by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The F6F Hellcat was designed to enhance the favourable aspects of the Grumman F4F Wildcat while having a much higher top speed and greater range, allowing it to outperform the Zero. The F6F-5 featured several improvements including a more powerful R-2800-10W engine, embodying a water-injection system. It was housed in a slightly more streamlined engine cowling. Other improvements included spring-loaded control tabs on the ailerons and an improved, clear view windscreen, with a flat armoured-glass front panel. This replaced the curved plexiglass panel and internal armour glass screen of the F6F-3's. In addition the rear fuselage and tail units were strengthened, and the colour scheme was changed to an overall gloss sea blue finish. After the first few F6F-5s were built the small windows behind the main canopy were deleted. Fitting AN/APS-6 radar to F6F-5s resulted in the night fighter F6F-5N, recognizable with a radar fairing mounted on the outer-starboard wing. A small number of standard F6F-5s were also fitted with camera equipment for reconnaissance duties as the F6F-5P. While all F6F-5s were capable of carrying an armament mix of one 20 mm (.79 in) M2 cannon in each of the inboard gun bays, along with two pairs of .50 in machine guns, this configuration was only used on many later F6F-5N night fighters. The F6F-5 was the most common variant of the Hellcat with 7,870 being built. The total amount of Hellcats built numbered 12,275. In Royal Navy service the F6F-5 was known as the Hellcat F II.
Its interesting to see that Eduard has gone back to the top opening box with this release. Included is:
-3 x pale green plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-1 x precoloured photo etched fret.
-1 x plain photo etched fret.
-1 x sheet of Kabuki paint masks for the canopy and wheels.
-1 x decal sheets.
-12 x page A5 instruction and painting guide.
The Cockpit the plastic parts that make up the cockpit is pretty well detailed in their own right. Parts include separate floor, rear bulkhead, seat, control stick, rudder pedals, side consoles two choices of instrument panel and the pilot’s seat. There are numerous highly detailed pre coloured photo etched [PE] parts to further detail the cockpit. PE items include seat harness; made up from six parts, throttle and mixture levers. The instrument panel is built up from thirteen pre coloured PE parts that are added to a plastic instrument panel. The plastic part has no detail on it so the PE parts can be attached without any modification. The printed instruments look very good indeed. If you use PE parts you will end up with one of the best looking cockpits straight out of the box I have ever seen. With one eye on the Weekend releases Eduard have also included a second instrument panel with some nice low relief detail and recessed dials for the modeler that prefers to highlight the detail themselves. Eduard even provides decal for the instrument panel and side consoles. Such thoughtful folk.
The canopy The windscreen and canopy are separate parts and the two smaller rear windows or fairings are also two separate parts. Eduard has included the improved, clear view windscreen, with the flat armoured glass front panel that replaced the earlier F6F-3's curved plexiglass panel and internal armour glass screen. Only a few early builds featured the rear windows, they were latter faired over on subsequent production models. Eduard with an eye on the various options available from the one mould has dealt with the potential problem with the small windows that were a feature on earlier hellcats. Eduard has created a two part transparent fairing that either has the window or the blanked of fairing. A pity they are not one piece, but there are possibly technical reasons for that. The small window also includes part of the fuselage that surrounds the windows. The plastic is very clear and thin; the framework is raised and well defined. There are two canopies on the sprue: one is for the closed canopy and the other is a tad wider and is used if you want to display it in the canopy in an open position.
The fuselage is split vertically and extends from the exhaust outlets to the tip of the tail. The whole of the rudder is moulded on the left fuselage. Thankfully Edward have chosen to show the fabric as drum tight rather than the scalloped effect that some manufactures go for when representing fabric covered flying surfaces. The three piece cowling is separate. The fuselage features beautifully recessed panel lines and rivet detail. There is a cut out just below the cockpit floor where the flap for the oil cooler vent is located. The separate flap is fixed in the closed position. Eduard with an eye on the various options available from the one mould has dealt with the potential problem with the small windows that were a feature on earlier hellcats. Eduard has created a two part transparent fairing that either has the window or the blanked of fairing. A pity they are not one piece, but there are possibly technical reasons for that. The inside of the fuselage has some raised detail on the cockpit walls and the location points for the cockpit floor. The inside halves of the engine cowl have a small single raised ejector mark that needs removing. The lip and intakes of the separate one piece cowl front has to be one of the most accurate representations of this area of any 1/48 kits I have seen. Eduard has captured the Hellcat “grin” very well indeed. A nice touch is the inclusion of a one piece PE radiator grill that spans the inside of all three of the small inlets on the lower lip of the cowl front.
The location points for the centre line fuel tank are flashed over, so if you want the tank displayed on your Hellcat, they do need cutting out.
