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2 5 C ~ O

in detail &scale
Bert Kinzey
Airlife Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in a
retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, or otherwise,
except in a review, without the written consent of Detail & Scale, Inc.
This book is a product of Detail &Scale, Inc., which has sole responsibility for its content
and layout, except that all contributors are responsible for the security clearance and
copyright release of all materials submitted. Published and distributed in the United
States by TAB BOOKS Inc., and in Great Britain and Europe by Airlife Publishing, LTD.
Grumman Aerospace Corporation
Naval Aviation Museum,
NAS Pensacola, Florida
National Air and Space Museum
National Archives
Stan Piet
Dana Bell
Russell Lee
Warren Munkasy
Cam Martin
Jim Galloway
Ron Hillbury
Burl Burlingame
Lloyd S. Jones
Most photographs in this book are credited to their contributor. Photographs with no
credit indicated were taken by the author.
A special thanks is due to Lois Lovisolo of the Grumman History Center. Her assistance,
generosity, and interest in this publication were instrumental during its research and
preparation. It was th rough her efforts that most of the rare photographs of Wi Idcat details
were obtained. Detail & Scale is indebted to Lois for her assistance, and extends to her a
very special word of thanks.
Published in United States by
Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0214
Library of Congress Catatoging
in Publication Data
Kinzey, Bert.
F4F wildcat I by Bert Kinzey.
p. em. - (Detail & scale ; vol. 30)
ISBN 0-8306-8040-3 (pbk.)
1. Wildcat (Fighter plane) I. Title. II. Series:
D & S ; vol. 30.
UG 1242.F5K5264 1988 88--12188
623.74'64-dc19 CIP
First published in Great Britain in 1988
by Airlife Publishing Ltd.
7 SI. John's Hill, Shrewsbury. SY1 1JE
British Library Cataloging In
Publication Data
Kinzey, Bert
F4F Wildcat. inciuding British Martlels
-- (Detail and scale series; v.30).
1. Wildcat (Fighter plane) -- History
I. Title II. Series
623.74'64 UG1242.F5
ISBN 1-853106070
Questions regarding the content of this book
should be addressed to:
Reader Inquiry Branch
Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0214
Front cover: This beautiful painting by aviation artist, Jay Ashurst, depicts Marion Carl's Wildcat over Midway Island.
Carl scored 18
12 victories, of which 16
12 were in the Wildcaf.
Rear cover: A pilot from VMF-111 is about to climb into the cockpit of his Wildcat during the 1941 Army war games.
(GroenhofflNASA via Piety
This head-on view of the first F4F-4 shows the Wildcat's stance on its narrow landing gear. The guns have been deleted
from the photograph by a censor's airbrush, but other details are visible. Note the oil cooler scoops under the wings and
the scoop for combustion air on top of the cowling. Engine and propeller details are also visible, as are details of the
landing gear. . (Grumman)
There are quite a few reference sources available on
Grumman's Wildcat series of fighters. While only a few
books have been dedicated entirely to the Wildcat, a
considerably greater number have included it in their
coverage of a number of related aircraft. Additionally, the
Wildcat has been the subject of scores of articles that
have been published in dozens of magazines. The one
thing that almost all of these references have in common
is that they will poi nt out the shortcomings of the aircraft.
Probably no other aircraft except the F-111 has been so
successful yet so much criticized in all of the information
that has been written about it.
There can be no doubt that the Wildcat was inferior in
certain respects when compared to the Japanese fighters
that were its primary opponents. Most notably, it was not
as maneuverable, and its rate of climb was considerably
less than the Zero and other Japanese fighters. It also
lacked the range required for the carrier war in the
Pacific. The change to the Wright R,-1820-56W engine in
the FM-2 provided more power and made the Wildcat a
better performer. But it was the F6F Hellcat that gave the
Navy the necessary range it needed in a fighter.
But almost every fighter is in some way inferior to any
other fighter. Over the years, this writer has had the
opportunity to talk with at least a dozen former Wildcat
pilots to include the highest scoring aces. Not one of
them has ever wanted to trade cockpits with a Japanese
pilot. Given the choice of the Wildcat or any Japanese
fighter he fought, each pilot chose the Wildcat. This cer-
tainly says something about the advantages of the air-
craft, and it counters the impression of almost complete
inferiority that many writers seem to express. Many pilots
did express a desi re to fly the Japanese ai rcraft just for
the experience, but when it came to the shooting part, all
would take the Wildcat. The reasons most often cited for
this unanimous choice was the ruggedness of the Wildcat
that allowed it to absorb a great deal of punishment, and
the fact that it seldom caught fire when hit. In his book,
Joe Foss Flying Marine, the USMC's leading ace (and
leading Wildcat ace with twenty-six confirmed victories)
states that he only once saw a Wildcat catch fire after
being hit. On the other hand, catching fire was the rule for
the Japanese fighters when they were hit. They also pro-
vided less protection forthe pilot, and their armament mix
of cannon and machine guns was not as effective as that
in the Wildcat. As Scott McCuskey (who scored 6 1/3
victories in F4Fs plus seven in the Hellcat) explained,
"... it was simply a question of flying your aircraft to
maximize its advantages and minimize its weaknesses."
Another pilot said, "Unless you tried to fight a Japanese
fighter on his own terms or did something stupid, you
were not at a real disadvantage in the Wildcat. He could
climb away from you, but you could dive away from him.
In the F4F, we were not going to score a kill in every fight,
but we never felt that we were at a disadvantage where we
were going to lose."
The Wildcat was the only Navy fighter to serve
throughout the entire war from the attack on Pearl Harbor
until VJ Day. It was also the only Navy fighter in produc-
tion throughout the entire war. A total of 7898 of all
versions were built.
In this publication, Detail & Scale presents a close up
and detailed look at all versions of the Wildcat. We have
been fortunate to obtain many detailed photographs and
drawings from Grumman's files that show cockpits, land-
ing gear, engine installations, armament, and other
details of this, the first in the line of Grumman's fighting
cats. While a number of photographs have been pub-
lished before, many are being released for the first time.
The five-view drawings of the F4F-4 were drawn by Dana
Bell and Russell Lee specifically for this publication. Sup-
plemental views are included for the F4F-3 and FM-2. In
our Modelers Section we take a look at all of the kits of the
Wildcat from 1/144th to 1/32nd scale, and review the
decal sheets available for them.
Details of the XF4F-2 in its original configuration can be seen in this photograph. Particularly note the cowl guns that
are mounted well forward, the antenna mast, the scoop on top of the nose just behind the cowling, the rounded wing
tips, and the two windows below the wing. A large mass balance is mounted on each elevator. (Grumman)
A period of transition
Most aviation historians would agree that the ten
years just after World War II were filled with the most
dramatic changes in aviation history. It was in that time
frame that the transition was made from pistons and
propellers to jet engines as the means of propulsion for
many types of aircraft. Nowhere was this change more
evident than it was for military aircraft. The jet engine
soon moved the speeds past the sound barrier, then 1000
miles per hour, and then mach 2 and beyond. The
changes in aviation brought about by the jet engine, and
the resulting airframe designs into which these engines
were placed, often overshadow the equally important
changes made in the ten years just prior to World War II.
The 1930s were not as dramatic as the postwar period
when it comes to the increased performance afforded by
jets, nor were they as well documented, but, had these
changes not taken place, no jet would have ever lifted off
the ground. One of these important changes was the
replacement of fabric with metal as the skins on the
aircraft. Most World War II aircraft had fabric only on the
control surfaces, while metal was used on the rest of the
airframe. New construction methods and the use of light
metals changed the aircraft designs from struts, fabric,
and wire to sleek designs that increased performance
over older designs almost as dramatically as jets would
outpace these designs at war's end.
But the most important transition of the thirties was
the change from biplanes to monoplanes. Although mon-
oplanes had made an appearance as far back as the
World War I time frame, the biplane had remained the
primary design used until the thirties. But as the decade
of the thirties progressed, fewer and fewer biplanes
remained, and more and more monoplanes appeared. By
the time the forties began, the biplane had all but disap-
peared, and no biplane fighters were left in front line
service in any of the major air forces of the world.
A transitional design
As the monoplane replaced the biplane, there were
many transitional designs, most of which were surpris-
ingly successful. Grumman's Wildcat was one of these
transitional designs, and actually began life on the draw-
ing boards as a biplane which was designated the XF4F-
1.lt had the Grumman design numberG-16.ltwasdrawn
up in the 1935-36 time frame in response to a November
1935 request from the Bureau of Aeronautics for a new
carrier fighter. The Navy realized that biplanes were
quickly becoming a thing of the past, and was really
looking for its first monoplane fighter. Brewster was
working on this design in the form of the F2A Buffalo, but,
with the uncertainties involved with mating monoplanes
and carriers, the Navy wanted a hedge, and had Grum-
man work on the biplane design.
The chief designer for the XF4F-1 was William T.
Schwendler, who came up with an aircraft that had con-
siderable similarities to Grumman's F3F. It was a biplane
with staggered wings of an equal span of twenty-seven
feet. It was twenty-three feet, three inches in length, and
was to have a gross weight of 4500 pounds. It was to be
Grumman XF4F-1
The design of the XF4F-1 is shown in this three-view
drawing. The drawing is in 1/72nd scale. (Jones)
powered by either a Wright XR-1670-02 engine that could
deliver 800 horsepower at 10,000 feet, or a Pratt & Whit-
ney XR-1535-92 that was capable of 800 horsepower at
8,000 feet. Both engines were twin-row radials that were
to drive a variable pitch, two-blade propeller. The maxi-
mum speed was estimated at 264 miles per hour, but this
was only about ten miles per hour faster than the F3F.
Planned armament called for two .30 caliber machine
guns in the cowling, or one .30 and one .50 caliber gun.
A feature of the XF4F-1's design was one that had
almost become a Grumman trademark, and it had been
used on the earlier Grumman biplane fighters. This fea-
ture was the fuselage-mounted landing gear that was
housed in an enlarged lower section of the forward fuse-
lage. Leroy Grumman had produced similar landing gear
for Loening's amphibians, then increased the length of
the struts in order to incorporate this simple and sturdy
design into Grumman's first aircraft. Although this manu-
ally-operated gear would be used on all variants of the
Wildcat, it would be the last Grumman fighterto have this
type of landing gear.
The contract for the XF4F-1 was awarded on March 2,
1936, and Brewster was awarded a contract forthe XF2A-
1 in June of that year. The superiority of the monoplane
design over the biplane became so evident that the Navy
then cancelled the XF4F-1 contract only four months
after it was issued. As a result, no XF4F-1 was ever built. A
new contract for the XF4F-2 monoplane was issued, and
Grumman began to work feverishly to catch up with
Brewster who now had a good head start on their mono-
plane design. At Grumman, the XF4F-2 was given design
number G-18, and it was their first monoplane fighter
design. It was in all respects a transitional fighter design.
It was also to become the first in Grumman's famous line
of fighters to bear the name of various members of the cat
family. Except for the XF5F Skyrocket, a design that was
never put into production, all subsequent Grumman-
produced fighters for the Navy have been named for cats,
and they are probably the most successful of any line of
fighters ever produced.
The prototype
Although Grumman got started later than Brewster,
the XF4F-2 first flew on September 2,1937, with Robert L.
Hall at the controls. This was over th ree months ahead of
the XF2A, which did not fly until December. The aircraft
had the number 0383 on the tail, and this number was to
remain on the aircraft even after its change to the XF4F-3
the following year. Design G-18 was an all metal mono-
plane with a span of 34 feet. All flying surfaces had
rounded tips, and it was powered by a Pratt & Whitney
","\';.'"h; \ '\
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The XF4F-2 takes off on its first flight. The fuselage-
mounted landing gear was a carry-over from earlier bi-
wing fighters, and would remain unchanged throughout
the Wildcat series. (Grumman)
R-1830-66 fourteen-cylinder, two-row engine that had a
single-speed supercharger. It was rated at 1050 horse-
power for takeoff and 900 horsepower at 12,000 feet. It
was delivered to the Navy on December 23,1937, where it
was tested against the XF2A and Seversky's XNF-1.
Although the XF4F-2 proved to be the fastest of the th ree,
achieving 290 mph at 10,000 feet, bearing failures in the
engine and other lesser problems with the design
resulted in the XF2A being selected as the winner of the
competition, thus becoming the Navy's first monoplane
fighter. More detailed information on the XF4F-2 can be
found beginning on page 16.
But Grumman's defeat was relatively short lived, and
work continued to improve the design and correct the
faults. Stability and control problems were corrected by
increasing the span to 38 feet and changing the tips on all
su riaces to a squared-off desig n. The tai I was completely
redesigned. As such, 0383 became the XF4F-3, making
its first flight in this new configuration on February 12,
1939. The engine had been changed to the Pratt & Whit-
ney XR-1830-76, which had a two-stage, two-speed
supercharger. This was something new in aviation pow-
erplants for that time, and Grumman's gamble on using it
in the XF4F-3 was to payoff.
Continued testing resulted in a further redesign of the
"'U:' ,t'
' * " ~
XF4F-2, 0383, became XF4F-3, 0383. The scoop behind
the cowl has been removed, the cowl guns have been
relocated behind the larger cowling, the wing tips have
been squared off, and the vertical tail has been rede-
signed. The tall antenna mast ahead of the cockpit still
remains. (Grumman)
Left side details of XF4F-2, 0383, are shown here. Note the
spinner that has been added to the propeller. It was one of
several tried in an attempt to solve problems with the
engine overheating. A bomb is attached under the left
wing, and a long pitot tube is mounted on the leading
edge. (Grumman)
tai I that included moving the horizontal stabil izers and
elevators from the fuselage up to the vertical tail, and a
changed vertical tail that was faired into the spine of the
fuselage. With these changes made, the final appearance
of the Wildcat was set, and it varied little through the
production versions. Only the FM-2, with its taller tail and
different engine and exhaust arrangement, differed from
the XF4F-3's final design to any noticeable extent. A
closer look at the details of the XF4F-3 can be found
beginning on page 21.
Wildcat production
With the design finalized with the XF4F-3, the F4F-3
was ordered into production. Following the first two
examples, the cowl guns were deleted in favor of four .50
caliber weapons in the wings. The F4F-3 was followed by
the F4F-4 which was the first Wildcat to feature folding
wings so that more could be fitted into the cramped
spaces aboard carriers. The -4 also had six guns instead
of four, but this increased firepower was met with dis-
pleasure by most pilots, since it also meant less ammuni-
tion per gun and therefore less firing time. The-4 was the
last Wildcat to be built by Grumman, with all subsequent
Wildcats being built by General Motors' Eastern Aircraft
F4F-3, 1844, shows the basic lines that were used in the
Wildcat series. The antenna mast is now located behind
the cockpit, and further changes have been made to the
vertical tail. The cowl guns still remain, but would be
removed on all but the first two production F4F-3s.
* Some FM-1s were renumbered as Martlet Vs.
** Some FM-2s were renumbered as Wildcat Vis.
The production F4F-3 is represented here by 1848, which
is painted in the colorful pre-war paint scheme. The cowl
guns have been deleted, and four .50 caliber machine
guns in the wings nowcomprise the armament. The pho-
tograph is dated December 12, 1940. This Wildcat was
delivered to the VF-4, the first squadron to receive the
F4F, and is painted in their colors. (Grumman)
Division as FM-1s and FM-2s. The FM-2 was still in pro-
duction unti I the end of the war, and, in fact, Eastern built
far more Wi Idcats than Grumman. Excluding prototypes,
7898 Wildcats were built, and 5927 of these were built by
Rather than go into details about the production ver-
sions of the Wildcat here, each is treated separately on
the following pages. This includes sections on the FM-1
and FM-2, and the British Martlets. All major prototypes
are included as well. Each section on the major versions
contains a data table and other important information.
Sub-variants, like the F4F-3A and F4F-3S, are included
with the section on the primary variant from which they
were derived. General details that are common to all or
most versions are covered beginning on page 10.
Note: This table lists some of the more important changes madeto the Wildcat series of aircraft after production. This is
only a partial listing, but includes all of those changes that would effect the visible appearance of the aircraft. This is
especially important to modelers. A few additional changes of interest are also included.
