There's no need to present Eduard's 1/48 scale Hellcat kit in detail again. If you want to take a closer look at the plastic parts, please check the previous reviews written by Rowan Baylis:
Hellcat Mk.I/Mk.II Dual Combo
The content of the kit
Eduard's latest Royal Class boxing shares the same packaging as it's predecessors: a big black box with a cover artwork representing three aircraft of the nine which are included on the decal sheet. The first reaction I had when I opened the box was that the content wasn't filling all the space. In the previous RC packages (especially in the Bf 110 one) it was very hard to close the lid of the box, but not this time. Somehow, I felt something was missing, but let's take a closer look at the content:
Eduard's Hellcat Royal Class box is composed of the following items:
- Two complete plastic kits molded in olive green and transparent styrene representing two variants of the Hellcat: the F6F-3 and the F6F-5. Those who have purchased the Dual Combo box will find exactly the same sprues in this edition. The differences between the two variants are not obvious but nevertheless noticable. The early F6F-3 had two bulges on the sides of the engine cowling which have been later deleted on the late F6F-3s and the F6F-5s. In total, there are four cowlings of three types provided in the box which will allow you to do several subtypes: early F6F-3, late F6F-3, F6F-3N, F6F-5, F6F-5N and F6F-5K. On the fuselages, the area just behind the cokpit is slightly different as well (with or without rear window) and the panel lines on the wings are different too, both on the upper und under sides (see pictures).
- One radar conversion set in resin which is the Quickboost set n°48196. It is composed of a radar pod and other details to do the nightfighter variants.
- Two resin P&W R2800-10 engines including ignition rings and different types of magnetos. The casting block of the engine pieces are rather big and some care will be needed to remove them.
- Two sets of resin wheels (although I must say one was missing in my sample) and two set of resin hubs.
- One set of resin detail parts for the wing gun bays (left and right).
- Two sets of PE detail parts mainly destined to spice up the cockpit interiors and the engines. They are almost identical than those of the Combo box. The only difference is the addition of push rods for the resin engines. Note that some parts on the pre-coloured fret differ from the 3 and 5 variants.
- Two sets of undercarriage PE parts. They are destined to replace the wheel bays and detail the landing gears. Note that the set comes with separate instructions.
- One set of PE gun bays with parts to detail one aircraft with both bays opened or two aircraft with the gun bay opened on only one wing each. In the later case, one Hellcat will have the left gun bay opened and the other obligatorily the right one. Note that the set comes with separate instructions.
- One sheet of Kabuki tape masks for two models (canopy and wheels).
- Two big decal sheets for 9 different decorations and stencils for the 3 and 5 variants.
- One 24 pages A4 sized instruction booklet with 10 pages of construction drawings and 11 pages of painting and decalling guides.
- One 8,8 X 5,9 cm replica of a check off list placard in metal.
Quality of the kit
The quality of the kit is what you would expect from Eduard. The styrene parts are excellent with no trace of flash and crisp mouldings. I found no sink marks and the recessed and relief details on the surface of the kit are excellent. The transparent parts are very good too.
The photo etched parts are the trademark of the Czech manufacturer and are excellent as well. However, I must say that I don't like how Eduard produce their color PE parts since a couple of years now. It seems they have changed the way they apply the paint on them and the result is that their surfaces are a bit grainy. It's as if an ink jet printed was used. I know this has been discussed before to the point the Eduard made a statement about this on their website, but I do hope that this will change in the future for the benefit of the modeler.
The resin parts are very good apart from the heavy panel lines on the radar pod. As I've said earlier in the text, one of the wheel set was missing in my box so check the content of your Royal Box carefully when it arrives.
The bonus check off list placard seems a bit "cheap" in my opinion. It is far away from the bonuses of the previous Royal Class boxings. In my sample, the printing of the placard is offset which is annoying on such an object.
Instructions and marking options
For a kit as complex as this one, the instructions are very important. Eduard's booklet is well done even if one will have to be carefull when choosing between optional parts, especially since some are replaced by resin or PE ones. I think that eduard's painting guides are amongst the best with very nice four-view drawings and precise color guides. Color references are given for the Gunze (Aqueous and Mr.Color) range of colors.
No less than 9 different marking option are included:
- A. F6F-3, Lt Hollis Hills, VF-32, USS Langley, April 44 (Three tone white, interm. blue and navy blue scheme).
- B. F6F-3, Lt. Hamilton McWhorter, USS Essex, November 44 (Three tone white, interm. blue and navy blue scheme).
- C. F6F-3N, Orate Field, Guam, 44 (Three tone white, interm. blue and navy blue scheme).
- D. F6F-5, Cdr. Theodore Hugh Winters Jr., CAG19, USS Lexington, 44 (Overall Navy Blue scheme).
- E. F6F-5, Lt. Hamilton Mc Whorter, VF-12, USS Randolph, May 44 (Overall Navy Blue scheme).
- F. F6F-5N, Major Robert Bruce Porter, VMF(N)-542, June, 45 (Overall Navy Blue scheme).
- G. F6F-5, Aéronavale Française, Flotille 11F, SM Robert, Cat Baï, Indochina, April 54 (Overall Navy Blue scheme).
- H. F6F-5K, VU-1, Oahu, Hawaii, September 59 (Overall Navy Blue drone with orange/yellow wings).
- I. F6F-5K, Chincoteague Naval Air Station, virginia, 49 (Overall red drone).
The decals printed by Cartograf are superb and the main problem will be to pick up two aircraft from the nine. It's too bad that the anchor of the rudder "tricolore" isn't provided as a separate decal though.
Is the kit worth the price?
This is the question I asked myself when I opened the box. Somehow I found that this edition was "lighter" than the previous ones. To be clear in my own mind about it, I've made my calculations. The resin parts have a value of approx. 45$. The additional PE sets (undercarriage and gun bays) have a value of 79,85$. The Hellcat Dual Combo has a retail price of 49.95$. The total is approx. 175$. Compared to the 160$ retail price of the Royal Class box I'd say that this package isn't quite a bargain but the price isn't a scandal neither. For me, the real bonuses of the kit are the numerous marking options, but for some it might appear a little light as a motivation to buy such an expensive boxing.
If you want to build superdetailed Hellcats and if you find the marking options attractive, then I highly recommend the kit to you since everything is provided in the box for two very ambitious projects. However, if you "only" want to build a reasonably detailed Hellcat, I'd say the Dual Combo, which is 1/3 of the price of the Royal Class kit, is a far better option. it's up to you to decide if you really need all what is provided in this kit.