Valiant Wings Publishing: The Grumman F4F Wildcat

Author:

Richard A Franks

Publisher/Distributor

Valiant Wings Publishing

Price

26.95 MSRP at www.valiant-wings.co.uk

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 208 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-1-912932-35-1. Airframe and Miniature #22

When the US entered WWII, the front line USN fighter was the Grumman F4F Wildcat. While not the Navy's first choice of monoplane fighters (the Brewster F2A Buffalo takes that honor), it was quite obvious that the Wildcat was the superior aircraft and so it was what got the lion's share of orders once it started being produced.

Unable to keep up with the maneuverability, firepower, or speed of the A6M that it met in its first encouters, the F4F was a much more robust airframe. Thanks to the light weight of the Zero, the Wildcat's .50 cal machine guns were sufficient to down the superior aircraft. Combined with dive and zoom tactics that were quickly learned, the F4F was able to keep something close to parity with its Japanese foe.

Despite being near obsolescence after the first year of the war, it went on to perform sterling service as a ground attack plane as well as one that proved to be useful against convoy raiders in the Atlantic. So useful was the type that when Grumman switched over to building the F6F Hellcat, Wildcat production moved over to General Motors and the type was even improved.

This lated book in the Airframe and Miniatures series covers all the different Wildcat variants from the prototype to the FM-2 along with British and Greek aircraft. This edition follows a familiar format with a background history, a look at the different variants, the camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft (which includes a lot of full color profiles), and a set of detail drawings of each different variation on the scheme. There is also a large colors and markings section thanks to the variety of schemes these planes carried. Foreign operators are also covered.

 In addition to this, you have a fairly complete modelers section. There are several build articles including the Airfix and Arma Hobby kit in 1/72, the Eduard kit in 1/48 and Trumpeter in 1/32. In addition the usual set of drawings showing the changes in the aircraft as time went on. Then there is a detail section which uses both images from extant airframes as well as a plethora of period photos and drawings from the technical manuals as well as some from extant airframes. Next are listings for all the different kits along with decals, accessory sets, and books. The last pages of the book are 1/48 plans for several versions in a huge multi-page fold-out. 

Overall, this makes this THE book to have on the Wildcat. I know that this one will get quite a bit of use. It is a book for which I can easily provide my highest recommendation.

December 2023

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