Hobby Boss 1/48 F3F-3 Wildcat (late)
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Grumman F4F Wildcat was an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service with both the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy in 1940. Although first used in combat by the British in Europe, the Wildcat was the only United States Navy or Marine fighter in World War II 1941–42 in the Pacific Theater besides the brief appearance of the F2A Buffalo. With a top speed of 318 mph (512 km/h), the Wildcat was outperformed by the more nimble 331 mph (533 km/h) Mitsubishi Zero, but its ruggedness and tactics such as the Thach Weave resulted in a air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.
The Wildcat would be replaced in Grumman production by the faster F6F Hellcat which could outperform the Zero on its own terms. However, the FM Wildcat continued to be built by General Motors throughout the remainder of the war to serve on escort carriers, where larger and heavier fighters could not be used.
As you may have read in the previews of the early version of this kit, Hobby Boss has added a lot of detail that one may not find in other kits. For instance, the wheel well area is properly outfitted with all the bits one would see when looking into it. It has the correct -3 wings with the proper gun spacing and panel lines. It has the proper cowling for this version. That cowling is also molded with the cowl flaps open. It has the right engine and the interior is proper in that you can see through the floor boards to the lower view windows. It also has the correct windscreen with the extra frame line in it, something that other -3 Wildcat kits may have missed.
One thing that was added that is not needed are the auxiliary fuel tanks. These were never fitted to the -3 Wildcat and are more for the mid-late -4 and FM-1 versions. Unfortunately, Hobby Boss has already opened up three holes in the lower wing for them so you'll have to plug them up. The rest of the kit is nicely done with engraved panel lines and the current fad of engraved rivets, which for the Wildcat isn't correct. In this regard, the Tamiya kit is more accurate, though they don't do a -3.
Instructions are well done and should provide no difficulties. Painting information is provided using Gunze paint numbers. For the camo and markings scheme, we have full color directions providing two options. One is the box art plane for a "Lieutenant Edward. H" (sic) (Butch O'Hare), from VF-3 aboard the Lexington prior to the Midway battle. The other is Major R.E. Galer's plane of VMF-224 in 1942. this one has a red forward cowling that you'll want to paint. Both are in the Blue Grey over Light Gull Grey paint scheme. As a note, these planes were delivered in the overall Light Gull Grey scheme and later painted with the upper surface Blue Grey. The decals are quite nicely done and while there have been comments on their tendency to silver, there are also oodles of aftermarket sheets for this aircraft if one doesn't wish to use what is provided..
So here we have yet another 1/48 Wildcat. Is it better than Tamiya's offering or the one by Monogram? It is better than the Monogram kit which is sort of a -4/FM-1. Tamiya's is also a -4 so these are not identical offerings. Those who have built this one like it and I guess that is what is important.
Thanks to 'store credit' at CRM Hobbies for this one.
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