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FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set

Arma Hobby, 1/72 scale

S u m m a r y :

Description and Item No.:

Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set

Contents and Media:

71 parts in grey plastic; five parts in clear plastic; 20 photo-etched parts; self-adhesive die-cast masks for wheels and canopy; markings for six aircraft.

Price:

€20.50 plus shipping available online at Arma Hobby

£22.20 EU Price (£18.50 Export Price) Plus Shipping at Hannants

and hobby retailers worldwide 

Scale:

1/72

Review Type:

First Look

Advantages:

High quality moulding; excellent surface textures and detail; effective use of multimedia; high quality decals.

Disadvantages:

Flimsy end-opening box.

Recommendation:

Arma Hobby's new 1:72 scale FM-2 Wildcat is a gorgeous little kit - crisp surface texture, high moulding quality, with great detail and inclusions. There are many marking options too – pick up some Overtrees as well as the Expert Set kit and build a couple!

Reviewed by Brett Green

 

Introduction

 

The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service in 1940 with the United States Navy, and the British Royal Navy where it was known as the Martlet.

First used by the British in the North Atlantic, the Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the United States Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theatre during the early part of the Second World War. The disappointing Brewster Buffalo was withdrawn in favour of the Wildcat and replaced as aircraft became available.

With a top speed of 318 mph, the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster 331 mph, more manoeuvrable, and longer-ranged Mitsubishi A6M Zero. However, the F4F’s ruggedness, coupled with tactics such as the Thach Weave and hit-and-run manoeuvres using altitude advantage resulted in a claimed air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.

Lessons learned from the Wildcat were later applied to the faster F6F Hellcat. While the Wildcat had better range and manoeuvrability at low speed, the Hellcat could rely on superior power and high speed performance to outperform the Zero.

 

 

In addition to production by Grumman, General Motors / Eastern Aircraft produced 5,280 FM variants of the Wildcat.

Grumman’s Wildcat production ceased in early 1943 to make way for the newer F6F Hellcat, but General Motors continued to produce Wildcats for both U.S. Navy and Fleet Air Arm use.

Even when the Wildcat was obsolescent as a front line fighter compared to the F6F Hellcat or the much faster F4U Corsair, it remained adequate for small escort carriers against submarine and shore threats. These relatively modest ships only carried two types of aircraft, the Wildcat and GM-built TBM Avenger. The Wildcat's lower landing speed and ability to take off without a catapult made it more suitable for shorter flight decks.

At first, GM produced the FM-1, identical to the F4F-4, but reduced the number of guns to four, and added wing racks for two 250 lb (110 kg) bombs or six rockets.

Production later switched to the improved FM-2 optimized for small-carrier operations, with a more powerful engine and a taller tail to cope with the torque.*

 

 

FirstLook

 

Although Polish manufacturer Arma Hobby has been around since at least 2016, and before that under the brand of Attack Squadron from 2014, they snuck under my radar until early in 2019 when I received a sample of their 1:72 scale Eastern Front Hurricane. I was very impressed with the level of detail, crispness of surface textures and the quality of their package. Their subsequent releases have entrenched their reputation.

Arma Hobby's latest 1:72 scale kit is an FM-2 Wildcat. This is Arma’s first offering in the Wildcat family. This is an Expert Set, so it boasts useful additions including photo-etched parts and masks.

The kit comprises 71 parts in grey plastic, five parts in clear plastic, 20 photo-etched parts, self-adhesive die-cast masks for the wheels and canopy and markings for six aircraft.

 

  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Arma Hobby Kit No. 70031 - FM-2 Wildcat Expert Set Review by Brett Green: Image
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The grey plastic parts are delivered on one large and one smaller sprue. Moulding quality is excellent, with no flaws or visible moulding imperfections on my sample, only a little flash on some of the smaller parts. Arma’s website advises that long-run metal moulds are used for their kit production, and it really does show.

 

 

Being a long-run kit, the parts are moulded with all the alignment aids that you would expect including locating pins, holes and tabs.

 

 

The larger parts are moulded with a satin finish. Surface textures are just gorgeous. Recessed panel lines, raised fastener heads, blister fairings and other structural details are very fine.

The fabric texture on the rudder, elevators and ailerons are represented by subtly raised rib tapes. The elevators are moulded as a pair so they may be posed to taste. The rudder is a separate part too.

