Just Plane Stuff 1/48 F4F-3 conversion




$? Test Shot




Scott Van Aken


Set is resin for Tamiya 1/48 Wildcat



During the first portion of the War in the Pacific, the main fighter for the US Navy was the F4F-3 Wildcat. This rugged fighter was all that stood in the way of Japanese bombing and torpedo planes. Pilots soon learned not to get into the normal dog-fight with the superior Japanese A6Ms but to use the superior diving speed of the Wildcat to set upon bomber formations and then zoom up for another pass. These early Wildcats were the first of their type to enter service and unlike the later variants, had but four instead of six machine guns and non-folding wings.

Before now, to build a -3 Wildcat, one had to do some modification to the available kits in order to back date them to this standard. This included filling in panel lines, sanding off some plates and filling in holes that shouldn't be there in the -3. It also may have meant doing some work to the cowling. Then there were some other considerations concerning the Tamiya kit. For one thing the Tamiya kit, as good as it is, has a full floor in the cockpit. As you have undoubtedly read from one of Tom Cleaver's many reviews of this kit, most F4Fs did not have a full floor; just a trough for the pilot's feet. This was to give him the opportunity to look down through the lower fuselage windows.


Only recently received was a test shot of an upcoming set from Just Plane Stuff. This is a full resin conversion for the Tamiya kit and includes all you'd need to do a proper backdating of the F4F-4 kit. Being a test shot, there were no instructions nor decals included with the set. For those of you who do not know what a test shot is, it is a product made to text the accuracy and operation of the mold for a product. As such, these items are generally without documentation or instructions normal for a market-ready product. They are distributed to a few folks to see if things fit the way they are supposed to. Any feedback given will be used to improve the product before it is marketed. As you may have realized from the Ta-183 test shot reviewed several months ago, there can be a long lag time between test shots and your dealer's shelves.

To give a rundown of what is included, there is a full wing/fuselage center section, two different cowlings, a seat, twin inter-coolers, twin cowling intakes, a new engine crankcase, and machine gun barrels. Detailing on the parts is superb as one has come to expect from JPS. The parts are crisply molded and, unusual for a test shot, practically flawless and free from air bubbles and chips.

To give added strength to the wings which, after all, are a rather substantial resin casting, there is a metal rod imbedded in the resin. This will keep things from being too flexible. As you can see in the image to the right, the detailing is outstanding. The rod is to the upper part of the construct. The extra cowlings were given as the F4F-4 cowling is really a bit of a mixture of both -3 cowling types.

The early F4F-3 had an upper cowl intake and a single wide cowl flap on each side. Later F4F-3s had no upper cowl intake and had three side cowl flaps. The even later F4F-3A reverted to the earlier cowling. The F4F-4 has an upper cowl intake and three side cowl flaps, which is a combination of the two types and so new cowlings are provided.  Apparently the seat in the kit is not compatible with the conversion, nor is the single kit-provided intercooler or engine accessory section. All of the rest of the parts are to be provided by the Tamiya kit. What this means is that you are going to have quite a few spare parts left over.

Decals for this conversion will not be difficult to find as Superscale recently issued two sheets for the F4F, 48-723 and 48-724 which have schemes for the F4F-3. Undoubtedly there are other sheets available from other manufacturers that will be most useful on this conversion.


Overall, it is an excellent conversion set. I know a number of Wildcat enthusiasts who will be more than pleased to see this one hit the shelves! It is one that is headed for the top of the pile!

Late Note: That kit has since been completed and here is how it looks.

Review copy courtesy of Just Plane Stuff

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