The Grumman F4F Wildcat (including GM FM-1 & FM-2)

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Richard A. Franks
Illustrators: Richard J. Caruana, Juraj Jankovic, and Jerry Boucher
ISBN
978-1-912932-35-1
Other Publication Information
Product Size: Portrait Soft Square Bound; 8.25” x 11.75”, 208 pages [Plus Fold-Out Drawings]
MSRP
$53.00
Product / Stock #
#22
Provided by: Valiant Wings Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Cover

Valiant Wings Publishing was founded in 2010 under the guidance of Richard A. Franks and Mark Peacock. Valiant Wings has released several series of primarily airplane monographs [Airframe & Miniature, Airframe Album and Airframe Detail series] with the first Airframe Album dedicated to the Heinkel He 219 ‘Uhu’ released in 2012.

Valiant Wings Publishing’s editor, Richard A. Franks, and in this case the author of The Grumman F4F Wildcat, has recollections of making models at the age of eight. The first aircraft Richard ever built was an Airfix blister-pack 1/72nd Fokker Dr. I. Made in an afternoon, resplendent in 'Post Office Red' and with the decals applied whilst the paint was still wet so that there were lots of fingerprints! While working in the real world, Richard started to submit work for publication in magazines which led Richard to working for such titles as Model Art International, Scale Models, Scale Aircraft Modelling, In Scale, and Scale Aviation Modeller magazines. Richard became the title of editor of the latter in 1995 and continued with that title for the next decade, before leaving it to take the reins of Model Airplane International from its launch in early 2005. Valiant grew much quicker than originally anticipated, resulting in Richard A. Franks dedicating his talents to Valiant Wings in 2014.

Illustrator and author, Richard J. Caruana’s first aviation illustrations were published in 1970 by Ermanno Albertelli of Parma, Italy. These were soon followed by a 15-volume history of the Italian Air Force during WWII published by Edizioni Bizzarri of Rome commissioned by the Italian Air Force. ‘Air International' was the first UK publication to publish Richard’s work in 1976, followed by 'Air Enthusiast' and 'Aviation News'. Between 1984 and 1991 Richard set up and managed Modelaid International Publications, which for ten years produced a specialized aviation monthly magazine,'Modelaid International' (later Air Forces International). Richard’s color illustrations have been featured in many other magazines and book titles.

The front cover features a color illustration by Jerry Boucher. The in-flight depiction is of Lt (JG) Wilmer Rawie just after a head-on attack by a Mitsubishi Claude that raked the belly of his F4F with the Claude’s wingtip. His VF6 Grumman F4F-3A Wildcat [BuNo. 3914, Black 14] had just shot down a Claude on February 1, 1942, during a raid of the Japanese air base on Taroa. Launching from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) wing leader Lt James Seton Gray, Jr. in his F4F-3A had just finished bombing Tjan that they had miss-identified as Taroa. Expecting to find an airbase under construction, they encountered a finished, fully operational airbase that was a major threat to the USS Enterprise. While strafing the airfield, all four of Rawie’s guns jammed forcing him to turn home with three other victims of the same malady (a fifth member of the flight, David W Crisswell in Black F16 had crashed on takeoff). Lt. Gray suddenly found himself the center of attention of the Japanese fighters as four members of his flight returned to the USS Enterprise. Gray, with only one functioning machine gun, turned into the attacking Claudes before being able to break free and scoot home. Back on ship, he discovered he was sporting over 30 bullet holes and numerous dents in the seat armor that had been installed the day before. This home-made armor plate was made from boiler plate appropriated from the USS Enterprise boiler room. Wilmer E Rawie served throughout WW2 in the Pacific and was awarded the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Gold Stars. Rawie is credited with the first USN aerial victory of WW2. VF6 commander Lt James S Gray, Jr. was credited with two Mitsubishi Claudes. Gray was the first Navy pilot to achieve ace status in World War II. Richard Caruana delivers the rear cover with seven color Squadron badges.

I counted 314 color pictures and 490 black and white photographs. Richard J. Caruana provides 52 black and white side profiles and 54 color profiles plus scrap views by of the Grumman Wildcat, including detail, top, and bottom views. Richard Caruana also serves up eight fold-out pages of the 1/48th scale line drawings at the back of this monograph. Juraj Jankovic contributes 56 3D isometric views of all the prototype and production airframes in Chapter 7 on ‘Building A Collection’.