The R-2800-10W engine looks a real beauty. Each bank of cylinders is one piece. The push rods and cooling fins on both forward and rear banks are very well done. There is a PE ignition harness to provide even more detail. The crank case is separate and houses the separate spindle that the propeller fits on.
The propeller is one piece and has some fine raised detail around the boss. The edges of the blades will benefit from some thinning.
The wings are made up from four pieces and similarly to the fuselage they have some lovely recessed panel lines and rivets. The square holes for the rockets on the under surface look a bit excessive, particularly as they need filling in for the night fighter. The upper and lower surfaces of the ailerons and flaps are moulded with the upper wing surface. The trailing edge is pretty sharp as a result. There is visual evidence of a line on the upper surface of the wing, indicating some distortion where the plastic is at its thickest, but I cannot feel any dips in the plastic. There is no facility to display the wings folded, unless you do some drastic surgery and some scratch building. At first glance the way that the wing butt joins into the slight recess in the fuselage suggests it might cause some problems when mating the wings and fuselage. Having already built an Eduard Hellcat I found a good if unconventional way of ensuring a good fit and achieving the correct dihedral, is to fit the wings before joining the fuselage halves together.
The undercarriage bays are well detailed. The machine guns for the wings come in two blocks of three. Also included are a couple of separate 20mm cannons that are fitted to a couple of the options included with this release. The installation of the cannons is very cleverly designed; they fit over the inboard machine gun. There are slots under the wings depicting the cartridge ejection chutes. The radar installation that fits on the leading edge of the starboard wing is made from two pieces.
The stabilisers are both one piece with some excellent fine detail.
The undercarriage The main gear has some chunky and well detailed oleos, just like the real thing. The attachment points to the wing are very positive. The plastic tyres are all one piece with separate outer hubs. The spoke detail is good and there are spaces between them. There is the choice of two sets of different tyres to choose from. The difference between them is the type of tread. The tread patterns are very delicately done and almost look resin like in their detail. Tail wheel and doors are one piece and do look very convincing. Some careful painting will really pay dividends here. There is no separate tail hook.
Ordinance is included with this release and most of it can go into the spares box. Ordinance includes:
-1 x centre under fuselage fuel tank.
-6 x High Velocity Aircraft Rockets [HVAR].
-2 x 1000lb [?] bombs.
The fuel tank is split vertically and each half includes the large fairing on the attachment point to the rear. A slot towards the front of the tank is where the one piece sway brace is fitted. Extra detailing is provided with additional PE sway braces. The HVAR’s are one piece and look very good indeed. The attachment points for the wing are moulded on. The bombs have plastic bodies that are split in half lengthways, but there are no fins on the sprues. I am presuming the fins might be photo etched parts on other releases. The bomb racks are one piece and are very nicely detailed.
Photo etched parts the pre coloured fret has some superb detailed parts for the cockpit. It is well worth applying a coat or two of your favourite matt varnish just to fix the paint. If you are really keen once the instrument panels are assembled drop a small amount of Kleer onto the dials to replicate the glass. The contents of the non coloured PE fret will certainly add detail and a level of finesse to the Pratt & Whitney engine.
Markings there are four marking options with this Profipack release and they include:
-F6F-5N, flown by LT William E. Henry, VF(N)-41, USS Independence, September, 1944
-F6F-5N, VMF-511, USS Block Island, April 1945
-NF Mk.II, No. 892 Naval Air Squadron, Drem Airbase, Great Britain, May to August, 1945
-F6F-5N, BuNo. 78669, Maj. Bruce Porter, CO of VMF(N)-542, Yontan airfield, Okinawa, May 1945
All aircraft are painted overall Navy blue.
Decals are all on one sheet and are created by Eduard themselves. The colour is just right and registration and the depth of colour is spot on. The carrier film has been kept to the very minimum. Included are the black wing root walkways for the wings. There's also a set of decals with details of the instrument panel and side console. There are very few stencils included on the decal sheet. I suspect they would be very difficult to see in this scale applied over the Navy blue paint. I have used Eduard decals before they respond very well to Microsol and usually conform to the surface with great results.
Paint masks are for the two choices of canopy, windscreen and main wheels. The masks are pre-cut from flexible Kabuki tape. There are no masks for the wheels as they are unnecessary because the hubs are separate.
This is an outstanding release from Eduard and has just about everything contained in the box to make an accurate model of a Night fighting late Hellcat with loads of detail. Eduard has supplied all the bits and all you have to do is put it together. Having built an Eduard Hellcat before there are no real issues with fit and construction. This is an outstanding product and Eduard, with their Profipack range has set a bench mark that others would do well to follow. It’s a great price too.