Hobby Boss 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

The Grumman Wildcat was the main USN fighter at the beginning of the Second World War, and while the F4F-3 was a decent aircraft, the follow-on F4F-4 was the main version used in the opening months of the war. The changes made between the -3 and the 4 were significant, including an increase in the number of guns (but not an increase in ammunition carried) and the addition of folding wings. These changes had a negative effect on maneuverability, though, and many a Wildcat fell to more maneuverable Japanese aircraft. Still, many Navy aces got their start in the Wildcat, and in the right hands it could be a formidable fighter.

The Kit

This is another one of those simple Hobby Boss kits, with few parts and easy construction. The black plastic tray holds the handful of parts snugly, and the small decal sheet provides markings for two aircraft. Like others in this series, the fuselage is one piece, as is the wing, and some of the details are simplified, but then again, this is not a model for superdetailers. The surface detail is quite nice, with recessed panel lines throughout, and the finer details such as the landing gear are suitably petite.

Construction is a bit different from a traditional model, as much of the work is already done. Simply glue the wing piece to the fuselage piece and you are almost 50% done with assembly. The cockpit is molded in the fuselage piece, so there is no work there in assembly. There is a gunsight piece, and a headrest piece, but the rest is already there, including the control stick. The kit comes with two canopies, one open and one closed, and the clear windows on the lower fuselage are molded with a section of the fuselage, making it simple to blend these in.

The remaining assembly will take little time, as the cowling has the engine molded in place, the tailplanes are solid, and the landing gear is only two pieces (not counting the wheels). All in all, assembly could easily be done in about half an hour, including any cleanup and filling needed. This quick assembly makes these kits ideal to try out different paint schemes, as painting is the only real time consuming step here.

The decal sheet provides markings for a couple of Wildcats, both finished in the same blue gray over medium gray. One option is White 50, and the second is White 2. The latter also carries a large scoreboard under the canopy. The decals themselves are very well printed and include stenciling and other small details in addition to the national insignia and individual markings.

Conclusion

While some may dismiss these as being too simplistic, they really are not that far off of more complex model kits. If you have a large collection of aftermarket decals that you need to use up, these kits could be just what you need, as you can focus on painting and weathering. In the end, you will have a good looking Wildcat that will fit in with more expensive and more complex models.

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