Eduard 1/72 F6F Hellcat
KIT #: 7076
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Fernando Rolandelli


Grumman Hellcat Mk.I, FN427, 1839 Sqn FAA, HMS Indomitable, February 1945.

RN East Indies Fleet Hellcats

Hellcats in Fleet Air Arm service had a less stellar career record than their US Navy counterparts. Some sources (Zbiegniewski, Kagero) blames faulty doctrine for that (but that author is deeply anti-British); others show that the real cause was probably the lack of targets: the Royal Navy was never involved in a carrier battle in open seas, and when RN Hellcats did engage the enemy they were as effective as those in American hands, being responsible of 52 out of 455 total RN aerial victories. HMS Indomitable was the only “Hellcat Fleet Carrier”, embarking the 5th Naval Fighter Wing, comprising 1839th and 1844th Sqns.; the carrier fighting the entire campaign with the BEIF and BPF (British Pacific Fleet) right to the end of the war.

A “personal history”, however provisional due to the facts that will be disclosed later, can also be made of FN427. What we know for sure is that BuNo 65969 was turned over to the RN, serialed FN427 and it is consigned as sliding over the side of HMS Indomitable when landing, date unknown (Sturtivant, Baugher). Is this the machine that Andrew Thomas (“Royal Navy Aces of WW II”, Osprey Publications) points out, picture included, as the mount of Lt. Cdr Shotten when he made two claims on January 24th, 1945, and later by Lt. Mackie when he shot down a Ki-43 on 29th? Possibly. More on this later.


Hellcats were anything but in short supply in kit form, in any scale. In the “gentlemen’s scale”, I can consign a Frog rendition, both bagged (Mk.I, FAA markings) and boxed (-5, Aeronavale), with a skinny, flat fuselage sides; an Airfix, horribly bloated and covered in gimmicks and rivets, but with interesting FAA markings; a Matchbox, plenty of coloured plastic and trench-like panels, but also sporting interesting FAA markings (the first contact with BPF insignia many of us ever had); a completely unremarkable, raised-panelled Hasegawa and one from  Academy, a honest kit with a correct shape (exception made of the tip of the fin, and the infamous cowling “smile”), sunken panel lines of near adequate proportions and an intention at engine and cockpit detail. Replacing these (the cowling would be an overkill) and adding some aftermarket decals to replace the unimaginative ones provided, a good model can be made out of them. Eduard’s kit is in a different league: both shape and detail are superb through and through. In the all-plastic “Weekend” boxings fine detail might be a bit short; but the Profipack renditions include almost all the detail a modeller could wish. The only thing I added was a vacuformed hood, to properly display it opened.

The kit I used was #7076, depicting a US Navy F6F-3. However, I wanted to depict a RN Hellcat I, using some Frog decals I had retrieved from a garbage box. It must be said that Frog decals stand high in my appreciation in the Heroic Age of modelling; the 1/72nd Eduard kit, on the other side, comes with the plastic needed to build any version, -3, -5 or -5N. I also grabbed some generic Eduard Sutton harness.


 A most smooth and easy build, complicated only by the lack of certainty about the machine that I wanted to depict. I added a few extra bits in the cockpit sidewalls, and filed open the head armour recesses. The head armour plate is depicted going from side to side of the head rest, when it should have cut outs at both sides, to allow the pilot look over the shoulder; moreover, they are indented in the armour; some passes with a round file took care of this. The panel comprising the rear windows should be fit with care to each fuselage half. The area behind the seat and the cowling interior I painted in Light Gull Grey. I thinned a bit the seat sidewalls (that would be a piece worth replacing by one in PE). The middle console under the panel should be a separate pedestal, but it is conventionally depicted as part of the panel; it is little noticeable in 1/48th and hardly in 1/72nd. The supercharger exhaust “tunnel” in the lower mid fuselage looks overdone, and I usually “soften” it a bit in my builds; though there is no good picture of this area in a real machine anywhere, the look of it actually seems to be most prominent, and now I am thinking the kit depicts it correctly. The three-piece cowling calls for careful assembly. The ventral tank is a piece of extremely awkward design; I have never succeeded in getting a clean assembly in any single build, in both scales. In 1/72nd, at least, the “V” shaped braces use to break off almost immediately, simplifying your choices. I did not shorten the main u/c legs, as in the 1/48th kits; the “sit” looks fine anyway. The shallow, incorrectly shaped wheel wells are not that noticeable; I left them alone. I bored the gun tubes, a delicate operation; filling and sanding the seam in between the muzzles also is. The windscreen was a model fit, but the “wide hood”, intended to pose it opened, rode a bit too high, calling for a vac replacement.


