Reviewed: Feb 2023
Eduard's first limited edition release based on their new F4F Wildcat tooling is a dual combo entitled "Midway".
This release focuses on the part the Wildcat played in the historic battle, fought almost entirely with aircraft, in which the United States destroyed Japan’s first-line carrier strength and most of its best trained naval pilots.
From the kit you can build both early (-3) and late (-4) F-4F Wildcats as all the parts needed are included. The boxing includes ten marking options covering Wildcats in service between 1940 and June 1942.
This dual combo boxing includes:
The Battle of Midway was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that took place on 4–7 June 1942, six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea.
In response to the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo, the Japanese leadership planned a "barrier" strategy to extend Japan's defensive perimeter. They hoped to lure the U.S. aircraft carriers into a trap, clearing the seas for Japanese attacks on Midway, Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii itself. The plan was undermined by faulty Japanese anticipations of the U.S. reaction and poor initial dispositions. Crucially, U.S. cryptographers were able to determine the date and location of the planned attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush.
Four Japanese and three U.S. aircraft carriers participated in the battle. The four Japanese fleet carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, and Hiryū, part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier—were sunk, as was the heavy cruiser Mikuma. The U.S. lost the carrier Yorktown and the destroyer Hammann, while the carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet survived the battle fully intact.
After Midway and the exhausting attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign, Japan's capacity to replace its losses in materiel (particularly aircraft carriers) and men (especially well-trained pilots and maintenance crewmen) rapidly became insufficient to cope with mounting casualties, while the United States' massive industrial and training capabilities made losses far easier to replace. The Battle of Midway, along with the Guadalcanal campaign, is widely considered a turning point in the Pacific War.
One of the highlights of any Eduard kit are the extensive and professional instructions they provide. The Limited Edition boxings take this to a whole new level with well researched background information and photos which help set the scene. For "Midway" the included color assembly booklet includes four full pages of the historical account of the battle and the important part the Wildcat played. A more in depth read, by the same author Tom Cleaver, is available in the October 2022 issue of Eduards INFO magazine.
Eduard includes a photo-etch fret for both the -3 and -4 kits. These are focused mainly on the cockpit with pre-painted parts for main instrument panel, side consoles and seat harness.
F4F-4 Wildcats, SBD-3 Dauntlesses and TBD-1 Devastators of USS Hornet’s Air Group Eight aboard ship the morning of June 4, 1942. (USN)
Another standard inclusion for these Limited Edition Dual Combo's is pre-cut masks for both kits. Whilst the Wildcat is not the most labour intensive masking subject, having precision masks provided in the box for the canopy and wheels is a welcome convenience.
For the most part, the box sprues are simply doubled up as they are common to the entire Wildcat family. Two different wing sprues, E for the F4F-3 and H for the F4F-4, are required as the wings were the one part where the two Wildcat variants differed, with the -4 introducing the wing fold. Note that no wingfold parts are included in the box however Eduard have now released a 3D printed Brassin set (648818) for this purpose. Of course it does require you to conduct some careful surgery to cut the wing part.
The addition of a wing-fold to the F4F-4 allowed the number of Wildcats aboard a fleet carrier to be increased by 50% over the non-folding F4F-3. The system allowed five F4F-4s to be parked in the same space taken by two F4F-3 (USN)
To simplify the instructions, Eduard have chosen to separate the assembly steps for the -3 build completely from the -4 build. Whilst I am sure there is a lot of commonality in the two builds I applaud them for doing it this way, rather than a myriad of optional callouts in each step, as I think it makes reading (and understanding) the assembly so much cleaner. I suppose they could have simply included two separate booklets but that is not Eduard's style.
To better highlight all the changes between the -3 and -4 wings I put the two sprues side by side. Yes the wingfold is probably the most noticeable change but there is a lot going on with that -4 wing, both top and bottom. These photos also highlight nicely the combination of raised and recessed rivet detail that Eduard have included.
Super sharp detail is a hallmark of Eduard modern tooled kits and in that regard the Wildcat does not disappoint. Another example of the use of mixed raised and recessed rivets, where appropriate. A hint that Eduard intend to extend their Wildcat releases beyond the -3 and -4 and onto the later General Motors FM-1 and FM-2 is in the name plate on the B sprue.
The flight deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) on 15 May 1942. Visible are 15 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters of fighting squadron VF-6 and six Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers of bombing squadron VB-6 and/or scouting squadron VS-6. (USN)
I believe that Eduard have pretty much mastered the art of replicating fabric control surfaces. The wisely resist the urge to have overly scalloped rudders and elevators as seen in many other manufacturers kits. Another hint on this sprue that Eduard plan to do the later FM-1 and FM-2 kits is the presence of the larger rudder, found only on those variants made by General Motors.
As I've saide before, the biggest argument for not using any of the optional Eduard resin accessories are the kit plastic parts themselves. They are just so nicely done that in 99% of cases the extra effort and cost of a resin alternative is just not warranted. I know that plenty of modellers will just buy all the extras anyway but if they took the time to look properly at the kit plastic parts beforehand I think they would not bother.
