Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat “White 77”
Pilot & Markings
Lieutenant Jim Swett — VMF-221, Guadalcanal, 1943
Scale & Kit
1/48 Tamiya Model Airplane
The Grumman F4F was the primary Navy and Marine Corps fighter during the most part of World War II. Though the stubby little F4F could not equal the speed and manoeuvrability of its Japanese counterpart, the “Zero”, its rugged construction and superior armament, coupled with well-trained pilots and good tactics, ensured that it generally gave great performance during the first years of the war.
Although allied fighters later had superior kill-to-loss ratios, people seem to forget that the F4F Wildcat, along with its Army counterpart the P-40 Warhawk, were fighting in the days when the Japanese had superior numbers and the best trained pilots in the world. It was the Wildcats and Warhawks that bore the brunt of Japanese air power in the early days of the Pacific War. It was these same planes that defeated the Japanese in the crucial battles of Midway and Guadalcanal that became the turning points of the war in the Pacific. Their pilots fought against the odds to win some incredible victories. Among those pilots was Marine Corps ace Lt. James E. Swett who served with VMF-221 and saw action in Guadalcanal. On his first combat mission he downed 7 Japanese dive-bombers and survived being downed himself. He was to score 8.5 victories with the F4U Corsair and ended his flying career with 15.5 victories.
The nicely detailed 1/48 F4F-4 Wildcat Tamiya model was used for this project. I applied Model Master paints such as Navy Blue Grey to the fuselage, upper surfaces of the wings and stabilizers as well as Light Grey for the under surfaces. I used an aftermarket seat with seat belts and also sanded the wheels lightly to achieve weighted tires. The aircraft has a white tip antenna mast and a successfully assembled non-standard antenna that runs from the tail to the fuselage side. Note that the aircraft also has a stripe tail that has been painted out. To achieve this I mixed Navy Blue Grey with a bit of Flat Black. Masked off the areas and airbrushed it. After the paint dried, I over painted the stripe with Navy Blue Grey to achieve the “painted out look” sort of speak. Please also note that the seven victory markings were not applied on the model because on the day that he downed 7 Japanese planes, this aircraft was shot down itself. Perhaps it was applied on another aircraft he flew. This is a great looking replica of Jim Swett’s Wildcat.