F4F-3, -3A, -4
F4F-3, -3A, -4
F4F-3, -3A, -4, -7
F4F-3, -3A, -4, -7
F4F-3, -3A, -4, FM-1
F4F-3, -3A, -4, FM-1
Installation of provisions for a gun camera in the leading
edge of the left wing
Elimination of automatic feature in emergency flotation
I nstallation of armor plate
I nstallation of gun heating system
Replacement of telescopic gun sight
Installation of auxiliary ring and bead gun sight
Installation of rear view mirror
Installation of shoulder harness
Removal of auxiliary ring and bead gun sight
Installation of high pressure pneumatic tail wheel
These two photographs show F4F-3s under construction at Grumman in the pre-war years. (Grumman)
For the record
The name Wildcat was bestowed on the F4F on
October 1, 1941, but by then the design was well into its
production run, and other F4Fs, bearing the British name
Martlet, had already engaged in combat and had shot
down German aircraft for the Royal Navy. By the time
America entered the war, the Wildcat was the primary
shipboard carrier fighter. This was due to Grumman's
continued efforts after they initially lost out to the XF2A,
and to that design's severe problems and performance
shortcomings that became apparent after its introduc-
tion into service. Had work not continued on the XF4F-2
and -3, the Navy would have had to fight the first year and
a half of World War II with the Buffalo as its primary
fighter, and that may have proved disastrous. While the
Wildcat did not become the first carrier-borne mono-
plane fighter, it did achieve a number of other notable
firsts in addition to being Grumman's first monoplane
fighter and first "cat" fighter. It was the first American-
built fighter to shoot down a German plane in the hands
of the British on December 25, 1940. It was the first
successful carrier-based fighter monoplane, and the first
to have a two-stage supercharged engine. It was also the
first fighter to make a carrier takeoff with rocket assist,
doing so on March 18, 1944. But most importantly, it gave
the U.S. Navy an aircraft that could fight the Japanese on
better than equal terms until the more potent Hellcat and
Corsair could be put into operation.
As mentioned in the introduction, the Wildcat has
been criticized in many circles as being inferior to the
Zero. In specific performance categories this is undoubt-
edly so, but in other categories and as an overall general-
ity, it simply is not the case. Not only do former Wildcat
pilots dispute this claim, but the figu res do not bear it out
either. The Wildcat was a stable, reliable, and solid
design. Its terminal dive speed was never determined,
although it is known that itwas dived well in excess of 500
miles per hour on a number of occasions. In the difficult
Employees gather in front of and on top ofthe last Wildcat to be built by Grumman. An appropriate sign stating "THIS IS
ITI" is attached to the propeller. General Motors continued production of the Wildcat series with the FM-1 and FM-2.
months of 1942, Wildcats shot down the enemy at a rate
of almost six to one. For the entire war, the rate was 6.9 to
1. In air-to-air combat, the Wildcat scored 905 confirmed
kills, while losing 178 of its own number. The highly
praised F-4 Phantom should have had such a kill ratio in
Vietnam! While it is admittedly unfair to compare World
War II to Vietnam, and the Wildcat to the Phantom, a kill
ratio of almost seven to one hardly indicates an inferior
aircraft, particularly when flown to maximize its advan-
tagesand minimize the enemy's as every fighter should
be flown. Compared to kill ratios achieved by other
American fighters, the Wildcat's figures are certainly not
spectacular, but it seems clear that the Wildcat did more
than simply "hold the line." Without the superior range
and performance characteristics of the F6F and F4U, the
war in the Pacific would have undoubtedly been vastly
different except for the final outcome, but it would have
also been a much more desperate situation if the Wildcat
had been shelved when itfirst lost out in competition with
the XF2A.
The operational history of the F4F has been well doc-
umented in books and articles more intended to cover
that aspect of the Wildcat than this book is, but several
points are worth repeating here. As mentioned earlier,
the first kill by an F4F was on Christmas Day in 1940, as
Royal Navy Martlets shot down a Ju-88 over the Orkney
Islands. The first U.S. F4Fs to see combat did no fighting.
They belonged to VMF-211, and were at Ewa MCAS,
Hawaii, when the Japanese struck on December 7,1941.
None got airborne, and nine of eleven were destroyed or
severely damaged on the ground. The first time the Wild-
cats did any fighting with American pilots at the controls
was with another detachment of VMF-211 at Wake Island
that same day, although itwas December8 on that side of
the International Date Line. Although seven were de-
stroyed on the ground, five fought bravely for two weeks
before finally falling to far superior forces. The first
American kill by the Wildcat was scored on December 9,
1941. This action at Wake also produced the first Wildcat
pilot Medal of Honor winner in Captain Henry F. Floyd.
Captain Floyd shot down two Japanese bombers and
bombed the destroyer KISAGARA. He was later killed in
hand to hand fighting when the Japanese overran the
island. Other pilots who won the Medal of Honor in the
cockpit of the Wildcat included the Navy's first ace,
"Butch" O'Hare, and the Marine's leading ace, Joe Foss.
Joe Foss chats with armorers between missions on Gua-
da/canal. Note where the antenna wire enters the fuse-
lage within the national insignia. (Grumman)
Guadalcanal is one of the most famous names in the
pages of American combat history. It was there that some
of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting in history took
place, and it was there that land-based Wildcats and their
pilots faced a formidable enemy and some of the worse
conditions of the war. Men like Joe Foss, Harold J.
"Indian Joe" Bauer, Marion Carl, James E. Swett, John L.
Smith, Robert E. Galer, and so many others included acts
of heroism in their daily routines while facing overwhelm-
ing odds fighting both the Japanese and malaria at the
same time. Undoubtedly Joe Foss could have added to
his twenty-six confirmed victories if he had been able to
spend more time fighting the Japanese and less time
fighting malaria. Yet his twenty-six confirmed kills are
still high enough to make him the leading ace of the
Marine Corps. All of his victories were scored in the
Wildcat. No less than thirty-four Marines became aces
while flyi ng the Wildcat, and the large majority of Marine
victories were scored in the Guadalcanal area. Twenty-
seven Navy pilots became Wildcat aces, flying different
versions of the type throughout the war in many actions.
F4F-4 Wildcats proved their worth on Guadalcanal. It was here that Joe Foss, the leading Marine ace, scored his
victories. This picture shows the flight line on Fighter One, Guadalcanal's first auxiliary airstrip, as it appeared on
February 25, 1943. (Grumman)
The main landing gear on the Wildcat was very much like that used previously on the Grumman F3F. It was manually
operated by a crank in the cockpit which moved the gear through a series of gears and chains. It took about thirty
revolutions of the crank to completely retract the gear. At left is a photograph of the right main gear in the full down
position. At right, the gear is partially raised, revealing some of the details about how the mechanism worked.
(Both Grumman)
The details of the main gear wheel are illustrated in this
drawing. Noteworthy is the cover plate (part 1) that
covered the spoked wheel. Some photographs of Wild-
cats show them with this cover removed. This seems to
become more prevalent later in the war on the FM-2.
1 A,le Memb,o,
'2 Lowc,O,,,,gLink
3 UpperOrogLink
4 8oh-JJ754
6 8011_33762
7 Boh_AN6-26
8 C"mpr.";,,n [ink
9 Opero!;ng CheiM
10 $p,<><ket
11 Compr...ionlink8eom
13 SupponTube
14 Bolr_AN4_21
15 Coll.,Pin
16 Counterbalon,.
17 Pin--ll/>l1
18 8011-33754
19 OleoSl,ul
20 MoinB."m
21 Boh-J37bO
22 6011_10659
23 Foiring
1 CO"., Plat.
2 Grea Cap
3 Spoclal Nil.
4 Co"., Pin
5 Wa.h.,
6 Con.
7 Wh..1
8 Con.
9 Spacer
10 Ga.k
11 Spac
12 Snap Retaining Ring
13 Brok.
14 Inn R.talnlng Ring
15 Spac.,
16 Ga.k
17 Main Wh1 A"I.
18 landing Gear A"I. M.mb
This view looks up into the main gear compartment from
the right side. (Grumman)
With much of the gear removed from the compartment,
this photograph shows the right side of the main gear to
much better effect. It was a very simple but sturdy mecha-
nism. However, with the main gear so close together,
cross-wind handling was not as good as it would have
been if the gear had been located further apart on the
wings. (Grumman)
The opening for the left wheel is seen in this photograph.
Details of the left strut and drag link are visible. Forward is
to the left in this photograph. (Grumman)
This close-up view was taken of the bulkhead at the aft
end of the main gear compartment, and reveals the chain
system that raised and lowered the gear.
.. _ ,-
The tail wheel shown at left was a hard rubber tire, and was designed for carrier operations. This one was on the
prototype. The inflated tire shown at right was designed for land operations, but many photographs show this larger
style tire being used on carriers. (Both Grumman)
The arresting hook was a simple, manually-operated
device consisting of a bar and a hook. It was extended
from the cockpit through a system of cables and pulleys,
then it dropped to the position shown in this photograph.
1 Conlrol IiGndl. II 801l-AN27-30
2 Pull.y-AN21 01 A Nul-AN320-7
3 Cabl. 8u,hing-G2S-H-T-I 00
4 Guido-9763-5 12 f"oiring
5 13 8011-AN6-20
6 Spring-G102A3 Nut-AN310-6
7 8011-11658 14 Str"t Ext.ndon
8",hinll-116572 IS Shock Slr"t
Slop N"t-128-108 16 Link and Ecc.ntric St,,"
8 Drag Link 17 Spring-<>102-44
9 Ca".r 18 PI"ng"
10 Whltl
The major components of the tail wheel are revealed in
this cut-away drawing. (Grumman)
Details of the windscreen are shown to good effect in this
front view. Note the little air vent/scoop on top.
This view was taken from above and behind, and shows
the gunsight centered under the windscreen. The walk-
ways on the wings and the taper of the forward fuselage
are also shown to good effect. (Grumman)
Details of the sliding canopy are revealed here. The upper portion of the seat, the headrest, and the straps of the
shoulder harness are also visible in the photo at left. The headrest was black, the straps were white or a very light gray,
and the metal inside the cockpit was painted zinc chromate. The aircraft shown in these two photographs, as well as the
two above, is an F4F-4, as evidenced by the wing fold line that is visible in two of the photos, but who the kill markings
belonged to is unknown. (Both Grumman)
Most variants of the F4F Wildcat were powered by differ-
ent versions of Pratt & Whitney's R-1830 engine. It had
fourteen cylinders arranged in two rows of seven each as
seen here. (Grumman)
This head-on view shows engine scoop detail. The cheek
scoops that were located inside of the cowling were for
intercooler air. Two intercoolers cooled the engine air
flowing between the two supercharger stages, and each
of these two scoops led to an intercooler. The scoop on
the top of the cowl was for combustion air. It was on
F4F-3s with the R-1830-76 engine, the F4F-3As with the
R-1830-90, and all F4F-4s. It was not on F4F-3s with the
R-1830-86 engine. (Grumman)
Keeping the R-1830 cool was a problem from the begin-
ning. A number of spinner designs and cooling flap ar-
rangements were tried. Early F4F-3s had a single large
flap on the upper portion of each side of the cowling, but
the final solution was no spinner and eight flaps, four on
each side, arranged as seen in this photograph. This was
used on some F4F-3s, the F4F-4, and the FM-1. The FM-2,
which was powered by the Wright R-1820, returned to the
single large flap on each side of the cowling.
This cut-away R-1830 is on display at the Naval Aviation
Museum at Pensacola NAS, Florida.
The nine cylinders of the R-1820 are clearly visible in this
view. Note the lack of cowl and cheek scoops, but notice
the scoops in between the lower cylinders.
Above left and right: The two XF4F-5s, two XF4F-8s, and
the 4437 FM-2s all were powered by the Wright R-1820,
nine-cylinder, single-row engine. These two photo-
graphs show right and left side views of this engine. One
of the characteristics was the lateral exhausts above the
wing. Although this engine had only nine cylinders, the
R-1820-56W, which was installed in the FM-2, produced
1350 horsepower as compared to the 1200 horsepower of
the fourteen-cylinder R-1830 in the F4F-4.
(Both Grumman)
More details of the R-1820 are revealed in the cut-away
engine on display at the Naval Aviation Museum.
This is the XF4F-2 mockup. It is made mostly of wood to include the propeller. It only had a right wing that had to be
supported by a strut. Cut-away sections provided a hint of the interior details. (Grumman)
The mock-up went so far as to have a fairly complete cockpit layout that included a telescope sight mounted above the
instrument panel. (Grumman)
The XF4F-2 took off on its first flight on September 2, 1937, with Robert L. Hall at the controls. (Grumman)
When the contract for the XF4F-1 biplane was can-
celled, Grumman turned its attention to the XF4F-2 mon-
oplane design, and worked at a rapid pace in order to
have the aircraft ready for competition with Brewster's
XF2A and the Seversky XNF-1. In typical Grumman
fashion, and in spite of a later start, Grumman had the
XF4F-2 in the air three months ahead of Brewster's Buf-
falo. In its original form, the XF4F-2 was an all-metal
monoplane with fabric ailerons, elevators, and rudder. It
had pneumatically operated split flaps on mid-mounted
wings that spanned thirty-four feet. The wings and tail
surfaces all had rounded tips. Large mass balances were
located on the elevators, and the rudder hinge line tilted
forward of vertical. There were two plexiglas windows on
each side of the lower fuselage to provide downward
visibility, and an access to the aft fuselage accessory
compartment was provided through a door located just
aft of the right wing root. The hand-operated landing
gear, which had proven reliable on Grumman's earlier
biplane fighters, was mounted in the fuselage ahead of
the wing.
The engine used on the XF4F-2 was the Pratt & Whit-
ney R-1830-66, fourteen-cylinder, twin-row radial with a
single-speed supercharger. This powerplant turned a
three-blade Hamilton Standard constant speed pro-
The mass balances on the elevators are shown in this
right rear view. The curved tips on all of the flying sur-
faces are also apparent. Note the walkway on the wing
and the step and hand hold on the fuselage. These were
features that carried through to the F6F Hellcat.
peller, and it produced 1050 horsepower for takeoff and
900 horsepower at 12,000 feet. There was a rectangular
carburetor air scoop located on top of the fuselage
behind the cowling, and air from this scoop was mixed in
the engine with 110 gallons of aviation gas from the main
fuel tank and twenty additional gallons from a reserve
tank. At first there were no cowl flaps, but later two flaps
were added to improve engine cooling. This was but the
first attempt to solve engine overheating problems that
were to plague the F4F series for some time. Various
spinners were also tried to help solve this problem. A
ten-inch oil cooler was mounted in the left wing. Airfrom
below the wing was taken into the cooler, then exhausted
out on top of the wing. A large radio mast projected out at
an angle from the fuselage, and was located just forward
of and to the left of the cockpit.
Armament consisted of two cowl-mounted machine
guns, with two more guns located in the wings. Two
hundred rounds were supplied for each gun. A telescopic
sight was provided, and was mounted through the wind-
From the left, many more details of the single XF4F-2 are
visible. The engine exhaust is at the bottom of the cowl,
and a carburetor air scoop is just aft of the cowl at the top.
When this photograph was taken, there was no spinner
fitted and no cooling flaps on the cowl. The large radio
mast is on the left side of the forward fuselage, and a
telescopic sight is mounted through the windscreen. A
long pifot tube is on the leading edge of the left wing. Also
note how the rudder hinge line tilted forward ofa line that
was perpendicular to the centerline. (Grumman)
Taken at a later date than the photographs on the previous page, this photo shows some changes to the XF4F-2. A small
round spinner has been added to the propeller in an attempt to improve engine cooling. The cowling itself is much
longer, and is of a different shape. Also noteworthy is the resulting change in the appearance of the cowl guns.
shield in typical fashion. Provisions were made for a
bomb rack under each wing with the capacity of one
100-pound bomb each.
