|$15.00 or so
powerful and rugged, with its faster competitor, the Vought F4U Corsair,
initially having problems with visibility and carrier landings the Hellcat was a
key element for the US Navy in the second half of the Pacific War.
Soon after its combat debut in September 1943, its abilities contributed in securing air superiority over the Pacific Theater. With 12,275 units built in total (in just over two years!) the successful type was credited with destroying a total of 5,223 enemy aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Fleet Air Arm.
came in 2011 with their very nice new tool 1/72 Hellcat series, offering the
latest and greatest for the already well served type by other companies through
the years. Per the very welcome Eduard trend, the kit has been reboxed numerous
times (practically covering all major variants) and in many editions (ProfiPack,
Weekend, Overtrees) offering the modeler solid options.
The specific kit is the 2021 F6F-3 “Weekend Edition” and was a present from my good Polish friend Bernard Sobczyk. The kit comes in a very nice, typical Eduard top opening box, carrying an attractive box art of USS Princeton’s F11 cat mouth machine, having just downed a Zero.
Upon opening the box, I was greeted with 71 medium gray styrene parts, arranged in three roughly equally sized sprues, one holding the main wing parts, one holding the fuselage halves, cowling parts and tail planes and the third (slightly bigger one) holding everything else. Of them, the sprue containing the wing parts is dedicated to the specific version, while the other two are generic “F6F” sprues, including parts that are not to be used here.
Molding is nice and crisp, with only a couple of very tiny sink marks bilaterally of the fuselage at the cockpit height, very easily tackled. General shapes of parts look spot-on and panel lines are very finely recessed. Cockpit is nice and looks busy, containing all basic stuff found at the real machine. Being a non-ProfiPack edition, means that PE is absent, but, still, the instrument panel and side consoles feature beautiful molded on dials, with optional very nice decals. Similarly, the seat belts are supplied as decals, with their two-dimensional effect possibly being not that evident in 1/72, especially under a closed canopy.
A very detailed engine is supplied (missing the awesome ProfiPack PE harness, but again the lack of it will not be that noticeable in 1/72). Three styles of cowlings are provided - depending on the version you build - and the prop looks good. Landing gear is very well represented and the main wheels feature separate hubs, making painting a breeze, with two styles of tire treads. A good looking drop tank is provided, missing the distinctive sling braces that are also included at the ProfiPack version as PE. The kit contains bombs that cannot be used, as their fins are supplied as PE parts in the ProfiPack version.
Transparencies are beautifully made and crystal clear, with two canopies provided, depending on your decision to go for an “open” or “closed” cockpit. Clear parts for other variants are also included in the clear fret, so you can keep them as spares if you decide to build one of them in the future.
Instructions are awesome, coming in the form of a high quality color booklet, containing a quite extensive history of the type, a sprues map and a color reference chart. The construction itself is spread in 12 basic steps, with many of them divided in logical sub-steps, all clear and concise, with color callouts provided throughout.
Four very nice schemes are provided, VF-38’s “Miss New Orleans”, Lt. Vraciu’s #32, Lt.Cdr McCampell’s “The Minsi” and USS Princeton’s F11 catmouth bird. Decals, which include an extensive amount of stenciling, look very well printed and expected to work equally well. As a side note, it is most welcome that Eduard has solidly departed from their “one only” decal option found at its earlier Weekend Edition kits. Coming to think of it, the multi decal option fits precisely to what the Eduard Weekend editions stand for, i.e. full styrene, well detailed kits that can be built relatively effortlessly out of the box with no need for extras (only one decal option might have been somehow too restraining).
Color shades are given in Gunze and Mission codes. While basic camo layout is identical (the two blues over white undersides), instructions supremely depict not only each bird’s historical facts but, in cases, go as far as identifying fading, retouching oversprays and so on. Well done Eduard!
Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit and then trap it between the fuselage halves. The main wings are next assembled and attached, followed by the horizontal stabilizers. Assembly and attachment of the engine and the correct for your version cowling is next, followed by the landing gear, drop tank (optional), and fitting of the prop and transparencies, ending a straightforward and seemingly easy build.
This is clearly a
superb kit of the famous Hellcat. General shapes of parts are spot-on, molding
is superb, panel lines are nicely engraved, detailing is all over great, clear
parts are excellent and decals are well done. Out of the box a really nice
Hellcat can emerge, with the ease of construction and the superb instructions
deeming it suitable even for less experienced modelers.
True, being a Weekend edition means missing the extra detailing PE fret of the ProfiPack version, which, in our case, also prevents the bombs to be used, and also missing the masking set. Considering the cost of the PE and mask sets alone, the price of the ProfiPack version makes it a bargain, especially if you are after the PE (and the masks).
On the other hand, the detail supplied in styrene in this Weekend version is more than sufficient, let alone the fact that PE is not to everyone's taste. Equally importantly, the choice of four very interesting decal options means that the “Weekend Edition” builder is not any more restrained to a sole decal option, as might have been the case in the past.
Definitely a kit worth tackling.
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