Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some
form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle
my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo, MD
1963, when this article was printed, it had only been 18 years since
the end of World War II, where the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat earned
its place in the history books as the only fighter in the U.S. armed
forces' inventory capable of taking on Japan's Zero fighter. Walter
Musciano designed this 38" wingspan control line model fashioned
after ace fighter pilot Joe Foss' Wildcat. It used a .29 size engine,
but could easily be converted to electric power. Construction is
very typical of the day: rugged and heavy. Some lightening effort
is advised if using electric power.
Control Liner Grumman Wildcat
By Walter A. Musciano
scale fans are certain to hail these detailed plans for one of the
Navy's best known fighters, the F4F-3 Grumman. Scaled one inch to
the foot Walt's model has a wingspan of thirty-eight inches, takes
a glow plug engine from .29 (in very good health!) to .60. Hobby
Helpers has full size drawings on Plan #663 for
Control Liner Grumman Wildcat
Japanese task force struck at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the
United States was woefully unprepared to battle the vaunted Mitsubishi
Zero fighter. Only one airplane in Uncle Sam's arsenal proved itself
against the Japanese Naval menace and this was the Wildcat, Grumman's
first venture with monoplane all metal fighters. The most used version
of this distinctive mid-wing design, the F4F-3, was the U.S. Navy's
first line standard fighter and bore the brunt of the fighting in
the South Pacific throughout 1942-1943 until it was replaced by
the newer Hellcat and Corsair.
One of the most famous "Wildcat" pilots was Joe Foss whose exploits
have been detailed in the recent April/May 1963 issue of "Air
Progress" magazine. Plans show markings taken from Foss' Grumman.
The ace is seen checking ammunition containers.
Joe Foss with members of his flight.
Fuselage construction detail.
The Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Twin
Wasp 1,200-hp engine which enabled the 6,100-lb craft to reach a
top speed of 325-mph. Ceiling was 31,000 feet; cruising range at
297-mph was 1,120 miles. Six .50 caliber machine guns were fitted
in the rigid wings of most production Wildcats. Some later models
featured manually folding wings to facilitate storage aboard aircraft
carriers. The F4F design saw extensive service with both the U.S.
Navy and Marine Corps. Many more were delivered to England and these
were called Martlets. The Wildcat was one of the first U.S. planes
to employ self-sealing fuel tanks and protective armor for the pilot.
Its relatively light weight and large wing area made the
Wildcat extremely maneuverable and, therefore, more of a match for
the Zero than the P-39 or P-40. In addition, the F4F was able to
withstand considerable punishment from the enemy guns. Very few
Wildcats went down in flames. It was with planes such as these that
men like O'Hare, Hansen, and Foss were able to exact a terrific
toll of Japanese aircraft over the Solomon Islands in the South
Pacific as well as Wake Island in the north during our follow-up
rounds in the Pacific.
Presented here is a control line
model patterned after one of the Grumman fighters flown by Ace Joe
Foss over Guadalcanal. It is scaled one inch to the foot which provides
a general 38" wing span. Most any engine from a healthy .29 to a
quiet .60 cubic inch displacement can be installed in the roomy
nose. We recommend a .35 or .40 as ideal for all-round sport flying.
Construction begins with the wing. Cut spars and joiners,
assemble these with proper dihedral. Cut ribs while assembly is
drying. Cement ribs to spar fitting notches together, then cement
bellcrank mount in place. Attach lead-out lines to bellcrank, slip
these through rib holes. Bend wire control rod end, slip it into
bellcrank. Bolt bell crank to mount. Cut leading edge and cement
Butt join 1/8" balsa sheet covering to equal
chord width of wing, then cut to wing outline. Cement lower covering
to spar, ribs and leading edge. Hold with pins until dry. Bevel
trailing edge of lower covering to follow upper camber contour,
then cement upper covering in place, using plenty of cement especially
along beveled lower covering. Rough-cut wing tips, drill for lead-out
lines, cement to tip ribs. Set wing aside to dry.
