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F4B-4 'Tophatters'

Hasegawa 1/32 F4B-4 'Tophatters' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2017 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F4B-4 'Tophatters' Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08246 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, great details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $54.99

First Look

F4B-4 'Tophatters'
F4B-4 'Tophatters'
F4B-4 'Tophatters'

Last month, we looked at one of the first releases of the Hasegawa 1/32 F4B-4 as it hadn't been on the market for a while. Of course it has been re-issued though at a rather ambitious price. You can see more of the history of the aircraft and this kit here.

As before, this kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on two parts trees plus a small clear part (the windscreen). The surface detailing is raised which is just perfect, because the surface detailing on the full-scale aircraft was raised as well.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nice cockpit though ejector pin marks will need to be mitigated
  • Nice pilot's seat though pilot restraints should be added
  • Optional pilot figure
  • R-1340 Wasp radial engine
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Elevators are not positionable but can be repositioned with careful surgery
  • Optional underwing bomb racks with bombs

The decal instructions provide two subjects:

  • F4B-4, 1-F-5, VF-1B, USS Saratoga, 1933
  • F4B-4, 5-B-7, VB-5B, USS Lexington, 1935

One thing about the box art caught my eye. The first decal subject is depicted on the box art and both the art and the instructions show a gray cowling. Unless the cowling had just been replaced and not yet painted, no US Navy carrier aircraft during the 1930s had gray cowlings as the top, bottom, or entire cowling was painted red, white, blue, black, green, or yellow to indicate that aircraft's squadron section position. Section two of each squadron was assigned white, so aircraft 4 (lead) would have the entire cowl white, aircraft five would have the top half painted white, while aircraft six had the bottom half white. The aircraft in the first decal subject/box art is 1-F-5 (VF-1B aircraft five) so the top half of this cowling should be white. You can see more about naval aircraft squadron colors here. Note also that VF-1B soon became VB-2B aboard the Saratoga before ultimately becoming VF-14.

While this kit is over 40 years old, the details hold up well to contemporary standards and will a little work, will build into a beautiful model. While we sometimes get lost in the world of low-visibility camouflage or WW2 camouflage, we sometimes forget about the colorful aircraft flown by the US Army and US Navy between the wars. Step back into yesteryear...

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!