Grumman’s Wildcat was the first of the Grumman cats (Wildcat, Hellcat, Tigercat, Bearcat, Tomcat) to enter service with the US Navy back in 1940. It was the backbone of the USN fighter fleet during the early years of World War 2 and continued to serve until the end of conflict. While inferior in capabilities compared to its Pacific arch enemy, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the tactics developed made it a formidable fighter with a 5.9:1 kill to loss ratio in 1942 and 6.9:1 during the whole war. The experiences gained with the aircraft helped Grumman to design its much improved succesor, the F6F Hellcat. Almost 8.000 Wildcats were built.

British Fleet Air Arm operated nearly 1.200 Wildcats of different versions during the WW2 in the Atlantic and Far East areas of operation. They were used in variety of roles, often operating from small escort carriers and fighting Fw200s and Ju-88s attacking allied shipping convoies, but were also used as ground attack aircraft. The US Navy and Marine Corps use is of course more straightforward and better known, with aircraft tasked anything from islands protection (mainly by USMC) to participating in all the major naval battles from 1941 onwards.

FM-2 Wildcat at USS Midway museum, Alameda CA. (my photo)

John S. Thach

Thach was a US Navy pilot that helped create the so called Thatch Weave manuever, which helped the inferior but sturdy Wildcats successfully oppose the superior performing Zeros by using cooperative manuevering. In early 1940, Thatch became the commander of fighting squadron VF-3 bearing the ‘Felix the Cat’ symbol. There he met and set up as his wingman a young pilot named Edward O’Hare and though him everything he knew. O’Hare later became Medal of Honor recipient but unfortunately didn’t survive the war. Chicago’s international airport bares his name. VF-3 was mainly assigned to USS Saratoga but during the Battle of Midway, Thatch and the boys were relocated to USS Yorktown. During the first mission of the day, Thach was leading an escort flight for the Devastators, which located the Japanese fleet and was jumped by a larger number of Zeros. Using his manuever for the first time in combat, he returned from the flight with 3 kills and his wingman with another, for the loss of one Wildcat. Later he would shoot down

After the Battle of Midway, Thatch was pulled off combat duties to instruct new pilots. In 1944, when the Kamikaze attacks begun, he invented the ‘big blue blanket’ system, which helped to mitigate the problem.

After the World War II he commanded a couple of carriers and later comanded an anti-submarine warfare unit. He was promoted to vice admiral in 1960, became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations and later in 1965 promoted to his final rank of full Admiral and served as Commander in Chief of Naval Forces Europe until his retirement in 1967.

The kit

This is my first Arma Hobby kit and since I’ve heard nothing but praises, I was eager to try it out. And there’s really not much fault with it. Details are excellent, in the cockpit as on the outside. Landing gear assembly is a bit tricky, but with some care and dryfitting shouldn’t be too difficult to build. Two-piece cowling fits perfectly so I decided to attach it with some blue-tac during the painting and paint the engine separately. I did the full riveting job on the aircraft as I felt the details were missing a bit on the fuselage (not much going there in terms of panel lines but there are some longitudinal rivet lines).

VF-3 received F4F-4s shortly before the Battle of Midway so I kept the weathering restrained.

Link to the in-progress article:

Special thanks to Mr.Paint for continuous support!

Model Data
Company: Arma Hobby / 700047
Scale: 1:72
Aftermarket: none

Paints used: Mr.Paint
Camouflage: MRP-133 Blue-Grey, MRP-134 Light Grey

Metallic surfaces: MRP-008 Duraluminium, MRP-147 Burnt Iron