Trumpeter's 1/32 scale
FM-1 Wildcat Conversion
by Robert Taylor
Trumpeter's 1/32 scale FM-1 Wildcat is available online from Squadron.com
Here are some shots of my 1/32 scale Trumpeter Wildcat.
This is a mild conversion of Trumpeter's F4F-4 to an FM-1, depicting a machine serving with 882 RNAS aboard HMS Searcher in 1944.
The main deal here is to remove the two outboard guns and their associated bits and pieces. Super glue, sanding, polishing and rescribing of lost detail is all that's needed.
There are a couple of tricky construction issues to look out for in this kit:
Firstly, Trumpeter commendably retooled this offering in the wake of heavy crtisism of its initial release. The fuselage halves and cockpit are much improved, yet most of the internals are from the original effort. Consequently some modification of the cockpit and bulkhead parts are needed to ensure a satisfactory result. The fit around the fuselage, forward of the cockpit is particularly tight.
Secondly, the wing fold joints are reportedly poor. I made up each wing section, inner and outer, independently of each other and as a result had a bit of a mismatch in the wing cross section. In retrospect it would have been better to glue together the upper/lower wing halves, and then assemble them as a whole. I got over this by sanding the joint smooth and rescribing any lost detail. To be honest, I think this is more of a problem with execution rather than any gaff by Trumpeter.
To my mind, an obvious weak point of this otherwise sound kit, is the cowl supercharger intakes. These were cut off leaving just the front outer rim. I then added ducting to the inside of the cowling using plastic card; mating this to the remaining intake rim. Oddly enough, this release from Trumpeter does not include superchargers for the gear bay. These were scratch built with bits of sprue, square plastic tube, plastic strip and some Milliput to blend it all together - very Blue Peter! (you need to be a Brit to understand this). The landing gear bay was further detailed with extra plumbing and so on.
The main wheels are from Contact Résine, brake lines were made using black coloured copper wire, and new gear doors were fashioned from litho plate. Other external detail was added such as the raised wing fold doors on the wing undersides, a whip aerial, engine ignition harness and the port wing's leading edge landing light was moved outboard of the guns. The metal hinges for the control surfaces, except those for the elevators, were dumped and replaced with tabs made from plastic card.
The cockpit area was enhanced a tad using wire and plastic strip/rod. I replaced the kit seat with one pinched from my unmade Trumpeter Corsair, which was reshaped to give a better representation (I have a resin cockpit for the Corsair). Importantly, the gun sight was trimmed to ensure it sits properly in the cockpit coaming. MDC's Sutton harness was added to complete.
There is much talk about the colours of British FM-1s. Generally it seems the initial batch of aircraft were delivered in proper FAA colours; i.e. EDSG, Slate Grey & Sky - Grumman style. The rest were painted in US equivalent colours - Eastern style. I concluded that JV377 was sufficiently down the production list to be in US equivalent colours. I am aware of the well known colour pictures of Wildcats on HMS Searcher, including this aircraft, that would suggest they were painted correct FAA colours. Having been a professional colour retoucher for more years than I care to remember, I am doubtful as to the true nature of these images. One must consider their antiquity and probable well intentioned rendering. I went for the Eastern look.
Paints used were Polly Scale Olive Drab and Xtracrylics Gunship Grey for the upper surfaces. Xtracrylics Light Gull Grey was applied to the underside. The cockpit is Polly Scale US Interior Green. Exhaust, cordite and general crud was done with enamels, heavily diluted with white spirit. Additional weathering and panel lines done with Pro Modeller's washes - great stuff. Matt varnish from Vallejo.
For markings I used MDC's roundels, the codes came from an Aero Master 1:48 sheet and the serials are Xtradecal.
You don't see many of these kits made up, which is a shame really, because with a bit of effort you can achieve a very satisfying and accurate result. This Wildcat looks great sat next to my FAA Hellcats, and it is amazing to see how much smaller this aircraft is compared to its bigger brother.
Text and Images Copyright ©
2013 by Robert Taylor
Page Created 9 January, 2013
9 January, 2013
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