Hasegawa 1/32 Boeing F4B-4 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2017||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||JS066||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, great details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||OOP|
The F4B-4 was initially designated as XF11C-3 which was a development of the F11C-2 that introduced retractable landing gear to the Boeing fighters. In flight test, the XF11C-3 was faster but the additional weight of the retractable landing gear had a negative affect on maneuverability. In addition, Boeing replaced the wooden wing structures in the lower wing with metal and the resulting design was ordered as the F4B-4. Like many fighter designs that become obsolete as fighters, the BF2C was designated as a Bomber-Fighter (fighter-bomber in modern terminology). Twenty-seven examples were ordered by the Navy and assigned to VB-5. These aircraft only remained in service for a few months due to problems with the landing gear.
While Hasegawa has been in existence since 1941, it didn't enter the plastic model market until the early 1960s and had found success with their box scale kits of the day. By the early 1970s, Hasegawa had settled into what we consider 'standard scales' for their kits and by that time had produced an impressive catalog of kits. Pushing into 1/32 scale, Hasegawa released kit number 61 in 1971, the Boeing F4B-4 which was one of a quartet of kits which featured between-the-wars US military aircraft consisting of the P-12E, BF2C, F4B-4, and P-26A Peashooter. Many of us have owned these kits or have them stashed away in our collections.
When these kits were first released, Hasegawa was being imported into the US market by another familiar name - Minicraft. When you first saw the labels, you might have thought they were the same company - Hasegawa-Minicraft. Eventually, they were de-hyphenated as Hasegawa moved to another importer and Minicraft would go on to bring Academy kits into the US market before they too were de-hyphenated.
The kit is molded in injection-molded 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 eight subjects:
- F4B-4, 6-F-4, VF-6, USS Saratoga
- F4B-4, 2-F-3, VF-2, USS Lexington
- F4B-4, 1-B-7, VF-1B, USS Lexington
- F4B-4, 1-F-1, VF-1B, USS Saratoga
- F4B-4, 3-F-12, VF-3B, USS Langley
- F4B-4, 6-F-1, VF-6, USS Enterprise
- F4B-4, 8, VF-9M, USMC
- F4B-4, 10-F-2, VF-10M, USMC
Kits out of this series have been reissued a few times over the decades and it is nice to see it on the shelf even for a short time.
At first glance, this is the P-12E kit with some new parts but that isn't true. While the wings sprue is common, the fuselage trees are different. The shape of the hump on the fuselages is different as are the engine vents. The gun cover is different as is the vertical stabilizer and other details. Hasegawa paid attention to the details!
One of the more intimidating aspects of biplanes is the rigging and Hasegawa does not provide rigging instructions in the kit. There are good photo walk arounds of the aircraft online including the Planes of Fame P-12E (painted like an F4B-4) here. While this kit does not have rigging holes molded into the wings and fuselage like some of the later kits in this quartet, it does have slots to help you pin vise drill the holes in the correct positions.
While the MSRP on the new 'reissues' has migrated well north of $50 USD, I found this one for less than half of that and I'm sure you can do better at kit swaps and contest vendor rooms if you shop around.
While this kit may be 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...