Matt Stein Models
Grumman F4F / F3F
WILDCAT / "Fifi"

Conversion/Construction/Completion Tips



Click on Image to Enlarge
The F4F/F3F Wildcat casting, shown here, includes excess volume and details for conversion to either aircraft type solely by removing mass (and in the case of the F3F using additional biplane parts provided).


I: F4F (monoplane) Wildcat Conversion
=> IMPROVED VERSIONS (with molded-in landing gear and drop tanks): begin Procedure at Step 2<=
(for completion as F3F [biplane] variant, skip to Conversion II, below)


Click on Image to Enlarge
Remove mass from the blacked-out (inverted) areas shown, in steps (below) proceeding from those most stressful on the casting through those which (as a general rule) are progressively more delicate/intricate. The majority of this is best done using a sanding stick - especially on wings and control surfaces - and then fine-tuned/finished by scraping sideways with a straight-edged blade (razor chisel recommended).

1- ORIGINAL (Older) VERSIONS ONLY: At the nose, grind the chin upwards until the cowling forms a uniform, concentric ring around the engine inlet, and blend this back into the slimmed belly, with mass removed as indicated above. Skip to Step 3.

2- IMPROVED VERSIONS (with molded-in landing gear and drop tanks): As desired, remove one or both drop tanks by first whittling away their undersides and then scooping/gouging sideways, in a rolling/stroking motion, with a straight-edged blade (X-Acto #11-type recommended), being careful not to damage the landing gear or to obliterate the wing-fold guide lines, if they will be needed later (see below). Skip to Step 6.

3- ORIGINAL (Older) VERSIONS ONLY: Drill- and hollow out circular wheel wells in the lower fuselage ahead of lower wing, as indicated above, and in the center of each drill a small but distinct dimple, angled downward, to accept a (~0.02" diameter) landing gear strut.

4- At the rear of the canopy, remove the furthest-back canopy framing, as indicated above (compare to original casting, at top), by scraping sideways with a straight-edged blade, finishing with restoring the dorsal groove in the fuselage there, by stroking with the knife tip (or corner, if a chisel).

5- Add landing gear (using the "Glue Drop" method recommended), with struts of the following specifications:

Main Gear: 0.015" diameter x 0.05" long; mounted pitched 40º outward.
Tail Gear: 0.010" diameter x 0.02" long; raked 45º backward

6- It is recommended at this point to PAINT and DECAL the aircraft, considering decal visibility on any wings to be folded (see next).

7- To fold one- or both wings as desired, on their undersides locate the molded-in guide lines, and continue the scoring in these grooves until cutting completely through. Reposition each folded wing flipped down and back against the fuselage, with top side facing out and leading edge facing down and slightly outward (by approximately 30º), and secure its base with strong adhesive (e.g., gap-filling CA) at the wing-fold joint.

8- Pre-paint a 3-bladed propeller (with rounded blade tips, provided by builder) and mount it in the engine inlet on a tiny spindle of plastic dowel, stretched sprue or wire (also provided by builder), clipped just ahead of the prop to form a tiny hub, as well.

Touchup-paint any spot(s) as needed, to complete the aircraft.


II: F3F (biplane) "Fifi" Conversion


Click on Image to Enlarge
Remove mass from the blacked-out (inverted) areas shown, in steps (below) proceeding from those most stressful on the casting through those which (as a general rule) are progressively more delicate/intricate. The majority of this is best done using a sanding stick - especially on wings and control surfaces - and then fine-tuned/finished by scraping sideways with a straight-edged blade (razor chisel recommended).

1- Chop/whittle away the upper canopy mass of the windshield and first two frames, blending into the slope of the long F3F nose, as shown, and from the third (next) frame back, chop a new windshield face plate for the F3F at about a 45º angle, as indicated. Once established, chop- and/or scrape away corners around the faceplate symmetrically to complete the F3F windshield.

2- Hollow out the engine inlet, extending it downward in the nose until concentric within the entire cowling.

3- Drill- and hollow out circular wheel wells in the lower fuselage ahead of lower wing, as indicated above, and in the center of each drill a small but distinct dimple, angled downward, to accept a (~0.02" diameter) landing gear strut.

4- Convert the (F3f lower) wing by filing down the TIPS FIRST (while the rest of the wing retains maximum strength) and then the leading edges, following the underwing, scribed-in guide lines to remove the excess mass indicated above.

5- Thin lower wing as needed by sanding from underneath

6- Access additional parts included for the F3F conversion:


Click on Image to Enlarge
Conversion parts provided are an upper wing and two wing "N"-struts (plus one spare), as indicated. Remove all casting wafer (or wafer remnants) from these parts. Free the "N"-struts by first drilling out the two crotches of each "N" and extending cuts into the vertices - then outward along the straight legs - and finish using a straight-edged kife, with the struts laid flat on a hard surface, to chop them free and then scrape to clean up their edges.

7- Prepare struts for attachment by dragging their ends across a flat, medium-rough file or sandpaper at an angle of about 75º; level the ends appropriate to this mounting geometry:


Click on Image to Enlarge
The struts are deliberately made a little long; find the locator sockets in the underside of the upper wing and file strut ends down (as above) until they seat optimally.

8- Secure struts into the top wing underside locators using strong adhesive (e.g., gap-filling CA), setting their angles approximately as shown - it is more important that both be angled symmetrically than precisely to the angle specified (there are no locators on the lower wing) - allow glue to cure fully.

9- When struts are firmly secured into the upper wing, gently sand down their feet until producing approximately the wing (vertical) separation indicated. For yet more detail, fit 0.01"-diameter plastic rod or PE (either one to be provided by the builder) to make fine fuselage struts to the upper wing, as indicated. The underside of the upper wing contains additional locator sockets for these as well. Attach the upper wing.

10- Add landing gear (using the "Glue Drop" method recommended), with struts of the following specifications:

Main Gear: 0.015" diameter x 0.05" long; mounted pitched 40º outward.
Tail Gear: 0.010" diameter x 0.02" long; raked 45º backward

11- Pre-paint a 2- or 3-bladed propeller (with rounded blade tips, provided by builder) and mount it in the engine inlet on a tiny spindle of plastic dowel, stretched sprue or wire (also provided by builder), clipped just ahead of the prop to form a tiny hub, as well.

Touchup-paint any spot(s) as needed, to complete the aircraft.


For the latest status and/or more details: eMail Matty!
NOTE: Be sure to include in your title "Matty's Models" or "castings" - or something unique to modeling - so as not to lose your message to spam-filtering...
- If you have any trouble, contact me with a post on our sister website:
Model Fleet

Copyright ©2009 Matthew M. Stein


(Back Home)