Richard A. Franks kicks off with a twenty-two-page Preface that addresses the development and service of the Grumman Wildcat. This includes Foreign and Civil service along with all the wonderful prototypes. Chapters Two and Three covers the detailed differences between each variant. Page 40 shows off the two Grumman XF4F-8s, and a General Motors FM-1 with black and white side profiles. The top black and white photograph shows off the first XF4F-8, BuNo. 12228 while the bottom black and white photograph depicts the second XF4F-8, BuNo. 12229. The vertical fin and rudder were extended on BuNo. 12229 to compensate with the extra torque of the Wright R-1820-56 engine. The FM-1 was similar to the Grumman F4F-4 with the exception of two less 50-caliber machine guns and modified shell ejection ports under the wing.

Chapter Four digs into the Wildcat’s Camouflage and Markings with photographs and color illustrated side profiles by Richard J. Caruana. Page 60 has three Richard J. Caruana color side profile illustrations from 1944: one Grumman F4F-4 and two General Motors FM-2 Wildcats. The two-color scheme on the F4F-4 contrasts with the tri-color scheme on the two FM-2 Wildcats. The black and white photograph of a FM-2 Wildcat is a great example of temporary aircraft numbers in play. You can make out the number eight written in chalk on the vertical tail fin and the cowling.

Steve A. Evans does a build review of the Eduard 1/48 ProfiPACK Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat that includes a kit description, construction, colours & markings, final assembly, and a final verdict. The entire chapter follows the same format for other kit builds with each build including a table of paints used on the kit. Page 113 shows off Steve’s work in the assembly of the forward fuselage with a gorgeous engine bay and cockpit. The bottom of the page shows some of the detail in the wings with the oil cooler intake screens from the photoetch sheet. Steve points out one of the more interesting assemblies with the rudder and the lower hinge insert.

One of my favorite chapters in Richard A. Franks books is the chapter on “Building a Collection” that features the isometric drawings of Juraj Jankovic. Page 135 highlights his work with three isometric drawings covering the F4F-4P, and the first two variants of the XF4F-5 Wildcat [the third variant is covered on Page 136]. The drawings highlight what changed in each variant, are well labeled, and often include actual photographs showing off the detail.

The final chapter is devoted to each part of the Wildcat, in detail and features color photographs from six museum Wildcats. This section includes photographs and drawings from operation manuals and parts manuals, usually with detailed captions. Page 187 shows part of the detail on the section on the Wildcat radio. This includes an isometric drawing from Juraj Jankovic, period photographs, and a color photograph of a museum bird.

