliber machine guns and a good ammo supply. These aircraft were lighter and more maneuverable than the later F4F-4s, but their fixed wings took up too much valuable deck space aboard the carriers.

It has been fifteen months since the release of the 'revised' F4F-4 Wildcat, and we now have the second installment, the F4F-3. You can look at the parts and review of the F4F-4 here.

Parts-wise, this kit shares many of the trees with the previous release, but you'll note that there are two new trees in this kit, one for the non-folding wings, the other for the firewall, what appears to be a heat exchanger ring, gun ammo trays, and cowl flaps. The cowling itself is rendered in clear, so you have the option to display the nicely detailed engine without opening up any of the access panels.

The kit is molded in standard Trumpeter light gray styrene and features the usual outstanding scribed details throughout the exterior surfaces of the kit. As usual with new Trumpeter releases, none of the parts trees have any residual molding flash. According to the specs, there are 267 parts in this kit among the six gray parts trees and the single tree of clear parts. As with the previous release of the Wildcat, this too has the photo-etched flight control hinges. The main gear and tail wheel tires are rubber.

The cockpit is nicely done, though as with the previous release, you'll need to go to aftermarket (Eduard) for seat belts.

As I mentioned earlier, the engine compartment is a work of art and is even more detailed in this release over the F4F-4 with the addition of the rather unique heat exchanger ring.

As with the previous release, this kit has the option of displaying the ammo and gun access panels open. Ammo trays are included.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • F4F-3, VMF-244, MF-1, Guadalcanal, 1942, w/eight kills as flown by Robert Glaer
  • F4F-3, VF-6, F-17, USS Enterprise, 1942

Interestingly enough, the wing cockades for the Enterprise aircraft are rendered with the older style cockade underneath and offset, though the color profile included in the kit don't reflect these markings. Check your references.

This is a beautiful kit of the F4F-3 and I certainly hope that Trumpeter will consider adding additional parts in future releases to render the FM-2. In the meantime, you can build this aircraft in its wartime colors or hit up Yellow Wing Decals for some of their colorful pre-war options.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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