Hasegawa 1/72 F6F-5 Hellcat
KIT #: C 12
PRICE: $4.00 from an auction
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


There could easily be made a case for the Hellcat being the fighter that won the naval war in the Pacific. Though under development when the Pacific war started, the airplane had an amazingly trouble-free development with the production plane being pretty much the same as the prototype.

The airframe stayed the same throughout its production run with only small changes along the way, which included bomb and missile racks for the later variant, though like many aircraft produced during the war acquired these improvements as they were developed. Two major variants of the type entered service; the -3 and -5. It was not unusual to find -3 bits on -5s and vice versa, though from what I've read, there are two things that are distinctive in the -5. One is the wing rocket stubs. The other is a windscreen without a central frame above the forward piece.

Getting back to the plane's history, it is responsible for shooting down more Japanese planes than any other aircraft in the Pacific. There are several reasons for this which would include its engine power, good armament and good pilot protection. But the biggest would be that the airplane was very easy to fly. All planes have vices, but the Hellcat seemed to be free of them. It made a mediocre pilot look good, a good pilot look great and a great pilot look fantastic. Sure, the Corsair had overall better performance, but it was a handful for younger pilots. Not the Hellcat.

Despite its excellent qualities, once the war was over, it quickly disappeared from service spending its remaining years either with the reserves or being outfitted as drones. Many of these drones were used to bomb bridges during the Korean War. Its place in the prop world was taken by the Corsair and later by jets.

This kit was initially released in 1980, but it seems older than that due to its raised panel line detail and rather barren cockpit. It can be built as either a -3 or a -5. To do a -3 one will have to do a bit of cutting for the rear quarter windows. There are also some small bulges for just before the exhaust outlet that was prevalent on -3s and some early -5s. The kit also comes with two canopies. Both are one piece with one being for a -3 and the other the later style for the -5. Unfortunately, though the bagged kit I bought was still sealed, there was no evidence of the clear bits. Fortunately, my friend Kevin had parted an Academy kit and was able to help with clear bits. I also ordered a Falcon set that included these, just in case the Academy bits did not fit.

Cockpit is quite basic with seat, stick rear bulkhead and instrument panel. These fit onto a tub section. Decals are provided for instruments. Not real fond of dark blue plastic, but apparently Hasegawa felt it would reduce painting issues.

The rest is standard stuff. One piece lower wing with separate upper halves. Single piece tailplanes, a fairly nice engine, one piece cowling and a nice prop that doesn't have a prop shaft so glues onto the front of the engine. Landing gear are nicely done and there is nice main gear well detail, though I imagine it is spurious. The only thing under the fuselage is a drop tank. It would have been nice to have bomb racks and rocket stubs for a proper -5, but there it is.

Instructions are mostly Japanese with generic paint information. Two markings options are included. One is a 'cat mouth' -3 from VF-27 aboard the USS Princeton in mid 1944. This plane has the tricolor paint scheme. The other is a late war -5 from VF-24 aboard the USS Santee in overall gloss sea blue. This has white fin/upper rudder and white upper starboard wing with yellow bands around the wing and fuselage. Decals are ancient with the whites in off-white. I don't doubt they will still work, despite their age, though one really needs to soak these in hot water.


For some reason, I have a real fondness for these older kits. Probably because they are pretty fiddle-free. In this case, I built up the cockpit and painted everything an interior green using Nakajima Interior Green as I had it mixed up for an other projects. OK, shoot me; it is undoubtedly the wrong shade. Decals were placed as required and they did not fall apart when removed from the sheet. I used 1mm tape for a seat harness. Then I closed the fuselage halves. I also assembled the upper and lower wing bits. Hasegawa molds the guns into the wing so it is a bit of a paint to sand down the leading edge.

After that, I attached the wing. It is a perfect join. Nice to build a kit where the wing fits so well. Tailplanes were next. These are keyed so you won't get them crossed. During this time I checked to see if the Academy windscreen would fit. Looks like it though it may be a tad wide. The engine was painted and dry brushed then glued into the cowling. The cowling was attached. It takes a bit of fiddling around to get it properly aligned, but is worth the effort.

With the airframe pretty well complete, I installed the Academy clear parts after first masking them. I have to tell you that it was not easy as at this time, I have one eye that is nearsighted and one that is farsighted, making any sort of detail work difficult, even under magnification. With that done it was time to fill the cowling with tissue and head for the paint shop.


Since this is a -5, that pretty much means overall gloss sea blue. The nice thing about this scheme is that EVERYTHING is this color. Gear legs, wheels, wheel wells and drop tank. Now to be fair, it would not be impossible to see these planes with aluminum struts or wheels or even white wheels as none of these items changed over the life of the airplane and replacement parts may well not have been gloss sea blue. However, I am first and foremost a lazy modeler so took the easy way out. I used Testors enamels for this and one thing I know about gloss paints is they can take a while to fully cure. This was no exception, even when thinned with lacquer thinner.

While that was curing all the way, I cleaned up the seams on the wheels and landing gear bits. Hasegawa wheels have these ejector pin marks on the inside tires that is nearly impossible to cleanly remove. I recommend aftermarket wheels for this. I didn't use them as I didn't have any. As a note, these are exactly the same wheels as used on the F4U. I repainted the struts, used liquid chrome for the oleos and installed the gear. The tail gear managed to have the small strut break, but few will notice it. Once on its gear, I applied the decals.

For this build, I used SuperScale 72-802 that has markings for four Hellcats, two of them -5s. I was inspired by a recent reader's builds to do one of the geometric pattern planes and so in this case it was a VF-17 plane from the USS Hornet in February 1945. Decals went on without any issues and I used both Microsol and Mr Mark Softer to get them to snuggle down. Once those were on, the wheels were installed as were the gear doors, radio mast, drop tank, and pitot.

The last things to do were to remove the masking to check for paint creeping, paint the guns and formation lights, add a bit of exhaust stain and then glue on the prop.  


For many of us, this is an old favorite, While I'm not a huge Hellcat fan, this is not the first Hasegawa 1/72 version I've done. They go together well and while are a bit Spartan when it comes to the cockpit, makes for a very nice model when done.

7 July 2017

Copyright ModelingMadness.com

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page     Back to the Review Index Page     Back to the Previews Index Page