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Eduard 1/48 scale F4F-3 Wildcat plastic model kit review

Perhaps the finest 1/48 scale model Wildcat available
Kit:82201 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$54.95
Eduard (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Phenomenal fit; excellent details; wide choice of markings
Delicate engine bearers and landing gear legs
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 215 parts (60 photo-etched metal); decals; masks
Anticipating the release of Eduard’s 1/48 scale F4F-3 Wildcat, I made the company’s booth my first stop in the vendor room at the 2022 IPMS/USA National Convention. When I arrived, the line snaked around the booth and into the aisle; obviously, I wasn’t the only one who remembered how Eduard sold out of the P-51s at the Chattanooga show in 2019. I bought two, but Eduard supplied FSM with a review sample, too.

This kit is beautiful with clean, sharp detail: nearly microscopic raised and recessed rivets, precise panel lines, delicate engine bearers and landing gear legs, amazing pre-painted photo-etched (PE) metal parts, and six decal options. There were three major production blocks for the F4F-3 and the -3A originally intended for Greece. Eduard has done an excellent job providing everything necessary to model all of them, including different canopies, cowl rings, cowl flaps, engine assemblies, and tail wheels.

The “rivet counter” in me found a few nits to pick. The windscreen Eduard provides for planes equipped with the telescopic sight has an additional vertical brace. While some aircraft had it added later, they left the factory without that brace. The clear parts are slightly wavy, but a dip in Pledge Floor Gloss (PFG) cured this issue. The sprue gates attach to the edges of the wheel covers and hub, so it is difficult to keep them round during cleanup. Eduard included the demarcation for the propeller’s yellow tips as a molded line that is best removed. None of these things take anything away from the kit.

My only real concern was the instructions, which seem to need more proofreading. The provided errata sheet primarily points out the different engine parts for the -3A variant (marking option B). In addition, there are errors in the decal callouts. For example, the stencils for the prop are No. 54, not 59. The 58-gallon drop tanks that all production F4F-3s could carry are never shown. As long as you pay attention to your references and use common sense, you should be fine.

Eduard suggests a mix of black and interior green for the cockpit, a mixture that matches Mr. Color Bronze Green (No. C519), so that is what I used. There are three options for the instrument panel: a flat plastic part to receive decal instruments, a panel with raised instruments, and a part with platforms to receive layered PE panels. I chose to paint the raised detail on the plastic consoles because it had a better dimensional effect than the PE or decals.

Excellent describes the kit’s fit and engineering. The engine bearers are thin enough to flex into place, but they will break if pushed too hard. The tabs on the horizontal stabilizers were so tight that they induced dihedral. After removing some material, I used a piece of tape stretched from tip to tip across the underside of the fuselage to hold them perpendicular to the vertical stabilizer while the glue cured. A spot of Vallejo putty under the starboard stabilizer was the only filler used on the entire kit. The rudder and elevators simply snapped into place. I left the engine, cowl, and landing gear off for painting.

I chose marking option B, a Marine Wildcat on maneuvers in November 1941. The decals are extremely thin and react well to Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol. But be careful, they may fold over on themselves, and they cannot be rescued. I had to steal the portside cross from a spare kit; it is the only decal slightly out of register.

There was some play when I added the engine, so make sure to get it aligned. I had no difficulty installing the landing gear after painting. Be careful when attaching the gun barrels because there is nothing to stop them from sliding into the wing. Thankfully, six are provided and you only need four for the F4F-3.

Eduard’s Wildcat was well worth the wait. The interior detail is superior; the cockpit, landing gear, and engine are spectacular. The exterior elements, especially the raised rivets, must be seen to be believed. To my eye, the overall shape is good, although the wing scales out wide in span. Eduard has given us another winner, and I’ve already seen the F4F-4 version. I can’t imagine how long the line would be for a new Eduard Corsair!
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