Master Details | 32073: Grumman F4F-3/4 Wildcat Wheel Well Improvement

Reviewed by Ray Peterson

As many modeler’s know, Trumpeter’s Wildcat started as a bit of a disaster. The fuselage shape was so bad, the US importer refused to accept them unless they were fixed. Trumpeter, to their credit, complied and made many changes to the kit to make it a much better model. Unfortunately, they stopped short in several areas. One is the firewall, which they did not change. This is strange as since they increased the height of the forward fuselage, the firewall now does not completely fill the space, nor does it properly line up with the wheel wells. Eduard did a pretty good job correcting this with their photo etch set, but it is now long out of production.


Now Master Details has released a new correction set for this error. It consists of a new resin firewall plus five white metal parts.

Here is the original firewall, the new Master Detail wall, and for completeness, the old Revell wall.

It is obvious the Trumpeter part is pretty crude in detail, as well as the problems with it not fitting.

The Revell part had such soft detail you can barely see it.

The Master Detail kit is well cast, crisply detailed and with the separate white metal chains gives great definition. The mounts for the landing gear are also separate.

They also includes a small instruction sheet.

It also fits much better than the kit part.


Here is the description of the part from the Master Detail website:

“Trumpeter's otherwise nice 1/32 scale Wildcats kits contain one glaring error. The kit supplied firewall is oversimplified, mounts at an angle instead of vertically, doesn't reach the inside top of the fuselage and contains an erroneous angle in the lower section that does not exist on the real airplane. Cast in premium grade resin and strong, lead-free pewter, this direct replacement kit from Master Details corrects all of these defects and will add considerable interest and authenticity to your next Wildcat build.”

Unfortunately, this is not totally true. While the new part does correct the size issue, they are wrong about the “erroneous angle.” Actually, Trumpeter got that part pretty much correct. If you look at the factory drawings (the picture is an excerpt from the factory drawings available at the Aircorp Library, which I highly recommend joining), there are two changes in angle to the firewall. I distilled the factory drawings down to the dimensioned profile below.

I also drew that profile on the drawing by Jumpei Temma. It matches very well, except at the bottom. It appears Jumpei made a small error there. The box beam structure running between the firewall and to the forward wall of the engine accessory compartment should be a rectangle with 90 degree corners, If you make that change to the Jumpei drawings, the profile is a near perfect match.

It may be the master creator misinterpreted some pictures. I say that as they show the outer U-shaped structural shapes angle away from center, right at the point of where there should be an angle. You can see this in the photos I took of a FM-2 at the local museum, there is a definitive angle to the firewall, while the structural channels are straight, they just follow the bend. The other photo shows the chain-driven gears as best I could get a picture of them.

Also, Master Details did not correct the location of the chain gears. They should be positioned to drive the landing gear. This was a mistake in the Trumpeter part they did not fix. If you look closely, Revell got it right if poorly executed.

One last thing: If you look closely at the two pictures below of the Trumpeter kits, original and revised, for some unknown reason, they changed the positioning of the firewall from vertical to an angle. Master Details mentioned they corrected this, but no, they did not.


So, in conclusion, we have a bit of a mess.

If you want a quick and easy fix, the Master Details firewall will give you a good, well detailed, alternative that will give you a nice busy gear well.

If you want something really accurate, a lot more work is required.

Recommended with reservations.

© Ray Peterson 2021

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This review was published on Sunday, March 07 2021; Last modified on Sunday, March 07 2021