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F4F-3 Wildcat ProfiPACK (82201) 1:48


Mike
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F4F-3 Wildcat ProfiPACK (82201)

1:48 Eduard

 

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Grumman began development work on a new carrier-based fighter in the mid-30s, starting with the F2F, which was a biplane, but it and the successor F3F led to the basic shape of the Wildcat, minus two of the wings.  Initially, the new aircraft was outpaced by the Brewster Buffalo and Grumman resigned their aircraft to carry a supercharged version of the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Twin Wasp" radial engine, and later new flying surfaces that gave it the needed improvement, receiving orders from the US Navy as a backup-plan in case the Buffalo was a let-down.  Initial orders from France were delivered to the British Royal Navy after France fell before delivery, and was designated as the Marlet. The US Navy would adopt the type in late 1941 after the Buffalo turned out to be a disappointment, although it was quite a manoeuvrable little aircraft that saw some service elsewhere.  Originally armed with 4 x 0.50 cal machine guns, the F4F-4 was introduced in 1941 with an increased 6 guns to increase the aircraft's weight of fire.  Although the armament was increased to 6 guns, the ammunition capacity was not, giving pilots less time with their fingers on the trigger, which was generally disliked by the pilots for obvious reasons. The extra weight from the guns and wing fold gear also reduced performance. 

 

It was the primary US Carrier fighter during the early years of America’s war, with production continuing until 1943 when they switched over to building the replacement Hellcat, but one factory continued to make Wildcats for the British Fleet Air Arm (FAA).  The Wildcat’s smaller size and slower landing speed was a boon on a smaller carrier that the British Navy operated in large numbers as escort carriers.

 

 

The Kit

This is a much-anticipated brand-new tooling from Eduard, and it seems that they have created yet another highly detailed and well-engineered kit, from which a wide range of variants can be produced for us, the modelling public.  It arrives in Eduard’s modern gold themed top-opening box, and inside are five sprues in a dark grey styrene, a clear sprue, a nickel-plated pre-painted fret of Photo-Etch (PE), a sheet of pre-cut kabuki masking tape, a large and a small decal sheet, and the glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles in the rear pages.  Detail is exceptional, as we’ve come to expect from Eduard’s engineers, right up there with, if not the best examples of plastic models as of today.  There is some judicious use of sliding moulds to improve detail without increasing the part count unduly, the most notable being the rudder, which is hollow and ready for an insert during the build process.

 

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Construction begins in the cockpit, which takes over a page of the instructions and starts with the pilot’s foot boards that fit onto a Z-shaped bulkhead, and has the frame that holds the head cushion plus a pressurised bottle and two small PE parts that are only fitted to the later options.  The two seat mounts are added to the frame before fitting the seat, which is prepared by adding a small PE strip diagonally across the rear of the seating area, plus a lap-belt for the early versions and four-point belts for wartime versions.  The instrument panel is integrated in another frame that encompasses a tank, which is bulked out by adding another part to the other side, then you have a choice of applying a decal to the moulded-in dials, or a two-layer PE instrument panel that is applied in three sections, complete with a fully pre-painted set of dials and surrounds, plus the shiny curved dial glazing finishing.  The side consoles are made up from a large number of parts, some of which are PE and pre-painted, with a part choice for early and later versions, then they are slotted into the rear frame and the instrument panel frame to create the cockpit’s tub.  The rudder pedals are based on a single styrene part that is decorated by adding PE parts to the centre section, plus tiny little PE parts on each pedal, removing a little of the centre section before adding them.  This slips in behind the instrument panel and is joined by a long rectangular lattice panel that mates to the front end of the foot boards.  The cockpit is left to one side for a while so that the engine mount assembly can made.  This is based upon the firewall, from which a tapered spar projects from each side.  The engine mounts, a set of chains and the rear ancillary block of the engine are assembled to the front of the bulkhead, then a boxy assembly with two legs is added to the underside for the first decal option only, a strange clamshell-shaped assembly sits in the top of the mounts, and for most of the decal options there’s a C-shaped assembly that latches onto the sides of the mounts.  If you are building the second decal option, the small location tabs should be removed and the part left in the box.

 

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The insides of the fuselage have fine ribbing moulded into them, and this is augmented by a number of PE parts, plus the removal of a moulded-in document folder that straddles one to the vertical ribs.  Take care when removing this to ensure that the rib is still present once you’re done.  There are also small rectangular windows with radiused corners in both sides of the fuselage, which are inserted from outside during closure of the two halves around the cockpit and engine mount.  A tiny pip of styrene in front of the leading edge of the wing should be removed for one decal option, but it’s easy to miss as it’s right at the bottom of the page.  Unusually for an Eduard kit, the landing gear is built next, even before the wings are considered, and that’s because the struts and retraction jacks are buried deep inside the fuselage, so would be difficult to leave until the end.  Each leg is made of three parts with scrap diagrams showing how they are arranged, and once the glue is dry, they are inserted deep into the fuselage, the cylindrical top ends mating with cups that are moulded into the firewall.  They are then buttressed by more styrene parts, and the front of the fuselage is able to be closed up by fitting a small insert into the bottom.  The diminutive fixed tail strut is made up of two halves that trap a choice of two styles of wheel, and the main wheels are each made of a single tyre and two hubs that slip over the axles at the bottom of the main gear legs, with a pair of small inner doors added to the centreline while the fuselage is inverted.  At the same time, the twin exhausts are slid into their troughs under the nose.

