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Grumman FM-1 Wildcat
Martlet Mk.V

Tamiya, 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 58 parts in grey coloured plastic; seven parts in clear; self-adhesive masking sheet; markings for three aircraft
Price:

GBP£31.49 (£26.24 Export Price) plus shipping available from Hannants

Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Good level of detail; excellent surface textues including crisply recessed panel lines, raised and recessed rivets and fabric texture; now includes new seated pilot figure and self-adhesive canopy masks.
Disadvantages: No open cowl flap option; fixed control surfaces, some simplification.
Conclusion:

It is remarkable to consider that Tamiya's original F4F-4 Wildcat was released almost 30 years ago, yet with its world-class surface textures, simple assembly and perfect fit it still stands proudly today as a worthwhile addition to any modeller's collection.

Tamiya's updated FM-1 / Martlet Mk.V is a very welcome update. The additions and revisions only add to this kit's apparently perpetual appeal.

Definitely Recommended.


Reviewed by Brett Green

Background

 

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

With a top speed of 318 mph (512 km/h), the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster (331 mph (533 km/h), more manoeuvrable, and longer-ranged Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

The Wildcat has a claimed air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.


 

FM-1

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 producing Wildcats for both U.S. Navy and Fleet Air Arm use.

 

 

Late in the war, the Wildcat was obsolescent as a front line fighter compared to the faster (380 mph/610 km/h) F6F Hellcat or much faster (446 mph/718 km/h) F4U Corsair. However, they were adequate for small escort carriers against submarine and shore threats. These relatively modest ships only carried two types of aircraft, the Wildcats and GM-built TBM Avengers.

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 (based on Grumman's XF4F-8 prototype) optimized for small-carrier operations, with a more powerful engine (the 1,350 hp (1,010 kW) Wright R-1820-56), and a taller tail to cope with the torque.

*Historical summary adapted from Wikipedia

 

 

FirstLook

 

Tamiya's Wildcat Heritage

Tamiya produced a number of 1/48 scale aircraft kits in the 1970s and 1980s. These were mainly modern American and WWII Japanese subjects that varied in quality and detail, as you would expect for the time.

Tamiya released the first of a new generation of 1/48 scale aircraft kits in 1993 with a Spitfire Mk.I, followed by a Spitfire Mk.Vb in 1994 and an F4F-4 Wildcat in the same year.

Although Tamiya replaced their Spitfire Mk.I with an all-new kit in 2018, they have apparently decided that the Wildcat kit justifies futher investment. This 1/48 scale FM-1 / Martlet Mk.V is heavily based on the 1994 Wildcat.

I think the results speak for themselves.

Upon its release, the surface detail on Tamiya's F4F-4 Wildcat was perhaps the best in the world. Its combination of raised and recessed rivets plus crisp, consistent panel lines were unequalled at the time.

Detail was good for its day too.


 

Tamiya's 1/48 scale FM-1 In the Box

Tamiya has modified one of the two original Wildcat sprues to deliver a new four-gun wing. The re-tooled wing features seamless surface textures that are every bit as good as the original kit - no noticeable difference between the new and old tooling at all.

 

 

The new kit is made up from an almost unbelievably modest 58 grey plastic parts and seven clear plastic parts.

 

  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Tamiya Kit No. 61126 - Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Martlet Mk.V Review by Brett Green: Image
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Also new to this kit is a three-piece seated pilot figure, two rear vision mirrors for the windscreen (also on the small pilot's sprue), self-adhesive canopy masks and 3 marking options on the big decal sheet.

 

Detail is generally good although it is delivered with a minimum of parts.

The cockpit floor is solid where is should be see-through apart from the pilot's foot rests, but the side consoles and rudder pedals look really good.

 

 

The instrument panel has raised bezels and switches.

 

 

A decal overlay is supplied for those who don't want to paint the panel. Decal harness straps are supplied for the seat too.

 

 

The firewall has detail moulded onto the engine side, including control chains.

 

 

The engine is made up from just three parts.

 

 

A wiring harness is moulded onto the front face of the cylinder bank. This should look fine after careful painting.

 

 

The engine cowling is presented as a single part with flaps moulded shut.

 

 

Parts breakdown is conventional. The upper wings are split into port and starboard halves with a full-span lower wing.

The new wings reflect the different panel line arrangement as well as the four guns.

The rudder is separate but the ailerons, elevators and flaps are all moulded neutral / shut.

 

 

Ordnance is limited to a pair of drop tanks.

 

 

The characteristic undercarriage is built up from a number of plastic parts. Their assembly is cleary illustrated in the instructions.

Main wheels are moulded with smooth tread and a separate covered hub. The tyres are not bulged or flattened.

The two-part seated pilot figure is well moulded. The inclusion of two rear-vision mirrors on this small new sprue is a nice touch.

 

 

The clear sprue is free from distortion. There canopy may be posed open or closed.

 

 

A windscreen with a hole to accommodate a telescopic sight is also provided.

Self adhesive masks are provided for the canopy. As usual with Tamiya masks, the outlines are printed onto the Kabuki-tape masks and the modeller is required to cut out the shapes. I use a sharp hobby knife on mine and I've never had any problems.

 

 

Instructions are supplied fold out sheet covering assembly in 15 steps. As you'd expect, the diagrams are logical and easy to follow.

Separate A3 sheets are provided for the camouflage schemes. These are printed in 1/48 scale.


 

Markings

Markings are supplied for three schemes - two US Navy and one Fleet Air Arm.

Invastion stripes are printed onto the decal sheet too.

 

 

Details are:

  • 846th Fighter Squadron, Royal Navy, HMS Tracker (D24), Normandy, June 1944 (*),

  • 58th Mixed Fighter Squadron, U.S. Navy, USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60), North Atlantic, January 1944,

  • 33rd Mixed Fighter Squadron, U.S. Navy, USS Nassau (CVE-16), California Coast , September 1943 

The decal sheet is perfectly printed.

 

 

Conclusion

 

It is remarkable to consider that Tamiya's original F4F-4 Wildcat was released almost 30 years ago, yet with its world-class surface textures, simple assembly and perfect fit it still stands proudly today as a worthwhile addition to any modeller's collection.

Tamiya's updated FM-1 / Martlet Mk.V is a very welcome update.

The additions and revisions only add to this kit's apparently perpetual appeal. Definitely Recommended.

Purchased by the reviewer


Review Text Copyright 2023 by Brett Green
Page Created 20 December, 2023
Last updated 20 December, 2023

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