Cut fuselage keel, formers, and engine mounts. Cut the elevator
and stabilizer, sand to streamline section. Cement elevator halves
to hardwood joiner, install control horn. Hinge stab to elevator,
cement stab to keel top which also forms lower portion of fin.
Sandpaper wing structure thoroughly, then slip it
through fuselage keel opening. Apply lots of cement when wing is
aligned with keel and stabilizer. For a "commercial" fuel tank it
will be necessary to cut away a bit of the wing as shown. (This
does not affect overall strength because the spar is the main supporting
member.) Fit tank in snugly by cutting through keel. Add plastic
tube filling, vent, and feed lines; tape their ends to keep out
dirt. Slip hardwood engine mounts through bulkhead holes and cement
well. Add mount locks with lots of cement. Drill 1/8" hole through
hardwood, then cement dowel into hole. Re-cement engine mount joints.
Support tank with straps and/or with balsa wedges.
fuselage formers in their proper locations - first slip control
rod through former holes. Connect control rod to elevator horn,
then check out control system.
Bend landing gear struts.
Note only three attach to plywood foundations; remainder are fitted
just for the scale effect. Install three main struts and hold with
"J" bolts. Bind struts together with soft fine wire ... not aluminum
wire. When struts are in position, solder joint. Secondary struts
covered with thin plastic fuel line for scale appearance are now
entire fuselage with balsa strips ... cement thoroughly to each
other and to formers. Upon completion force Plastic Balsa into any
small spaces left between planking. When thoroughly dry, sand fuselage
with fine, then very fine, sandpaper.
fin fairs into turtledeck by a large fillet. Cut this from sheet
balsa and cement it on each side of fin between fuselage and stabilizer.
Add upper portion of fin atop stabilizer. Sand this installation
then continue the fillet with Plastic Balsa. Cut, carve and sand
rudder, cement to fin offset as shown. Apply several coats of cement
along wing and tail joints to form a small fillet and strengthen
the joint. Large fillets here are not required.
is four balsa blocks assembled along vertical and horizontal center
lines. This facilitates separation later and keeps cost low. When
cement is dry, carve cowl to its external shape and sand smooth.
Then carve the interior with an X-Acto gouge. You can separate the
cowl along one of the centerlines or work on it in one piece. Cut
cylinder opening to fit motor.
Apply three heavy coats
of Balsa Filler Coat to entire model, sand thoroughly when dry.
Continue applying Balsa Filler Coat, with a light sanding after
each, until finish is glass smooth. Thin final coats with ten percent
thinner. We do final sandings with Flex-I-Grit abrasive-coated Mylar.
We are now ready to paint.
Entire underside of model
gets very light-blue dope, slightly tinted with green as per mixing
instructions. Upper surfaces then are painted medium greenish-blue
... the color separating line must be wavy and hazy. A fine spray
gun or artist's air brush is ideal for achieving this effect. If
these are not available, light sanding with Flex-I-Grit and rubbing
compound creates a hazy separation line.
canopy, interior, antenna mast, Wondur-Cals, wheel covers, wheels,
and other details. Install engine, attach cowl. Use three-bladed
propeller for optimum realism.
Balance completed craft as
per plans via lead weight firmly fastened in extreme nose or tail.
Use flight lines not less than .012" diameter. Their length depends
upon your flying experience; we prefer to test fly on relatively
short 40' lines, then gradually increase to 70'. A paved take-off
and landing area is mandatory. An American Junior U-Reely control
handle lets you take off from a restricted paved area on short lines,
then unreel for some long line flying. Craft is reeled in for landing.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. The cooperation
of A.E. Ferko and N.H. Hauprich, and their extensive knowledge of
military aviation history, was indispensible to this article and
is sincerely appreciated by the author.
construction drawing (missing
area in center due to magazine printing omission)
<click for larger
<click for larger
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.