Hasegawa 1/32 F6F-3/5 Hellcat

KIT #

08057

PRICE:

$39.98 MSRP

DECALS:

Three options

REVIEWER:

Glenn Cook

NOTES:

 

HISTORY

 

The Hellcat was the perfect aircraft to take on the Japanese A6M. It's a big plane, with the largest wing area of any fighter. Pilots report it was a gem to fly, slightly heavy on the control surfaces; it was not the brute that the Corsair was -  with all due respect to the corsair (my favorite U.S. fighter).  The Hellcat had its day in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" (Battle of the Philippine Sea) in June 1944 when 160 enemy aircraft were shot down - the combination of inexperienced flyers on their part and
excellent flyers and aircraft on ours.

 

THE KIT

The challenges:
Windscreen does not fit great. Cockpit could use a more accurate aftermarket. I chose to go with OTB, due to time and money. The engine is a good start but needs work on the exhausts, real tough due to the tangle. There are some bad mismatches on some panel lines, along the wings and the forward cowl  is missing the top seam altogether, but not tough to
scribe in. The instructions give some questionable guidance as to the differences between the -3 and the -5. Get good
reference for your plane. I found "The Great Book of WWII Airplanes" to be a great source as usual.

CONSTRUCTION


With the windscreen I dry-fit it with the center canopy to make sure the placement on the fuselage was accurate and as tight as possible, then used crystalline cement (the stuff dries clear) to fill the slight gap in the center. I felt that grinding the sides to make the center fit would distort it too much.

    In the cockpit I detailed the control panel with flat black, and used a toothpick (really!) with minimal paint to hit just the raised surfaces with aluminum detailing. use the side of the toothpick, not the point, and swipe it across the raised detail. Then use just the tip to apply some Future to the dial faces. Good reference was used to pick out some details, yellow or red, dials/handles/switches. The harness was done with masking tape and sheet brass.

On the engine I used stretched sprue as the fuel lines from the distributor ring around the engine case, and highlighted them with copper. The main problem with the engine is the exhaust pipes. Lots of flash to clean up, and the lower left set presses on the fuselage just enough when the engine is attached to the firewall to force the engine over to the right slightly. Make sure the engine is centered and secure as the cement sets, or the whole thing will be off-centered.

As for the panel lines, just do a lot of dry fitting and choose your battles. I found the top cowling to be an easy fix (centerline seam), and the seams at the wingfolds can be done pretty well too. Get good reference so you know exactly where the seams/panels are for your plane (-3 or -5).

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS


I used Testors Model Master enamel and acrylics. I worked from the white (underside) up, but feel that I need to soften the edge between colors. I also feel I need to grey back the upper blue, seems too blue. Maybe a scale thing.

I used the kit decals, which seem adequate. Not many stencils though. So I did some detailing with the toothpick, just enough to give the visual clue that "something is written here". If you have the resources, you can make your own using decal sheets and a computer.

The kit instructions are inaccurate (according to my references) as to the markings. They suggest the tail markings are from USS Essex. My references say VF-17 USS Hornet. I'm sure someone knows.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

My upgrades:
As I do on all my builds, I cut clear sprue for the navigation lights, fit to the wingtips, drill a  small hole on the inside surface, fill with clear green or red, and polish. Likewise to the Dorsal Lights. They look great. Seat Harness from masking tape and wire/brass. The antenna wire is stretched clear sprue. The attachment points are very fine silver wire  wound around another fine wire, creating a very small tight spring, then all is secured with CA. I also ran brake lines using wire. Make sure you take into account the twist of the gear upon raising.

What I learned:
That Blue just looks TOO blue. Doesn't look that blue in Real Life. I think the border between the Bue and Intermediate Blue could be a lot softer too. I really need to lay down a coat of Future to prep for decals. As good as the Hasegawa decals are, they still silver on the flat enamels.

I still need to airbrush in the exhaust line. This was very distinctive on the Hellcats. Patience and Focus are key to any good result, whether Tamiya or Academy.

CONCLUSIONS

I was not excited initially about this kit, but it really did grow on me as I did the detail research. I think its one of my better builds from the past few years. I'd recommend it to anyone with adequate experience to push a fair kit with some problems into a good finish.

Glenn Cook

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