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Trumpeter 1/32 F4F-4 Wildcat


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After a nearly 10 year AMS burn out haitus from modeling, I am finally at the bench again.

I figured I would get back into the swing of things with the Trumpeter Braille Scale Wildcat. The closer I looked at the sprues, the more work I realized this one would be. This is one of Trumpeter's earlier kits, 2003, and it has a rather storied past. The original kit had some major shape issues and Stevens International went as far as to refuse to distribute it in the US until Trumpeter did a re-tool. Amazingly, Trumpeter went back and retooled and fixed most of the issues.

This kit was pretty typical of their earlier issues. The cockpit is simplified and inaccurate in a lot of ways. I decided to just pretty much pitch it and scratch build a new one. Same for the wheel wells. The engine is somewhat simplistic as well, with the cooling fin detail on the cylinders pretty soft.  I am still going to replace it with a Metallic Details P&W 1830-86, which is really excellent. I don't usually use resin but I don't want to spend months making new cylinders. The Metallic Details was intended to be used on a 1/32 Liberator so there is no accessory section but that should not be too much work to scratch build. The level of detail is outstanding.

Below is the finished cockpit floor. I skeletonized the kit parts and ground off all detail and scratched everything. The rudder troughs were wrong so I made new ones out of 0.004" soda can aluminum. The kit seat was really bad so I scratch built it today. I haven't photographed it yet but will post some photos tomorrow. The "fuel tank" is intentionally undersized. I really did not need to build a full sized one since it will only be visible through the hole in the cockpit floor.  Trumpeter also had large,  1/8" recesses where the wings attach to the fuselage. The recesses will be visible through the cockpit opening and no part is provided to fill them. I cut a piece from 0.005" styrene sheet to cover over the recesses.

I still have to build the control column. The kit piece has the canvas "boot" over it. Often times the canvas rotted quickly in the Pacific humidity and salt so they were left off. I will scratch build the mounting brackets and control cables.


I have added a Scale Models section to my photography website. The URL to the Wildcat WIP page is:


Edited by STM
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Posted (edited)

What can you say about the kit seat except that it is pretty sad. It is too small, too thick and the wrong shape and it is totally lacking in detail.  I scratch built another one out of 0.005" styrene sheet. 



For some reason, Trumpeter has about a 1/8"+ deep recess at the inside of the wing roots. It is not only visible from the cockpit but also the wheel wells. I cut a piece of 0.005" styrene sheet to cover both of the recesses. There are also a plethora of sink marks. Unfortunately, they are larger than the largest punch in my Waldron punch set so I would up just cutting them out by hand. 

The easiest and quickest way I found to make these covers, apart from trial and error, is to photograph the area of the fuselage with a macro lens (no distortion) and then bring the images into Photoshop. I cut and paste them into another document at the precise size they need to be and print them out. I then use the printed images as a template to cut the piece from 0.005" sheet styrene. If you are careful and precise, the fit will be perfect. I made each piece about 1mm larger all the way around so I could glue it to the fuselage side with a little overlap to ensure it covered the recess. 

All of that surface detail on the cockpit sides will be ground off and replaced with styrene strip. 


Edited by STM
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On 8/27/2022 at 4:44 AM, Rockie Yarwood said:

Welcome back Scott! Your Hellcat build was (is) inspirational - can't wait to see what you do with the Wildcat.


Cheers,  Rockie

I agree ....  The Hellcat, it was and is FANTASTIC!


I am SO looking forward to another impressive  build of the(your)  Wildcat from you Scott.


Rock on .   :punk:

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The control column was pretty bad so I tossed it and scratch built a new one. Often times the salt air and high humidity of the Pacific caused the canvas boot over the stick would rot so they were often left off. I chose to depict this one without the boot. The linkage was relatively simple so it was not difficult to replicate. The grip on the kit stick was especially misshapen so it was replaced as well. 



The rudder pedals were fine so I saw no need to re-invent the wheel but the center console was solid, instead of cut out like it is in the real aircraft so it too got scratch built. I also added correct pneumatic cylinders. The "springs" were made by coiling 0.007" steel wire around a 0.030" brass rod. 


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The left console is finally done. This is two days worth of scratch building. The right console is far more complicated!



With the addition of the two pouches, the left side of the cockpit is now complete. Next is to do the same with the right side 



Edited by STM
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