Grumman was awarded Navy contract number 46973
for the XF4F-2 on July 28,1936. Only one example, 0383,
was built, and it flew for the first time on September 2,
1937. On December 23rd of that year it was delivered to
the Navy for extensive testing and evaluation. It went to
the Naval Aircraft Factory on April 6, 1938. Then, on April
11, the engine quit during deck landing tests, and the
aircraft flipped over on its back in a crash landing. During
these tests, the aircraft had suffered from engine bearing
failures and some stability problems, but it did not seem
anything insurmountable as far as Grumman was con-
cerned. However, it was enough to convince the Navy to
choose the Brewster XF2A over the XF4F-2 as its initial
carrier fighter. But interest for the XF4F-2 continued, and
with war clouds on the horizon, and the uncertainties of
the Brewster monoplane, the XF4F-2 was shipped back
to Grumman where it would be redesigned and then
would fly again as the XF4F-3.
Normal HP/RPM/Alt
Takeoff HP/RPM
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Combat Gross Weight
Power Loading (Lbs/HP)
Max Speed at SL
Max Speed at Crit.
Landing Speed
Max Rate of Climb
T.O. Dist. (25 kt wind)
First Flight
Number Built
P&W R-1830-66
232 sq. ft.
4061 pounds
5541 pounds
257 mph
72 mph
2650 ftlmin
170 ft
September 2, 1937
Two small100-pound bombs could be carried under the
wings. (Grumman)
A much larger spinner is shown here, and was one of
several tried. (Grumman)
Grumman XF4F-2
This 1/72nd scale three-view drawing shows the original design of the XF4F-2. The shorter and rounded wings and tail
surfaces are illustrated. (Jones)
This view looks straight down into the cockpit of the
prototype. (Grumman)
(Grumman) The right side cowl gun is shown here.
The arresting hook on the XF4F-2 is visible in this photo-
graph. The upper portion of the tail cone has been
removed to reveal the slides on which the arresting hook
moved within the fuselage. Note the tail light mounted
above the hook. (Grumman)
Instrument panel details in the XF4F-2 are revealed in this
photograph. (Grumman)
Lessons learned with the XF4F-2 were worked into a new
design designated XF4F-3. The same airframe that had
been used for the XF4F-2 was used for the XF4F-3, and
even the same BuNo, 0383, was retained. Among the
changes were new wing and tail surfaces with squared-
ott tips. The Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-76 engine replaced
the -66 used in the XF4F-2. (Grumman)
When Grumman received the wrecked XF4F-2, it
immediately began reconstruction of the aircraft while
incorporating changes to correct problems that had sur-
faced during the initial testing. A Pratt & Whitney XR-
1830-76 engine replaced the -66 used in the XF4F-2. It
was equipped with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger
which was an unproven concept and a gamble on the part
of Grumman. A cooler was placed between the two
stages, and cooling air was brought in by two scoops
located on the inside of the cowling. Butthe arrangement
was effective, producing 1200 horsepower for takeoff
and 1000 horsepower at 19,000 feet. A Curtiss Electric
propeller was used, and oil coolers were located under
the wings.
Although the aircraft retained the same number, 0383,
as the XF4F-2, only the fuselage remained the same. The
wings were increased in size to a span of thirty-eight feet,
and the tips were squared off. The horizontal and vertical
tail planes were also squared off, but the horizontal tail
remained located on the fuselage. Armament consisted
of two cowl-mounted .30 caliber machine guns, and two
.50 cali ber guns were located in the wings. Gross weight
increased to 6305 pounds.
The first flight of the XF4F-3 was on February 12,1939,
with Robert Hall at the controls again. The flight lasted
forty-five minutes. On March 7, the aircraft was delivered
to the Navy for testing, and it was discovered that engine
cooling at altitude remained a problem. As a result, sev-
eral spinner and cowl flap arrangements were tried, but
no entirely satisfactory solution was found. Some stabil-
ity problems also remained, and the dihedral of the wing
was increased to one degree. The aileron area was
reduced. But it was not until wind tunnel testing at Lang-
ley that further modifications to the tail section were
This in-flight view of the XF4F-3 shows the new wing and
horizontal tail design with the squared-ott tips. The span
of the wing was increased to 38 feet as compared to 34
feet on the XF4F-2. (Grumman)
made. These consisted of moving the horizontal tail up
twenty inches from the fuselage to the vertical tail, and
the vertical tai I was enlarged, slightly rounded, and fai red
into the spine of the fuselage. This resulted in the design
that was to be used on all production Wildcats until the
taller tailed FM-2. Finally, in October 1939, the Navy
issued contract 63072 for the XF4F-3.
With the final changes made to the design of the tail
section, the aircraft was delivered to Anacostia on April
23, 1940, for continued testing. In November and
December 1940 it made carrier tests and evaluations
aboard the RANGER, CV-4, and WASP, CV-7. On
December 17, with a total of 345.4 hours flying time, 0838
crashed at Norfolk killing LTJG W. C. Johnson, who
mistakenly tu rned off the fuel selector valve instead of
actuating the flap selector. The fuel selector switch was
adjacent to and similarly shaped to the flap selector. But
by then the Wildcats ordered by France had been
diverted to England, and were about to score the first
Wildcat kill of the war only twelve days later. The U.S.
Navy had already become convinced that it both wanted
and needed the F4F, and the first production F4F-3s were
already entering U.S. service.
The right side of 0383 is shown here. The two plexiglass
windows are still located beloweach wing. The accessory
compartment door is visible just aft of the wing and the
step. No spinner is on the prop at this time.
Normal HP/RPM/Alt
Takeoff HP/RPM
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Combat Gross Weight
Power Loading (Lbs/HP)
Max Speed at SL
Max Speed at Crit.
Landing Speed
Max Rate of Climb
T.O. Dist. (25 kt wind)
First Flight
Number Built
paw R-1830-76
260 sq. ft.
4794 pounds
6305 pounds
285 mph
68 mph
2500 ft/min
168 ft
February 12,1939
Taken at a later date than the photograph at left, this
photo shows the addition of a large spinner. Also note the
added cowl flap. Both the spinner and the flap were ongo-
ing attempts to solve engine overheating problems that
persisted with the aircraft. (Grumman)
Flotation bags were installed in the wings of the XF4F-3,
and were designed to automatically inflate in the event of
a water landing. However, after two accidents were
caused by the bags inflating in flight, they were removed
from all future F4Fs. (Grumman)
Wind tunnel tests revealed the need for further changes in the design of the tail. Here 0383 is shown in its final
configuration, and it is still designated XF4F-3. The vertical tail is fa ired into the spine of the aircraft, and is more curved
than it was previously. The horizontal surfaces have been moved from the fuselage up to the vertical tail. Also
noteworthy is the changed radio mast. It is nowsmaller and located behind the cockpit. The telescopic sight, cowl guns,
a single flap on each side of the cowling, and the two plexiglass windows beloweach wing all remain as features on the
final design of the XF4F-3.(Grumman)
This is the instrument panel in the XF4F-3.
The right console is shown in this photograph.
Details of the left console are illustrated here.
This view looks down into the cockpit andshows the seat
in good detail. Only lap belts were used at this time. There
were no shoulder harnesses, so if you crashed or ditched,
you were sure to eat a part of the instrument panel.
The first two F4F-3s, 1844 and 1845, were used as test aircraft. This is 1844, and it still has the cowl guns. However there
is only one window below each wing. (Grumman)
The F4F-3, Grumman's design G-36, was the first pro-
duction Wildcat, 185 of which were delivered to the USN
and USMC between August 1940 and late 1941. The fi rst
two F4F-3s, 1844 and 1845, were used as service test
aircraft. Both had the cowl guns of the XF4F-3, and
retained spinners for a short time due to the continued
engine overheating problems. Number 1844 was used to
conduct armament testing, and this resulted in the deci-
sion to delete the cowl guns in favor of four wing-
mounted .50 caliber guns instead. 1845 was used for
100-pound bomb drop tests and for carrier landing tests
which revealed the need for a strengthened landing gear.
The weak tail wheel was strengthened and slightly
enlarged, and this raised the height of the vertical tail to
an even eight feet.
Following the first two F4F-3s, the second two were
delivered as XF4F-5s which were fitted with the Wright
R-1820-40, nine cylinder, single row engine with 1200
horsepower for takeoff. These aircraft had the next two
BuNos, 1846 and 1847. Later, 1846 was fitted with a
Wright R-1820-54 which had a turbo-supercharger, and
1847 had the R-1820-48 with a two-stage supercharger.
Approximately the first one hundred F4F-3s were
powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76 engine, with
the remainder being fitted with the -86 that could be
identified by the two magnetos mounted near the top of
the engine nose case. Two cowl flaps were originally
fitted as on the XF4F-3, but this arrangement later was
replaced by the eight flap arrangement that became
standard on the F4F-4. There has been some confusion
as to which F4F-3s had the two large cowl flaps, and
which had the eight flap design. Even more confusion
has existed over the combustion ai r scoop located at the
top of the cowl ring on some F4F-3s and not on others.
The breakdown is as follows. The scoop was present with
the two large cowl flaps on the first F4F-3s with the
R-1830-76 engine and the F4F-3As that were powered by
the R-1830-90. Late F4F-3s with the -86 engine had the
This is 1845 in flight. The scoop for combustion air has been added to the top of the cowling, and there is alarge spinner
on the propeller. (Grumman)
Because of uncertainties and some developmental
problems with the two-stage, two-speed supercharger of
the R-1830-76 and -86 of the F4F-3, the Navy wanted to
insure the delivery of Wildcats even if those problems
became large enough to delay or possibly stop delivery
of those engines. As insurance, it ordered one Wildcat,
BuNo 7031, with the R-1830-90 engine. It had only a
single-stage, two-speed supercharger which was not as
complex, but which also had less horsepower at altitude
than the -76 and -86. The service ceiling dropped three
thousand feet. This aircraft was given the designation
XF4F-6, and it served as the prototype forthe F4F-3A and
Martlet II and III. It was delivered to Anacostia for testing
in November of 1940, where it continued to serve as an
experimental aircraft after tests with the R-1830-90
engine were completed. It crashed on May 25, 1942,
killing LCDR James Taylor.
The F4F-3A was the same as the F4F-3 in all respects
except that it was powered by the R-1830-90 engine
tested in the XF4F-6. As a comparison, the F4F-3A could
only do 312 miles per hour at 16,000 feet, while the F4F-3
could do 331 miles per hour at 21 ,300 feet. The first thirty
were originally intended for Greece, but went to the Brit-
ish as Martlet Ills, with the following sixty-five being built
for the U.S. Navy and Marines between March 18 and May
28,1941. One of these, BuNo 3918, was delivered as an
F4F-3AP photo version. The first U.S. delivery was to
VMF-111 on April 10, 1941. VMF-212 was the only other
USMC squadron to operate the -3A. Navy squadrons
VF-6, VF-5, VF-2, and VF-3 also received this version of
the Wildcat.
eight cowl flaps with no combustion air scoop at the top
of the cowl ring.
One of the most important things to remember about
the F4F-3 is that it had the rigid or non-folding wing. The
last F4F-3 of the first production batch was tested with a
folding wing prior to its installation on the subsequent
variants of the Wildcat series, but otherwise, not one
F4F-3 or F4F-3A had folding wings. Many sources have
shown drawings or paintings of the F4F-3 with folding
wings, and this can be misleading to modelers in particu-
lar. More than one painting of O'Hare's and/or Thach's
F4F-3 Wildcats have been done with the wing fold hinge
line included, and several three-view and five-view draw-
ings and color renditions of the F4F-3 have also shown
the wing fold. While it is understandable to sometimes
confuse the cowl flap or combustion air scoop arrange-
ment if a BuNo of a specific F4F-3 is not known, it is
simply inexcusable to show an F4F-3 or-3Awith a folding
wing. It is also noteworthy that all Wildcats from the
RANGER and WASP that were painted in the colorful
pre-war scheme were F4F-3s with the non-folding wing.
Again, modelers should keep this in mind when building
and painting their models. Not one model exists of an
F4F-3 in any scale, so folding wings must be converted to
the rigid type to build any F4F-3 or -3A.
The first production F4F-3s were delivered to VF-4
aboard the RANGER and VF-7 in WASP. These units
were subsequently designated VF-41 and VF-71 , respec-
tively. Subsequent deliveries were made VF-42, VF-71,
and VF-41. The first Marine units to receive the F4F-3
were VMF-222, VMF-223, and VMF-214, with VMF-221,
VMF-211, and VMF-121 following a few months later.
VF-3 and VF-5 were the last units to receive the F4F-3,
gaining all of their aircraft by September 1941. The last
one-hundred F4F-3s were delivered during the first five
months of 1943, and were used for training purposes
BuNos 2512, 2517, 2526, 2530, 2537, 3985, and 3997
were delivered with camera installations as F4F-3Ps.
The XF4F-6 was an F4F-3 with an R-1830-90 engine
installed in place of the usual R-1830-76. It served as the
prototype for the F4F-3A. (Grumman)
This is the first U.S. F4F-3A, BuNo 3905, which was deliv-
ered to VMF-111 on April 10, 1941. The F4F-3A was
Grumman design G-36, and the first thirty were delivered
to the Royal Navy as Martlet lis. The following sixty-five
were delivered to the U.S. Navy and Marines as F4F-3As,
beginning with BuNo 3905 shown here. It was powered
by the P&W R-1830-90 engine. (Grumman)

This photograph shows the instrument panel in an F4F-3. Callouts designate the instruments and other features.
Details of the left side of the cockpit are shown here. The
layout of the Wildcat's cockpit was quite simple and
straight forward. (Grumman)
PANL".z: ..... --.....
r . .
This is the right side of the cockpit. Of special interest is
the hand crank that raised and lowered the landing gear.
The pilot had to fly with his left hand while turning the
crank with his right hand. This often caused the aircraft to
porpoise a bit, particularly when the gear was being
retracted after take off. (Grumman)
An F4F-3 from VF-6 awaits the signal to launch from the USS ENTERPRISE, GV-6.
(U.S. Navy)
Details of the guns in the right wing of an F4F-3 are seen here. There were only two guns in each wing, and they were
staggered so as to line up properly with their ammunition boxes. The inboard gun was slightly higher than the outboard
gun. Empty ammunition boxes can be seen at the top of the photograph. (Grumman)
bullet-resistant glass windshield formed the forward part
of the canopy enclosure. The pilot was further protected
with 150 pounds of armor plate located forward of the
cockpit near the oil tank and also behind the pilot's seat.
Armament consisted of either four or six wing-
mounted .50 caliber machine guns depending on variant.
Gun charging handles were on the cockpit floor, and
heated air from the engine was ducted to the gun com-
partments. The guns were normally aimed through a
Mark 8 reflector gunsight. There were provisions for a
gun camera in the leading edge of the left wing. A bomb
rack for one 100-pound bomb could be attached under
each wing.
An approach light was located in the leading edge of
the left wing, and it illuminated whenever the tail hook
was extended. Formation lights were on the top wing
surfaces, and a section light was on the spine. Running
lights were on the wing tips and the tail. A retractable
landing light was located in the bottom surface of the left
wing, and three recognition lights were on the bottom of
the fuselage.
The final design of the Wildcat, which experienced
relatively minor changes throughout the entire produc-
tion run, was now set, and can be described as follows.
The fuselage was of semi-monocoque construction with
an aluminum alloy skin that was held in place with Brazier
head external rivets. The skin was overlapped in sections,
giving it a ribbed appearance. Only one plexiglas window
remained on each side of the lower fuselage under the
wing. These were removable to provide access to the
lower fuselage compartment. Access to the aft fuselage
compartment was through a door on the right side just aft
of the wing root. Radio equipment was located in this aft
The wings were a full cantilever type with a single
main beam. On the F4F-3 and its sub-variants, the wings
were rigid, but on later versions a folding wing was used.
It consisted of two stub center sections and two folding
outer sections. The outer panels were flush riveted, with
Brazier head rivets on the center sections. The ailerons
were of aluminum construction covered with fabric. The
left ai leron had an adjustable tab that was controlled from
the cockpit, while the right aileron had a bendable tab.
Split flaps extended from the fuselage to the ailerons.
The tail section was of aluminum alloy construction
which was flush riveted. Fabric covered the elevators and
rudder, and both had adjustable tabs that were controlled
from the cockpit.
