Tuesday, January 16

Read n' reviewed: Grumman F4F Wildcat (including GM FM-1 & FM-2) – A Complete Guide to Grumman’s First ‘Cat’ from Valiant Wings Publishing

Valiant Wings book "The Grumman F4F Wildcat (including GM FM-1 & FM-2) - A Complete Guide To Grumman’s First ‘Cat’" is the subject of today's review. See what Gary thought about their latest "all-in-one" title in his review...

Read n' reviewed: Airframe & Miniature No.22 The Grumman F4F Wildcat (including GM FM-1 & FM-2) – A Complete Guide to Grumman’s First ‘Cat’
From Valiant Wings Publishing
by Richard A. Franks
Text in English
208 pages
Softcover A4 portrait format
£26.95 per copy plus post and packing.
ISBN: 978-1-912932-35-1
Product Link on the Valiant Wings Website
The Grumman F4F Wildcat (including GM FM-1 & FM-2) is No. 22 in the ever popular Valiant Wings Airframe & Miniature series.

The Airframe & Miniature series are all built around a consistent format and "Each title contains technical information, full colour profiles, walkaround images, diagrams, camouflage and marking details, a wealth of photographic resource plus comprehensive model builds and information on kits both past and present."

The Wildcat is a historically significant aircraft and has been a popular subject with modellers. Recently the Wildcat has seen several new toolings in popular scales of 1/72nd and 1/48th. Valliant's latest book will go some way towards unpicking the different variants and detail differences that apply to the type.

This twenty-second book in their much-acclaimed series has 208 pages packed with vital information that no active modeller and Wildcat enthusiast should be without.
This softcover, 208 page, A4 format book is organised into three major sections:
Airframe Chapters
-Evolution - Prototypes
-Evolution - Production
-Floatplane, Trials & Civil Conversions
-Camouflage & Markings and Colour Profiles
Miniature Chapters
-Wildcat Kits
-Building a Selection
-Building a Collection
-In Detail: The Wildcat
-Wildcat Kits
-Wildcat Accessories
-Wildcat Decals & Masks
-1/48 Scale Fold Out Plans
Before we get to the meat of the book, Richard Franks first provides a short preface section (20+ pages) which summarises the history of the Wildcat along with many period photos. This is an easy read and a good introduction for those unfamiliar with the Wildcat and the prevailing situation that led to its development.
Chapters 1 to 3 cover in detail the evolution of the Wildcat from Prototype to Production and the lesser known variants such as the floatplane and civil conversions.
Line drawings are added to the photos and explanatory text to show and tell how these variants altered from one another...
Easily the most colourful part of the book, Chapter 4: Camouflage & Markings, provides us with bucket loads of inspiration and ideas. 
As you probably expect the Camouflage & Markings chapter consumes a significant number of pages as it spans not only USN service but also RAF (Martlet) each being covered in some detail including color profiles and supporting period photos.
The second half of the book is focused on modelling the Wildcat. As with previous books in this series, Chapter 5 includes a very comprehensive (18 page) assessment of the kit offerings in all the major scales (1/144, 1/72. 1/48, 1/32 & 1/24). I personally found this chapter quite dry inevitably skipping straight to the "verdict" section for each kit.
Chapter 6: Building a Selection, provides a far more "hands-on" assessment of a range of Wildcat kits because here we see them being built. I'm a very visual person and find I can learn a lot more from seeing how a model goes together rather than just reading paragraphs of text about it. 
The models are very well built (most by Steve Evans) and the in-progress photos clear and large enough to see the details.
Chapter 7: Building a Collection, reminded me of the old Squadron/Signal "In Action" series which always contained thorough coverage of the major differences between variants as the aircraft evolved over time. 
If your desire is to make a model of each and every variant of the Wildcat than this chapter is for you. I like the use of isometric drawings for each variant, showing what changes were incorporated.
Chapter 8: In Detail, lives up to its name for those of us who like to look under the covers. Fifty pages are dedicated to this most important of subjects because as they say "the devil is in the details". If you want to see more of the inside and out of a Wildcat, this is where you look for those details.
The chapter is logically broken down into sub-sections containing photos and drawings of each facet of the Wildcat. 
Not only period shots from the heyday of the Wildcat, but several authentically restored or preserved Wildcat interiors and parts are included in this reference section. Very comprehensive indeed.
Several appendices are provided at the very end of the book which catalog all the known Kits, Accessories & Masks and Decals across all scales. Someone has done a lot of work indeed to compile this catalog.
The last inclusion is a full set of foldout drawings in 1/48 scale.
CONCLUSION - The Grumman F4F Wildcat - Airframe & Miniature No.22 (Valiant Wings Publishing)
Much like the other titles in the Valiant Wings 'Airframe & Miniature' series, this book truely provides a one-stop-shop of information for modelers looking to not only build an accurate model of the Wildcat but also to understand about its history and operation. I'm a big fan of reference books like this that cover one particular aircraft in great detail and I have no hesitation recommending it as very good value for money.

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Valiant Wings for sending this book to us to read and review. You can purchase or find more about these books on their website...

You can see more of Gary's model making on his website Scalespot.com