by: Drabslab [ ]
Introduction Apparently, considering the long list of cats, cougars and other Tomcats one finds in their catalogue, someone at Grumman loved big cats. It all started with the F4F Wildcat, introduced in 1940 in both the US and UK Navies. From this Wildcat, Grumman derived by 1943 the F6F Hellcat which became one of the main fighters over the pacific where it accounted for 75% of all areal victories of the US Navy. It was finally credited with destroying more than 5000 enemy aircraft.
The British Fleet Air Arm "borrowed" about 1200 Hellcats that saw action off Norway, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East under a variety of names. The Hellcat MkII was the British designation of the F6F-5N Hellcat.
The box The box does look attractive and it gives us already some info on the content.
It shouts "WEEKEND Edition" indicating that it contains the simplest 1/48 Hellcat offering in the Eduard catalog. The more advanced "profipack" gives the same plastic parts buts adds all kinds of goodies like marking options, resin wheels, photo-etch parts and painting masks. Let's see if this weekend edition has sufficient value without all that stuff.
You also find an overview of the most important colors needed for this kit. Reference is made to the GSi Hobby colors. Again a paint brand name is used to indicate the right colors. I should be used to it by now but it still annoys me that no independent color standard is used.
Inside the box you find the instruction sheet, a small set of decals, two transparent bags with plastic parts and another one with transparent parts.
The instruction sheetThe instruction sheet is tiny as if it wants to emphasise that this is a "weekend edition" which can be assembled with little effort. Still, it provides much better overview of the various assembly steps than the average.
It also refers to the Eduard Internet site where the same sheet can be found but with a full color painting guide. On that site you can also find the April 2012 Info Eduard magazine that contains some extra information on the different Hellcat offerings from Eduard.
The plastic partsAccording to the box, the kit contains 125 plastic parts which, assembled, give a model of 215 mm long and with a wingspan of 275 mm. Quite a few of the parts are not needed. My spare parts box will be very happy with this but it does show that the sprues are firstly designed for the more elaborated Profipack or combo boxes, and not for a stand-alone kit.
However, this does not harm the quality of the crisp plastic parts. I could not find any ejection mark in a visible place, there is no flash and details like rivets, and panelling, are very well done.
Dimensioning is good except for the propeller which seems to be rather plump.
After this positive first impression I can't resist assembling a few of the major parts to check the fit; to my surprise, assembling the nose section and fuselage is not as straightforward as I thought it would be due to the very tiny positioning pins and corresponding holes.
Still, the fit is perfect, no putty needed on this one. This fitting shows that the kit may assemble fast but to put it decently together in one weekend as the title on the box suggests seems impossible.
The transparent parts are of equal high quality but there are a few very tiny parts that might be eaten by the big carpet monster during assembly.
The decalsIn contradiction to the Profipack which gives decals for several planes, there is only one choice here for a British plane flown from HMS Indomitable in early 1945.
The sheet contains also some decals for the main instrument panels of the cockpit. I wonder if the painted photo-etch often found in Profipack kits would really make a big visual difference compared to these decals. After all, the canopy is quite small, hiding much of the inner works of the cockpit.
Overall assessmentIf the term "weekend edition" is not taken to literally, and normal care is taken assembling and painting the model, then the end result will be excellent and at least on the same level of most kits from other manufacturers.
Comparing it to the more advanced Profipacks would be unfair. With this "Weekend Edition" Eduard responds in a very positive way to the aspirations of many modelers that the hobby is becoming to expensive and complex.
Instead of producing low cost - low value - and thus uninteresting - kits for these modellers, Eduard brings a high quality but affordable plastic kit under the Weekend edition header, relying on the, with photo-etch and resin spiced, Profipack range for the most demanding modellers.
Combine this with competitive pricing, active communication with clients and modelling websites, a decent internet site where additional information on kits can be found, a professional magazine... it it seems clear that this company has ambition and the approach to realise it.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.