The Tamiya F4F kit is reportedly still the (or one of the) best kits of the Wildcat. Low parts count, generally good fit and nice detail, gives model makers of all skill levels a nice kit to build at a decent price point. Released back in 1994 it totally eclipsed the only other 1/48th Wildcat kit out there by Monogram.
Notable Kit Features:
Simple build from about 50 parts
Good separate 2-bank engine
Nice raised cockpit instrument panel and consoles
Firewall and engine mount details
Deep recesses for flight control and gun panels
Wing tanks as an option
This photo of what was stated to be a VMF-223 Wildcat while stationed at Henderson Field Guadalcanal (February 1943) has been reportedly flown by Captain Marion E. Carl. It represented a battle worthy "Ace" F4F Wildcat that would be the inspiration of this build.
Cockpit floor is molded as solid piece while aircraft had no floor (see photo below)
Rivet detail over fuselage and wings appears to be overdone (If I build another I will sand down these rivets)
Wing to fuselage join needs a little bit of work to get correct
Canopy does not sit well in open position
No raised gear option provided
Kit Additions / Modifications:
This kit was built out of the box with the exception of the VMF-223 decals which were from Super Scale (48-397 USN & USMC F4F Wildcat Aces)
The paint scheme for this aircraft was the standard USN 1940-42 fighter scheme of Blue-Gray over Light Gray. Neither color survived the creation of the ANA charts in 1942, and subsequently neither color was added to the FS595 series, so you are a bit on your own here. FS 36440 has been suggested at the gray although I find FS36495 to be closer to what I want. PRU Blue has been suggested as a start point for the upper colour and I went a similar route with a lightened FS 35189. Paint was faded during spraying, with lighter tones in the center of panels and darker along the panel lines, for a weathering effect. Afterwards a panel wash was used. (Lighter wash colour on the underside panels.)
The After-Build Report:
It seems odd to me that the F4F Wildcat was not produced by more kit makers in 1/48th scale. Monogram's 1960's era release went unchallenged for 30 years before Tamiya's introduction. Tamiya only produced the F4F-4 version and it wasn't until the Hobbyboss release that there was a decent option to the Tamiya kit with options aside from the F4F-4. Certainly if you want to build a F4F-4 the Tamiya kit is a good model. (Nicely done and reasonably priced.) Interestingly Academy and Eduard are both slated to do releases in the near future, (2022) so we shall see what competitive Wildcat kits we get with these new additions.
P.S. A fellow model maker (Mido) did a comparison build of the Tamiya, Hobby Boss and Eduard Wildcat kits which you may may want to take a look at as well - IGlueModels.com
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers