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Airfix Wildcat

RELATED TOPICS: REVIEW | AIRCRAFT | MILITARY
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Don’t confuse this Wildcat with Airfix’s ancient mold from the 1960s. This new Wildcat has beautifully executed recessed panel detail, a good cockpit, complex landing-gear structure with separate parts if you want to pose the gear retracted, a well-formed engine and prop, fine decals, and the “right” look for this famous feline fighter.

Best of all, you get a choice of extended or folded wings for carrier stowage! While the wing-hinge mechanism could have been more detailed, I suspect that would have made attachment and support difficult.

Perhaps the best thing about kits from the “new Airfix” is their ease of assembly. Everything fits as it should, although it takes time and careful alignment to get through the pretzel logic of the landing-gear assembly.

Airfix’s current assembly instructions are great, as the next panel in a sequence shows in detail the proper finished location of the previous step.

The only weakness in these instructions is the company’s continuing penchant for using simple number callouts for Humbrol paints — suggestions for color choices even as simple as “black” would be of great assistance to beginners. I had to find a Humbrol color chart to see that Airfix recommends interior green for the cockpit; references suggest the color should be the darker bronze green.

However, the exterior color and decaling diagrams are in full color and very helpful. I don’t know about the red-and-white striped tail hook; it doesn’t appear in any of the photos I could find.

After fiddling with the landing gear, building was a snap.

Airfix gives you two canopies — one-piece closed and two-piece opened, with the slide-back portion enlarged to fit over the Wildcat’s roll-over spine.

Airfix provides two sets of wings — folded and extended. I decided to fold one wing to check the fit of both positions. Airfix molded a flat, triangular gluing surface on the bottom of the folded wing’s outer portion. This mates with the little dropped triangular door that covers the hinge and helps support the wing when it is folded back. A separate strut ties the folded wing to the tail plane.

I used Testors Model Master enamels and mixed my own blue gray upper camouflage color. The decals provide markings for two aircraft and are perfectly printed, but I had trouble getting the large fuselage insignias to conform to the compound curves of the rear fuselage.

Not counting time for paint to dry, only 12 hours were needed to finish my model. With all of its features and at an affordable price, Airfix’s Wildcat is the new top cat in 1/72 scale.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2016 issue.

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