The Next Build(s): Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat



When I got back into modeling, one of the first things I decided to do was build an airplane for Nolan. Something bright, with lots of bold colors. Of course, those types of paint schemes tend to take a lot of planning and masking, so it seemed a good idea to get my feet wet with one or two other kits first. Thus the P-51B Mustang and the SBD-3 Dauntless.

Next up? The Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, in its pre-war yellow wing livery.

But not just one Wildcat. This time around, I’m going to be building two simultaneously. One for Nolan, and one for Lola.

My plan is to take the overall yellow wing livery, but customize it for the kids. Yellow wing (the wings were yellow to aid search and rescue efforts…which had to have been highly confidence inspiring…) Wildcats sported colored tails – black, green, etc. For the kids, I’m going to stay with the colored tails, but Nolan’s will be blue, and Lola’s pink. These will be matched with wing stripes, and each plane will have customized ID markings. N-LN for Nolan and L-LA for Lola.

As with the Dauntless, I’m planning to use these Wildcats as testbeds for new paints and techniques. In fact, I’ve already been experimenting with making my own seat belts out of masking tape. So far, I’m extremely happy with them. Much easier to work with than photo etched seatbelts (though I did snag some PE bits for the the buckles and such).

The other big test? This time, it’s natural metal finishes. Making a jumble of polystyrene parts look like painted metal is hard enough. Making them look like bare metal (or, technically, bare alclad – aluminum cladding – panels) is another thing entirely. There are several paints out there that can yield this bare metal look, and I’ll be trying out two of them. Alclad II lacquer, and Talon acrylic. The Alclad II is a semi-known quantity, and I know it can yield awesome results. But lacquers are really, really toxic. The Talon, meanwhile, is acrylic, is said to smell of oranges, and can clean up with water.

It’ll be interesting, having a sort of NMF-off between the two.

More to come.

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