Tamiya 1/48 Martlet II
KIT #: 61034
PRICE: $29.00 MSRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Michael Stanley
NOTES: Eagle Strike 48016 Grumman Martlets 1941 - 1944 Pt. 1

HISTORY

"The fuselage is short and fat,
the plank-like wings are square and flat.
While out behind in foul or fair,
the Martlet's tail stands fair and square."
                                    - Wartime verse

On Christmas Day 1940, almost a full year before Pearl Harbor, two Martlets based at the British Home Fleet base of Scapa Flow shot down a Ju-88 bomber. This was just the beginning of the successful use of the Grumman G-36, known in the
US as the Wildcat, by the British for the rest of WWII.

The British ordered 100 Martlets equivalent to the
US F4F-4A in the spring of 1941. The first 10 were delivered to F3F-3 standard and were labeled Martlet III. Of the remainder, 35 had the unique overwing pitot tube which was Grumman's initial answer to the new folding wing. These Martlets equipped Number 888 Squadron onboard HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean during the Salerno landings in January 1943.

THE KIT

This kit by Tamiya is very close to the elusive "perfect" model. The only criticism that I have heard of it is that the cockpit floor is not cut away as on the real Wildcat. This is quickly resolved with some deft use of your sprue cutters.

To build a Martlet II, I had to make the following changes to the basic kit:

1. Change to single cowl flaps from the three per side of the kit.
2. Remove front air scoop and intercooler intakes from cowling.
3. Remove engine magnetos. The magnetos on the P&W engine were moved to the rear on this version.
4. Change to overwing pitot tube.
5. Add frame on windscreen
6. Modify prop to Curtiss type with rounded hub.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction begins with the cockpit. As noted above the floor needs to be trimmed away to represent the floorless cockpit of the Wildcat / Martlet. I also used Mike Grant instrument panel decals to dress up the cockpit. The cockpit was painted Model Master Dark Green FS 34079 which is close to the Bronze Green of the original.

I had a cowling from an Hobby Boss 1/48th Wildcat that had the correct flap configuration so I just sanded off the air scoop and carefully removed the intercooler scoops --- wrong! The Hobby Boss kit is not a copy of the Tamiya kit as I have read on the always correct Internet. The Hobby Boss cowling was too small to fit the Tamiya kit. I then modified the Tamiya cowling by sanding down the air scoop, removing the intercooler scoops and filling the cowl flaps. At this time you will also need to fill the holes in the wing for the Wildcat -4 wing tanks and the pitot tube mounting on the lower left wing.

If you are careful with further construction you can probably get the rest of the kit assembled so well that you will not need filler. My trick to this is using MEK as liquid glue. This glue is fairly "hot" but with some practice you can apply just the right amount, wait a few seconds and then squeeze to get a nice ridge of melted plastic which you can later trim or sand to eliminate seams without filling.

I removed the front magnetos from the engine and then painted it Floquil gunmetal with a black wash to bring out the cooling fins.

I fashioned the pitot tube by trimming off the kit pitot and gluing it to a suitable piece of streamline strut from my spares box. I used the few pictures I could find to guesstimate the mounting angle.

COLORS & MARKINGS

With most of the assembly done, I preshaded with dark gray. The undersides were sprayed with Model Master enamel Sky. Once this was dry I masked off the Sky and painted the topsides a dark gray from some very old Pactra International enamels that I still have around. Then I marked out the camouflage pattern with a pencil. At this point I always do a very thorough cleaning of my Iwata HP-B airbrush with the optional .020 tip and needle. Then, holding my tonque in just the right position, I free handed the greenish olive drab that I had chosen to replicate the Dk. Slate Gray. The canopy was masked using Scotch magic tape trimmed with a new scalpel blade. After the coat of Future had set overnight I applied the Eagle Strike decals.

The landing gear and other bits were added. The Tamiya canopy will sit in the open position very realistically, so you don't need to resort to a vac canopy.

CONCLUSIONS

 I have been a fan of the Wildcat ever since I was very young and read of the exploits of Butch Ohare, the Marines on Wake and the Cactus air force on Guadalcanal. I have built many Wildcats since that time beginning with the old Monogram kit with folding wings. I enjoyed researching and building this Wildcat in different clothes.

REFERENCES

1. The Wildcat in WWII, Barrett Tillman, ISBN: 0-933852-32-0

2. The Grumman Wildcat in FAA Service, Bruce Archer

 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

February 2010

Michael Stanley

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