The main landing gear was retractable through the
means of a manually operated hand crank that required
about thirty full turns to retract or lower the gear. This
crank worked a chain and sprocket linkage that was
attached to the gear struts. If the engi ne RPM fell below
1200, a warning device would sound ifthegearwas notin
the down position. Bendix 26" x 6" wheels were used on
the main gear. Hydraulic brakes were linked to the tops of
the rudder pedals. The tail wheel was not retractable, and
two types of tires were used. A wheel with a ten-inch
pneumatic tire was used for land operations, while a
six-inch solid rubber tire was intended for carrier use. A
forty-one-inch long arresting hook could be manually
extended or retracted from the cockpit.
Different versions of Pratt & Whitney's R-1830
fourteen-cylinder, twin-row engine powered most ver-
sions of the Wildcat, with the Wright R-1820 being used in
the FM-2. On most versions a 117-gallon main fuel tank
was located in the fuselage beneath the cockpit, and an
emergency tank of twenty-seven-gallon capacity was
behind the aft cockpit bulkhead. Drop tanks of fifty to
fifty-eight-gallon capacity could be carried under each
wing. On those aircraft with the Pratt & Whitney engines,
two ten-inch oil coolers were mounted under the wings
near the fuselage. The eleven-gallon oi I tank was located
just in front of the cockpit firewall.
The canopy was the sliding type and was operated by
a handle on the right side. It could be jettisoned in the
event of an emergency, and was often left in the open
position while cruising. A rearview mirror was attached
inside the top forward edge of the sliding enclosure. A
Normal HP/RPM/Alt
Takeoff HP/RPM
Propeller Type
Propeller Diameter
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Combat Gross Weight
Power Loading (Lbs/HP)
Max Speed at SL
Max Speed at Crit.
Cruise Speed
Landing Speed
Max Rate of Climb
T.O. Dist. (25 kt wind)
Range (At Max Speed)
Range (At Cruise Speed)
Max Endurance
Ceiling (Absolute)
Ceiling (Service)
Fuel (I nternal)
Fuel (External)
First Flight
P&W R-1830-76
11 00/2550/SL
Curtiss C5315 (S)
3 blade, C.S.
9 ft, 9 in
260 sq. ft.
5293 pounds
7467 pounds
278 mph
185 mph
75 mph
2050 ft/min
228 ft
280 miles
1800 miles
9.4 hours
32,600 feet
31,000 feet
147 gallons
2 x 58 gal. tanks
4 x .50 caliber MG
2 x 100 pound
February 1940
This front view of the Wildcatfish shows the floats and their mounts to good effect. (Grumman)
During 1942 the United States lost a number of air-
craft carriers, and naval planners wondered how much
worse the situation would become before it got better
when carriers that were being built could join the fleet.
Another question was how fast airfields could be built
once islands in the Pacific could be taken. As an answer,
the Japanese had fitted the Zero fi ghter with a single
main float and two smaller wing floats. These were used
in sheltered waters to provide air cover until land bases
could be built. These float plane fighters, known as Rufe
by the Allies, were encountered at Guadalcanal and in
the Aleutians.
I n the fall of 1942, the U.S. Navy decided to try this
same approach, and sent F4F-3, 4038, to the Edo Corpo-
ration to be fitted with floats. Early in 1943, the transfor-
mation to float plane was completed, and it differed from
that used by the Japanese considerably. Twin floats were
attached to the fuselage with struts. Because the floats
reduced the yaw stability, two small rudders were
attached to the tips of the horizontal stabilizer, and were
designed to work with the standard rudder. After initial
tests, a large fin was placed under the aft fuselage. The
first flight was made on February 28, 1943, by Grumman
test pilot F. T. "Hank" Kurt.
The American production capability was awesome,
and carrier aviation expanded greatly. Further, the
Navy's famous construction battalions proved that their
capability to transform jungles into airfields was nothing
less than amazing. Airfields became operational almost
overnight, and were operating aircraft before construc-
tion was completed and while the ground fighting was
still in progress. These factors, along with the considera-
ble reduction in performance of the F4F-3S, as compared
to the standard fighters, caused the project to be can-
These two photos show details of the F4F-3S. Note the small auxiliary vertical fins on the horizontal stabilizers. Each
float had a small rudder at the aft end. A large fin has been added to the underside of the aft end of the fuselage, and the
holes for the main gear wheels have been almost entirely covered over with sheet metal. (Both Grumman)
F4F-3, BuNo 1897, was fitted with hydraulically folding wings, and became the XF4F-4. Production F4F-4s, FM-1s, and
FM-2s would all have the folding wings, but they would be operated manually. In the photograph at left, the wings are
not quite all the way back as they are in the rear view in the photo at right. (Both Grumman)
The XF4F-4 retained the F4F-3's long pitot tube on the
leading edge ?f the left wing. It had the combustion air
scoop in the top of the cowl and the single large cowl flap
on each side. Production F4F-4s would have the eight
cowl flaps. (Grumman)
This is the cockpit arrangement proposed for the XF4F-4.
Normal HP/RPM
Takeoff HP/RPM
Propeller Type
Propeller Diameter
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Combat Gross Weight
Power Loading (Lbs/HP)
Max Speed at SL
Max Speed at Crit.
Cruise Speed
Landing Speed
Max Rate of Climb
T.O. Dist. (25 kt wind)
Range at Max Speed
Range at Cruise Speed
Max Endurance
Ceiling (Absolute)
Ceiling (Service)
Fuel (Internal)
First Flight
Number Built
P&W R-1830-76
Curtiss C5315 (S)
3 blade CS
9 ft, 9 in
260 sq. ft.
5776 pounds
7489 pounds
282 mph
200 mph
77 mph
2050 ftlmin
245 ft
280 miles
1200 miles
5.9 hours
35,600 feet
34,000 feet
147 gallons
4 x .50 caliber MG
2 x 100 pound
April 1941
The F4F-4 differed from the earlier F4F-3 in only two major respects. First, it hadmanually folding wings, and second, it
was armed with six .50 caliber machine guns instead of only four. However, most pilots did not like the fact that there
was less ammunition for each gun. Of lesser note is the smaller pitot tube that is located just under the left wing tip.
An F4F-4A version of the Wildcat with the R-1830-90
engine was planned for the same reasons that the F4F-3A
was built, but the reliability of the two-stage, two-speed
-86 engine had been proven by this time. As a result, the
F4F-4A was never built. The F4F-4B was delivered to the
British as the Martlet v.
P&W R-1830-86
Curtiss C5315 (S)
3 blade CS
9 ft, 9 in
260 sq. ft.
5766 pounds
7964 pounds
8762 pounds
274 mph/SL
318 mph/19400
2190 ft/min
33,700 feet
144 gallons
2 x 58 gallon tanks
830 miles
1275 miles
6 x .50 caliber MG
2 x 100 pound
Rate of Climb at SL
Service Ceiling
Fuel (I nternal)
Fuel (External)
Range (Internal Fuel)
Range (External tanks)
Takeoff HP
Propeller Type
Propeller Diameter
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Gross Weight
Max T.O. Weight
Max Speed/Altitude
Normal HP/Alt
This photograph shows an early F4F-4 in the two tone
paint scheme and the six-position national insignia with
red disc. The red and white stripes are on the tail. Later,
the red disc and rudder stripes would be removed.
The F4F-4 became the most widely produced of the
Grumman-built Wildcats and is probably the best known.
Although the FM-2 was built in far greater numbers, it
performed mostly second line duties while the Hellcat
and Corsair took over as the first line fighters forthe Navy
and Marines. It was the F4F-4 that performed most of the
heroics in the early days of the war, with the F4F-3 being
less noticeable only because of its far fewer numbers.
The F4F-4 differed from the -3 in two major respects.
First and foremost was the incorporation of folding
wings. These wings were manually operated through the
use of handcranks stored in the leading edge at the fold.
Small fairings on the top and bottom of the wing surfaces
covered the ends of the hinges. Struts braced the wing
tips to the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizers
when the wings were folded. The second major differ-
ence was the addition of two more machine guns in the
wings, bringing the total to six. Two hundred and forty
rounds were supplied for each gun. All F4F-4s had the
eight cowl flap arrangement and the combustion air
scoop at the top of the cowl.
This excellent shot shows an F4F-4 about to touch down on its carrier. The pilot has flaired out just above the deck, and
the tail hook is about to catch a wire. (National Archives)
At left is a photograph of an F4F-4 on board the USS SANTEE, CV-29. Note that the number 4, which signifies the
aircraft number within the squadron, is in white on the fuselage, and is black on top of both wings. Aircraft number 10
from the same squadron is shown making a hard landing in the photograph at right. But the Wildcat was a very rugged
aircraft, and more likely than not, the pilot would emerge from such a landing with minor, if any, injuries.
(Both National Archives)
In the left photograph, F4F-4s and TBMs are shown warming up their engines in preparation for launch from an escort
carrier. Note the external fuel tank on aircraft number 5 in the foreground. The same aircraft is seen at right as it is being
hooked up to the catapult. Noteworthy is the angle of the radio mast, the small fairings tor the guns under the wings, and
the lowered flaps. (Both Grumman)
Note: Coverage of the F4F-4 is continued on page 41.
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Although this is an FM-2 that has been restored and maintained by the Confederate Air Force, it illustrates the colorful
schemes that were in use when the Wildcat first entered service with the Navy. The markings represent those used by
VF-41 aboard the USS RANGER, CV-4. The entire upper wing surfaces were yellow, and the white diagonal bands were
on them as well as being on the lower surfaces. While this scheme is certainly colorful, the fact is that it was never used
during World War /I on an FM-2, and thus is incorrect for this particular aircraft.
The next scheme used on the Wildcat was overall non-specular light g!ay. This is a Marine F4F-3 from VMF-121 as seen
in early 1941. (Arnold/NASM via Piety
The overall light gray scheme was also known as the neutrality gray scheme, since America had not yet entered the war
when it was used. Both of these photographs show F4F-3As from VF-5. In the photograph at left, notice the very small
national insignia on the fuselage. (Both Arnold/NASM via Piety
The overall gray scheme gave way to the two color scheme consisting of non-specular blue-gray (FS 36118) over
non-specular light gray (FS 36440). It is shown here with the large, six-position national insignia with the red disc. The
red and white stripes are on the tail. This photograph of an F4F-4 was taken over Long Island in the spring of 1942.
(Arnold/NASM via Piet)
The same scheme as seen above is also used on the aircraft in these two photographs; however, the red disc and rudder
stripes have been removed. Note the name ROSENBLA TTS REPLY on the aircraft in the photo at left.
(Left National Archives via Piet, right National Archives via Leader)
This nice flying shot illustrates the scheme of blue-gray over non-specular light gray very well.
A freshly painted Martlet I is seen here with the registration number NXG2 painted on the wing. Note the red, white, and
blue vertical stripes on the rudder. (Arnold/NASM via Piety
This is the last surviving Martlet I, and it is now on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, Oxfordshire,
England. (King)
Armament specialists are preparing to boresight the guns
on this Wildcat. The photograph was taken at Norfolk in
1944. (National Archives via Piety
Above left and right: These F4F-3A Wildcats are from
VMF-111, and were used during Army war games in
November 1941. They are painted in the neutrality gray
markings, and have red crosses added as markings for
the war games. (Both GroenhofflNASM via Piety
This close-up shows engine colors on an FM-2.
The Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, Florida, is one of the finest in the world. Among its aircraft is an FM-2.
Museum personnel were kind enough to let Detail & Scale photograph the cockpit in this particular aircraft. This is the
instrument panel; however, the gunsight has been removed.
Left console details and colors are seen here.
This is the right console.
The seat is shown in this view. By the time the FM-2 was
built, shoulder harnesses were used in addition to seat
This photograph shows a Wildcat at Silver Hill waiting for
restoration. The aircraft has since been restored, and is
on display at the National Air and Space Museum in
Washington, D.C. (Munkasy)
This FM-2 was photographed at Chino, California, in May
1971. (Munkasy)
Keith Mackey's FM-2 is shown in these two photographs that were taken over Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida, in April
1970. The aircraft carries the civil registration N2876D. (Both Munkasy)
Another FM-2 that has been restored to early war mark-
ings is coded N315E. The photo was taken in July 1967.
The same aircraft seen at left is shown again in April 1986
at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. It belongs to Lex DuPont. The
paint scheme is the same, but it now has O'Hare's F-130n
the right side of the fuselage, and Thach's F-1 on the left
side. Thirteen red and white stripes are on the rudder. The
real F-1 and F-13 were F4F-3s from VF-3 and the USS
LEXINGTON, CV-2. (Martin)
This FM-2, coded N11 FE, has two extra seats added in its fuselage. Access is gained through a door in the right side.
These photographs were taken at Oshkosh in 1975. (Flightleader)
These restored FM-2s are painted to represent Wildcats assigned to eVEs late in World War II. The aircraft at right is the
same one as pictured above, but has had the two windows in the side covered over. It still carries the code N11 FE, and
this is painted in the wide white band under the horizontal stabilizer. Both photographs were taken in 1979.
(Left Ostrowski via Leader, right Flightleader)
Another beautifully restored FM-2 is seen in these two photographs. The date is September 1977.
(Left Ostrowski via Leader, right Flightleader)
Two of the most famous Wildcat pilots are pictured here. This is LCDR John S. "Jimmy" Thach, the C.O. of VF-3, who
became famous for developing the "Thach Weave," a tactic where the two aircraft continually weaved in such a way as
to always cover the other's tail. (National Archives via Piety
Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare was also from VF-3, and became a Wildcat ace in one mission during the Battle of Coral Sea.
For his actions he was presented the Medal of Honor. He was killed in November 1943, while flying a Hellcat night
fighter. (National Archives via Piety
An inflatable life raft was contained in a compartment that was located in the spine of the aircraft behind the cockpit. It
proved to be impractical since the aircraft would usually sink after ditching so fast that the raft could not be deployed. A
floatation type seat cushion proved more practical. We have reproduced this photograph as large as possible to showa
number of other details in addition to the raft. The antenna wire that runs from the tip of the horizontal stabilizer to the
fuselage (at about 2:30 on the national insignia) is visible, particularly where it is contrasted against the blue disc. Also
note the step and hand hold, the lift point hole behind the insignia, the door to the aft compartment behind the wing,
and the small wing fold fairing on top of the wing. (Grumman)
This close-up shows the raft stowed in its compartment. On this aircraft the antenna wire from the vertical stabilizer
and mast enters the fuselage just behind the mast at the top of the spine. (Grumman)
Guns were often checked on the carrier as seen in this photograph and the one below.
This photograph shows an F4F-4 from VF-6 aboard the USS ENTERPRISE. All six guns are opened up in preparation for
test firing. Note how the red and white stripes on the tail have been hastily painted out, although some of the white still
shows. The red disc remains in the white star. (Grumman)
Details of the inner two guns on the left wing of an F4F-4
are shown here. The fact that this is an F4F-4, and not
simply the guns on an F4F-3, is evidenced by the wing
fold line and fairing in the upper right corner of the photo.
Ammunition boxes for the F4F-4 are shown in this view.
The boxes for the inner two guns are one behind the other
to the left, and the one for the outer gun is by itself to the
right. The outer gun is located between the pair of ammu-
nition boxes, and its own single box. The fairings and
shell ejector slot can be seen near the center of the photo.
-, .
At left is a photograph of the outboard gun on the left wing of an F4F-4. At right, the gun has been removed, revealing the
ejector slot and other details of the gun bay. (Grumman)
Manually operated folding wings became standard on the F4F-4, and were used on the FM-1 and FM-2. They were
operated by a handle that is visible at the leading edge of the fold in this photograph. Also note the brace running
between the wing tip and the horizontal stabilizer. This same folding wing design was also used on Grumman's F6F
Hellcat and TBF Avenger. (Grumman)
This is a detailed close-up of the wing fold joint on the
right wing. Note the small bubble or fairing on the skin of
the wing at the corner of the hinge. (Grumman)
8 Flap Operating Cylinder Flex
9 Airspeed Tube.
10 Electric Flex Conduit
11 Airspeed Tube Drain.
12 Triangular Wing Fold Door
'3 Wing Lock Fitting
1 Wing Lock Cylinder
2 Wing LocI( Handle Door
3 Wing Lock Waming Flag
4 Aileron Disconnect Fmlng
S Gun Charging Cable. and Guide
6 Locking Cable
7 Tab Control Shaft
Details of the left wing hinge are named in this drawing.
