Sweet 1/144 FM-2 Wildcat

KIT:

Sweet 1/144 FM-2 Wildcat

KIT #

14103

PRICE:

1000

DECALS:

Five aircraft

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

Two kits included in the box

BACKGROUND


For a brief history on the aircraft and a look in the box, please visit the preview.


CONSTRUCTION

As you can imagine from a kit with minimal parts, actual construction isn't exactly a time-intensive event. I painted the interior with Humbrol #88, which many say is a good match for the Bronze Green used in these planes. The wheel well area was done in white using  Vallejo Acrylics. Both of these colors were brushed on. I next glued the wing halves together and cleaned them up. After gluing the fuselage halves together, the seams were sanded smooth and any panel line detail rescribed.

The wings were glued in place. Fit is excellent and no filler was needed on this or any other part of the construction. While this was drying, I glued the drop tank halves together and then glued in the tail planes. The engine was painted black and then dry-brushed with aluminum to bring out detail. Probably the most difficult job was masking the canopy. It is quite small, though it does fit well and was glued in place after masking. I left out the engine and just press fit the cowling in place until after painting. The last bit to be glued in prior to a trip to the paint shop was the radio mast.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS

The kit gives several paint schemes, going from an Atlantic scheme through variations on the tri-color scheme and then to overall gloss sea blue. Being a bit of a masochist, I decided on the tri-color scheme. It also gave me a chance to try out the White Ensign line of new enamel paints. First I sprayed the drop tanks, required landing gear/wheel bits and underside of the plane with white. Considering that I did the dark blue plastic version of the kit, the white covered quite well. The tinlet suggested 6 hours between coats so I set the model aside overnight to dry.

Next, I masked off some of the white areas (like the tailplane undersides) and sprayed on the upper gloss sea blue. Again, I left it most of the day to properly dry. So far, the paint was performing superbly. All the sea blue bits that would be hurt by overspray (like the upper surfaces of the wings and tailplanes were masked. Now for the real test. Next day, I mixed up the intermediate blue and cranked on the compressor. This part of the aircraft was then sprayed. To my delight, I had very little in the way of overspray. I was expecting a real mess and it didn't happen. This has to be among the best, if not the best, enamel paint I've ever used. I let it cure until late that night when I applied some Future on it in preparation for decals and such.

MORE CONSTRUCTION

Now for the last bits of construction prior to decals. The landing gear for the Wildcat is somewhat intricate, but Sweet did a great job on it. I ended up brush painting the black areas on the struts and then glued them into the proper place. Tires were painted a dark grey using Floquil's Grimy Black. I just couldn't seem to get the wheel to look right so decided to use a circular decal to take care of that problem.

Then I installed the struts. As expected, the scale struts are not very strong and I broke one installing it. Fortunately, the connecting braces are there to hold things in place so after the usual fiddling and fussing, I got the gear and center section in place and stuck on the gear doors. Slathering lots of glue on it for strength, I let it dry while I painted the prop flat black and installed the engine.

With that dry, I touched up some areas where the paint wasn't too great thanks to gluing and painted the formation lights. Then it was time for the decals. These are made by Cartograf and are very well printed. I chose the VC-94  markings from the USS Shamrock Bay as they had the nice geometric patterns on the wings. I carefully placed the decals in position and waited for them to snuggle down. Nothing. I put a drop of Solvaset on them to help them along. More nothing. Letting that dry, I then tried Champ. Still nothing. It seems as if the decals are impervious to setting solutions and will not snuggle down or even stick well on their own. I finally did several applications of Champ before they even seemed interested in sticking!

After that, I glued on the drop tanks and the wheels. Thanks to the broken strut, the wheels aren't exactly on there straight! Then took the kit to the paint shop for a clear matte overcoat. I then removed the masking from the canopy, hoping that not much leaked under the tape! The exhaust stain was applied with pastels, some touch up painting was done and finally, the prop installed.

CONCLUSIONS

As with the earlier Hurricane, the actual construction was pretty easy, other than the broken strut. I'm not sure why the decals were such a pain and on the next one, I'll use very hot water as that may be part of the problem. As you can see it from the image of this model perched atop a quarter, it isn't a big model! The kit can be assembled in a day or two and then the rest is just painting and letting things dry. I really like these Sweet 1/144 kits and understand that an A6M Zero will be the next release.

October 2003
#1285  in a series

My thanks to Kevin Krajniak for providing the review sample.

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page