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Wild, Wilder … Wildest Wildcat?

Wildcat F4F was a carrier-based fighter plane that Grumman introduced more than eight decades ago. It served for five short years, but it left its mark on history with style. Latter one contrary to its modest looks. Only 7885 were built, which according to today’s standards is a big number, but not for the Second World War. Just the contrary. US NAVY, US Marines, Royal NAVY and Royal Canadian NAVY used it and even though not satisfactory for its pilots, it managed to pull of 6.9:1 kill ratio and dropped 154 tons of bombs while on escort missions.

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Outperformed by its arch-enemy – the mighty Mitsubishi Zero – F4F was replaced by F6F Hellcat, another legend of its time, sometimes called “Wildcat’s big brother”. Unlike the F4F though, Hellcat remained in service beyond WWII, which is a fact that should be considered comparing the two. But the comparison is more often made with the Zero. And not surprisingly, last year – 2022, the 80 year anniversary of Battle of Midway – was approached by Eduard with new releases in quarter scale. Mitsubishi’s masterpiece was among those and of course – the F4F Wildcat followed.

But why are we discussing this? Well, Wildcat is to be explored by modeling companies deeper than before, or at least it seems that way. Eduard’s release is a contemporary kit, alongside with which the Czech company advertised numerous add-ons, very warmly welcomed by modelers. It elevated the F4F to another level in terms of scale modeling. Before that, we had Trumpeter and Tamiya, latter one being a 90s tooling and even though good, apparently not good enough for 2020s. Absolutely certainly – not comparable with Eduard’s brilliant miniature.

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Eduard’s Wildcat was released in different packings, including Limited Edition options, called “Guadalcanal”, “Midway”, “FM-2 Wilder Cat” and that seems just like the beginning for them. Note that some are Dual Combos. As we all know, they are constantly re-releasing and re-packing their own toolings, always adding stuff or changing small things, making each and every release a contender for collector’s and modeler’s Most Wanted List. They are very successful at that, too.

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Academy on the other hand – probably emboldened by their 1/48 F-4 Phantom fame – are too about to approach the Wildcat. The theme of their release being also – Battle of Midway. We mention their Phantom, because with it, Academy proved that they can easily go and play rough with the big boys on the 1/48 market. It hit so hard, that Eduard re-packed that several times as Limited Edition sets. That is why, future Academy F4F Wildcat is to be considered a potential gem, even though they didn’t manage to do that with their latest A-10 release. Nevertheless, with proper engineering and talent that the Korean model maker demonstrated with their Phantom, Academy’s Wildcat might present a challenge for Eduard. And we hope that it will. But no re-packs are expected this time.

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Latest news however, are the wildest. Tamiya are about to hit that bell as well. As of November 2023, probably at some big Scale Modeling Event /which one that might be, we wonder?/, they are about to provide new quarter scale F4F Wildcat, supposedly a new tooling. This begs the question – will this be the case or not. Because, thus far the rumors are for partially re-tooled Wildcat, based on their 1994 release. Not a completely new tooling. But if that is the case, what are their chances against fierce enemy like Eduard? Or newly tooled Academy?

Slim – we think.

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But, if Tamiya are really about to release a completely re-tooled Wildcat, well, that will be devastating for everyone else on the market. Not only that, but the packing is to be FM-1 and Mk.V Martlet. Just like their 90s release. Besides, Japanese model maker is constantly proving their worth and one of the latest and greatest examples is their Lightning kit, accompanied by Spitfire and Bf109, all of which are a fun ride from start to finish, with everything that a modeler might want in a kit. All that – in quarter scale. And we are intentionally disregarding modern planes here. Strictly WWII. But still – enough to make a point.

We won’t know until we get to see the sprues. But we are excited! And we are hopeful. Because Academy’s cat might go Wild, while Eduard’s obviously got Wilder. But if this is a whole new set of plastic redesign, we can bet that the Wildest one will be Tamiya’s.