|PRICE:||$25.00 SRP ($21.20 at GreatModels)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft developed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy service. Although the F6F bore a family resemblance to the Wildcat, it was a completely new design powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800. Some tagged it as the "Wildcat's big brother". The Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were the primary USN fighters during the second half of World War II.
The Hellcat was the first US Navy fighter for which the design took into account lessons from combat with the Japanese Zero (Editor's note: this may well be urban legend stuff as the Hellcat was almost fully developed before the US was able to get its hands on a Zero or even fight them. Heck, the first prototype flew in June 1942 only six months into the war and before the Aleutian Islands Zero was recovered. What was true was the the aircraft was up-engined as it was discovered that the initial power plant did not provide the performance needed.) . The Hellcat proved to be the most successful aircraft in naval history, destroying 5,271 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (5,163 in the Pacific and eight more during the invasion of Southern France, plus 52 with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II.) Postwar, the Hellcat aircraft was systematically phased out of front line service, but remained in service as late as 1954 as a night-fighter in composite squadrons.
I'm generally bringing up the rear when it comes to buying the latest and greatest. So it is with the Eduard Hellcat, a kit that has been out at least a year if not more. My patient waiting enabled me to grab a 'weekend' edition kit at less than the retail of the standard kit and still get just about all that was part of that package, save the photo etch. No big deal to me as it is one more thing to slow down the build, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, looking over the sprues, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the total lack of flash on the sprues. These molds must have cranked out tens of thousands of these kits already, yet everything looked as if it was a first pressing. There are bits that are not used in this boxing, including bombs and bomb racks, some gun inserts with solid blast tubes and an instrument panel with a blank face on it (undoubtedly for the p.e. instrument panel). The kit does include two types of rockets, with one type having a bulged warhead as you see used by the British. There is also a drop tank and aside from the elevators, all the control surfaces are separate. This includes the flaps, but don't think you can display them down as you cannot. Same for all the other control surfaces, they are meant to be used in the neutral position. In case you are wondering why not provide the option to have the able to be posed, I wonder at this myself as aside from having a proper gap around them, this is little better than having them molded in place. Nonetheless, there it is. The parts diagram shows a second set of engine cowlings, but that area on the sprue is blank.
The instructions are quite small considering the kit, as if they were reduced in size from something larger. It makes the print a bit difficult to read. Paint references are by Gunze, which is too bad as they are not available in the US anymore. Markings are for one aircraft, the plane of 'Famous Navy pilot Leo Bob McCuddin' of whom I've never heard, from VF-20 on the Enterprise in 1944. Basically overall Sea Blue with insignia, kill markings and tail triangle. The Cartograf-printed sheet is well done, though I imagine that most who buy this kit will use aftermarket decals. There is a note on the instructions that a full color markings guide is on the Eduard website, though the same thing is on the side of the box without the placement indicators.
You can now add Eduard to the list of companies who have done a 1/48 Hellcat, starting with Monogram, Otaki, and Hasegawa. Is this one better than the others? Perhaps. For sure it is newer and so benefits from the improvement in molding technology. I'm sure that it will build well and be a great addition to anyone's collection.
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