The Widgeon was the military utility version of Grumman's 4-5 seat G-44 commercial amphibian. It went into service with the US Coast Guard as the J4F-1 in 1941 and with the US Navy as the J4F-2 a year later. It also served with the USAAF (as the OA-14) and the RCAF and Royal Navy (as the Gosling) and more than 200 aircraft were built.
In military terms, the Widgeon can hardly be thought of as a "heavy hitter" - it could only carry a single 200lb depth charge mounted under the starboard wing and, even with a reduced crew of two, couldn't maintain altitude on one engine when fully loaded. Perhaps surprisingly, despite it's seeming unsuitability as a maritime patrol aircraft, the Widgeon actually did score a success in 1942 when a U.S.C.G. aircraft sank a German submarine in the Gulf of Mexico.
After the war, the civilian G-44A appeared, incorporating a number of improvements and the aircraft has enjoyed a long life in a number of guises - including French-built aircraft and the updated Super Widgeon.
(History text courtesy of Rowan Baylis)
It is not the first time that the this Grumman J4F kit has been released. Indeed, the exact same plastic and resin parts are present in two previous boxings by Classic Airframes: US Navy (#4132 ) and US Cost Guards IPMS-USA special edition (#S001). It is also to note that Signifer have an all resin model kit of the same aircraft in their catalogue (see review by Rowan Baylis here
AZmodel's "new" Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I comes in a standard medium size top opening cardboard box. In it you will find one bag with medium grey injected plastic parts, one smaller bag with the transparent plastic parts and another with the resin parts. A decal sheet and instructions are present as well.
The plastic parts are nice even if there is some flash here and there. Some details appear to be crude (engine nacelles and detail parts) but with some cleaning and light sanding everything will be fine. The panel lines are recessed and the overall surface finish is very smooth. In some places there are details in relief that look a bit overdone (especially on the wings) but under a coat of paint it should look just fine, at least for my taste. I have noticed that the two main sprues have been cut, probably to help the plastic parts to fit inside the box. In my sample, the two fuselage halves were separated from their trees for example.
The designers of the kit chose to separate the windscreen into two halves which will make the build easier but care will be needed when applying the glue! The decking of the cabin is part of the windscreen and this is a good thing since it will blend the windows nicely to the fuselage. The transparency is good. Other clear parts are the side windows, the landing lights and... the rudder pedals!?
Some resin parts are included: pilot and cabin seats, two engines, wheels and landing gear bays. The quality and detail is very good, but there are no harnesses. In my sample, two seats were damaged (see photo) and will need some repair work. The casting blocks are rather big so a fine razor saw is mandatory I suppose.
Instructions and decals
The instructions are printed in black and white on a single A4 piece of paper folded so to make a 4 page booklet. While the 13 step construction guide is quite complete, the drawings are very small. Magnifying glasses will be needed for sure if you have a bad sight! An history, a part breakdown and a color chart are also present. However, no color brands are mentionned.
A nice painting and marking guide is provided in the box which will allow you to model one of the following three aircraft:
- Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I Royal Air Force.
- Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I Portugal Air Force.
- Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I Israel Air Force.
The RAF aircraft has a Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey over Sky Type S/Black camouflage. The Portuguese aircraft is all white with some black areas on the underside. Finally, the Israeli "Widgeon" is painted in Grey Green/Dark Sand upper colors over an Azure Blue/Black underside.
The small decal sheet provides all the national markings, the emblems and the code numbers. I have noticed that the white is slightly offset on my sample. While it is not a problem for most markings, there will be a small border on the "danger propeller" decals that will need some touch ups.
AZmodel's Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I is a very nice kit of an interesting amphibious plane. This boxing has some very attractive decorations and is recommended to modelers wanting to add something different to their collection other than the "usual suspects". Some work will be needed to clean the parts though, but construction, apart from the complex undercarriage and the float's rigging shouldn't be to difficult. The price is also very attractive (at least here in Europe) when compared to the initial Classic Airframes release.
AZmodel's Grumman "Gosling" Mk.I is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
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