(Grumman) This is the left wing fold hinge.
More details of the wing fold joint are shown here.
This photograph was taken looking over the leading edge
of the inner left wing, and reveals details of the interior of
the outer wing section at the fold joint.
These two views show details of the inner portion of the wing fold as viewed from behind.
45 ,
The aft-fuselage compartment of an F4F-4 is shown in these two views. The photo above looks forward, and reveals
some of the radio gear and the twenty-seven-gallon reserve fuel tank. The opening to the compartment is seen at right.
The photograph below looks aft. Note where the antenna wire enters the fuselage on the right side of the photo. The
tube passing through the fuselage leads to holes in the sides of the aircraft. A tube or bar is placed in one hole, through
this tube, then out the opposite side, and is used to hoist the aircraft. Again, note the opening to the compartment which
is on the left side on this photo. (Both Grumman)
Instrument panel details for the F4F-4 are shown in this keyed photograph.
This view looks straight down into the cockpit, and
reveals the control column, floor boards, and other
details. The seat has been removed from the cockpit for
this photograph. (Grumman)
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Right side console details are seen here.
This is the left side console.
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3. SlIf'E:Il(;t<AIlGE:IlCOIlTlIOtl.EV[1I
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Two one-of-a-kind variations on the F4F-4 design are illustrated on this page. In the top photo is a "long wing"
experiment (on the left) parked nose to nose with a standard F4F-4 for comparison. Below is a head-on view of BuNo
5262, which was fitted with full span (duplex) flaps. The inboard flaps were the same as those on the basic F4F, while the
outer flaps were electrically actuated. The wing was the fixed type that was used on ihe,F4F-3. The design was
designated G-53, and was ordered by the Navy under contract 75736. The aircraft first flew on May 5, 1942, and it was
the only Wildcat so modified. (Both Grumman)
Note: All dimensions are for F4F-3 and sUbsequent aircraft except as noted.
1/72nd SCALE*
1/48th SCALE
1/32nd SCALE
Wingspan (extended)
38' 0"
Wingspan (folded)**
14' 4"
28' 9-3/8"
Height tail
8' 0"
Height tail (FM-2)
8' 9-9/16"
Horizontal tail span
13' 8"
Wheel tread
6' 4-31/32"
2.41 "
Wing root chord
8' 7"
Wing tip chord
5' 1-5/8"
Stab. chord (max)
5' 29/32"
* For 1/144th scale, divide 1/72nd scale dimensions by two.
** The F4F-3 and F4F-3A did not have folding wings.
*** Length measurement is measured overall parallel to fuselage centerline.
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The F4F-7 was a long range photo recon version of the Wildcat with a greatly increased fuel supply. (Grumman)
The F4F-7, Grumman design G-52, was a long range
photo-reconnaissance variant of the Wildcat that was
based on the rigid-wing F4F-3. The camera installation
was in the aft fuselage section. It had no guns, no armor
or bullet resistant windshield. An autopilot was installed
to reduce pilot fatigue, because the endurance was
twenty-five hours in the air! Thefixed wing was fitted with
fuel tanks, bringing the total fuel capacity to 555 gallons.
This quadrupled the range possible with the standard
F4F-3. Gross weight increased to 10,328 pounds, making
the F4F-7 by far the heaviest Wildcat built. In order to
dump the large amount of fuel quickly, a special dump
system was installed with two outlets protruding from the
aft fuselage just below the rudder.
Twenty-one F4F-7s were built and assigned BuNos
5263-5283, but only two are known to have been used in
the photographic role at Guadalcanal. An additional one
hundred were ordered, but the order was first changed to
F4F-3S float planes, then to standard F4F-3s. The first
flight was on December 30,1941, and was made by S. A.
Converse. Deliveries began on January 13, 1942, and
continued until December 18. The first F4F-7 flew from
New York to Los Angeles non-stop in eleven hours with
LCDR "Andy" Jackson in the cockpit.
These two views show more details of the F4F-7. The vent tubes for the fuel dump system are visible below the rudder,
and are seen in close-up detailed photos on the next page. (Grumman)
The F4F-7 shared common features with both the F4F-3 and F4F-4 as evidenced by these two photographs. The rigid
(non-folding) wing of the F4F-3 was used, but was fitted with the small F4F-4 style pitot. The arrangements of eight cowl
flaps and combustion air scoop on top of the cowl are visible. There is no armament or armor installed.
(Both Grumman)
Normal HP/RPM/Alt
Takeoff HP
Propeller Type
Propeller Diameter
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Combat Gross Weight
Power Loading (Lbs/HP)
Max Speed at SL
Max S p ~ e d at Crit.
P&W R-1830-86
Curtiss C5315 (S)
3 blade, C.S.
9 ft, 9 in
260 sq. ft.
5468 pounds
10,336 pounds
250 mph
Cruise Speed
Landing Speed
Max Rate of Climb
T.O. Dist. (25 kt wind)
Range at Max Speed
Range at Cruise Speed
Max Endurance
Ceiling (Absolute)
Ceiling (Service)
Fuel (I nternal)
First Flight
Number Built
200 mph
86 mph
1730 ft/min
574 ft
470 miles
4540 miles
25.5 hours
29,900 feet
28,300 feet
685 gallons
December 30, 1941
These two photographs show the vent tubes of the fuel dump system installed in the F4F-7. Since the F4F-7 carried such
a large amount of fuel, it required a system that could dump excess fuel rather quickly. At left is a close-up of the vent
tubes, and, in the photo at right, the cover has been removed from belowthe rudder showing more of the tubes. Note the
end of the arresting hook nestled just below the tubes. (Both Grumman)
This is the first of two XF4F-8 prototypes built by Grumman. It has the tail and rudder design used on all production
variants up to that time. The BuNo was 12228. (Grumman)
This XF4F-8, 12229, was produced with a taller vertical
tail and rudder as shown here. The increased height was
necessary due to the additional torque of the Wright
XR-1820-56 engine. (Grumman)
In 1942 the Navy issued a request for a lightweight
fighter that couId operate from the smaller escort carriers
that were joining both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets in
ever increasing numbers. Grumman's answer to this
request was to Iighten the F4F's ai rframe, and fit it with a
lighter and more powerful engine. The nine-cylinder,
single-row Wright R-1820-56 replaced the Pratt & Whit-
ney R-1830s used on previous variants, and BuNo 12228
became the first XF4F-8. It also had slotted flaps at first,
but these were later replaced with the standard split flaps.
Tests with the first XF4F-8 revealed the need for a
taller vertical tail to counter the increased torque of the
Wright engine during takeoff and go-around phases of
carrier operations. The second XF4F-8, 12229, was fitted
with the taller tail, and became the prototype forthe FM-2
that was produced by Eastern Aircraft.
Hamilton Standard CS
260 sq. ft.
5365 pounds
7080 pounds
3125 ftlmin
36,400 feet
4 x .50 caliber MG
November 8, 1942
Takeoff HP
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Gross Weight
Max Speed/Altitude
Rate of Climb at SL
Service Ceiling
First Flight
Number Built
This close-up shows the taller tail on 12229. With the tail
wheelan the ground, the height of the rudder was
increased to 8 feet, 9-9/16 inches as compared to an even
8 feet for the shorter tail. With the aircraft's tail hoistedso
that the centerline of the fuselage was parallel to the
ground line, the top of the tail was 12 feet, 9-1/16 inches
above the ground, while the short tail was 11 feet, 10-3/8
inches. (Grumman)
Wright R-1820-56
Normal HP/Alt
The instrument panel in the XF4F-8 is shown here.
This is the left console. (Grumman)
Right console details are shown in this photograph.
This view looks straight down into the cockpit of one of
the XF4F-8s. (Grumman)
FM-1 & FM-2
The tall-tailed XF4F-8 served as the prototype for the FM-2, which was produced by the Eastern Aircraft Division of
General Motors. With the extra horsepower of the Wright 1820-56W, the most widely produced variant ofthe Wildcat
was a much better performer than the earlier Pratt & Whitney powered versions. In addition to the taller tail, the lateral
exhausts above the wings were a distinguishing feature ofthis version. Two more exhausts were at the base ofthe cowl.
As the wartime production industry in America moved
toward capacity, Grumman needed to turn its attention to
the F6F Hellcat. There were a number of strange "ar-
rangements" made during these years that found indus-
tries that had formerly produced one item making war
materials that differed greatly from their previous
peacetime products. One such case was the General
Motors plants in NewJersey that had built automobiles in
the pre-war years. Now, at government direction, they
would use these same plants to take part of the load of
producing aircraft. This was not the on Iy example of such
an "arrangement," with Goodyear's production of Cor-
sairs being another. These plants became known as the
Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors, and they
were to take over production of the Wildcat and Avenger
torpedo bomber, leaving the Hellcat to Grumman. To
differentiate between aircraft produced by the two
companies, the F4F designation for the Wildcat was
changed to FM, and the TBF designation of the Grum-
The FM-1 Wildcat was essentially an F4F-4 produced by
the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors. The only
noteable difference was that the FM-1 had only four .50
caliber machine guns instead of six. (Grumman)
man Avenger was changed to TBM for the Eastern-
produced aircraft.
In the Wildcat series, the F4F-4 production was taken
over in mid-stream by Eastern, and the first Eastern Wild-
cat became the FM-1. An initial contract was issued on
April 18, 1942, for 1800 FM-1s. However, only 839 were
delivered to the U.S. Navy and USMC before production
was changed to the more powerful and significant FM-2.
The FM-1 was in every respect like the F4F-4, exceptthat
it was fitted with four machine guns instead of six. Four
hundred and thirty rounds were supplied for each gun.
The first flight by an FM-1 was made on August 31,1942.
While the ESSEX class of carriers would form the
backbone of the American carrier forces in the Pacific,
and would be supplemented by the INDEPENDENCE
class of light carriers, the U.S. Navy was building a large
number of escort carriers in an effort to get as much
airpower to sea as possible. Compared to the fleet carri-
ers, the escort carriers were quite small, usually being
converted from existing merchant ships or built over the
hulls of smaller ships. At first, it was thought that these
smaller carriers would serve as aircraft transports, sup-
plying aircraft for the fleet carriers, but it became clear
that flight operations from these escort carriers was not
only possi ble, it was necessary. It was these ships in both
the U.S. and British navies that were to provide air cover
all the way across the Atlantic forthe slow and vulnerable
convoys that had suffered devastating losses to U-boats
in the early years of the war. By providing aircovertothe
convoys throughout their voyage, the escort carriers
tu rned the war around for the U-boats. Instead of a shoot-
ing gallery of almost helpless targets, the Atlantic
became a graveyard for U-boats. This was due in a large
An FM-2 steps into the airas the catapult bridle falls away.
Launching by catapult became more common during the
later stages of the war. (Grumman)
scheme of non-specular blue (FS 35042) on upper sur-
faces, non-specular intermediate blue (FS 35164) on the
fuselage sides and vertical tail, and flat white on the
undersides. This was later replaced with the overall gloss
sea blue (FS 15042) scheme. But there was one differ-
ence on this last scheme when compared to other air-
craft. Numerous photos of the FM-2 in the overall sea
blue scheme show the use of insignia blue discs on the
national insignia. This was usually not done, with only
the white star and bars used. Just how often this was
done is not known, but it has been documented in a large
number of photographs.
FM-2s and other ai rcraft used in the Atlantic used a
completely different scheme. This consisted of dark gull
gray being used on the upper surfaces, with white being
applied to the undersides, sides of the fuselage, and the
vertical tail. Some F4F-4 and FM-1 Wildcats that operated
in the Atlantic also were painted in this scheme.
1942 1943 1944 1945 TOTAL
21 818 0 0 839
o 310 2890 1237 4437
Wright R-1820-56W
Curtiss CS, 3 blade
260 sq. ft.
5542 pounds
7431 pounds
8221 pounds
2890 ft/min
35,600 feet
117 gallons
2 x 58 gallon tanks
780 miles
1350 miles
4 x .50 caliber MG
Rockets & Bombs
Takeoff HP
Propeller Diameter
Wing Area
Weight Empty
Gross Weight
Max T.O. Weight
Max Speed/Altitude
Normal HP/Alt
Rate of Climb at SL
Service Ceiling
Fuel (Internal)
Fuel (External)
Max Range (Internal Fuel)
Max Range (External tanks)
External Stores
part to the escort carriers as well as an increase in
numbers and improvements to other escorting ships and
detection gear. In the Pacific, the aircraft from the escort
carriers provided close air support to ground forces, flew
CAP, and patrolled for enemy submarines, while aircraft
from the fleet carriers were free to strike the enemy fleet,
shipping, and land bases. While not as glamorous as the
fleet carriers, the operations of the escort carriers in both
oceans were most important.
In order for these small ships to be as effective as
possible, they needed a small, lightweight fighter, so, in
1942, the Navy issued a request for such an aircraft. This
led to the XF4F-8 as described on pages 54 and 55, and
the XF4F-8 served as the prototype for the FM-2. With
4437 examples being built, this was by far the most widely
produced Wildcat variant. Production began in the fall of
1943, and continued until the end of the war in August
1945. It was the FM-2 that joined with the Avenger in
composite squadrons aboard these escort carriers to
perform the roles listed above.
The FM-2 was 530 pounds lighter than the F4F-4, and,
with a more powerful engine, its performance was signifi-
cantly better except at altitude. The Wright engine alone
was a weight savings of 230 pounds as compared to the
Pratt & Whitney. Flying close air support and anti-
submarine patrols did not call for high altitude perfor-
mance, so the R-1820-5 engine used in the FM-2 only had
a single-stage supercharger, hence the F4F-4 was better
at very high altitude, but elsewhere the FM-2 was consid-
erably better. Being lighter, its rate of climb and maneu-
verability was also improved, and these Wildcats became
a better match for the Japanese aircraft in these perfor-
mance categories.
Several versions of the Wright R-1820-56 were used in
the FM-2, to include the -56, -56A, and the -56W or 56WA
with water injection. These water injected engines had a
tank with a ten minute water supply. There was only the
117-gallon fuel tank in the FM-2, with the reserve tank
being deleted: From 2401st FM-2, BuNo 57044, the tank
size was increased to 126gallons. Two 58-gallon external
tanks could be carried instead. From the 3301st FM-2,
BuNo 74359, racks for six five-inch rockets were fitted
under the wings. Like the FM-1, the FM-2 was armed with
four .50 caliber machine guns and had a total of 1720
rounds of ammunition.
In addition to the tallertail, the FM-2 was recognizable
by the large lateral exhausts that were located above the
wing. They usually streaked the aircraft quite noticeably
along the sides of the fuselage. Two more exhausts were
located in the usual positions at the base ofthe cowl, and
were much less noticeable. The underwing oil coolers
that had been on all previous production Wildcats were
missing from the FM-2, being replaced by a single unit
located in the accessory compartment behind the
engine. Another difference was the change to a Curtiss
Electric constant speed propeller with wide chord
The FM-2 was originally delivered in the tri-color
Fd Chut.
Outboard Link EI.ctlon Chut.
Forward Trunnion Po.t
4 Pin
6 Ca EI.ctlon Chut.
7 Rear Mounting Po.t
8 Gun Firing Cabl.
9 Gun Charging Cabl.
to Gun H.al.r Junction Bo"
t Ammunition Fd Chut.
2 Gun Firing Sol.nold
3 Trunnion R.leas. Cabl.
4 Gun Charging Cabl.
S Gun H.al.r Junction Bo"
6 Link EI.ctlon Chut.
Gun armament on most FM-1s and FM-2s returned to a four-gun arrangement in the wings that was similar to, but not
exactly like, that used on the F4F-3. Notably, the gun barrels did not project beyond the leading edge of the wing as they
did on the F4F-3. These drawings show the details of the gun and gun compartments on the FM-2. (Grumman)
Most FM-2s were teamed with Avengers in composite squadrons aboard escort carriers as seen here. The tail markings
on the aircraft indicate that this is the USS RUD YERD BA Y, CVE-81. The design ofthe single panel that covered both
guns is visible on the wing of aircraft number 2 in the center foreground. The aircraft are painted overall gloss sea blue
with white markings. (Grumman)
In addition to the taller tail, one of the most distinguishing
and easily noticeable characteristics of the FM-2 was the
lateral exhaust located on each side of the fuselage above
the wing. This is a close-up of the exhaust on the left side
of the aircraft.
