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1/48 Hobby Boss F4F-3A Wildcat

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My latest build is the 1/48 Hobby Boss F4F3 'Early Version', which I converted to an F4F-3A. I finished it in the markings of F4F-3A BuNo 3914, the first Navy aircraft to down an enemy plane in WWII. Flown by Lt.(jg) Wilmer Rawie of VF-6 aboard USS Enterpise, he shot down a Japanese Mitsubishi A5M4 Type 96 ‘Claude’ fighter over Taroa Atoll in the Marshall Islands on Feb. 1. 1942. 

The F4F-3A differed from the F4F-3 in several ways. The engine on the -3A had the magnetos on the rear of the engine, instead of the crankcase, so I used a resin replacement engine front without the magnetos. It also lacked inter-coolers in the wheel wells, so I left these off, and also removed the inter-cooler scoops from inside the cowling. The -3A also had single formation light on the fuselage spine, instead of two as molded on the kit. The -3A also had extra side braces on the windscreen, and one large cowl flap on each side, which the kit correctly provides. To complete the engine, I added thin copper wire to the cylinders for spark plug wiring. 

 I used an Eduard Zoom set to replace the instrument panel and few other cockpit details. I replaced the over-scale kit gunsight with a  resin Mk VIII gunsight from Quickboost, and the kit seat with a resin one from Ultracast, with molded-in lap belts. Shoulder harnesses weren’t installed until June of ’42, and the aircraft I was modeling flew combat in February, on the first offensive strikes of the war. I painted the cockpit and lower fuselage tub Model Master Acryl Euro I Dark Green, which to my eye closely matches photos of the dark bronze green color Grumman used early in Wildcat production. The assembled cockpit fit nicely into the assembled fuselage halves.

Once major assembly was complete, I compared the kit to photos, and did a side-by-side comparison with my Tamiya Wildcat, and determined the kit sits about an eighth of an inch too high. I cut the axles off and trimmed a bit off the main struts, then re-attached the axles. On my Tamiya Wildcat, I used resin replacement wheels, so I used the leftover Tamiya kit wheels to replace the inaccurate Hobby Boss examples.

The Wildcat I was modeling was painted in the blue-grey over light-grey scheme, and these colors have no Federal Standard equivalents. I used Model Master Acryl US Navy Blue Grey for the topside color. Based on photos of the Wildcats and TBDs found when the wreck of USS Lexington was discovered, I think this color is a good match. The bottom Light Grey color is more perplexing. All color references today state that the Light Grey camouflage color is the equivalent of Flat Gull Grey, FS 36440. But, according the noted aircraft historian Dana Bell, they are NOT the same color. Flat Gull Grey has a brown tint, and Light Grey was a neutral gray color, which is supported by the few color photos that exist. I wound up using Camouflage Grey, FS 36622 – not correct, but I think it’s a closer match than Flat Gull Grey. After priming with Tamiya White Primer, I airbrushed on the Light Grey bottom and Blue Grey topside colors.

The F4F-3A I wanted to model was BuNo 3914, the first Navy aircraft to down an enemy plane in WWII. Flown by Lt. Wilmer Rawie of VF-6 aboard USS Enterprise, he shot down a Mitsubishi A5M4 Type 96 ‘Claude’ fighter over Taroa Atoll in the Marshall Islands on Feb. 1. 1942. All the fighters on that mission carried two 100lb. bombs. I robbed a pair of these small bombs and their racks from an Accurate Mniatures F3F-1 kit. The bombs come molded with the fins in the + rather than X configuration, so I cut them off and reattached them oriented correctly. I painted the bombs Tamiya Yellow Green, since they came from pre-war stocks and were not yet painted grey or green. The decals came from a long out-of-production sheet of famous Wildcats by Three Guys Replicas. The sheet correctly gives the 9 red and white stripes for the rudder instead of the proper 13, and makes provisions for the smaller, painted-over wing stars when VF-6 applied the oversized national insignia to their Wildcats.

Overall, the Hobby Boss F4F-3 kits make fine models, and are great choice to model the first version of the venerabe Wildcat to see combat.



F4F-3 p7.jpg

F4F-3 p8.jpg

F4F-3A p1.jpg

F4F-3A p2.jpg

F4F-3A p3.jpg

F4F-3A p4.jpg

F4F-3A p5.jpg

F4F-3A p6.jpg

F4F-3A p7.jpg





Lt (jg) Wilmer Rawie.jpg

VF-6 F4F-3 Wildcat cropped.jpg

VF-6 USS-Enterprise-1942 toned.jpg

Wildcat references.jpg

Edited by Navairfan
Added additional photos

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Super looking Wildcat! I just learned a lot I didn't know about the differences between the variants and admire the way you dedicated yourself to getting it all right. This was one of the group that held the line until better planes came along and your build is a fine tribute to them!

Gil :smiley16:

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Thanks very much, Gil! Reading John Lundstrom's outstanding book, The First Team, many yeas ago, I knew I wanted to build a model of Rawie's aircraft. It took about 20 years, but I finally did it. 

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