Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler, in a digital format with print-on-demand paperback format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching history, details, versions and markings of the F4F & FM Wildcat and variants.
The publication is another extraordinary compilation of history, data, and images of a USN aircraft that was critically important throughout World War II. The content is organized into history, U. S. variants, French and British versions, aircraft details, paint schemes, and a very comprehensive and current modeler’s section.
My initial reaction to this new Detail & Scale eBook continues to be very positive. There are many digital versions of print publications available, ranging from simple scanned images of typed pages to true multimedia blends. This digital volume from Detail & Scale is unquestionably positioned at the higher end of digital formats, with new material and excellent functionality. I ran numerous what-if research test runs developing information about the many aircraft described in the publication and found those test-runs to be fast, effective, and efficient without fail. I no longer buy hardcopy references if a digital version is available. If my tablet or computer is damaged or lost, I can simply download the digital volumes to the replacement devices. Try that with a hardcopy! But Detail & Scale is taking advantage of print-on-demand (PoD) technologies and at this time, many of their publications are available in one-off, PoD hard-copies for traditionalists. Everyone will be happy!
Front Matter: The front chapter and book covers continue a Detail & Scale practice of a colorful content “teaser” with cover art depicting LT O’Hare in combat for which he received the Medal of Honor. The list of contributors and sources fills a good part of a page and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume. On digital page ivof the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. The author and illustrator’s biographies appear on digital p. viii.
Introduction: The chapter highlights the overall layout of volume, giving the reader a great idea of what to expect through the volume, and the organization logic. Hyperlinked references add other excellent sources for the reader.
Chapter 1 Wildcat History: The Wildcathad a biplane ancestor like many USN aircraft. The design competitions, tweaks and tribulations are described in great detail. The extraordinary toughness of the F4F is evident throughout the chapter. Many combat stories appear in this chapter, along with the “Thach Weave.” Data tables listing production numbers, bureau numbers, and post-production changes wrap up the chapter.
Chapter 2 U. S. Wildcat Variants: All of the Wildcatvariants evaluated and operated by the USN and USMC are included in this chapter. I found the design changes and overall evolution process fascinating. Many images, data tables, line drawings and other details highlight the differences between the variants. My personal favorite variant, the Wildcatfish,is given more attention than I’ve found elsewhere. The changeover to folding wings is particularly interesting. I did not know there was an XF4F-8 version! The chapter is richly illustrated with diagrams and image galleries.
Chapter 3 French G-36A: The short-lived French demand for carrier aircraft was to equip 2 carriers under construction prior to the start of WW2. France fell before the Wildcat went in French service.
Chapter 4 British Martlets & Wildcats: The British armed services used the Wildcatextensively. The aircraft were initially call Martlets, and later reverted to Wildcats. Many narratives, images, drawings and other artwork describe the very similar, yet unique adaptations of the F4F to British service.
Chapter 5 Wildcat Details: This chapter is a goldmine for anyone building any examples of the F4F family. Images of restored or original-condition aircraft variants from many aviation museums allow a prop hub to tailhook perspective of extreme detail. This chapter is the real meat of the volume for me.
Chapter 6 Wildcat Paint Schemes & Colors: Standard and non-standard paint schemes and many unique markings are found in this chapter. All of the major markings and color schemes are accompanied with beautiful artwork by Rock Roszack. Wildcatsfrom yellow-wings days through iterations of blue and grays are shown.
Chapter 7 Modelers Section: The F4F is historically very well-represented in scale model kits and after-market parts from many manufacturers. Some of these offerings are better than others. Each offering is described and discussed, including some more obscure and out-of-production kits. Many of the kit descriptions are accompanied by builds by master modelers. I found myself looking at the F4F examples in my built collection, and often muttering “whoops…”
More from Detail & Scale: This section has great links to a wealth of information on Detail & Scale products and related resources. More information on other Detail & Scale publications may be found here.
Content coverage summary: I found this volume’s content and organization to be excellent. I had a limited understanding of the depth and complexity of the Wildcat’sdevelopment and operational history. I now have a much better understanding!
In terms of content, this is another exceptional publication. This volume is well written with an engaging style in addition to the tremendous wealth of photographs and other information. The new artwork is spectacular, the photograph resolution is superb, and the depth and variety of markings and color information make Digital Volume 7invaluable. As always, the ability of electronic media to effectively conduct research and find information reduces barriers to verify and/or discover other sources.
