Master Details 1/32 USN/USMC Aviator (1930's)
KIT #: 32013
PRICE: $14.95  SRP
DECALS: No options
NOTES: Resin with six head options


A smiling hotshot pilot wearing a G-1 leather jacket and helmet is perhaps the quintessential image of a 1930s U.S. naval aviator. The 37S3 flight suit worn by Master Details’ Navy/Marie Corps aviatior isn’t nearly as well known. In fact, I’d never heard of it before I built this figure. I found zero images online, and the only book that seems to include anything on the suit (Full Gear) apparently was published only in Japan and written in Japanese except for photo captions.

 Studying period photographs, it looks as if a similar flight suit – if not the 37S3 itself – debuted in the late 1920s. The “Bedford Cord” (a type of fabric) flight helmet appears to have been in use at least until 1940, judging from this  example in the collection of the Museum of Naval Aviation:


You can check out the figure’s parts, etc., in Scott’s most excellent preview.

 I’ll echo Scott’s positive comments about the quality of the casting. It’s simply the best of any resin figure I’ve seen, noticeably crisper than similar (standing) white metal figures, and immeasurably better than the cartoonish pilots included with the 1/32 Hasegawa F4B-4 and BF2C-1.

 Be aware the figure’s arms aren’t completely interchangeable. If you choose the right arm holding the stick grip, you must use the left arm that reaches down to his thigh. The other left arm would collide with the right hand. You’ll also need to research the particular aircraft you’re using the figure with. It sounds obvious, but if the plane appears to have radio aerials, use one of the heads with earphones. If no radio, use one with the smooth helmet.


There isn’t much to building this guy. I attached his arms and legs with gap-filling CA glue. Despite some fiddling with the fit, a noticeable gap remained between the left leg and body. I filled it in with white glue, and since the joint is along a parachute strap line, it looks fine. I left off the figure’s head until later for ease of painting.


I hand-brushed all the colors on the figure, starting with the life preserver. The Master Details painting guide calls for cadmium yellow, but I found that shade too light compared with photos and used Model Master Chrome Yellow instead. Note that part of the life vest extends outside the parachute harness.

 The guide specifies “khaki green” for the overall flight suit color. I couldn’t find paint with that name, so I mixed some el cheapo acrylic craft store paints to match the flight jackets worn by Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray in the 1941 classic, Dive Bomber. The relevant frame grab can be found here:

 I followed the manufacturer’s recommendations for the remaining colors, matching acrylics I had on hand to the illustrations. In retrospect, I’d probably use a lighter gray on the goggle strap. I also omitted the white lines on the parachute pack, since they’ll never be seen when the figure is mounted in a seat. You’ll need an extremely fine brush to paint the D-ring and parachute harness buckles.


I brushed a coat of Future over the entire figure in preparation for a dark gray acrylic wash. I then applied the wash to the figure, removed the excess when dry, and brush-coated everything except the life preserver (which should be somewhat glossy) with Model Master Flat.

 I had to enlarge the neck opening slightly to get a good fit with the head I chose. Once it was mounted with CA glue, I made goggle lenses with a healthy application of Model Master clear parts cement & window maker.


The Master Details Navy/Marines aviator is a perfect way to avoid superdetailing the Spartan cockpits found in the 1/32 Monogram F3F-3 and the Hasegawa F4B-4 and BF2C-1. My figure is destined for the latter, and test-fitting suggests he’ll fill up much of the small cockpit. If you insist on going the superdetail route anyway, frequently check to make sure the figure will actually fit. I’ve just finished adding reams of detail to an F4B-4 cockpit, and his arms would impinge on some of the sidewall equipment if I tried to force him in there.

 Okay, so you’ve finished your figure. How about those five other beautifully sculpted heads? If you’re building the Monogram F3F-3, one possibility is to mercilessly decapitate the standing Al Williams figure and substitute a Master Details head, as I have. You might also consider modifying another 1/32 resin or plastic figure into a 1930s deck crewman using one of the heads without earphones.

 Tanks to Scott for the review sample. I’d love to see Master Details do a matching 1930s Army Air Corps pilot for the Hasegawa P-12E and P-26A! 


U.S. Naval Aviation, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, 2001

Les Dorr

September 2008


Thanks to Master Details for the review kit.

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