The Die is Cast (Continued) - Grumman "Operation Torch" F4F-4 Wildcat and Martlet Mk. IV (F4F-4B)

Those who have been on Aeroscale for a while know I have an occasional presence here other than chronicling the Luscious Lady build, which, to my horror, has now gone on for a solid nine years (04/21/2014). (What was I thinking?).

The same folk e.g. (RDT1953) also know that I have this quirk of accurizing diecast models, based on the fallacious notion that it is somehow easier than building injection kits from scratch. Indeed, my insecurity about this has even prompted me to try and fool others here into thinking that my work was on an injection kit. See Mystery Model! Boyington’s AVG Curtiss Hawk.

Finally, my personal history as a former Curtiss-Wright employee has created a perverse desire to see Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engined aircraft, Curtiss and otherwise, re-engined with the venerable Wright R-1820 Cyclone. See H.G.'s CURTISS MOHAWK IV in 1/48 by “Must Have” in KNIL Leaf and this:

A few years ago, I acquired a couple of Franklin Mint diecast models of Grumman “Wildcats” The first was an F4F-4 flying off the USS Santee (ACV-29) during Operation Torch.

I liked the subject but the model was disappointing. Dimensionally, it “looked right,”

but I was disappointed to see that the undersurface looked more like non-specular white than the light grey it should have been.

That was “Unsat,” a phrase common from my own Navy service in the 1970s. Also, I had some questions about the placement of the national insignia on the wings, which looked a little “off” to me on the top. (Maybe, maybe not).

The insignias on the bottom were definitely wrong. [Ah, famous last words, see next post!] :expressionless:

Finally, the air intakes inside the lower cowling were comically misaligned, and the kit engine sadly needed an upgrade.

s-l1600 (1)

In the next post, I’ll show you briefly what I did the fix the Torch F4F-4 and then move on to the next to-be-started project, a Torch FAA Martlet.


Having decided to repaint the whole thing, I sourced some “Torch” Wildcat decals. This sheet by Wolfpack is good, except they maybe made the same mistake on the wing bottom insignia that I did. (See below).

I had a preference for a VF-9 aircraft, so I picked 9-F-20, pictured below left.

Contrary to some sources, VF-9 clearly had four national insignias, two on top and bottom of both wings.

However, now that I look at this picture more closely, I see that I may have been too smart by half and that the original locations on the wing bottoms are probably right, right down to the yellow surrounds on the insignias! UHG! :rage:

Well, this just means I have an excuse to “finish” this build correctly, including lightening the fabric control surfaces on the rudder, elevators, and ailerons. See above photo.

At least I’m happy with the engine,

And the topside is basically OK.

So, I guess this is going to be more of a dual build than I originally anticipated.

And with that, let me introduce the second subject, a Martlet IV participating in Operation Torch from HMS Formidible.

More details on how that differs from an F4F-4 in the next post. (Hint, it’s the engine, cowling and prop.)


Neat idea. The engine changes look very good and add a lot more to it :+1:

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Two Yellow Ringers

These came today,

and over the weekend, I will start preparing 9-F-20’s lower wings to receive them.

In the meantime, I decided to research exactly where the insignia with the yellow borders were placed, other than on the fuselage sides – if anywhere.

The Yellow Wings Decals sheet for Operation Torch had this interesting explanation for them.

The sheet provides U.S. national aircraft insignia with a (FS13538) yellow-orange surround that are associated with OPERATION TORCH, the allied invasion of French North Africa in 1942.

The markings arose out of the complaints from pilots who found it difficult to distinguish the then standard white star on blue circle background U.S. national insignia from the national insignia worn by German, Italian and even British aircraft. With this in mind, an amendment to the Operation Memorandum No 9, dated 25 September 1942 was issued by the Allied Force Headquarters directing that all American aircraft participating in OPERATION TORCH, display a yellow band around the white star on blue circle background U.S. national insignia on each side of the fuselage and on both lower wings.

Since the memorandum was only concerned with air to ground recognition, no mention was made of the markings on the upper surfaces of the wings. It is apparent though from period photographs that some aircraft did have the markings on the upper surface of their wings suitably altered as well.

The marking was short-lived on U.S. Navy aircraft though as they returned to the U.S. after the invasion but the marking did remain on of the U.S. Army Air Force machines used in the North Africa and Mediterranean theatres.

TBH, I thought for years that they were only applied to the fuselage sides. “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.”

I’m also going to add something else under the wings that I missed the first time.

Copy of Grumman-F4F-4-Wildcat-VF-9-Black-9F25-about-to-launch-CV-4-USS-Ranger-Nov-1942-80-G-30244

A pair of those will come in next week. They are positioned far more outboard than I have seen on other F4Fs.

Finally, before I mess up the underwing markings on the Martlet 4, whose artistic renderings show markings on the lower wings without the yellow borders, let’s take another look at the one photo I have of my subject.

Notice anything? Take a closer look:

Copy of ToTMartlet4martlet FN112 on the flight deck of HMS Formidable._zpsetq1n1vy

It sure looks to me like the underwing of the VF-9 F4F.

Copy of Grumman-F4F-4-Wildcat-VF-9-Black-9F25-about-to-launch-CV-4-USS-Ranger-Nov-1942-80-G-30244

It would make sense, given the instructions directing yellow circles on the lower wings, even if the Brits omitted them on the fuselage sides.

Whaddaya think?