Aileron and hinge details are shown in this view. This is
the underside of the left aileron.
This is a close-up of the two shell ejection slots under the
right wing of the Naval Aviation Museum's FM-2. The
wing is in the folded position.
This FM-2 has come to a stop after catching one of the arresting cables on an unidentified escort carrier.
Before France fell to Nazi Germany. Aeronaval had contracted for eighty-one Wildcats under the design designation
G-36A. This is the first G-36A which was coded NX-G1. It later served with the Royal Navy as AX753. (Grumman)
In late 1939 and early 1940, the French were looking
for carrier-based fighters for two new aircraft carriers,
the JOFFRE and PAINLEVE, which they had under con-
struction. They became interested in Grumman's design
G-36 which had been given the American designation
F4F-3. An order was placed for eighty-one aircraft with
certain changes specified by the French. The engine
was to be the nine-cylinder Wright GR-1820-G205A-2
which provided 1200 horsepower for takeoff. Although
armament was never installed, it was to consist of four
Darn 7.5mm machine guns, two being cowl-mounted,
and the other two were located in the wings. An oddity
was that the throttle was to work backwards by conven-
tional standards. Power was increased by pulling back on
the throttle, and reduced by pushing forward!
One aircraft was painted in overall light gray with
French Navy markings that included a six-position
national insignia and red, white, and blue rudder and
elevator stripes. The registration number NX-G1 was
assigned to the aircraft, and it flew for the first time on
May 11, 1940.
Seven ai rcraft were already under construction when
France was overrun by the Germans, and the British, in
desparate need of all the fighters they could get their
hands on, took over the order. The seven aircraft that
were already under construction were reworked to Brit-
ish standards to include turning the throttles around so
that they worked in the normal fashion. These aircraft,
with the codes NX-G1 to NX-G7 were flown to Canada.
There they were taken over by the British and given
serials AX753. AX754, and AL231 to AL235. The rest of
the order was built from the start to British standards,
and all aircraft went to England as Martlet Is, still being
designated as design G-36A by Grumman.
Center left and right: These two views show that design
G-36A was essentially an F4F-3. Like the first two produc-
tion F4F-3s, it had provisions for cowl-mounted machine
guns, but no armament was ever installed. The wings
were the non-folding type. The highly polished propeller
is of a different design than that used on the F4F-3, and is
as unusual as it is interesting. (Both Grumman)
Left: Upper surface details and markings are shown here.
Note the red, white, and blue stripes on the elevators.
These stripes were also on the undersides of the eleva-
tors. (Grumman)
A factory-fresh Martlet I displays the highly polished pro-
peller used on the French G-36A on the previous page;
however, the provisions for the cowl guns have been
deleted. (Grumman)
During World War II, the British obtained and oper-
ated almost every type of American-built fighter, to
include the F4F, F6F, and F4U carrier-based aircraft. Like
most other major powers, the British had realized the
importance of the aircraft carrier, but due to political
considerations, most British carrier-based aircraft were
nothing more than "navalized" versions of land planes.
Like the Americans, the British recognized the need
for a small fighter that could operate from escort carriers,
and Grumman's G-36 design seemed to be ideally suited
for this purpose. Throughout the war England would
obtain almost 1100 aircraft of the Wildcat series, which
were initially called Martlets. Although built by Grum-
man, these ai rcraft were fu rther modified and made ready
for British Fleet Air Arm service by Blackburn Aircraft
Ltd., who performed the same tasks on Avengers, Hell-
cats, and Corsairs. Among the work done by Blackburn
was the installation of British type radios, oxygen sys-
tems, gunsights, batteries, catapult gear, and, on later
types, the British style rocket rails.
As discussed on page 60, the fi rst Martlets were those
taken over from the French order after the fall of France.
The Martlet Is were armed with four .50 caliber machine
guns in the wings, and were in most other respects sim-
ilar to the American F4F-3. The major difference was the
use of the Wright Cyclone GR-1820-G205A engine that
had been specified by the French. A Hamilton Standard
constant speed propeller was fitted. Like the F4F-3, the
Martlet I did not have folding wings.
The first Martlet I was delivered on July 27,1940, one
month before the first F4F-3 was delivered to the U.S.
Navy. A total of ninety-one were built, but only eighty-
one were delivered. The other ten were lost at sea. Deliv-
eries were completed by October 1940. Because they
lacked folding wings and did not have essential equip-
ment for carrier operations, Martlet Is operated only from
land bases, with the first assignment being to No. 804
Squadron at Hatston.
As mentioned earlier, it was two Martlet Is that scored
the first victory for the Wildcat series, and it was also the
first victory scored by an American aircraft in the hands
of the British. The kill was made by Lt. L. L. N. Carver, RN,
and Sub Lt Parke, RNVR, flying in BJ515 and BJ526. They
shot down a Ju-88 that was attacking ships of the British
Martlet Is are seen here parked and waiting for delivery to
the Royal Navy. (Grumman)
home fleet anchored in Scapa Flow in the Orkney
Islands. The kill was made on Christmas Day in 1940,
and, as a present, the Royal Navy sent the propeller from
BJ526 to the U.S. Navy. Today, the oldest surviving
member of the Wildcat family is Martlet I, AL246, which is
on display at Yeovilton, England. It had been delivered to
the British on August 22, 1940.
The Martlet II was design G-36B, which was powered
by a S3C4-G engine with a single-stage, two-speed
supercharger. This was equivalent to the Pratt & Whitney
R-1830-90 used in the F4F-3A. However the British chose
to use a Curtiss Electric propeller with a ten-foot diame-
ter. It had an elongated and pointed hub cap as compared
to the stepped hubs used on the American F4Fs. The first
ten Martlet lis had the rigid, non-folding wings with four
machine guns, but the remaining ninety had folding
wings with six machine guns. They were the first of the
Wildcat series to have the folding wings.
The first carrier-based squadron in the Royal Navy
was No. 802 Squadron which took six Martlet lis aboard
the HMS AUDACITY. This was the first British escort
carrier, and it had been converted from a captured Ger-
man merchantman. It had no hangar deck or elevator, so
the Martlets had to remain on the flight deck at all times.
They scored the first carrier-based kill on September 20,
1941, when they shot down a FW-200C Condor. The
AUDACITY herself was sunk by a U-boat on December
During the Madagascar Campaign, Martlet lis from
Nos. 881 and 882 Squadrons on the HMS ILLUSTRIOUS
shot down three Potez 63 light bombers without a loss.
Later, in November 1942, during the landings in North
Africa, Lt B. H. C. Nation from No. 882 Squadron aboard
the HMS VICTORIOUS saw indications from the French
on the airfield at Bilda that they wanted to surrender.
After obtaining permission to land, he did so and single-
handedly accepted the surrender, thus "capturing" the
Taking over the French order that became Martlet Is
was not the only occasion the British had to gain aircraft
originally destined for another nation. The first thirty
F4F-3As had been built for the Greeks in 1941, and were
in transit at Gibraltar at the time the allies evacuated
Greece. The British took over the aircraft and designated
After the first ten deliveries, all subsequent Martlet lis had
the folding wings and six .50 caliber machine guns like
the F4F-4. Note the position of the pitot tube on the left
wing. It is mounted just inboard of the aileron about
three-quarters of the way back on the wing.
them Martlet Ills. Being the same as the American F4F-
3A, these aircraft did not have folding wings, so the Brit-
ish used them only from land bases. They participated in
the operations in the Western Desert of Africa beginning
in September 1941, being assigned to No. 805 Squadron
which flew out of Dekheila.
The Martlet IV was generally similar to the F4F-4, but
was powered by the Wright R-1820-G205A-3 engine with
a single-stage, two-speed supercharger. It was fitted with
a Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller, and was
armed with six Browning .50 caliber machine guns. The
first unit to operate this Martlet was No. 892 Squadron.
The British received 311 FM-1s from Eastern Aircraft,
and designated them Martlet Vs, but, in January 1944, the
name Martlet was dropped and replaced with Wildcat to
standardize with the Americans. FM-2s followed the FM-
1s, becoming Wildcat Vis. A total of 340 of this type were
delivered, the first being assigned to No. 801 Squadron
aboard the HMS PURSUER. Wildcat Vis scored the Fleet
Air Arm's last victories of the war when No. 882 Squad-
ron's aircraft shot down four Me-109s over Norway on
March 26, 1945.
As was the case with their American counterparts in
the Atlantic, shooting down aircraft was not the primary
The first of 220 Martlet IVs, FN100, is shown here. The
Martlet IV was the last Grumman-built aircraft of the
Wildcat series that was delivered to the British.
This photograph shows Martlet lis awaiting delivery.
Note the panels that cover the gun compartments on the
wings. (Grumman)
mission of the British Martlets/Wilcats. For the most part
they operated from escort carriers to provide air cover
and protection from U-boats for the all-important con-
voys. Although the Martlet Is saw limited action operat-
ing from land bases in Great Britain, and the Martlet Ills
provided air support and attacked Axis targets on the
ground in Africa, other Martlets spent most of their time
operating from the small carriers. But during the war,
Martlets shot down German, Italian, Vichy, one Japan-
ese, and, unfortunately, one British aircraft. The single
Japanese kill was of a Mavis flying boat by No. 888
Squadron that was operating from the HMS FORMID-
ABLE during a brief side trip to the war on the other side
of the globe. The British aircraft that was shot down by
mistake was a RAF Hudson based at Gibraltar.
The lack of opportunities for aerial victories notwith-
standing, the MartletiWildcat series was both welcomed
and admired by the Fleet Air Arm. Once the first aircraft
was obtained from the previous French order, these air-
craft performed the important, if thankless, job of provid-
ing air cover to convoys and other shipping. They
continued in British service throughout the entire war
until the surrender of Germany.
Both Martlet IVs and U.S. Navy F4F-4s are visible in this
photograph during construction at Grumman.
This Martlet IV is shown during a takeoff roll on a British
escort carrier. (Grumman)
Mart/et lis are seen here during operations aboard the
* Only 81 Martlet Is were delivered.
Originally given U.S. Navy BuNos 3875-3904.
*** Only 311 Martlet Vs were delivered.
TYPE 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 TOTAL
MARTLET I 81 0 0 0 0 0 81
MARTLET II 0 60 49 0 0 0 109
MARTLET III 0 30 0 0 0 0 30
MARTLET IV 0 0 220 0 0 0 220
MARTLET V 0 0 2 309 11 0 322
WILDCAT VI 0 0 0 0 240 100 340
TOTALS 81 90 271 309 255 100 1102
The Mart/et V, which was later renamed Wildcat V, was
produced by the Eastern Aircraft Division. It was the
same as the U.S. FM-1. (Grumman)
Wildcat VI was the British designation for the Eastern Air-
craft FM-2. This Wildcat VI has made a particularly hard
landing on a carrier, but the pilot walked away unhurt.
and corrected very easily. An antenna mast and a small
pitot tube need to be added. But the shape looks accu-
rate, and the model would look good in a 1/144th scale
collection. For someone who is ambitious, a squadron of
these little models on a 1/144th scale aircraft carrier
would be real impressive! Decals are quite basic, and
consist of four national insignias of the star, disc, and bar
variety, yellow USAAF serial numbers 49255 (incorrect
for any Wildcat) and two white 16s. Evidently this sheet
was used for several kits because it has the numbers
H-1025, H-1026, H-1027, and H-1028 on it. The instruc-
tions show using only the national insignia on this model.
Painting instructions are for the tri-color scheme.
Review sample courtesy of Jim Galloway
The smallest Wildcat kit is this 1/ 144th scale offering from
Revell. It is a very good kit for such a small scale, but
unfortunately, it is no longer available.
Comments by Jim Galloway
Bachman F4F in 1/140th Scale, Kit Number 62
One of the smallest Wildcat kits ever issued, this
model came assembled with stickers (instead of decals)
already in place. It was released around 1970, and brings
about two to four dollars from collectors.
Aristocraft F4F-4 in 1/72nd Scale, No Kit Number
This is a highly sought-after collectors' item, bringing
anywhere from fifteen to fifty dollars. It is a black plastic
I.D. model from World War II, and it was issued in 1942.
There were no decals or markings of any kind, and no
detail was provided.
Aurora F4F in 1/65th Scale, Kit Number 497
Molded ina very hard and brittle dark blue plastic, this
model dates from 1962, and is very crude. Twenty-eight
parts are molded in the blue plastic and include a two-
piece stand. There is also a clear canopy. Two drop tanks
are provided, but are identified as bombs on the instruc-
tion sheet. The cockpit is sparse, consisting of only a rear
bulkhead with a crude pilot figure. The landing gear
consists of three pieces for each side. By 1962, most
model manufacturers had gotten away from molding the
locations for the markings into the plastic, but not
Aurora. The decal sheet provides fou r stars and bars, two
wingwalks, two G 2 codes, and two small number 2s for
the cowling. There are eleven Japanese kill markings, a
decal for the stand, and four small unreadable white
marki ngs of unknown use.
Marusan F4F in 1/48th Scale, Unknown Kit Number
Most of the larger Marusan kits were imported by
UPC, but, according to Shank's Guide of 1972, there is no
record of the F4F being brought into this country. Burn's
Guide of 1983 states that this is an "Ex-Monogram" kit,
but no further information is available.
1/144th SCALE KIT
Revell F4F-4, Kit Number H-1026
This is the only Wildcat model that has been issued in
1/144th scale. Unfortunately, it is no longer available, but
hopefully Revell will reissue it again. For a model that is
so small, it is really nicely done. It consists of thirteen
pieces molded in a blue-gray plastic, a two-piece stand in
black plastic, and a clear canopy. The only problem areas
are the propeller, which must be reshaped and cuffed,
and the engine, which has nine cylinders showing
instead of the correct seven. The lower windows are
opaque, but are indented into the plastic. It would be a
simple matter to open them up and replace them with
clear plastic. The landing gear is quite basic, as would be
expected on such a small kit, but could be detailed out
AirfixlMPC F4F, Kit Numbers 1112 and 01037
While this kit has probably been released a numberof
times, our review sample was the MPC release. Like some
other kit manufacturers, Airfix and MPC had a hard time
knowing one type of Wildcat from another, and this
shows in the instructions, on the box, and worst of all, on
the decals. The kit is not of an F4F as stated, but is of an
FM-2 instead. As an FM-2, it is fairly accurate, having the
taller tail, only four guns, lateral exhausts, and nine
cylinders for the Wright engine. However, they are
molded into the cowling and have too much space
between them. The model is generally accurate in shape,
and fits together fairly well. Only a little filling and sand-
ing is required. Four gun fairings are molded under the
wings, but there are no ejector slots or holes in the lead-
The Airfix 1/72nd scale model represents an FM-2. This
model was painted in the dark gull gray over white
scheme used in the Atlantic.
ing edge of the wings. These are easily drilled out by the
modeler. Two external fuel tanks and six rockets are
provided as underwing stores. The rockets look more like
British types (as might be expected from Airfix), but the
rocket racks or stubs are way too thick. We replaced
these with thin card stock, and filled the wide holes in the
lower wing. The rockets went into the parts box. The
locating holes for the external fuel tanks are too far out on
the wings, being outboard of the wing fold line. These
should be filled in, and the tanks should be mounted in
their proper positions on the wing's center section.
The cockpit consists of only a seat and a pilot, which
is probably satisfactory if the canopy is assembled
closed. But if it is to be opened up, most modelers will
want to add some details. The propeller is the proper
non-cuffed type used on the FM-2, but it has the older
F4F style hub, so this needs to be corrected. The landing
gear can be built in the up or down position, but the
somewhat complex strut arrangement is difficult to
represent in 1/72nd scale, and some modelers may want
to improve or even rebuild a more accurate gear from
sprue, wire, or tubing.
