Dogfight Double Gift Set: Nakajima B5N2 "Kate"/Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat
Earlier this year Airfix released this Dogfight Double set which combines it new Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bomber and its new Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat kit. The Dogfight Double kits are designed to allow the modeler to depict aircraft from a specific historical incident by providing markings for two specific aircraft in the kit. This set is designed to commemorate a confrontation that occurred on June 4, 1942 when Wildcats of VF-3 intercepted Kate torpedo bombers during the second air attack on the USS Yorktown. The kit decals provide markings for the Wildcat flow by LCDR. Jimmy Thatch, the commanding officer of VF-3 during the afternoon raid and the B5N2 Kate flown by Lt. Jouchi Tomonaga of the Hiryu. The box art depicts Thatch’s shoot down of the Kate, but not before Tomonaga launched his torpedo towards the Yorktown.
The set include two complete kits, 10 plastic tins of Humbrol acrylic paint two tubes of glue and a stand for those who wish to depict the aircraft in flight. A very nice feature is that both kits provide you with the option of modeling the aircraft either in flight with the gear up or on deck with the gear down. They also include parts to permit you to build each aircraft gear down, with its wings folded as they would be most of the time on the carrier deck. I elected to build both kits with the gear down and the wings folded.
Airfix’s new F4F-4 Wildcat kit has been previously reviewed here, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but I recommend reading Keith Gervasi’s review from last year before you start. As Keith points out, this is not a shake and bake kit – there are 45 construction steps in the instructions and while many of them relate to the different options provided (gear up or gear down, wings folded or unfolded), you will have to decide very early how you are going to build your Wildcat as starting in step 7 you do different things depending on how you decide to display your Wildcat. Once you decide which way you are building the kit, I recommend that you go through the instructions with a Sharpie and cross out the steps that do not apply to your version to keep you from getting confused. The kit cockpit builds up into a nicely detailed replica of the aircraft cockpit and the instructions do a nice job of pointing out the different colors used in the cockpit.
I attempted to use the provided Humbrol acrylics, but they defied all my attempts to find an appropriate thinner to use as each time I tried to airbrush these paints, I ended up with a painted surface that looked like either medium grit sandpaper or the non-skid surfaces on current US Navy ships. Also the plastic tins are a bit top heavy due to the big plastic hinge on the back and I spilled more than one tin on the workbench. After removing the sandpaper paint for the third time, I decided to ditch the provided colors and used a combination of Tamiya and ModelMaster paints instead. I used Tamiya Flat Green for the cockpit interior, ModelMaster FS 36440 Light Gull Gray for the underside colors and ModelMaster Navy Blue Gray for the upper surfaces. I used Tamiya NATO Black for the tires and engine.
One area that you need to take your time with is kit’s landing gear assembly. There are no less than 6 steps devoted to assembling the gear in the down position and due to the kit’s engineering; the gear has to be installed before the fuselage halves are joined, so care has to be taken throughout the rest of the build to not damage it. Another issue with the gear is that the upper parts of the landing gear assembly are gray, while the bottom is flat black. Due to the number of small parts and complexity of the gear, I decided to hold off on the black until the end of the build and then hand-painted it using Vallejo flat black.
The only areas that I had to do some filling were on the fuselage top in front of the windscreen, on the lower fuselage and the joint between the wing stubs and the fuselage. I think I could have avoided the latter by sanding down the edges of the kit wing spar as I think it is a tiny bit too high and long.
The topside color provided by Airfix looked too gray based on photos I have seen of early war Navy aircraft, so I used ModelMaster’s Navy Blue Gray, which I think is a great match. I used only the kit decals applied over a couple of coats of Pledge Multi-Surface using Micro Set and Micro Sol. While the decals appear to be a bit stiff when slid off the backing paper, they quickly settled down and conformed wonderfully to the kit details.
After decaling, came the hardest part of the build, attaching the wings in the folded position along with the included tail braces. Take your time and use slower setting super glue to allow you time to get everything lined up. As the ailerons actually stand up vertically when the wings are folded, I left them off until after both wings had been attached and the super glue set.
