Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Profipack
The F6F Hellcat was the penultimate model in Grumman’s successful series of piston engined carrier-based fighters, following on from the Wildcat and preceding the Bearcat. The Hellcat’s design drew on experience gained in aerial combat against the Japanese during the early years of the war in the Pacific, which called for the development of a tough, hard-hitting fighter. Fitted with a powerful Pratt and Whitney radial engine, the Hellcat was capable of 380mph and had a combat radius of 945 miles.
The F6F-5 was the second major production version of the Hellcat. It featured a more powerful engine and revised engine cowling compared to the F6F-3, an improved windscreen and a strengthened rear fuselage. The Hellcat earned a reputation as an excellent fighter; by 1945 it had gained the status of the most effective US naval fighter of World War II, having destroyed no fewer than 5,271 enemy aircraft. The F6F-5 was also operated by the Fleet Air Arm as the Hellcat F. Mk II.
Eduard released the first edition of their new 1:72 Hellcat kit earlier this year in the guise of the F6F-3 Profipack. It was rightly met with much acclaim from the modelling community, including from this reviewer who thought it was the bee’s knees. Now Eduard are back with the F3F-5 variant. Inside the end-opening box are 78 plastic parts spread across three light olive coloured sprues and one clear sprue, plus two small frets of photo etch details, a set of paint masks and marking options for 4 different aircraft.
As with the F6F-3, the quality of the mouldings is as good as any kit I’ve seen. Everything is clean and crisp and there are no traces of flash and no sink marks. The plastic parts feature exquisite details. The cockpit parts such as the instrument panel and side consoles are so nice that it’s impossible to see where aftermarket resin items could improve on what’s already in the box. The surface details on the exterior of the airframe are just as good and are made up of a blend of recessed panel lines and overlapping panels.
Because this is a profipack edition, there are lots of photo etch parts provided to supplement the already excellent cockpit details, including overlays for the instrument panel, throttles, throttle levers and harnesses, all of which are pre-painted. Turning to the wings, the undercarriage bays feature lovely details and are of convincing scale depth. The.50 inch machine guns are moulded separately to the wings, which allows for a more convincing rendition of the gun barrels. Combine this with the newly released gun bay set from Eduard and you have a real winner on your hands. The wings fit into 5mm deep recesses in the fuselage sides, so there should be no join to fill at the wing roots.
Two choices of tyres are provided and both are moulded separately to the wheel hubs, which will make painting this traditionally tricky area much easier. The engine is excellent and the addition of the included photo etch parts really help to bring it to life. From what I can tell, Eduard seemed to have captured the elusive shape of the lower intake for the oil cooler and supercharger - the famous Hellcat grin - very well. The transparent parts are beautifully thin and clear. The included paint masks are a helpful bonus too. Some purists may regard them as cheating, but as a modeller with a young family and limited modelling time I think they’re a great time saver.
Marking options are provided for four US Navy aircraft:
• F6F-5, ‘Minsi III’, BuNo 70143, Cdr. David McCampbell, USS Essex, October 25th 1944
• F6F-5, White 7 ‘Paper Doll’, Lt. Carl A. Brown Jr., VF-27, USS Princeton, October 24th 1944
• F6F-5, White 115, ‘Death and Destruction’, BuNo 72534, Ensigns Donald McPherson, Bill Kingston, Jr., and Lyttleton Ward, VF-83, USS Essex, May 5th 1945
• F6F-5, White 71, Lt. Leo Bob McCuddin, VF-20, USS Enterprise, October 1944
Paint references are provided for Gunze Sangyo ranges. The four-view camouflage and marking profiles are printed in full colour. The decals themselves look crisp, thin, glossy and generally excellent.
I loved the first edition of this kit and I love this edition too. This is certainly the best 1:72 Hellcat around and it’s also one of the best 1:72 kits I’ve ever seen. The detailing is superb and the engineering is great. The inclusion of photo etch and paint masks makes this a very complete package.