Three alternatives are given on the decal sheet in Kit
Number 1112; however, not one is for the FM-2 or cor-
responding Wildcat VI that the kit represents. One set of
markings is for an early F4F-3 from VF-41 and the
USS RANGER, CV-4. It is in the colorful pre-war paint
scheme. A second set of markings is provided for
O'Hare's F4F-3 coded F-3, but only one VF-3 insignia is
provided, and it is way oversized. Two kill markings are
also included, but they too are about th ree ti mes too large
for 1172nd scale. The last set of markings is for a Royal
Navy Martlet I, coded AL257. For Kit Number01037, two
alternatives are provided. One is for an FM-2, coded M-F,
with 00 tail number, and the second is for a Wildcat VI,
coded JV708.
Aosima F4F, Kit Number 5, and Aoshima F4F, Kit
Number 13
We are assuming that Aosima and Aoshima are
indeed the same company, with the single letter differ-
ence in spelling due either to poor translation to English
or a name change by the company. For ou r purposes, the
kits are basically the same, so we are reviewing them
together. The one by Aosima seems to be the earlier
release, and can be identified by its box art which shows
an LSO holding up two paddles as he is just about to get
mowed down by a landing Wildcat. It is molded in dark
blue plastic, and has a few extra pieces that allow motori-
zation of the model. Decals consist of four national insig-
nia that are the red disc, inside a white star, inside a blue
disc type. The codes 41-F-8 are provided in white. The
Aoshima kit is molded in blue-gray, and does not have
the motorizing feature. Otherwise it is identical to the
Aosima kit to include the same decals. The rest of our
comments apply equally to both of these kits.
Like too many of the other Wildcat kits, the engine is
the nine-cylinder Wright R-1820 that was used on the
XF4F-8 and FM-2, while the rest of the kit represents an
F4F-4, which used the fourteen-cylinder P&W R-1830.
These cylinders are molded into the cowling, so we
decided to remove them and replace them with a separ-
ate engine from the parts box that more closely repre-
sented the R-1830. The eight flaps are represented by
scribing that is way too deep and too wide.
The wings are designed to fold, but we recommend
deleting this feature, and gluing all parts together. Then
sand out the seams and rescribe the panel lines if you are
The Aosima/Aoshima kit is not one of the better 1/72nd
scale models available of the Wildcat. Even though the
model comes with working folding wings, this model was
built by the author as an F4F-3, and has the markings of
the Wildcat flown by Major Robert E. Galer, USMC.
building a Wildcat with folding wings. Our review sample
was built as an F4F-3, so we simply filled and sanded out
everything! The ailerons are separate pieces, but fit fairly
well. However, they lack detail. The cockpit has a midget
pilot who even lacks a good set of legs. He is best dis-
carded. There is no other detail for the cockpit. A two-
piece canopy is provided, and can be assembled opened
or closed. However, it is rather crude, being quite thick
and having very noticeable mold marks. A vacu-formed
one would look much better.
There are no holes for the guns on the leading edge of
the wing, so these must be drilled out. The propeller lacks
any cuffs, and the landing gear leaves a lot to be desired.
Two drop tanks are provided, but are way oversized.
While the overall shape of the finished model is not all
that bad, this is not one of the better Wildcat kits in 1172nd
scale. It takes a lot of work in the detailing department to
get it to look right even for a basic shelf model. For the
younger modeler, the motor and working wings may be
of interest, but for the serious scale modeler, there are
better kits to work with.
Frog Grumman Wildcat, Kit Number F242F
This kit is no longer generally available from Frog, but
the new Academy/Minicraft kit is very similar. It repre-
s e n ~ s an F4F-4, and has many features missing on other
kits in 1/72nd scale. These include openings for the guns
in the leading edges of the wings, the small fairing on top
of the wing at the wing fold, a separate engine (as
opposed to one molded into the front of the cowling), and
clear windows for the bottom of the fuselage. The pro-
peller is cuffed, and more closely resembles the real thing
than props found in the majority of the other kits. Two
external fuel tanks are also provided. The main landing
gear is perhaps the best in 1172nd scale, but it could be
improved with a little work and attention to details.
On the minus side, the clear parts leave a lot to be
desired. The framing and shape of the windscreen por-
tion of the canopy is too pointed. A vacu-formed canopy
made over a canopy from the Revell kit would look much
better. The windows in the lower fuselage are too small in
the vertical dimension. The landing gear can be built with
the gear up or down, but there is a large fairing between
the two main wheels. This is far too wide, and should look
more like a rigid support bar rather than a bubble-like
fairing. The D-shaped hole in the rudder is too large, and
the top of the vertical tail is too rounded. The cockpit is
almost void of detail, having only a seat, a pilot, and a
control stick that attaches to the seat. The strutforthe tai I
wheel is noticeably too wide. It is probably best to remove
the entire tail wheel structure and replace it with one
made from scratch. This is a relatively simple task that
will enhance the appearance of the model.
Scribing is of the raised variety, except for the control
surfaces and wing fold, which are recessed. The kit is
molded in medium gray plastic which is relatively free
from flash. Decals are provided for two aircraft. First is an
F4F-4 from VF-9 and the USS RANGER, GV-4, for the
One of the oldest but one of the better Wildcat kits in
1/72nd scale is the Frog model. It is no longer available,
but the new Academy/Minicraft kit is very similar to it.
Operation "Torch" landings in North Africa. The aircraft
is coded 9-F-10, and has the yellow surround on the
fuselage and under-wing national insignia. It is painted in
the blue-gray over light gray scheme. The second set of
markings are said to be for a Martlet IV from the 896
Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, and the HMS PURSUER, in
February 1944. However, the aircraft is numberedJV429,
and this would indicate a Martlet V instead. If this is the
case, the outer two guns on each wing should be
removed. The aircraft's code is 8*N, and it is painted in a
gray and green camouflage with sky undersides.
This is not a bad kit if the modeler wants to make some
minor corrections and do some detailing. But since it is
no longer available, it is probably best left for the collec-
tors. Build the Academy/Minicraft kit instead, because it
is readily available, and is virtually the same kit.
Review sample courtesy of Lloyd Jones.
Hawk F4F Wildcat, Kit Number 7-39
This model, which was released in 1967, isofan FM-2,
and not an F4F. It provides only the basics, providing no
engine, no cockpit, no landing gear, no radio mast, and
no pitot tube. The entire kit consists of only eight parts
molded in beige plastic, plus a two-piece stand and a
clear canopy. There are no details molded into the plas-
tic. There are no guns, blisters, or even engine cylinders.
There are hundreds of large rivets that are totally wrong,
and they must be sanded off. Otherwise, only afew panel
lines, the wing fold, and the control surfaces are repre-
sented. With the main gear wheels molded as part of the
fuselage, the only choice is for an in-flight model unless
the modeler wants to completely scratch build a landing
gear. Quite frankly, the model is not worth it. The box
claims that the kit provides "colorful decals," but since
the only markings included are four star, disc, and bar
type national insignia, this claim is stretching it a bit.
While this model would not interest the serious
modeler, we had one, so we thought we would build it just
to see what the result would be. The cowling was opened
The 1!72nd scale Hawk kit represents an FM-2, and is
rather poor. It has no cockpit interior, guns, or engine,
and the landing gear is molded in the in-flight position.
This model is painted in the markings of VC-81 from the
USS RUDYERD BAY. The stand is from the Academy!
Minicraft kit, as are the two external fuel tanks.
up, and an engine was installed. The basis for a cockpit
and a pilot were added, as were rocket racks under the
wings. Since the kit does not include a radio mast nor a
pitot tube, these were scrounged from the parts box. We
did not like the kit stand, so we replaced it with one from
the Academy/Minicraft Wildcat kit. The external fuel
tanks also came from the Academy/Minicraft kit. After
debating whether to use the tri-color or all blue scheme,
we settled on the latter. This was more of an effort to save
time as much as anything else. The propeller was
replaced with a disc from the parts box. The result was a
decent looking desk model that turned out a little better
than we expected. But for the serious modeler, this is not
the kit to use. The value to the collector is Iisted between
two and four dollars.
Revell F4F-4 Wildcat, Kit Numbers H-639 and H-4104
This is one of the older Wildcat kits in 1/72nd scale,
being first issued (kit H-639) in 1965. In spite of its age, it
is one of the best Wildcat models available. The only
difference between the releases was the color of the
plastic used, the box art, and the decals provided. Kit
number H-639 was molded in blue-gray plastic, and H-
4101 was molded in a pale gray. Decals for the earlier kit
were for an FM-1 coded GS, but only those codes and
four star, disc, and bar type national insignia were
included on the sheet. The actual aircraft had a smallS on
each side of the cowl as well. If built out of the box with
these markings, the outboard gun on each wing should
be removed, because these markings were for the four-
The Revell 1!72nd scale kit is basically quite good. With a
little work it can built into a nice model. This Revell model
was converted to an F4F-3 and painted in the colorful
pre-war markings of the USS RANGER.
gunned FM-1, and not a six-gunned F4F-4. In H-41 04, the
markings were for an F4F-4 in the dark gull gray over
white scheme. They consisted of four star, disc, and bar
national insignias and two 4s for the vertical tail. Again,
the4s for the cowling are missing. It should be noted that
this second release was done by Revell of Germany.
The kit is very accurate in outline, and has the correct
twin-row, fourteen-cylinder engine made up of two
separate parts. It is, without question, the best engine in
any Wildcat model except the large 1/32nd scale Revell
kit. The upper portion of the cowling can be removed
to see the engine; however, this is not how it worked on
the real thing! The combustion air scoop on top of the
COWling is not closed at the bottom, so a bit of thin plastic
card is needed here. The propeller is cuffed, but the cuffs
are not as pronounced as they probably should be. The
cockpit has only a seat and a pilot figure, but it can be
easily detailed.
The main landing gear leaves a lot to be desired, and
some flash will have to be cleared away. Many modelers
will probably want to enhance the gear with pieces of
sprue, wire, and other parts as seen in the detailed photo-
graphs on pages 10 and 11. The wheels are plastic as that
have spoke covers that fit on them and attach to the strut.
The a wheels can then turn, but the covers do not.
The only clear part is the one-piece canopy, and it is
clear and accurate. If it is to be displayed in the open
position, it is best to vacu-formed over it, then cut the
pieces apart. There are no clear parts for the lower win-
dows, but they are indented into the plastic. It is an easy
job to open them up and add clear plastic. It just would
have been nicer if Revell had done the job.
Scribing is raised, and there are many rivets to
remove; however, they are not as bad as those on the
Hawk kit. Some light sanding and they are gone. Molded
details are good, and an effort should be made not to
remove them while sanding off the rivets. The ammuni-
tion boxes, ejector slots, and fairings for the guns are all
included under the wing. On top of the wings, the small
fairing at the wing fold is missing, as are the compart-
ments for the outer guns. There is a flash problem, but it
is rather easily taken care of. Considering its age, this is
not a bad kit, and with some work and detailing, it can be
made into a very nice looking model of the Wildcat. Kit
H-639 originally sold for seventy cents, but is now worth
from three to six dollars to collectors.
Academy/Minicraft F4F-4, Kit Number 1650
Th is is the newest release of a Wildcat kit in any scale,
but it is essentially the same as the Frog kit reviewed
earlier. There are a couple of changes that should be
mentioned. First, the panel lines are now recessed rather
than being raised. Therefore, they are not as likely to be
removed while sanding. The lower windows are clear, as
they were in the Frog kit, but here the vertical dimension
is even less. The solution is quite simple though. Just cut
out the window openings to the proper size and install
pieces of clear plastic stock.
The kit inherits some problems of the Frog kit. Among
these are the oversized D-shaped opening in the rudder,
the bubble-like fairing between the main gear, the
rounded tip of the vertical tail, and the incorrectly shaped
windscreen. The strut on the tail wheel is also too wide,
and this too carries forward from the Frog kit. But all of
these are relatively easy to overcome. The advantages of
this kit are noteworthy, and include gun openings in the
leading edge of the wings, the small fairings under the
wings for the guns, and the blister on top of the wings at
the wing fold. They are a bit oversized, but some light
sanding will fix this. It is a lot easier than trying to add
them because they were omitted as in other kits. Wing tip
lights also need to be sanded down a bit. Other detailing
on the kit includes flap and aileron hinges. As with the
Frog kit, two external fuel tanks are included.
The overall shape of the kit looks good except thatthe
fuselage seems a little too wide from the cockpit forward.
Detailing is required in thecockpitas itis in all Wildcat
kits, and most modelers will want to do some work on the
engine. The engine is separate with the correct number
of cylinders, but they are merely conical in shape with
rings around them representing cooling vanes.
The Academy/Minicraft 1/72nd scale kit is the newest
model of the Wildcat in any scale. This model carries the
markings of the Marine Corp's leading ace, Joseph Foss.
Decals are from Scale-Master and include four star,
disc, and bar national insignias, two 4s for the tail, and
two smaller4s forthe cowl. The aircraft is to be finished in
the dark gull gray over white scheme if these markings
are used.
Minicraft is developing some of their own kits that are
not based on other kits. Others, like this one of the Wild-
cat, have their roots with previously issued kits. But the
goal of Minicraft is to provide good kits at reasonable
prices. All Wildcat kits, including this one, need some
work and detailing, but this is a good kit that can be built
into a nice looking model.
1/48th SCALE KIT
Monogram F4F Wildcat, Kit Numbers P-66, PA-66,
and 6798
The best way to describe th is kit is that it is a hybrid of
different versions of the Wildcat. Beginning with the front
and working back, the propeller itself combines the
blades of the prop used on the FM-2 with the hub used on
earlier versions. The engine is the nine-cylinder Wright
R-1820 of the XF4F-8 and the FM-2. The combustion air
scoop atthe top of the cowl is present, and it was not used
on the FM-2, but was on most other variants. The cowl
flaps are the arrangement used on late F4F-3s and F4F-
4s, having the three up and one down on each side. The
four-gun arrangement of the F4F-3, FM-1, and FM-2 is
represented under the wings, but there are no holes for
them in the leading edges of the wings. The wings are the
fold ing type as used on the F4F-4 and later versions, and
the vertical tai I is the short type used on all ai rcraft except
the XF4F-8 and FM-2. What all of this means is that no
matter what version of the Wildcat you want to build, you
have to do a conversion to get it right. There is not
enough space available here to explain how to do each
conversion, but we have included Ron Hillbury's detailed
explanation on how to build an F4F-3. His article is infor-
mative, and points up many of the things one must do to
the kit in order to build any version of the Wildcat. The
rest of this review will deal with the kit as it comes in the
Like several other Monogram kits from the late fifties
and early sixties, including the Hellcat, Helldiver, and
Avenger, this Wildcat kit features operating folding
wing:;. This of course takes away from the accuracy and
detail, so the serious modeler will want to build the wings
either folded or extended, and leave them that way. The
simpler sol ution is to build them extended, because if
they are built in the folded position, much detail work and
scratch building will be required at the hinge.
There is no cockpit interior except for a pilot that
attaches to the rear bulkhead. A 1/48th scale model cer-
tainly deserves a detailed cockpit, so a lot of scratch work
will be needed here as well as in the main gear compart-
ment. Using the photographs and drawings on pages 10
and 11, the main gear can be completely rebuilt if desi red.
The most obvious problem is with the wheels themselves.
They have a hole all the way through the hubs, making
the spoke cover hard to represent. The hole must be filled
on one side, then sanded smooth to represent the cover.
The alternative is to use a substitute wheel, as Ron Hill-
bury recommends. The reason that Monogram had the
hole go all the way through the wheel was so that the axle
part of the gear strut could extend through and be melted
down on the outside. In this way they provided rolling
wheels, and this is just one more of those working fea-
tures that detracts from a model's realism. But these
features are mostly a thing of the past, and are not usually
found on the majority of today's higher quality models.
The canopy is clear and well formed. It can easily be
used as a vacu-form mold, and the resulting vacu-formed
canopy can be displayed in the open position. Simply
cutting open the kit canopy will not work, since it is too
thick to fit over the spine of the fuselage behind the
The kit is molded in blue plastic, and scribing is raised
except for control su rfaces and cowl flaps. The surfaces
are covered with rivets, but they are lightly done and
easily removed.