The fuselage is supplied as left and right halves with the characteristic tall FM-2 fin moulded to the fuselage halves.

Some cockpit sidewall detail is moulded directly to the inside of the fuselage. These are supplemented by a plastic cockpit floor, front and rear bulkheads, side consoles, a moulded pair of rudder pedals that plug in behind the instrument panel, control column and more.

 

 

The instrument panel is moulded with raised bezels and switches. Options are offered for a photo-etched instrument panel or decal dials. Photo-etched throttles and handles are also included.

 

 

The decal sheet supplies harness straps although they are not mentioned in the instructions.

A nice use of photo-etch is three sets of control pulleys and chains attached to the landing gear side of the firewall.

Wheel wells are nicely detailed. The intricate landing gear is cleverly moulded in a minimum number of parts, although care will be required during alignment and assembly. Test fit thoroughly!

 

 

Two styles of main wheel are offered, as are two different tail wheel parts – covered and uncovered. The main wheels are subtly bulged and flattened.

The engine is very well done. The ring of cylinders is provided as one part with fine cooling fin detail. This is supplemented with pushrods and the crankcase cover also moulded as one part, topped off with a photo-etched ignition harness. Two different styles of spinner caps are offered.

 

 

The wings are moulded in four parts with upper and lower, port and standard halves. Trailing edges are very thin – almost translucent.

Six rockets and two drop tanks wrap up the grey plastic parts.

The canopy parts are thin and clear and offer separate parts for the windscreen and the sliding section. The gunsight is a clear part too.

 

 

Wing tip navigation lights are moulded as part of the wings.

Self-adhesive, die-cut masks are supplied for the canopies and the main wheel hubs.

Instructions are supplied as a 12 page stapled A5-sized booklet. Assembly is described over 23 steps using sometimes small but clear diagrams.

The kit is packed into a end-opening cardboard box. I have to say that I have never been a fan of end-opening boxes - access to the parts is more difficult, loose parts can easily be lost while retrieving instructions or a larger sprue, and the format is less structurally rigid, inviting the contents to be crushed when the box is inevitably at the bottom of a pile of kits. I know it is a nit-pick but I would prefer to see future Arma Hobby releases in a lid-style of box.


 

Marking Options

Six varied marking options are offered – five US Navy and one Fleet Air Arm.

Each of the six marking options gets a dedicated page with both side views, upper and lower plan views and scrap views where required.

 

 

Options are:

  • FM-2 Wildcat, VC-10, CVE-73 USS Gambier Bay. Finished in overall Gloss Sea Blue.
  • FM-2 Wildcat, VC-10, CVE-73 USS Gambier Bay. Finished in unique three-colour pattern.
  • FM-2 Wildcat, VC-8, CVE-60 USS Guadalcanal. Finished in Dark Gull Grey and White.
  • FM-2 Wildcat, VC-69 CVE-60 USS Guadalcanal. Finished in Dark Gull Grey and White.
  • FM-2 Wildcat, VC-96, CVE 81 USS Rudyerd Bay, Okinawa April 1945. Finished in overall Gloss Sea Blue.
  • Wildcat Mk.VI, 882 Sqn FAA, HMS Searcher, 26 March 1945. Finished in Dark Slate Grey and Extra ark Sea Grey over Sky.

Bonus markings are supplied on the decal sheet for two alternative FAA Wildcat Mk.VIs on HMS Searcher – “A”, JV 792 and “W”, JV 709. Simply use the marking guide for JV 768 and substitute the aircraft number and serial of your choice.

Stencil markings are included, as are black wing walkways, propeller logos, and six yellow propeller tip decals.

Colour callouts are provided for FS numbers and model paint numbers from a wide variety of companies – Hakata, AK, Lifecolor, AMMO, Humbrol, Vallejo and Tamiya.

Decals are printed by Techmod. They are glossy, colours are well saturated and everything is in perfect register.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Arma Hobby's new 1:72 scale FM-2 Wildcat is a gorgeous little kit - crisp surface texture, high moulding quality, with great detail and inclusions. There are many marking options too – pick up some Overtrees as well as the Expert Set kit and build a couple!

* Historical background adapted from Wikipedia

Thanks to Arma Hobby for the sample


Review Text and Images Copyright 2020 by Brett Green
Page Created 25 May, 2020
Last updated 28 May, 2020

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