Grumman F4F-3S Wildcatfish

Kenny Chan Kin Tong’s 1:48 Scale Hobby Boss F4F-3S Wildcatfish

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Image: United States Navy Historical Archives

Grumman F4F-3S Wildcatfish: The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service in 1940 with the United States Navy, and the British Royal Navy where it was initially known as the Martlet.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

First used by the British in the North Atlantic, the Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the United States Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the Second World War. The disappointing Brewster Buffalo was withdrawn in favor of the Wildcat and replaced as aircraft became available.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

With a top speed of 318 mph, the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster 331 mph, more maneuverable, and longer-ranged Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

However, the F4F’s ruggedness, coupled with tactics such as the Thach Weave and High-side guns pass maneuvers using altitude advantage, resulted in a claimed air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

This floatplane version of the F4F-3 was developed for use at forward island bases in the Pacific, before the construction of airfields. It was inspired by the appearance of the A6M2-N “Rufe”, a modification of the Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zeke”.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

BuNo 4038 was modified to become the F4F-3S “Wildcatfish”. Twin floats, manufactured by Edo Aircraft Corporation, were fitted. To restore stability, small auxiliary fins were added to the tailplane. Because this was still insufficient, a ventral fin was added later.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

The F4F-3S was first flown on 28 February 1943. The weight and drag of the floats reduced the maximum speed to 241 mph. As the performance of the basic F4F-3 was already below that of the Zero, the F4F-3S was clearly of limited usefulness.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

In any case, the construction of the airfields at forward bases by the “Seabees” was surprisingly quick. Only one was converted.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

This beautiful kit was put together by Kenny Chan Kin Tong. Kenny grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and started building models when he was about 18 years old.

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Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong
Grumman, F4F-3S, Wildcatfish, WW II, The Florida Pilot, TheFloridaPilot, general aviation news, military aviation news, NASA, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk, F-35A, F-35B, F-35C, B-2 Spirit, B-21 Raider, customaviationart, custom aviation art
Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong
Grumman, F4F-3S, Wildcatfish, WW II, The Florida Pilot, TheFloridaPilot, general aviation news, military aviation news, NASA, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk, F-35A, F-35B, F-35C, B-2 Spirit, B-21 Raider, customaviationart, custom aviation art
Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong
Grumman, F4F-3S, Wildcatfish, WW II, The Florida Pilot, TheFloridaPilot, general aviation news, military aviation news, NASA, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk, F-35A, F-35B, F-35C, B-2 Spirit, B-21 Raider, customaviationart, custom aviation art
Image: Kenny Chan Kin Tong

The Scale Model section of The Florida Pilot is a fairly new one. There are so many talented modelers out there that put thousands of hours of work into these masterpieces, I think I have an obligation as a journalist to bring some light to their efforts.

The historic value and research value that goes into a build like this one, and others, make these kinds of story features a win-win-win. Please contact me if you’d like to feature a model in this section. Many thanks go out to Kenny Chan Kin Tong for his cooperation in helping me put this together. I think there’s a good chance you will be seeing more from Kenny.

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