 

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The wings are next, and as they’re mounted mid-fuselage, they’re totally separate from each other.  Each one is made from upper and lower halves, with a small insert with PE mesh parts wedged inside the bulged fairings on the underside before the two halves are closed, and the ailerons added to their position near the tips of the wings.  The elevator fins are simple two-part assemblies each, and they’re attached to the tail via the usual tab and slot method, at the same time the wings are slid over their spars.  The elevators are moulded as one piece, and clip into the rear of the fins either side of rudder fin, and are then locked in place by adding the rudder panel, which has a slide-moulded triangular hole inside, which is filled by adding an insert before gluing it in place.  The very rear of the arrestor hook is slipped inside the fuselage with a clear light above it, and a clear light is inserted into the leading edge of the port wing and outlined by a PE strip.

 

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The engine is built up before adding the wings, and we get two banks of the Twin Wasp engine as separate parts, plus push rods and the bell housing that has the drive-shaft projecting from it.  All it needs is some wiring for the spark plugs unless you’re going to get yourself some aftermarket for it.  The cowling marks another choice for the modeller, with three choices of cowling lip, and a choice of two of the cylindrical sections depending on which decal option you select.  One marking option has a panel line filled, a new line scribed and a pair of PE clasps added on both sides of the cowling.  The final page finishes off the build with the canopy, starting with a tube sight pushed through the canopy for the first decal option.  The other decal choices have a more usual early reflective gunsight inserted into the front of the cockpit before the glazing is started.  The rest of the decal options have an alternative screen with no hole in it, and there are two canopy parts depending on whether you want to depict the canopy slid back over the spine or not.  There are masks for all the included canopies included on the kabuki tape sheet, but only for the exterior.  The model is then finished off with a number of clear lights at the wingtips; twin barrels in each wing leading edge; forward raked antenna on the spine with a clear light just behind it; pitot probe in the port wing leading edge; the single-part prop that has stencil decals supplied with an additional spinner; two bomb shackles for under the wing, and three PE aerials under the fuselage depending on which decal option you have chosen.  There is another panel line on the lower cowling to fill for the first decal option here too, and again it’s easy to miss.

 

 

Markings

There are six decal options in the box, spread between one large sheet and another smaller one.  The options are from the Wildcat’s earlier service, going back as far as the yellow-wing days before the US joined the war.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • BuNo.1850, Lt. Charles Shields, VF-41, USS Ranger (CV-4), Dec 1940
  • VMF-111, Army-Navy Manoeuvres, Louisiana, United States, No 1941
  • Lt. Edward H O’Hara, VF-3, USS Lexington (CV-2), Hawaiian Islands, Apr 1942
  • BuNo.4019, Capt. Henry T Elrod, VMF-211, Wake Island, Dec 1941
  • BuNo.2531, Lt. Elbert S McCucskey, VF-42, USS Yorktown (CV-5), May 1942
  • BuNo.4006 (4008), Capt. John F Carey, VMF-221, Midway Island, Jun 1942

 

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The decals are printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  It’s worth remembering that as of 2021, the carrier film from Eduard decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier-free, making the decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the film.  It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view.

 

 

Conclusion

Blimey this looks like a nice kit.  It’s incredibly well detailed out of the box, but if you have an even larger appetite for detail, there are tons of additional sets that Eduard have made available in time for the release of the kit.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Would it be allowed to ask how this compares to the HobbyBoss versions? I have their "early" and "late" version of the Wildcat, but am wondering if I'm better off selling those and buying this one.

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2 hours ago, Basosz said:

Would it be allowed to ask how this compares to the HobbyBoss versions? I have their "early" and "late" version of the Wildcat, but am wondering if I'm better off selling those and buying this one.

It's allowed, and it's a positive comparison. The level of detail alone makes this the much more desirable kit IMHO :) Any further discussion would be better off in the relevant section of the site though, rather than muddying the waters of the review :yes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of those kits that makes a 1/72 modeller wonder if he shouldn't move to 1/48. Looks fab. I'm sure it will build just as well based on what I've built from Eduard in the last few years.

 

That, and the eye sight. I'm using my dad's reading glasses more and more often...

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  • 2 weeks later...

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