 My drive in building this model was using the old Frog decals I found in the forgotten things box. I had no instructions, and the serial number was missing; however, I had the insignia and codes, and the camouflage was pretty standard anyway. There is a picture in the Osprey “Royal Navy Aces of WWII” of a Hellcat coded “5-A” going over the deck on a RN Fleet carrier, possibly HMS Indomitable, so I hoped to  take the serials from it, or rather from the caption. It read “ Hellcat II, JX758”. Though I clearly remembered the Frog kit to depict a Hellcat I, that one could be a mistake on their part. But the picture showed very clearly the cowling bulge over the exhausts, a recognition feature of Mk.Is. I looked in the internet for the original Frog decals in search of the serial in the decal sheet, and it read “JV147”. Could it be that there were two aircrafts coded “5-A” in succession? Sure, it could; probably, more than two. But a search in the JBaugher’s serial listing produced that “JV147” was lost on operations, but on HMS Emperor early in 1944 (therefore, most probably serving with 800 Sqn in Home waters), hitting the carrier’s island. It also stated that JX758 was lost in an accident, during “night flying training”. The picture didn’t look like taken during nightime, but that was not decisive. Further searches and consulting only produced that there might have been a “JV147 5-A” involved in Meridian I. Could it be that there were two aircraft serialled “JV147”? Highly improbable. Then I got hands on (virtually) a e-copy of Sturtivant’s “Aircrafts of the Royal Navy”. I rechecked the serials. “JV147”was indeed declared “Z1” after an accident on HMS Emperor. Having reached a stalemate, I decided that the only way forward was scrolling the entire stock of RN Hellcat Is, one by one. Then I got a positive result: there was one “FN427”, serving with 1839 Sqn., lost overboard on HMS Indomitable on an unknown date, coded “5-A”. That was my “5-A”, and the one depicted in the Osprey book; the caption being wrong (a most common occurrence). As one FN430 was serving in the sister squadron, 1844 Sqn on HMS Indomitable at about the same time (it is depicted in the Eduard kit), the serial is well within range; I considered myself satisfied and went on with the build. 

Trying to get an environmentally healthy workstation, I started using Xtracrilyxs paints sometime ago; main problem is that they are a bit fragile and tend to peel off under stress. That made masking a tough proposition, both with tape and liquid mask. I solved the problem getting most of the tack out of the Tamiya tape, and washing the liquid mask dissolving it with water. I worked; only some small spots peeled off. Colours were standard British EDSG/DSG over Sky, Grumman employed “equivalent” colours closely patterned after the MAP ones (from their early times as  a British Purchase Commission contractor). Some weathering and the manufacturer’s own interpretation of the colour would account for any difference. The instruction show Black anti-slip walkways, but in pictures I found no trace of them. Xtracrylix Gloss varnish was applied with a wide flat brush in preparation for decals, a single coat produces a high sheen. I used most of the decals for FN430, “6-R” in the twin RN Hellcat boxing, #7078, as roundels and fin flashes looked better proportioned and coloured and would perform better –actually flawlessly- anyway. The serial were carefully deprived of the last two digits, which were replaced by some in the SAMI BPF decal sheet (the font is the same size but just a bit thinner; the decals are thin but not that good and ended up showing a little silvering). I used the “5s” and the “A”s from the old Frog sheet; they performed admirably, but they are much thicker than modern decals; several gloss varnish coats and some sanding helped the “step” go down a bit. Stencils are provided in moderate quantities; but there are no instructions as where to place them, except the manufacturer’s logo in the prop blades! I tried to follow the instructions in the #7078 kit, with partial success.


An extremely high quality kit, an easy build, a well-shaped and proportioned resulting model and an interesting research. All a modeller may wish for. For the price, it is a bargain; it tempts you to build quite a collection of them.


- “Royal Navy Aces of WW II”, Andrew Thomas, Osprey Publications;

- “Model Aircraft Monthly” 2005-8, SAMI Publications;

- “Fleet Air Arm Aircraft, 1939-1945”, Ray Sturtivant and others, Air Britain Publications;

- “Grumman F6F Hellcat”, Andre Zbiegniewski, Monographs n° 10, Kagero Publications;

- Joe Baugher website.

Fernando Rolandelli

February 2015

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