Other considerations: My review copy arrived in the form of an emailed purchase code I then entered into the iTunes Store download area. The volume was quickly ready to read and resident on my iPad.
If you are not familiar with tablets or other digital readers, an excellent guide to iPad operations starts on page ivof the digital publication. The Apple iOS signature taps, finger swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. The learning curve is a short bump to become proficient. You will soon learn to move quickly throughout the text. Once you learn the finger motions, you will discover that a double-tap pull-down title bar is very helpful. On the left-hand side of the title bar are icons enabling you to return to the library (quit), find the table of contents (a chapter screen with sections), and locate a nice help screen for adding highlights and notes. On the right-hand side of the title bar is a screen brightness icon, but best of all, there is a search icon and a bookmark icon. I found both of these to be very helpful. These features really aren’t conceptually different from marking up a traditional book but have significant advantages.
- Highlighting can be done with different colors, perhaps for different topics of your interest.
- Highlights can be easily changed or removed (ever try to erase those bright yellow stripes in hard copy?).
- Bookmarks may be added, removed or edited.
Taking screen shots or grabs can be very useful for specific planning. Pressing the sleep/wake button at the same time as the home button will capture the visible screen. This function is great for annotating and planning details. There are many free drawing apps that can import an image and let you enlarge, mark up, or otherwise edit. If you need to put some ideas together for detailing, you can digitally scribble on the photo!
An iPad has a very small footprint so it will take up minimal space on the bench. All of your reference material is in one place, ready to use. Several images of screen operations are included to supplement the many online tutorials that others have posted for iPad operations on YouTubeand similar sites.
Even so, I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want an e-book format, instead of a paperback?" The eBook provides unparalleled research abilities. Major libraries throughout the world now house the majority of their research materials in digital format, which serves multiple purposes of accessibility, archiving and reduced storage space, freeing up areas for other activities.
I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information. I also have tons of books in my library, mostly in dusty residence on stoic-looking bookshelves. This e-book format provides many advantages for the modeler. I cannot imagine that this publication will not be a stunning addition to any USN aviation enthusiast’s digital or traditional library. I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but operations on the Amazon Kindle platform are nearly identical. At about $12.00, you can’t beat the price! The print-on-demand (PoD) paperback is a similar value at $20.00. Both are available through the link above.
Reading in e-book format, e.g., iBook, Kindle, Nook and so on, is generally a nice experience, with the advantages of portability, downloadable purchases, and reading in low light. In a reference book, these advantages are surpassed by the ability to search, add notes, screen capture or zoom into photos from the text for annotation, and have fingertip rapid access to information on your workbench without compromising space. In other words, bench space doesn’t get filled by a reference book. Furthermore, quicker searching and data collection are majorbonuses.
I can’t find any negatives in this publication or delivery format. Some could argue that the pages are too small (you can zoom), tablet devices are too expensive (prices are dropping), backups are impossible (cloud technology is pretty robust, even though it is stored on someone else’s server), the content is static (no it isn’t, look at the links and updates), and you can’t fan the pages with your thumb and feel the heft of the book (OK, you got me there, but why would one want to feel the weight of the books I have on my tablet?). I love the format, and the learning curve is worth it.
I am extremely positive about this publication, as I continue to be for all of the D&S digital publications I use. I found Digital Volume 7to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool. But as mentioned in previous reviews of digital materials, a problem I do have is thatdigital publications force me to abandon an old tradition of having authors and illustrators sign their books!
Detail & Scale F4F & FM Wildcat Digital Volume 7 has my highest recommendation. I can’t see how anyone can justify not having this publication if he or she has any interest in the extraordinary history of the Wildcat, whether for model building or for historical purposes. I am certain that the same functionality of the iPad exists for the Kindle platform. To the best of my knowledge, this publication is not available in any formats other than the iBook or Kindle versions at this time. The ability to examine the Wildcatwithin and beyond the printed page, the abundance of color images, links to external resources, search functions, ability to quickly bookmark, highlight and add notes, all combined with the inexpensive cost, make Digital Volume 7 an excellent value. This exceptional eBook is for all who appreciate the tough Wildcat.
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am very pleased to see the Digital Volumes continuing to be released, and I’m sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!