Build Report: Ken Judt’s Airfix 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat
|Kit:||Airfix 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat|
|Decals:||Kit Decals and Wolfpack Designs WD72005 F4F-4 Wildcat Part 2, Landbase Wildcat in Guadalcanal|
|Notes:||Used Eduard Mask Set CX432 for Airfix 1/72 F4F-4|
I have had this kit in the stash for a couple of years now. I have just been waiting for a motivator to pull this out and build it. This is one of the new wave of Airfix new-tool kits. The moldings looked to be very nice with excellent detail and reasonably sized sprue gates. The clear parts looked nice and thin with very little distortion. The parts had no flash, but almost every part had mold lines. The kit was molded in Airfix’s soft gray styrene. One of the very nice things about this kit is they provide separate parts to do the wings deployed and the wings folded. Therefore, no cutting is required to have the wings in the folded position. The instructions were well printed in an 8 ½” by 11” booklet using the current trend of CAD-type drawings. Construction was covered in 46 separate steps that were clearly defined and caused no confusion on my part. The only drawback to the instructions is that during the build steps the color callouts only supply Humbrol paint numbers, there is no chart of colors to easily translate colors into other lines of paint. I made an index for myself by looking up the Humbrol color numbers before the build even started. Decals supplied markings for two different subjects, a VMF-223 bird flown by Marian E. Carl during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 and a VF-6 bird flown from the US Enterprise (CV-6) in 1942. The decals were printed in register, were not overly thick and provided stencil data decals. All in all, it looked to be a nice kit and I looked forward to building this barrel shaped bird.
I have wanted for many years to build one of the Wildcats flown by Joe J. Foss during the battle of Guadalcanal. The build of this kit with the Wolfpack Design markings allowed just that. I decided to use the markings for “White 84” from the set. I selected building the kit with the wings deployed in the flying position. The construction starts where most do, with the cockpit. Most parts had mold lines but a few swipes with a sanding stick took care of them. Using a hobby knife, some of the more delicate parts had the mold lines scraped from them will still attached to the sprue. Construction is easily followed using the steps in the instructions. The landing gear are a multiple part assembly and careful fitting is required to keep everything square and true. Part C10 is not molded square but is slightly trapezoid shaped. The part needs to be squared for it to fit properly into the fuselage and have the landing gear properly aligned. I also elected to wait until after assembly to paint the landing gear. An overall coat of light gull gray was airbrushed onto the whole assembly, with the black being hand painted later. I elected to wait until final assembly to add the landing gear doors, parts A14 and A15, they were painted light gull gray overall. They also required filling a rather large ejection pin mark. The assembly was straightforward from there and proceeded quickly. I suggest test fitting the engine exhausts, parts B3 and B4, before starting painting. The engine is nicely done with molded-in ignition harness and pushrods. I attached the forward windscreen before painting started.
An Eduard masking set was carefully applied to the windscreen and lower fuselage windows. The kit was primed with Tamiya Fine White primer from a rattle can. This showed a few places that needed cleaning up. This was accomplished and areas re-primed. The landing gear and cockpit were masked off before applying the paint to the model. A coat of Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black was applied to the canopy windscreen before the gray blue color was applied to the upper side. Gunze Aqueous H325 FS26440 Light Gull Gray thinned with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner was applied to the underside of the model with an airbrush. This was masked off and then Testors Model Master Acryl 4847 US Navy Blue-Gray thinned with Future acrylic floor wax was airbrushed on to the upper side of the model. I have found that one of the drawbacks of the Model Master Acryl line is how fragile it is when airbrushed. Thinning with Future and adding a coat of Future over the top of the color seems to overcome this. I airbrushed the model with an overall coat of Future to protect it and prepare for decal application.
The national markings and data stencils from the kit decals were used in conjunction with the specific aircraft markings from the Wolfpack Designs decals set. The decals from both sources worked well and reacted well with my usual use of Solvaset decal setting solution. The kit decals included the belts for the pilot’s seat. I have found the Solvaset will chemically react with the Future melting the decal into the acrylic product. The prevents silvering and makes the decal film less likely to be seen. After the decals were fully set an additional coat of Future was airbrushed over the top of them. Detail and weathering washes were applied to the model and then sealed with an overall clear flat coat. For clear flat I use Pactra Acrylic Enamel Clear Flat A48 heavily thinned with 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Once this dried the model was ready for final assembly.
Final assembly included painting and finishing the wheels, landing gear doors, external fuel tanks, canopy, engine exhausts and propeller. I removed the Eduard masks before attaching the canopy in the open position. The prop was attached but my overuse of adhesive prevented it from being movable. Exhausts required some test fitting before attachment. Wheels and landing gear doors were attached before also attaching the external fuel tanks. Everything was now assembled and the model was complete.
I found this to be a very enjoyable model to build. The few drawbacks of the kit were overshadowed by the overall quality and fit. The quality for the price is very worth it. I plan on building a second with the wings in the folded position.