The first of three Appendices comprise an exhaustive listing of Wildcat kits with representative color photographs. The second Appendix covers Wildcat kit accessories in resin, white metal, and photoetch. Appendix Three addresses decal sets available with Appendix Four covering the bibliography, again accompanied with color photographs of book covers. The last part of this tome is a fold out that extends to eight pages that features Richard J. Caruana’s 1/48 scale line drawings. The sections include:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Note
  • Glossary
  • Preface
  • The XF4F-2 & XF4F-3
    • Production
      • The XF4F-6 (and F4F-3A)
    • Operational Service
      • The F4F-3 and F4F-3A
      • F4F-3 and F4F-3A Deployment, December 31, 1941 [Table]
    • Combat in the Pacific
    • Other Variants
      • The F4F-3S Wildcatfish
      • The XF4F-5
      • The XF4F-7
      • The FM-1 (Martlet Mk V) and FM-2 (Wildcat Mk VI)
    • Foreign Service
      • United Kingdom (Fleet Air Arm)
        • The Martlet Mk II
        • The Martlet Mk III
        • The Martlet Mk IV
        • Far East Operations
        • US-Based Modifications
        • Desert Operations
        • The Martlet Mk V & VI
      • Belgium
      • Canada
      • France
    • Wildcat Serial Number Allocation [Table]
    • Airframe Chapters
  • Chapter 1: Evolution – Prototypes
    • XF4F-1
    • XF4F-2 – Initial Form
    • XF4F-2 – Revised Form
    • XF4F-3 – Initial Form
    • XF4F-3 – Revised Form (1)
    • XF4F-3 – Revised Form (2)
    • XF4F-3 – Final Form
  • Chapter 2: Evolution – Production
    • Production
      • F4F-3 – 1st (BuNo. 1844)
      • F4F-3 – 2nd (BuNo. 1845)
      • F4F-3 – BuNos. 1848 to 1896 & 2412 to 2538
      • F4F-3 – BuNos. 3856 to 3874
      • F4F-3 – BuNos. 3970 to 4057 & 12230 to 12329
      • F4F-3 – BuNos. 3970 to 4057 & 12230 to 12329 (Revised)
      • F4F-3A
      • F4F-3A – BuNos. 3905 to 3969
      • F4F-3P
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Initial Form
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Revised Form
      • XF4F-4
      • F4F-4
      • F4F-4 – Extended Wings
      • F4F-4 – Duplex Flaps (BuNo. 5262)
      • F4F-4A
      • F4F-4B
      • F4F-4P
      • F4F-5 BuNos. 1846 & 1847
      • F4F-5 BuNo. 1846 (Revised)
      • F4F-5 BuNo. 1847 (Revised)
      • XF4F-6
      • F4F-7
      • XF4F-8 – BuNo. 12228 [Page 050]
      • XF4F-8 – BuNo. 12229
    • Production – General Motors
      • FM-1
      • FM-1 – Rocket Trials
      • FM-2
    • Production – Foreign Service
      • G-36A (France)
      • Martlet Mk I
      • Martlet Mk I AL247 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk II – Initial (AM954 to AM963)
      • Martlet Mk II – Revised
      • Martlet Mk III
      • Martlet Mk IV
      • Martlet Mk IV FN202 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk V
      • Martlet Mk V JV330 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk V JV654 – Trials
      • Wildcat Mk VI
      • Martlet Mk VI JV875 – Trials
    • F6F-3 & F6F-5 Specifications [Table]
  • Chapter 3: Evolution – Floatplane, Trials & Civil Conversions
    • Floatplane
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Initial Form
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Revised Form
    • Trials
      • Martlet Mk I AL247 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk IV FN202 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk V JV330 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk V JV654 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk VI JV875 – Trials
    • Civil Conversions
      • FM-2 Crop Sprayer (Ver. 1)
      • FM-2 Crop Sprayer (Ver. 2)
  • Chapter 4: Camouflage & Markings
    • Production
      • F4F-3 – Pre-War Scheme
        • Overall Silver
      • Light Grey (Spring 1941)
        • October 1941
      • Operation Torch
        • Tri-Colour Scheme [Page 060]
      • Overall Blue
      • ASW Schemes
    • Escort Carrier Force Identification Markings
    • Carrier Identification Letters (1945 & 1946)
    • Carrier Identification Letters [Table]
    • Foreign Service
      • United Kingdom – FAA (Fleet Air Arm)
        • Martlet Mk I
        • Martlet Mk II
        • Martlet Mk III
        • Martlet Mk IV
        • Martlet Mk V
        • Martlet Mk VI
        • Operation Torch
      • France – Aeronavale
        • G-36A
        • French Color Equivalents [Table]
    • Grumman Wildcat Stencil Marking Details [1/48 Scale]
  • Miniature Chapters
  • Chapter 5: Wildcat Kits
    • The Wildcat in Scale [Table]
    • 1/72nd Scale
      • Academy, Korea F4F-4 Wildcat
      • Airfix, UK Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (New Tooling)
      • Arma Hobby, Poland Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat
