Eduard 1/48 FM-2 Wildcat
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2023 release. Profipack|
General Motors / Eastern Aircraft produced 5,280 FM variants of the Wildcat. Grumman's Wildcat production ceased in early 1943 to make way for the newer F6F Hellcat, but General Motors continued producing Wildcats for both U.S. Navy and Fleet Air Arm use. Late in the war, the Wildcat was obsolescent as a front line fighter compared to the faster (380 mph/610 km/h) F6F Hellcat or much faster (446 mph/718 km/h) F4U Corsair. However, they were adequate for small escort carriers against submarine and shore threats. These relatively modest ships only carried two types of aircraft, the Wildcats and GM-built TBM Avengers. The Wildcat's lower landing speed and ability to take off without a catapult made it more suitable for shorter flight decks. At first, GM produced the FM-1, identical to the F4F-4, but reduced the number of guns to four, and added wing racks for two 250 lb (110 kg) bombs or six rockets. Production later switched to the improved FM-2 (based on Grumman's XF4F-8 prototype) optimized for small-carrier operations, with a more powerful engine (the 1,350 hp (1,010 kW) Wright R-1820-56), and a taller tail to cope with the torque.
When Eduard released their Wildcat kit about a year ago, many modelers were wondering if they would do an FM-2. Several other companies have produced kits of this aircraft in 1/48 scale, including Sword and Hobbyboss, however, these kits were generally panned by some modelers as lacking the sort of accuracy/detail they wanted. Hopefully, those critics have been silenced by this kit as it is apparent that Eduard has put a lot of effort into it.
This kit has several differences over the earlier Wildcat kits. The most obvious is the new fuselage halves. Add to it the two gun wings with the ability to install either bomb or rocket racks as these were pretty standard items on the FM-2. It also has several prop options as some FM-2s used a paddle blade Hamilton Standard prop with the round prop dome. I'm sure some will be disappointed that Eduard did not provide a folding wing option for this kit, but as is often the case, additional money will get you an aftermarket one.
The kit provides a nice photo etch fret. For some of the pieces, the molded on plastic detail will need to be removed. Most of the parts are for the cockpit, though there are some external items like the radiator screens and the ring and bead sight. It appears that the kit can be built without resorting to the p.e. fret, but some items will really enhance your kit. Decals are provided for instruments if you want to use them.
You are provided with a fully detailed cockpit, engine, and accessory section/wheel well. Most of your work building this kit will be in these areas as they are the most parts intensive. The kit also provides alternate tail wheels with one being hard rubber and the other, pneumatic. As has become the norm for Eduard, two canopies are provided. One is if you want it closed and the other for open. A masking set is included with this boxing.
Ten markings options are provided, which really makes aftermarket decals unnecessary. You have a variety of camo schemes with two being the dark gull grey and while Atlantic scheme, three the tricolor scheme, one British FAA camo scheme and the rest are overall dark sea blue. The decal sheet is very nicely done and while I hope it isn't the type with the 'peel off' clear, it probably is.
It is nice to have a new FM-2. I don't pay a lot of attention to total accuracy when it comes to kits, but like it when a mfg gets things looking better than what has been available before. I predict that this variant will outsell all the others.
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