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Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat




S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 02223
Scale: 1/32
Contents and Media: 223 parts in light grey and clear injection molded plastic; metal shafts for ailerons and flaps; rubber tires; photo-etched parts for control surface hinges; markings for one aircraft
Price: suggested retail price USD$49.95
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Outline and appearance conforms to published plans, photos and existing kits; high quality mouldings; adequate detail in most areas; ambitious workable features including all control surfaces and wing folds; nicely detailed cockpit parts including partial floor; rivet detail more restrained than earlier version; thin, clear and accurate transparent parts.
Recommendation: Recommended.


Previewed by Brett Green

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Back in February this year, Trumpeter released a new 1/32 scale F4F-4 Wildcat in Asia as the first market in the global rollout of the kit.

The original version of this kit had some serious shape problems, especially around the fuselage spine and nose. Before the kit was introduced to the US market, the release was postponed to permit re-tooling of the offending parts.

I have just received a test shot of Trumpeter's newly re-tooled 1/32 scale F4F-4 Wildcat.

It looks very good.





Trumpeter's re-tooled 1/32 scale F4F-4 Wildcat comprises 223 injection molded parts in grey plastic and clear styrene (including a clear cowl), rubber tires, a small bag of metal rods, a photo-etched fret with hinges for control surfaces and an acetate sheet with printed instruments.

The recessed rivets in the fuselage and the wings have been toned down to a more subtle representation than in the original release.



Also, gone are the capsule-like shapes representing fabric texture on the rudder. These have been replaced with more appropriate raised horizontal ribs. These can be left as they are, or sanded down according to the individual modeller's taste

All control surfaces are movable, including the flaps. Each control surface is connected using a metal rod and photo-etched hinges.

In the first release of the kit, the leading edge of the rudder was sharply squared off and butted against a flat mating surface on the fin. This would have almost certainly led to complications of fit and movement. A new rudder is now supplied, rounded-off along the length of the hinge line. A corresponding recess on the fin will accommodate the rudder.

The wings folds are also workable. These are hinged via a single styrene pin inside the wing, so care will be required when handling the model and operating the wing fold.

The solid cockpit floor has also been replaced with a brand-new partial floor, with large open areas on each side. This is much more representative of the real aircraft, and will create an authentic see-through effect with the windows in the lower fuselage. The cockpit also contains some nicely detailed parts. Quadrants, boxes and cases are all supplied separately so there is ample potential to complete a superdetailed cockpit without a floor and with some scratchbuilt structural detail added to the lower half of the fuselage.



Detail in the engine is not bad, and intercooler intakes have been slightly lengthened too. Adding wiring detail on the engine will be worth the effort as it will be quite visible in this scale.

The transaprent parts are really very good. They are thin and clear. The shape of the canopy and windscreen, which looked okay the first time around, have been further refined.





Dimensional Accuracy


I am pleased to report that all of the major accuracy issues have been addressed with this re-tooled kit.



The biggest problem with the original version of Trumpeter's Wildcat was the outline accuracy of the fuselage.

Compared to scaled-up drawings from Bert Kinzey's 2000 edition of "F4F Wildcat in Detail", there were serious discrepancies around the nose and spine. The fuselage was also too long, probably due to a misunderstanding about the correct position of the rudder hinge line of the real aircraft. At the time I tested the important discrepancies by checking photographs and the shape of other Wildcat models which, although varying in detail, confirmed the basic shape problems.


Diagram 1: Comparison of Original Kit Fuselage with Lloyd Jones' F4F-4 Drawing:


Diagram 2: Comparison of Re-Tooled Trumpeter Fuselage with Lloyd Jones' F4F-4 Drawing:


As can be seen, the spine and the nose are now much closer to the diagram, and the shape and dimensions of the fin conform almost perfectly.

In fact, the minor variations between the Trumpeter fuselage and these drawings may suggest that the drawing is actually slightly off.

For further comparison, I measured the Tamiya 1/48 scale F4F-4 Wildcat at two critical areas - the overall height of the fuselage at the top of the spine (immediately behind the canopy); and the diameter of the back of the engine cowl. The overall fuselage height of the Tamiya kit was 41mm, and the cowl diameter was 31mm. I scaled these dimensions up to 1/32 scale by multiplying by 1.5. There was less than one millimetre difference between the scaled-up dimensions of the Tamiya kit and the same areas on the re-tooled Trumpeter kit.

Personally, I think the subtle shapes of the Trumpeter and Tamiya spines looks closer to photographs than the drawings.

To see how proportionally similar the two kits are, check out Tamiya's fuselage compared to a 1/48 scale version of the same plans shown above:


Diagram 3: Comparison of 1/48 Tamiya Fuselage with Lloyd Jones' F4F-4 Drawing:


Improvements to the fuselage are summarised below:

  1. The rudder hinge line has been relocated forward, and the width of the tail has been corrected.

  2. The mid-fuselage access hatch has been re-shaped and relocated, and other fuselage details improved (including the blister fairing).

  3. The angle of the fuselage spine has been increased and straightened. It no longer looks like a Hurricane spine! Importantly, the contours of the barrel-like fuselage have also been corrected.

  4. The nose has been increased in height by around 5mm at the front of the windscreen, and the characteristically steep angle to the engine cowling is now represented very well. As a result of improvement nos. 3 and 4, the canopy line is now correct too.

  5. The top cowl intake has been rounded off and angled forward, and the intercooler intakes have been widened and deepened.


Diagram 4: Old and New Trumpeter 1/32 F4F Fuselages Compared:




The wings have also been re-tooled. The earlier version was too short, had problems with the shape of the wingtips and the location of the ailerons. All of these issues have been addressed with the re-tooled kit:


Diagram 5: New Trumpeter 1/32 F4F Outer-Wing Compared to Plan:


The only left-over problem on this test shot, as far as I can tell, is the proportionally long cuffs on the propeller blades. It is almost certain that the after-market will quickly come to the rescue in this department with resin replacements (wouldn't be surprised to see resin wheels to replace the rubber parts in the kit too).





The F4F Wildcat was a hugely important aircraft in the Second World War, and deserves to be well represented in plastic.

Now, Trumpeter has created a replica in 1/32 scale that is worthy of its famous full-size equivalent.

Trumpeter has taken an unprecedented course in recalling the original, flawed kit from the brink of release; and retooling virtually all of the main components plus some important detail parts. This level of responsiveness and commitment to quality is remarkable.

Trumpeter's 1/32 scale F4F-4 Wildcat appears to be quite accurate in outline and dimensions, boasts plenty of workable features, pretty good detail and newly restrained surface features. There is no doubt that the kit looks like a Wildcat this time around. Its size also makes it an ideal candidate for superdetailing, especially in the cockpit, engine bay and wheel wells.

I am pleased to recommend the re-tooled F4F-4 Wildcat without reservation!


Thanks to Trumpeter for the test-shot

Text and Images Copyright 2003 by Brett Green
Page Created 12 Septmeber, 2003
Last updated 15 September, 2003

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