      • Arma Hobby, Poland Wildcat Mk VI & FM-2 Wildcat
      • HobbyBoss, China F4F-3 & F4F-4 Wildcats
      • HobbyBoss, China FM-1/FM-2 Wildcats
    • 1/48th Scale
      • Eduard, Czech Republic F4F-4 Wildcat Series
      • Eduard, Czech Republic FM-1 & FM-2
      • HobbyBoss, China F4F & FM-1/FM-2 Wildcat Series
      • Tamiya, Japan F4F-3 & F4F-4 Wildcats
    • 1/32nd Scale
      • Trumpeter, China F4F-3 & F4F-4 Wildcats
    • Kits in Brief
  • Chapter 6: Building A Selection
    • Airfix 1/72nd (#A55214) Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat Built by Steve A. Evans
      • Construction
      • Colours & Markings
      • Paints Used [Table]
      • Final Details
      • Verdict
      • Arma Hobby 1/72nd Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat Built by Libor Jekl
      • Construction
      • Colours & Markings
      • Final Details
      • Paints Used [Table]
      • Verdict
    • Eduard 1/48th ‘ProfiPACK’ (#82201) Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat Built by Steve A. Evans
      • Construction [Page 113[
      • Colours & Markings
      • Final Assembly
      • Paints Used [Table]
      • Verdict
    • Trumpeter 1/32nd (#02223) Grumman F4F-4 Built by Steve A. Evans
      • Construction
      • Colours & Markings
      • Final Assembly
      • Paints Used [Table]
      • Verdict
  • Chapter 7: Building A Collection
    • Prototypes
      • XF4F-1
      • XF4F-2 – Initial Form
      • XF4F-2 – Revised Form
      • XF4F-3 – Initial Form
      • XF4F-3 – Revised Form (1)
      • XF4F-3 – Revised Form (2)
      • XF4F-3 – Final Form
    • Production
      • F4F-3 – 1st (BuNo. 1844)
      • F4F-3 – 2nd (BuNo. 1845)
      • F4F-3 – (BuNo. 1848 to 1896 & 2412 to 2538)
      • F4F-3 – BuNo. 3856 to 3874
      • F4F-3 – BuNo. 3970 to 4057 & 12230 to 12329
      • F4F-3 – BuNo. 3970 to 4057 & 12230 to 12329 (Revised)
      • F4F-3A – BuNo. 3905 to 3969
      • XF4F-3A
      • F4F-3P
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Initial Form
      • F4F-3S Wildcatfish – Revised Form
      • XF4F-4
      • F4F-4
      • F4F-4 – Extended Wings
      • F4F-4 – Duplex Flaps (BuNo. 5262)
      • F4F-4A
      • F4F-4B
      • F4F-4P [Page 135]
      • XF4F-5 BuNos. 1846 & 1847
      • XF4F-5 BuNo. 1846 (Revised)
      • XF4F-5 BuNo. 1847 (Revised)
      • XF4F-6
      • F4F-7
      • F4F-8 – BuNo. 12228
      • F4F-8 – BuNo. 12229
    • General Motors
      • FM-1
      • FM-1 – Rocket Trials
      • FM-2
    • Foreign Service
      • G-36A (France)
      • Martlet Mk I
      • Martlet Mk I – Note
      • Martlet Mk I AL247 - Trials
      • Martlet Mk II – Initial (AM954 to AM963)
      • Martlet Mk II - Revised
      • Martlet Mk III
      • Martlet Mk IV
      • Martlet Mk IV FN202 – Trials
      • Martlet Mk V*
      • Martlet Mk V JV330 - Trials
      • Martlet Mk V JV654 - Trials
      • Martlet Mk VI
      • Martlet Mk VI JV875 - Trials
    • Civil Conversions
      • FM-2 Crop Sprayer (Ver. 1)
      • FM-2 Crop Sprayer (Ver. 2)
  • Chapter 8: In Detail
    • Engine
    • Cowlings & Exhausts
    • Cockpit
    • Canopy
    • Mid and Aft Fuselage
    • Vertical Fin & Rudder
    • Horizontal Tailplane & Elevators
    • Wings & Control Surfaces
    • Main Undercarriage
    • Tailwheel
    • Arrestor Hook
    • Fixed Armament
    • Bombs & Bomb Racks
    • Ordnance & Drop Tanks
    • Rockets
    • Sighting
    • Miscellaneous
    • Radio [Page 187]
    • Camera
    • Coves & Picketing
  • Miscellaneous
    • F4F-3S Wildcatfish
    • JATO
  • Appendix I: Wildcat Kits
  • Appendix II: Wildcat Accessories
  • Appendix III: Wildcat Decals & Masks
  • Appendix IV: Bibliography
  • 1/48th Scale Plans Grumman F4F Wildcat

Richard A. Franks serves up yet another must have model reference. The 208 pages is not exactly an easy read, but as the subtitle claims, this is a ‘Complete Guide To Grumman’s First ‘Cat’. I was surprised to learn of the civilian use of the Wildcat as a Crop Duster. I spent nearly two weeks reading this book and discovered tons of notes that were new to me. The detailed drawings and period photographs provide amazing detail that can be used to detail up any model kit. The Richard J. Caruana color illustrations in conjunction with the Camouflage and Markings chapter make sure you get the correct colors on your kit. There are more than enough contemporary photographs to inspire your next build. Juraj Jankovic’s isometric illustrations help organize the myriad of variations that can be considered and makes for a nice evolutionary presentation that is quite valuable. If you have any interest in modeling the Grumman Wildcat, put this book on your list to acquire, it is a must-have !

My thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035

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