The B5N2 Kate is another one of Airfix’s new kits and it is a great kit. Like the Wildcat, this is not a quick build, as there are 49 steps in the instruction sheet, again many of which vary depending on whether you are building the kit with the gear up or down, armed with bombs or a torpedo and the wings spread or folded. The decision of how you are going to build the kit starts in step 1 as you have to drill out the appropriate holes for the torpedo, the include bombs or inflight stand. In step 2 you have to decide if the wings are to be spread or folded as you need to cut the wings to model the folded wings. The kit includes nicely molded wing folds, but as I also had the SAC Kate landing gear and wing fold set, I used the SAC parts in place of the kit parts. They are drop in replacements and look really nice.
As with the Wildcat, I elected to not use the provided paints, replacing them with Tamiya colors throughout. The instructions state that the cockpit interior is a medium green color, so I used a medium Tamiya Green. The undersurfaces were painted XF-21 Sky and the upper surfaces were XF-61 Japanese green. I used NATO Black for the flat black cowling and X-1 Black for the Coal Black forward fuselage marking. The kit provides a very complete cockpit interior and looks great installed and painted, but beware much of this work will be unseen due to the small cockpit openings and especially if you fold the wings as the wings overlap much of the canopy. If you are going to fold the wings, be sure the drill out the holes in the fuselage sides for the bracing struts that hold the wings in place one they are folded. I used a #66 drill bit which provided for a pretty snug fit with just a little bit of wiggle room to allow the struts to be adjusted when the wings were attached. I left out the lower kit windows and the small windows on the fuselage sides as the ones provided in the kit were not very clear, even after a dip in Pledge. I used Micro Krystal Klear to make these windows at the end of the build to ensure nice clear windows.
The fuselage fits together very nicely and the only place I had to fill was a small area on the lower aft fuselage that I had misaligned. Next the wing assembly is joined to the fuselage and I had to do a little more filling and sanding at the joint of the wing to the bottom fuselage. There is a slight seam on the wings where these two assemblies meet, but as it was a pretty good fit and would be under the wing walk decals, I did not spend a lot of time fussing with this seam. The kit allows you to model the flaps in the full up or full down position, so I elected the full down position to add some interest. Similarly the elevators and the rudder can be positioned lowered or offset respectively, however, be advised that if you install the rudder any way but straight aft, you will have to do some cutting of the decals for the vertical tail as the lower yellow bar is both on the lower edge of the rudder and on the fixed part of the vertical tail. The kit features a nicely detailed engine and allows you to display the cowl flaps in either the fully closed or fully open position. I installed them fully open just to see how they looked.
The kit’s main wheels are molded with a slight flat spot to depict weighted tires and are designed with half-round keys on the outside of the hubs to ensure proper alignment of the tires and the ground when attached to the gear struts. As Tomonaga’s aircraft was torpedo-armed, the kit included bombs were consigned to the parts bin. The fit of the front and rear halves of the torpedo was not the greatest, but this was easily addressed with a little sanding and filling. You will take care with sanding as the torpedo is aluminum with a black plastic nose cap.
The kit provides three options for the canopy, one fully closed, one with the rear gunner’s section retracted and the last with all three cockpits open. This is a great idea, however as the Kate’s canopy sections nested under each other when retracted, there is no way to paint the outer canopy frames on the nested sections as they are actually part of the pieces they are nested below. For this reason I elected to use the fully closed canopy and used Eduard’s masking set, which really simplified masking the various sections. As with the Wildcat, the decals responded to Micro Set and Micro Sol and look painted on once dry.
The final step was installation of the folded wings and the support braces. I installed the braces first using the wings as installation guides and once the braces were dry, I superglued the outer wing sections to the braces and the wing fold plates and held them until dry. The result is a nicely compact carrier aircraft.
I completely enjoyed building both of these two kits and by providing well researched markings for two aircraft that actually met in combat, Airfix has created a very nice set for history buffs.
Highly recommended!! Thank you to Hornby USA for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.