Eduard's popular Hellcat makes a welcome return in a new Weekend release - this time as an F6F-5 in the markings of Lt. Leo Bob McCuddin.
The basic Hellcat kit has been reviewed a number of times on Aeroscale since its first release in 2008 (reviewed HERE
), and it remains the best quarterscale representation of Grumman's classic fighter in most people's eyes. Following criticism over the complexity of their earlier Fw 190 in the same scale, Eduard's designers made a real effort to ensure the Hellcat was readily buildable by the average modeller, and the result - particularly in this no-frills Weekend form - is a very well engineered kit that combines plenty of detail with straightforward construction.
This boxing comprises:
6 x olive green styrene parts
104 x dark grey styrene parts ( 21 unused)
11 x clear styrene parts ( 6 not needed)
Decals for a single colour scheme
The mix of Eduard's old pale olive plastic with their more recent grey is unusual, so perhaps it's a sign that oversprues have been combined new mouldings. If it is only through necessity, the result ironically looks very classy. Equally, if the sprues are a mix of old and new, it shows the moulds are holding up beautifully with no signs of flash or other problems. Ejector pins have been kept well out of harm's way and the parts have a smooth polished finish. Fabric surfaces are quite subtly represented, while the metal areas feature neatly engraved panel lines and fasteners. The panel lines on the rear fuselage reflect the way the original was constructed with overlapping panels - and, while Eduard have included some subtly embossed rivets along the panel lines, anyone who fancies doing some extra riveting can have a field day on the Hellcat, because the airframe was built like a battleship.
A few details
Working sequentially through the instructions, the cockpit is obviously a good deal simpler than the Prof-Pack versions of the kit, because there are no etched accessories included this time. Nevertheless, with 11 parts supplied, you still have the basis for quite a nicely detailed office for this scale - especially if you add a few items such as throttle quadrants, levers etc. from scratch. The seat is a bit clunky, and the lack of a harness will be noticeable, so it's perhaps a little disappointing that the decal sheet doesn't include printed seat belts - or faces for well-moulded instrument panel either - but I suspect Eduard see this as a blank canvass for their many etched and Brassin aftermarket sets, rather than give you too much here.
The 5-part engine is crisply moulded and will really come to life with the addition of ignition wires. Two sets of identical cowls are included (at least, I can't see any difference between them - perhaps they are a throwback to the dual-combo multiple version boxings?), and the cowl front captures the classic Hellcat intake nicely in my opinion.
The wings and tailplanes build into very solid assemblies that butt-join to the fuselage in quite deep cutouts. The lack of locating tabs may confuse beginners, but fear not - the way Eduard have done it makes for solid joints that set the flying surfaces at the correct angle automatically. All control surfaces are separate, designed to be attached in the neutral position.
The canopy is crystal clear, and alternative sliding sections are included so you can pose it open or closed.
The undercarriage is sturdy and nicely detailed, with well moulded separate hubs for the tyres. The tyres themselves are unweighted and moulded without any tread. You can certainly find plenty of photos of operational Hellcats with treaded tyres (apparently, the bald versions were only fitted to very early aircraft), so you may want to invest in some aftermarket wheels. One point I'd question is that the painting instructions suggest "light green" for the landing gear and the wells, whereas my references indicate they were basically finished in the exterior colour - Glossy Sea Blue, in this case.
The kit offers a choice of 5 inch FFAR or HVAR projectiles. The original incendiary cluster bomb casings are also included along with their racks, but their etched tails aren't in this Weekend kit, so they can't be used. A centre-line drop tank is provided, which captures the shape well, but lacks the prominent flange of the original. This can be simulated quite convincingly with stretched sprue after you've filled and smoothed the rather awkward drop-in section with integral sway braces.
Instructions & decals
The assembly guide is a more modest affair than you'd find in one of Eduard's Profi-Pack kits, but the 8-page A5 pamflet does the job perfectly adequately with clear illustrations, a full-page stencil placement diagram and a monochrome painting guide. The instructions can also be found in colour on Eduard's website. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are provided throughout.
Decals are provided for a single aircraft finished in overall Glossy Sea Blue:
F6F-5, White 71, flown by Lt. Leo Bob McCuddin, VF-20, USS Enterprise, October, 1944
Eduard's own-brand decals look to be excellent quality - thin and glossy, and (based on experience of their recent decals) promising good colour density to sit well on the dark camouflage. The registration on the sample sheet is spot on, with stencil markings that are quite legible with the aid of a magnifying glass.
Eduard's Weekend F6F-5 is a great no-nonsense kit of the Hellcat. It'll be an ideal model for beginners straight from the box, and equally offers a cost-effective basis for extra detailing with the many aftermarket sets available.
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