by: Andy Brazier [ ]
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a phenomenally successful fighter during WWII, so much so that it achieved a kill-to-loss ratio of 19:1 in the Pacific theater. Hellcats destroyed a total of 5,163 enemy aircraft, making it the most successful aircraft in naval history. This aircraft carrier-based fighter was introduced in 1943, replacing the F4F Wildcat. Powered by a 2000hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, it could achieve speeds of 610km/h. One special Hellcat variant was the F6F-5N, which was a night-fighter. To help perform its mission, the Hellcat was fitted with AN/APS-6 radar in addition to its four .50-caliber machine guns and two 20mm cannons. This radar system was mounted in a pod on the starboard wing, and it aided the pilot in detecting and attacking enemy aircraft during the hours of darkness.
The standard lidded box has a beautiful painted picture of two Hellcats in flight, which is worth keeping, and framing in my opinion. The bottom of the box shows, what I call "the Dragon blurb", which are CAD images of the various parts.
Inside the box we find five bags holding the 9 light grey sprues, with the one clear sprue inside its own bag.
A card holding the small Photo etch harness's and the small set of decals, and the set of instructions complete the contents.
The kit being a new moulding has no flash present, and the detail is crisp. There are a few pin marks dotted about here and there. One each in the main wheels wells, the inside of the cowling and a couple in the fuselage may need filling.
OK, starting with the exterior, we have very finely engraved panel lines with lots of rivet detail on the access panels. The fuselage has the distinct panel lines you associate with the Hellcat.
Ailerons, flaps and the rudder have a ribbed effect which is slightly overdone in this scale, but does look nice.
The wings feature some more engraved panel lines and rivets. The right wing has the AN/APS-6 radar moulded as a separate piece which then fits onto the upper and lower wing halves once joined.
Interior detail for the Hellcat is extremely well done with a nicely detailed cockpit. The instrument panels have raised and recessed relief for the dials. the side walls have switches and wiring moulded onto them, and the rear cockpit wall has the headrest, a fire extinguisher and some very fine raised rivets moulded on. The seat has a four piece brass photo etched harness supplied. The cockpit once completed should look very detailed.
The cockpit firewall has the engine mounting points, as well as a couple of other parts (starter motor and oil sump, I think), but none of this will be seen once the fuselage is closed up. The engine is a detailed three part assembly, but again once the cowling is on, only the front will be seen. But its all there and you will know, unless you cut some panels away. The exhausts are pre drilled.
The main undercarriage bays are detailed on the underside of the upper wing halves, with raised areas to represent spars, as stated before a little filling and sanding may be required due to a ejection pin mark.
The undercarriage legs are very detailed with several parts making up each leg. The wheel hubs are spoked, on the outside face and a riveted plate for the inside face. The tyres are moulded onto the hubs and feature a fantastic tread pattern.
The tail wheel is tiny and does have a slight tread pattern around the edge of the tyre. The tail wheel mechanism is made up of two parts. The instructions don't really show if this part can be glued raised, as only a lowered tail wheel is shown.
Weapons and external ordnance for the Hellcat, comes in the guise of four .50-caliber machine guns and two 20mm cannons, which are one piece parts for each wing. The 20mm cannons are partially drilled out, so that saves a lot of fiddling about. External ordnance comprises of a center-line fuel tank which has the holding straps moulded in plastic, and are quite thick. P.E for these parts would have been better, but I suppose you could always scratch your own. Wing stores are two 500LB bombs and 6 x 5in HVAR's (High Velocity Aircraft Rockets).
The one small clear sprue holds the canopies, and a small navigation light for the rear of the fuselage. Two types of canopy are supplied, one which is a one piece part for a closed canopy, with the other two parts used for the open configuration. The frames are slightly raised, which will aid painting. The clear parts are nice and clear and scratch free.
As already stated you can have the canopy in either the open or closed position.
The ailerons and rudder can be glued into whatever position you like, but the wing and tail flaps are moulded as part of the wing, and rear stabilizer.
Now the undercarriage can be either in the lowered position or raised, as the raised leg/wheel units are separate pieces. By looking at the instructions I think you can transform the kit by swapping the parts with each other as it does look as though the legs just slot into holes in the bays.
Now the wings can be modeled in the folded position as the wing sections comprise of about 8 parts. The lower wing has a middle section which slots onto the fuselage, with two small upper sections either side of the fuselage join, which hold the undercarriage legs. The two upper and two lower wings are the glued together with a choice of spar inserts for a folded wing or open. The spar insert is either straight for the open wing or bent at an angle for the folded option. There are no inserts needed for the wing ends, as the undercarriage bays are part of the split.
Instructions and markings
The instructions are printed on a fold out A5 size sheet, and are the normal black line drawings with any information symbols in blue. The build comprises of 6 assembly steps, but you can double that at least with the amount of insert boxes that are present. The build is pretty straightforward though and internal paint colours for parts are given along the way.
The decals are thin and dull, and apart from the propeller warning signs are all white. The carrier film although used to a minimum around the edges of the markings do stand out a bit from the backing paper, but I would imagine they will become invisible once on the model. Quite a few stencils adorn the Hellcat and will be quite visible on the finished model.
Three marking options are given. All the aircraft are painted in an Overall colour of Glossy Sea Blue. Paint numbers are given for Mr Color, Aqueous Hobby Color and Model Master Color paints (why is it always Mr Color paints lol).
The three aircraft are -
VF9N)-90 Squadron, U.S.S Enterprise, 1944
VF9N)-41 Squadron, U.S.S Independence, 1945
VF9N)-76 Squadron, U.S.S Hornet II, 1945.
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