Kit No: 70031
Type: Injection Moulded Plastic
Manufacturer: Arma Hobby’s www.armahobby.com
A Cat’s Tale
Grumman’s F4F Wildcat was the US Navy and Marine Corps’ main fighter plane when the United States of America entered WW2. The first operational model, the F4F-3, was quickly followed by the F4F-4 incorporating folding wings to improve storage capacity on carriers. Initially deemed inferior in maneuverability to the Japanese Zero when the two aircraft first met in combat, Navy and Marine Corps Wildcat pilots quickly learned to deal with the Zero’s strengths and exploit its weaknesses. By war’s end, the Wildcat would record a respectable seven to one kill ratio as proof of its lethality when flown by a skilled pilot.
In early 1942, the Navy pushed Grumman for a Wildcat successor, which would ultimately lead to the larger F6F Hellcat. Stretched to their manufacturing limit while developing the F6F and simultaneously still producing the Wildcat, Grumman and the Navy turned to General Motors for help. GM converted three idle car factories on the US East coast into aircraft plants and this ‘Eastern Aircraft Division’ would build an improved version of the F4F-4 redesignated the FM-2 Wildcat. With an uprated version of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone, the aircraft also had a larger fin and rudder to counteract the increased torque it produced. Armament was reduced from six to four .50 caliber machine guns to provide more ammunition capacity while high-velocity rockets were later added for use against shipping and ground targets. Many FM-2s served successfully in the Atlantic campaign onboard escort carriers combating German submarines. Eventually, nearly 35,000 Wildcats were produced by Grumman and General Motors.
The F4F-4 Wildcat has been a popular kit in 1/72 scale, but the FM-2 has seen limited coverage by major manufacturers. HobbyBoss released a FM-2 several years ago in their ‘Easy Assembly’ series of kits, but it has all of the features of a F4F-4 (six wing guns, underwing oil coolers) with the taller tail. MPM and Sword also released limited run kits, but both suffered from dimensional issues related to the cowling and overall length. When Arma Hobby released a totally new-tool 1/72 FM-2 Wildcat, I was keen to see if this kit was to the same high standard of their Hurricane Mk I I had recently built.
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