Decals include four star, disc, and bar national insig-
nias, two white 5s for the fuselage, and two smaller 5s for
the cowling. Two wing walkways are also provided in the
form of decals. These markings are intended for a Wild-
cat that is painted in the blue-gray over light gray
The important thing is that the kit is basically accurate
in shape and outline. The rest is up to the modeler. With
extensive detailing required by a 1/48th scale kit, there is
a lot of work to do providing the details that Monogram
left out. The other thing that is up to the modeler is to
choose the type of Wildcat he wants to build, then delete
the incorrect features and add the correct ones as neces-
sary. If these two things are done, the resulting model can
be quite impressive. For collectors, the kit is listed
between twelve and seventeen dollars.
This is Ron Hillbury's excellent F4F-3 conversion of the
Monogram kit in 1/48th scale. It is shown at the IPMS
National Convention at Sacramento, California, in 1986.
Ron's informative text tells howthe conversion was done.
Burl Burlingame of Honolulu, Hawaii, also converted a
Monogram 1/48th scale Wildcat kit to an F4F-3 and
entered it in the contest at the 1986 IPMS National Con-
vention. It is painted in the colorful pre-war scheme.
Another conversion to the Monogram kit was done by the
author. This model was built to represent an FM-2 from
the USS HOGGATT BA Y, CVE-75. An unusual feature of
the markings on this particular FM-2 was that insignia
blue discs for the national insignias were used on the sea
blue paint scheme. These may be hard to see in the photo,
but they are there. The blue outline has been removed
where the fuselage insignias cross one of the two white
Note: Ron Hillbury converted the Monogram 1/48th scale
Wildcat to an F4F-3 and entered it in the 1986 IPMS
National Convention Contest. Detail & Scale was so
impressed with Ron's model that we asked him to write
about the conversion and his work on the model. The
following is what Ron had to say.
The range of Wildcat kits in 1/72nd scale runs the
gamut from early Grumman variants to the FM-2 built by
General Motors. But in 1/48th scale, there is just one kit
available, and that is the somewhat ancient Monogram
The model is offered as an "F4F Wildcat", when it
actually is a combination of the F4F-4, the FM-1, and a
few features of the dash three and the FM-2. Building the
model as a dash four or FM-1 is not a major task, because
just a few details need to be taken care of. But if you want
to bui Id an FM-2, you will have to do a major conversion
of the first magnitude. The conversion to a dash three is a
little easier, but, in my opinion, it is still a major job.
While reading the excellent book The First Team,
which is on the early days of the war in the Pacific, I
learned more about Butch O'Hare. After finishing the
book, I was determined to build a 1/48th scale model of
the ai rcraft he was flyi ng on February 20, 1942, when he
took on a flight of Betty bombers and destroyed five in
one sortie. This action not only made him the Navy's first
ace in World War II, it also earned him the Medal of
Honor. The only problem with my project was that there
were no dash three models available in "my scale." My
only choice was a conversion to the Monogram kit.
Having the correct side number, markings, and BuNo
for O'Hare's aircraft from The First Team, I now needed
more information on early Wildcats. I can say without
reservation that Grumman's History Office is the finest
source of information available. A single letter brought
more than five separate mail ings that included blueprints
of the landing gear mechanism and 8 x 10 glossy prints of
many F4F-3 details. Grumman was just fantastic!
I was now ready for the job at hand. Here are the
major, and a few of the minor, things that one must do to
convert the Monogram Wildcat to a correct F4F-3.
First, sand off all of the rivets and remove all external
blisters. Remove the tail wheel and its shroud and the
arresting hook. Open the windows in the bottom of the
fuselage as indicated by scribed lines, then remove the
exhaust stu bs. Put the sparse kit-provided cockpit and
the wheels in your spare box. While you are shaving off
those teacup-sized rivets, it would be a good time to thin
all exposed cockpit panels to nearly scale thickness, and
then remove the incorrect nine-cylinder Wright R-1820
eng ine. When doing this, be sure to trim all the way to the
front of the cowling, and open up the combustion air
scoop on top of the cowl.
Next, cut away the control surfaces and prepare them
for reattachment just before painting. You should be
aware that moving the rudder, elevators, and ailerons
presents no problems. A minimum of filling is required.
The next step is to cut away the center section of the
wing assembly, being sure to leave enough wing to glue
to the fuselage. Cut the bottom of the wing assembly to
match the upper section. Now, brace the interior of the
wing root assembly and the folding portion of the wing
with thirty thousandth stock so you have a rigid surface
for the next step. You now have to glue the entire wing
assembly together. Remember, the dash three had rigid
(non-folding) wings. Fill, and I mean fill! The fit is not the
best. A perfectly smooth joi nt here is critical to success
later on. Also take care to seal yourfilling material as well
as you can. It will have to take scribing and a star wheel
later on without fracturing.
The Wildcat had no floor in the cockpit. The pilot had
his heels in the runners that sat nearly on top of the fuel
tank. Take a tank from a Monogram P-15D. With a bit of
shaping it fits very well. It should be painted a medium
gray. The rudder pedals were suspended from a bar that
ran across the cockpit. Scratchbuild both, then build the
side panels, seat, the armorplate behind the pilot, the
throttle quadrant, and the landing gear handle. Scratch-
build the gunsight too. You can use the one from the
Monogram P-35 as a base. Also, when you put in the seat
belts, remember that it is belts only. Harnesses were not
used until June 1942. Finish the cockpit in interior green,
and use as many Waldron pieces as you can for the
smaller details. You can use pieces from the P-47, F4U,
P-51, as well as the Radio Faces and Cockpit Placards
sets. But remember that you are trying to build just a
replica and not a perfect scale reproduction of the real
thing. In a quarter scale cockpit it may be best to use one
control rod to represent four. You don't want to fill the
cockpit with so much plastic that you can't see anything
else. And remember, there wasn't all that much in that
cockpit anyway.
After you finish the cockpit, fill it with tissue and join
the fuselage halves. At this time you will need to build the
bulkhead just aft of the openings for the wheels. Detail
the bulkhead with model railroad fittings, and represent
the chains and sprockets of the landing gearsystem. You
will need to build the major longitudinal I-beam at the
base of the fuselage and add the structural members and
various hoses and fittings inside the gear area. Next,
build a similar forward bulkhead and detail in the same
manner as the aft bulkhead.
You can toss out all of the gear struts except the
mains, and those will have to be trimmed down in diame-
ter by about a third. The kit-supplied struts, with all of
thei r attachments for the kit gear, have to be trimmed and
filed to shape. All the supporting framework and lower
gear doors must be built from scratch. I used stretched
sprue, metal rod, sheet brass, and sheet styrene. Add the
wheels from the beaching gearofthe Monogram OS2U-3
Kingfisher. They are a perfect fit, and look like thewheels
used on the Wildcat.
The tail wheel also came from the OS2U-3,and the
shroud was formed from sheet brass. At this time you
need to add a triangular fillet underneath each wing. This
will also fill any gaps under the wing area.
The dash three I was modeling had only onecowlflap
on each side. Use your favorite filling material to fill the
unneeded flap areas. Also, replace the exhaust stubs with
scratchbu ilt ones from either sprue, plastic, or metal tub-
I used the Pratt & Whitney engine from the Monogram
TBD-1. The only differences between this engine and the
engine in the Wildcat are internal. You will need to add
some push rods and spark plug wires as well as some
model railroading parts for details. You may also have to
do some trimming on the rocker arm covers of the TBD-1
engine if you did not do a good enough job trimming the
cowl earlier. You will also have to add the cheek intakes,
and these are best made from brass sheet.
The propeller is a major job. First, remove the Hamil-
ton Standard blades. The dash three used a Curtiss Elec-
tric propeller. You will have to build new blades and cuffs
from scratch. I used a Curtiss prop from an Otaki P-47,
and cut the blades from the cuffs. I then reshaped the
cuffs to the proper size and shape, and then set them
aside. The P-47 blades then have to be shortened and
reshaped prior to remating them to the cuffs. The newly-
made cuffs and blades are then glued to the hub from the
original kit.
New blisters for the four machine guns were cut from
sprue, as were the blisters covering the flap hinges. You
will also have to fashion a long blister just ahead of the
main gear openings, and add the long pitot boom to the
leading edge of the left wing. The oil coolers under the
wings were made by vacu-forming them over British
bombs in 1/32nd scale that I found in the spares box.
Hinges for the elevators were fashioned from wire and
added to the kit. A vacu-formed canopy and windscreen,
an antenna mast with wire, and recognition lights fin-
ished the basic construction.
Humbrol paint was used forthe finish, and weathering
consisted of many techniques. After the paint was totally
cured, I took off a good deal of the thickness of the
heavily-pigmented Humbrol paint with a "rub down" of
Dio-Sol. If done quickly and with care, you will keep the
color and lose a great deal of the thickness of the paint.
This provides an excellent base for the gloss coat. Decals
were all Microscale which were finished with Solvaset.
The victory markings and the VF-3 insignia were 1/72nd
scale which fit in 1/48th much better. Oils and washes
were used to highlight panel lines, and the final weather-
ing was done with pastels.
The model was placed on a simulated carrier deck
which was mounted inside a picture frame. It was all set
off with a nameplate and a set of Naval Aviators wings.
After some major modifications and a great deal many
minor ones, you will end up with an excellent replica of
the early F4F-3 as flown by Butch O'Hare and the rest of
the pilots on the USS LEXINGTON, CV-2, as well as the
Marine pilots on Wake Island and many other Naval Avia-
tors in the Pacific.
You should remember that the original Monogram kit
is a collection of many Wildcat features, and if built from
the box without any modifications, it will not accurately
represent any Wildcat variant.
1/32nd SCALE KIT
Revell F4F-4, Kit Number H-299 and 4447
In our estimation, this is far and away the best Wildcat
kit in any scale. The original kit, H-299, was released in
1969, and, for that time frame, the kit is state-of-the-art,
representing all details as completely and accurately as
possible in molded plastic. The landing gear is fairly
complete and basically accurate. It can be enhanced with
the addition of smaller parts and brake lines. The landing
gear compartment has the sprockets and chains molded
on them, but these would look better if replaced with
ones that are scratch built. The compartment could use a
lot of detailing. It would be a shame to build the model
with the gear up, but this option is provided in the kit.
The landing gear compartment is not the only place
that the modeler can exercise his detailing skills. The
engine forms a good basis for the model, but the addition
of spark plug lines and other smaller details will improve
its appearance. Removable side panels will reveal the
added detail. The cheek scoops need to be reworked,
because the plastic is too thick and the scoops are not
wide enough as supplied in the kit. The combustion air
scoop needs to be opened up.
The cockpit is about as well done as it could be in
molded plastic, but, using smaller metal parts, wire, and
plastic scrap pieces, the cockpit offers a great many
possibilities and a lot of room to work. But even built out
of the box, Revell is to be complimented for doing an
outstanding job representing the landing gear, engine,
and cockpit in molded plastic.
The wings are designed to fold, and this is one of the
rare cases where an operating feature is very well done.
While we would still not recommend building the model
so that the wing fold operates, Revell has provided more
than the basics for building it with the wings in the folded
position. With some work and detailing, the wing fold
joint can be made to look completely realistic.
The model is molded in blue-gray plastic, and the
raised scribing is finely detailed and generally accurate.
There are those rivets that seem to be present on so many
The largest Wildcat model is the 1/32nd scale F4F-4 from
Revell. It is an old kit, but has a lotof nice features. It lends
itself very well to super-detailing. This model was con-
verted to an F4F-3 with non-folding wings, four guns. and
long pitot tube on the leading edge of the left wing. It
represents an aircraft flown by Butch O'Hare.
Wildcat models, and these should be removed. The clear
parts are excellent, and include a two-piece canopy and
the lower windows.
The original issue, H-299, had decals that included
four national insignias of the red disc, inside a white star,
inside of a blue disc style. Thirteen alternating red and
white stripes are provided for each side of the rudder, and
the name LCDR J.S. THACH is in white. Below it are three
kill markings. The kit has more recently been released in
Revell's Smithsonian Series. It comes with markings for
the FM-1 that is now on display at the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum. It is coded E10, and has
six national insignia. These are the white star inside a
blue disc type, and have no red disc in the center. Small
10s are provided for the cowling, and intermediate sized
10s are included for the tops of the wings. All small
stenciling, as now seen on the Smithsonian's aircraft, is
also on the decal sheet. These markings are based on an
FM-1 that served on the escort carrier USS BRETON,
CVE-23, during World War II. The only problem here is
that the FM-1 only had four guns, and not the six as
represented in the kit.
Regardless of issue, this is an excellent kit, particu-
larly when you consider that it will soon be twenty years
since it was first released. It allows a modeler to do
extensive detailing and test his modeling skills. Not only
can existing features, like the cockpit, engine, the land-
ing gear and its compartment, and wing fold be detailed,
but the gun bays can be opened and detailed as well.
Built out of the box or super detailed, this is a kit we
highly recommend. For the collector, the original issue,
H-299, is now worth from ten to fifteen dollars.
Note: There are only two decal sheets available for the
Wildcat other than those provided in the kits. Therefore
we are not following our usual format of providing a
complete decal listing. Instead, we have covered all ofthe
kit decals in the reviews of the kits. The two after-market
sheets are reviewed below. The lack of decals for the
Wildcat does not really cause much of a problem. For the
most part, Wildcat markings consisted of various styles
of national insignia, code numbers and letters in black or
white, and kill markings. All of these are available rather
readily on both kit and after-market sheets. Decals for the
Hellcat in particular, and to a lesser extent the F4U Cor-
sair, provide markings that can be used for the Wildcat.
Microscale Sheet Number 72-287
The problem with this sheet is that it was designed to
fit the Airfix 1172nd scale kit which is an FM-2 and not a
F4F. This means that the red and white rudder stripes
supplied for two of the aircraft will not fit one of the
1172nd scale F4F kits. So about the only model you can
build using these stripe decals is Lex DuPont's FM-2 that
has these rudder stri pes! If you build a correct F4F-3, you
must paint the stripes on by hand, and, quite frankly, they
will look much better painted than they would as decals.
Six aircraft are included on this sheet. All are in the
blue-gray over light gray scheme. They include th" fol-
* F4F-3, F-13, from VF-3, flown by Butch O'Hare at
the Battle of Coral Sea, with five kill markings
* F4F-3, F-1, from VF-3, flown by John S. Thach at
the Battle of Coral Sea, with three kill markings
* F4F-3, MF-1, from VMF-224, flown by Robert E.
Galer at Guadalcanal, with thirteen kill markings
* F4F-3, number 8, from VMF-212, flown by Harold
W. Bauer at Guadalcanal
* F4F-4, number 53, from VMF-121, flown by
Joseph Foss at Guadalcanal
* F4F-4, F-13, flown by Marion E. Carl at Guadal-
Galer's aircraft had a red stripe around the fuselage
that passed under the national insignias. This stripe is
provided on the sheet, and is shown on the instruction
sheet if you know what you are looking for. However, no
note points it out, so it is easily missed. Be sureto use it if
you build this model. The instructions say that Carl's
aircraft had a top color of dark gray. It should be the same
standard blue-gray like the rest of the aircraft on the
Microscale Sheet Number 32-12
This sheet is designed for the Revell 1/32nd scale
Wi Idcat, and provides markings for five ai rcraft. All but
one of them are F4F-3s, and not the F4F-4 that the kit
represents. Yet there is nothing on the decal sheet to
explain that a major conversion is necessary if these
markings are to be used. We did this conversion on our
1/32nd scale kit, and it was quite a job. Changing the
wing from the folding to the rigid type took several days
of work. If you buy this sheet, be prepared to use only the
markings for the VF-41 aircraft, or be ready for a lot of
conversion work. The sheet's instructions show only nine
red and white rudder stripes instead of the correct thir-
Markings are provided for the following aircraft, and
all are in the blue-gray over light gray scheme:
* F4F-3P, 251 M05, from VMO-251, with flying octo-
pus insignia on fuselage
* F4F-3, MF-1, from VMF-224, flown by Robert E.
Galer, at Guadalcanal
* F4F-3, number 2, from VMF-223, flown by Marion
E. Carl, with nineteen kill markings
* F4F-4, 41-F-8, from VF-41
* F4F-3, F-13, from VF-3, flown by Butch O'Hare at
the Battle of Coral Sea, with five kill markings
General small stencil markings are provided for the air-
craft and the propeller.