Lt. Cmdr. John S. Thach (foreground) and Lt. Butch O’Hare in their VF-3 Wildcats. O’Hare claimed five GMM1 Betty bombers in a single engagement during the Rabaul Raid, while Thatch is famed for the “Thatch Weave,” a tactic that evened the Wildcat’s odds against the Zero. (Robert F. Dorr Collection photo)
The cockpit of the Wildcat is nicely reproduced and with careful painting and weathering will look the part. As with all profi-packs you get the options to either paint the included raise plastic parts, use decals for the instruments or leverage the pre-painted photo-etch set.
One area of the Wildcat that will benefit from your attention is the main wheel bay as this is very visible on the finished model. Eduard have designed the kit with integral wing spars to ensure strength and the perfect alignment for accurate dihedral.
F4F-4 Wildcat fighters and SBD Dauntless dive bombers being prepared to launch from the flight deck of USS Hornet, off Midway, 4 Jun 1942 (USN)
The engine cowling evolved between the -3, -3A and -4. Eduard provide all three alternatives to allow you to accurately represent each variant. I was a little surprised to see that the offer no option for the cowl flaps to be opened on the later (-4) cowlings, as it's rare to find a period photo of -4 Wildcats with the cowl flaps closed, regardless of whether the engine is running or shutdown.
A F4F-4 Wildcat from VF-8 ready to take off while others are positioned to the side. (USN)
Each of the different releases of the Wildcat kit uses the same single clear sprue. Eduard have sensibly designed this sprue with all the necessary variations of windshield, canopy and gunsights to cover the full F4F / FM1 and FM2 Wildcat family.
As usual the clarity and finish of the Eduard clear parts is excellent. The included mask set will make the job of preparing these for paint a lot quicker. Whilst Eduard do make a TFace set (with masks for both the outside and inside of the clear parts) these are not normally included in the Limited Edition dual combo boxings.
If you decide that you want to add that something extra to your Wildcat build then Eduard certainly has you covered. Everything from replacement cockpits, wing folds, engines, wheels, propellors, gun sights, cameras in photo-etch brass and resin (both cast and 3D printed) are available with more being released each month.
The main attraction of the Eduard Limited Edition boxings is of course the unique set of "subject" focused marking options. Generally the included plastic parts can be found in any number of earlier releases but the thing that makes this kit a "limited edition" is the decals. These specific marking options cannot be found elsewhere in the Eduard catalog and it's the main reason you'd buy this particular release over a weekend or profipack kit.
"Midway" includes 10 marking options covering both F4F-3 and later F4F-4 Wildcats. You would expect, given the name, that each of the marking options has some relevance to the actual battle of Midway, however this does seem to be the case, at least for the included F4F-3 aircraft, with some dating back to 1940.
A U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat of Escort-Fighter Squadron VGF-27 in flight. VGF-27 was assigned to the escort carrier USS Suwannee (CVE-27), from September 1942 to October 1943. Note the overpainted yellow identification marks around the U.S. national insignia, used for the landings in North Africa. Suwannee was then transferred to the Pacific and operated in the Solomons.
A U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-3 in non-specular blue-grey over light-grey scheme in early 1942. Note the modified pitot tube of the later F4F-4 model, moved from the leading edge of the wing to an L-style mount under the wing.
Two famed fighter aces, LCDR Jimmy Thach in the foreground and Medal of Honor recipient LT Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare in the far aircraft, fly a pair of F4F Wildcats for a publicity photo in 1942. (USN)
Marking options F1/F2 and G1/G2 are for the same two aircraft, one before the battle and the other during the battle. If you compare both markings you will notice that during the Battle of Midway the red and white rudder stripes were overpainted with the camouflage color and the red circles deleted from the national insignia. This was mainly to remove any traces of red so as to avoid being mistaken for Japanese aircraft.
The decals in this kit are the Eduard printed digital decals. Eduard seem to be incrementally achieving better results with these new digitally printed decals since they were first introduced in 2018/19. Although supposedly "optional", I believe that these new Eduard decals look best with the carrier film removed and even though Eduard have never said you should it just seems obvious to me.
The color saturation and resolution of the decals seems quite good and as I have not used them yet I cannot comment of the opacity, however I have yet to find an Eduard decal sheet where that has been a problem.
As with previous Limited Edition Dual Combo's, this is another well thought out release by Eduard. I have personally read and watched many documentaries on the Battle of Midway and am happy that I now have the ability to build accurate models of aircraft that fought in that historic battle.
The included markings, at least the ones which relate to the day of the Battle itself, are fairly bland but that was the name of the game. Colorful noseart and gaudy paint schemes were not the order of the day for the USN in those grim days of 1942 as America found its footing with the war in the Pacific heating up.
I have no hesitation recommending this new Midway Dual Combo from Eduard and I look forward to getting some glue and paint onto the new tooled Wildcat.