Most modellers will know Vector for their resin engines in 1/48 scale. These were always of a very high quality. For some time, the Russian manufacturer has also ventured into full kits and aftermarket accessories for kits by other producers. The material used is still resin, which is very good for the detail that can be achieved, but requires some different construction techniques to normal plastic kits, especially for gluing.
This is one of the highlights of the latest Vector releases. With this set by the Russian manufacturer you can "easily“ correct HobbyBoss' FM-2 Wildcat. Originally I thought Rowan or Jean-Luc had already reviewed this kit, but it seems they avoided it.
HobbyBoss' basic idea to produce as many versions as possible from one tool is not bad, but it reaches its limits when the new version differs as much as the FM-2 from the F4F series. Furthermore there was no benchmark kit that HobbyBoss could copy for their effort, because the only other kit in plastic is Sword's short run tool that does not reach the quality of the Tamiya F4F-4 by far, and has its own share of mistakes.
Nonetheless the HobbyBoss kit is not that bad overall and can be bought quite cheaply, so Vector decided it was worthwhile issuing a correction set for it. (For those wanting to try their own conversion, check out Hyperscale Plastic Pix and search for Jim Robbins posts on his homemade correction ... quite a task!)
The main problem of the kit is the forward section including the motor and exhausts. The FM-2 had a new engine installed and, while the overall length was little different, the cowling was shorter when compared to the F4F-4. Furthermore the powerplant has a larger diameter which leads to a larger cowling with a larger front opening. Of course you need that new engine too.
Also the “dents” for the exhausts are not quite in the correct place. In consequence Sergey Kosachev designed a whole new front end of the aircraft. This is molded in the correct barrel shape so you do not need to fuss with two halves. Still, you should be very careful when removing the molding plug, especially at the cowling. The contact surfaces are very thin and can probably be cut with a scalpel ... but pay attention not to ruin that part.
All parts were molded in Vector's familiar dark grey resin, and quality and detail are first rate. Besides the parts for the fuselage you will find the engine with its fittings, the cowling and the rudder in this set. I have read some critique that only some sub-variants can be built as there were different types of exhausts fitted. I cannot comment on this. Those who take this matter very seriously will have to investigate their subject very thoroughly and maybe make a few changes to the Vector set ... or start from scratch.
This set contains an instruction sheet. Of course it is not comparable with mass production instructions but it should be good enough to guide you through the build. For paint colors you must again rely on your references.
Here are some useful links withs discussions colours and other aspects of the FM-2:
FM-2 in general
I am very impressed by this set and in my opinion it improves the look of HobbyBoss' FM-2 significantly. At £16 the price is moderate (especially for Euro customers), but this must be balanced against the fact that many customers will want to buy two more Vector sets which upgrade the FM-2's propeller and control surfaces too for a further £13.50.
As mentioned earlier I consider this as one of the highlights of Vector's aftermarket program. Certainly not everyone wants to tackle a conversion/update project like this and many will be satisfied with the HB kit, but those that strive for accuracy will get this correction set to update their FM-2. Wholeheartedly recommended!
You can buy this set via NeOmega, Linden Hill or Sprue Brothers. Many thanks to Sergey Kosachev for the review sample.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE