Sam Folsom: Figures of History Pt 2 + F4F-4 Wildcat Bundle
This is a limited-edition bundle in partnership with Valor Studios that features a custom Marine pilot Sam Folsom minifigure created by Brickmania, as well as a hardcover copy of the book Voices of the Pacific with a Sam Folsom hand-autographed bookplate.
Optional F4F-4™ Wildcat® Kit
As an optional upgrade, a detailed model of Sam Folsom’s F4F-4 Wildcat as flown above Guadalcanal can also be purchased to complete the bundle.
December 7, 1941, the date that altered the trajectory of the United States and thrusted the nation into a global war. While Germany had unleashed its blitzkrieg tactics onto Europe, resulting in almost complete domination of the continent, the Japanese were well on their way to creating a massive Asian Empire. Japan aimed at establishing a new order in East Asia with Japan at its center. The Japanese were desperate for natural resources, so controlling the territories of Manchuria, Korea, and North China, along with dozens of islands, gave them those much-needed assets as well as a built-in buffer system from the rest of the world. However, that changed when Japan attacked the United States, awakening a sleeping giant. The U.S. may not have been as prepared for a Pacific war as they should have, however, the F4F-4 Wildcat—while not the fastest, or most agile—was key in halting the advances of Japan.
The F4F Wildcat was the primary Naval and Marine Corps fighter plane at the outset of war. At one point, every naval fighter squadron operated the plane. Its main nemesis was the infamous Japanese A6M Zero. While the Zero possessed better handling and dogfighting capabilities, the Wildcat was blessed with durability and firepower. The Wildcat first faced the Japanese in defense of Wake Island. Here the fighters flew valiantly, but ultimately to their demise, there were simply too few of them. However, in that time, they were able to sink a cruiser and submarine via 100lbs bombs. The Wildcat faced similar scenarios throughout the Pacific Theater, where it was vastly outnumbered. However, the Wildcat was able to take down seven Japanese aircraft for every Wildcat lost, a truly remarkable ratio. The Wildcat maintained several key design features that insured its longevity in combat. First was its armament. Early models carried four, wing-mounted .50 caliber Browning machine guns. This was eventually escalated to six. The Wildcat additionally was able to carry up to 200lbs of bombs, giving it an edge in ground attack. The F4F was also given self-sealing fuel tanks and extra armor—items the Japanese Zero sorely lacked. Finally, the Wildcat had folding wings, a first for American carrier fighters. The F4F fought valiantly throughout the Pacific Theater. Even after it was replaced by the F6F Hellcat, the Wildcat still had a place aboard envoy carriers where its smaller size and nimble weight were desirable.
Of course, the fighter was only as good as its pilot, and there were several acclaimed Wildcat pilots of the war. One was a young, 22 year old Marine Corps Lieutenant Samuel Folsom. Folsom had never flown at high altitudes or fired his wing mounted guns outside of training in the United States, of which he only received a total of 25 hours. He soon found himself and his 40 pilot squadron engaged in dogfights over the isle of Guadalcanal, defending against unrelenting Japanese bombing raids. During the operation, almost half his squadron would be wounded or killed, with Folsom himself wounded on several occasions by the more nimble Zero. Lt. Folsom was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in the battle. Afterwards, he’d command night fighter squadrons over the skies of Okinawa and later in the Korean War. He was a high-altitude test pilot and served in the Office of Naval Operations in Washington. Folsom retired from military duty in 1958 as a Lt. Colonel, and made headlines again during a 1998 bank robbery, helping police subdue the subject at the age of 77. Sam Folsom passed in late 2022, at the ripe age of 102.
Read more about Sam Folsom here:
One of the Last Living WWII Marine Fighter Pilots
The highly detailed Sam Folsom custom minifig was designed using 100% original artwork and manufactured at Brickmania® Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.
F4F-4 Wildcat® is a registered trademark of Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and is used under license by Brickmania.