|PRICE:||1200 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||1995 Limited edition|
The Wildcat could have been the US Navy's first modern monoplane fighter, but the initial prototype was sadly lacking so the honor of first went to the Brewster F2A Buffalo. Fortunately, Grumman got it right and so it was mostly with Wildcats that the USN went to war in 1941.
The F4F-3 was the first combat ready version. It was a rugged aircraft that helped Grumman earn the title of 'iron works' when it came to this and later aircraft. Powered by a proven R-1340 14 cylinder, twin-row radial engine, it had four .50 caliber machine guns as its main armament. This Wildcat did not have folding wings, but it was still small enough to fit into the elevators of fleet carriers.
Modified over the years with increased armament and folding wings, the Wildcat went on to play a major role in early Pacific War battles. It also served from smaller carriers during amphibious landings where it was able to provide much needed ground support for the advancing troops.
This one of Hasegawa's Limited Edition kits and comes with a very nice Aeromaster decal sheet to replace the usual Hasegawa kit markings. To do the -3, some modification has to be done to the kit parts that mostly concentrates on the wings in terms of filling panel lines and filling one of gun openings on the leading edge of the -4 wing that is supplied. This is nothing really difficult and most modelers should be able to pull it off without any issues.
Probably the weakest part of this kit is the cockpit. It has a tub into which you put a seat, control stick and an instrument panel (with decal). Fortunately True Details does an excellent resin replacement that includes a nice main gear well. Very much recommended. The rest is pretty straight-forward for a 1/72 single engine prop kit.
The canopy is a single piece. Main gear looks complex enough but is easy to assemble. You are offered underwing fuel tanks, but don't use them as I don't think the early -3 had this option. Besides, they are clunky and don't help the looks of the plane at all.
Instructions are standard fare with Gunze paint references. The Aeromaster sheet is very nicely done and provides markings for two yellow wings planes. One is the box art plane from VF-41 while the other is from VF-72. Both have silver painted fuselages with colorful tail sections. A separate painting and markings guide is included with the decals.
It would be easy to make comparisons between this kit and the more recent Airfix offering. Keep in mind that this kit is near 30 years older in terms of tooling and since it does not offer folding wings, is probably an easier build as well. These kits are not difficult to find and well worth the effort of building.
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