When I attended the Scale Model World event at Telford this year, I was given a number of titles to review, one of these titles covering ‘The Grumman F6F Hellcat’. I will say from the off that this title has been responsible for a number of Eduard offerings of the Grumman F6F Hellcat making it into my home.
The following portion of the introduction is written by the author of this title ‘Thomas M Cleaver’.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was an iconic, American designed carrier-based fighter, originally designed to replace the F4F ‘Wildcat’ in US Navy service. The Hellcat competed with the faster Vought F4U for use as a carrier based fighter, however, the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landings, which the Hellcat did not, allowing the Hellcat to become the Navy's dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position it did not relinquish lightly. The Corsair instead was primarily deployed to great effect in land-based use by the US Marine Corps. Although the F6F resembled the Wildcat in some ways, it was a completely new design and was powered by a 2,000hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine; the same powerplant used for both the aforementioned Corsair and the USAAF’s Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, leading some military observers to tag the Hellcat as the ‘Wildcat's big brother’. The F6F is probably best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter, which was able, after its combat debut in early 1943, to counter the Mitsubishi A6M, and help secure air superiority in the Pacific Theatre. Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the War and were credited with destroying 5,223 aircraft while in service with the US Navy, US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, more than any other Allied naval aircraft. The French Aéronavale was also equipped with F6F-5 Hellcats and used them in Indochina, and the Uruguayan Navy also used them until the early 1960s. The F6F-5 also gained fame as the first aircraft used by the US Navy's ‘Blue Angels’ flight demonstration team at its formation in 1946. So presented here is one of the US Navy’s most powerful and enduring aircraft – the Grumman F6F Hellcat. This latest Datafile from SAM Publications presents the story one of the US Navy’s most powerful and enduring aircraft – the Grumman F6F Hellcat.
This offering from Sam Publications consists of 176 pages of A4 size. These are broken up into 7 chapters and 6 appendices. The text in the book is written entirely in English and the author is Thomas M Cleaver. The chapters in this title are:
The Hellcat Myth and Reality
The Hellcat in Combat with the US Navy
The Hellcat in Foreign Service
Modelling the Hellcat in Popular scales
The appendices are:
Hellcat Top Scoring Squadrons
Understanding the Subject
The Hellcat Myth and Reality: I found this section of the book very informative and I learnt a lot reading through the section. I always believed that the Corsair was the US Navy top gun fighter, this section of the book put me right about this. The Hellcat was far superior to the Corsair when it came to carrier borne operations; it was sturdier, had a higher kill ratio and produced more aces than any other in service. It is also said that the Hellcat was designed specifically to combat the Japanese Zero, which is not the case as the aircraft was already in development prior to WW2.
The Hellcat in Combat with the US Navy: This section of the book does do a good job of telling the story of the men who flew the Hellcat in combat. The story of how the unit VF-27 became the most distinctive with the mouth and eyes painted on the aircraft as a morale boosting measure. In one combat mission 8 Hellcats shot down 37 Japanese aircraft only breaking off when low on fuel and ammunition.
The Hellcat in Foreign Service: The biggest user of the Hellcat outside of the US Navy was the British Fleet Air Arm. The Fleet Air Arm only having split from the RAF during the late 1930’s, meant that the aircraft used were not up to the task and was more than happy to use the American Hellcat. In British use the FAA made good use of the Hellcat and scored some great victories of both German and Japanese aircraft. Also covered in this section is the last use of the Hellcat in combat in the early years of the Indo-Chino war.
The book presents us with side views of 12 Hellcats in service with various countries; these may give you ideas for some interesting finishing options.
Moving onto the section covering the Modelling the Hellcat in Popular scales is of course going to be a popular section of this title. The models covered are:
1/48th scale HobbyBoss offering of the F6F-5 Hellcat
In this build Mario Serelle utilises the Eduard cockpit interior and decals in order to produce a Fleet Air Arm offering of the Hellcat. This build covers areas such as masking, using pencils for detailing and pre-shading the model. One of the touches I like is the use of Kristal Klear to make the lenses of the instrument panel.
1/72nd scale Eduard F6F-3 Hellcat Profipack
1/72nd is a scale I very rarely venture into these days due to my eyes and hands not being what they use to be. This build is again performed by Mario Serelle and informs you of what an exceptional model this offering is and for me concentrates on the painting aspects of the offering; the results speak for themselves as regards the quality of the finish.
1/72nd scale Eduard F6F-3 Hellcat weekend edition
In this build Dick Francis takes the cat by the tail to see if the Eduard weekend kits are just that, his only extra aid being a pre-coloured photo etch cockpit set and canopy masks to aid the painting process. I found Dick’s trials and tribulations an enjoyable read and resulting in his completing the task in his set time period.
These builds are followed by a section that provides a breakdown of the history of the Hellcat in model form. This section covers the gambit of scales and provides quite a good guide when it comes to the weaknesses of the various options available.
The next section provides a 14 page walk around of an F6F-5 Hellcat, the walk around concentrates on the details of the aircraft such as the engine and cockpit; the external areas of the aircraft are left to the various photographs in this title.
The next section of this book is an absolute gold mine for those who want the utmost detail and accuracy in their models, regardless of whether you want to make minor changes or go the full hog with ribs, fuel lines, weapons system or any other area this section of the book will take you on the guided tour you need. The details here are I believe from instructional and maintenance books that would have been issued with the aircraft. In order to provide evidence of how far this section goes the reader is even presented with paint colours and design plus roundel placement. This is a very impressive inclusion.
The book then continues with data on the pilots who became aces flying the Hellcat followed by the specific units and their kill totals. The section has some great examples of squadron photographs that you may wish to recreate. The book then continues with line drawings that clearly identify what features represent which aircraft, this is another great addition for those who vie to build the most accurate model they are able. The section closes with a Kitography covering both the base kits and after-market products.
The book comes to a close with a four page foldout offering schematics in 1/72nd and 1/48th scale drawings. This area even provides cross section drawings and is not a part of the page count. If you want to check the accuracy of a model this section is where to start your checks.
I am extremely impressed with this title from Sam Publications. This title is a one stop title for the modeller covering everything Hellcat at a very impressive low price of £19.99. The only criticism I managed to find in this title were a couple of grammatical errors, I did not find that these issues caused any problems as regards reading or understanding the text.
Highs: This title has so many high points I cannot pick just one.Lows: None of which I am aware.Verdict: The low price and the fact that the title provides everything that I want from a book as regards models make this a must buy.
About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...