F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat ‘Pacific Aces Combo’ (two kits)
The Grumman F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat formed the backbone of US Naval air power throughout the Second World War. Both aircraft were tough and dependable and both achieved very impressive kill-to-loss ratios.
The Wildcat was the first of the pair to see action. By the time the United States entered the war in December 1941, the Wildcat had already earned itself a favourable reputation thanks to its combat record with the Royal Navy. It went on to see successful service with the US Navy in the Pacific theatre, where it made up for a lack of speed and manoeuvrability by employing self-sealing fuel tanks and relatively heavy armour. The lessons learned in combat against the Japanese led directly to the development of the F6F Hellcat, an aircraft so effective that it is credited with more kills than any other allied fighter employed during World War II.
Another addition to Hasegawa’s ‘combo’ range, this offering includes one each of the aforementioned aircraft, together with marking options for a total of five aircraft. Turning to the Wildcat first, it’s fairly easy to see why Hasegawa’s kit is generally regarded as the best available of this particular type. The sprues are cleanly moulded and feature extremely crisp engraved details. As with most of Hasegawa’s 1:72 aircraft kits, the cockpit is pretty basic. It is comprised of an instrument panel, cockpit tub with side consoles moulded in place, seat and control column. Rudimentary rudder pedals rise from the cockpit floor. There is no raised detail on any of the parts but Hasegawa do provide a decal for the instrument panel.
Things improve rapidly once the fuselage halves are together, however. The Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engine is nicely represented and the two rows of cylinders are moulded as separate pieces. The Wildcat’s distinctively complex undercarriage is also very well depicted ad should look excellent once completed. Two underwing drop tanks are provided. Ailerons, flaps and the rudder are all moulded in place. The canopy is reasonably clear but is moulded in one piece, although this is not necessarily a bad thing given the basic nature of the cockpit. Overall then this is a fairly simple kit, albeit one that features beautiful surface detail.
Pretty much all of my comments about the Wildcat also apply to the Hellcat, with the exception of the surface detail. On the Hellcat, panel lines are represented by fine, raised details. These are equally as sharp as the recessed panel lines on the Wildcat, but ultimately this is a bit of a disappointment in this day and age.
The interior is pretty much the same as the Wildcat, with instrument decals being provided in the absence of any raised detail. Once again the engine is moulded in two halves, which adds a realistic sense of depth once assembled. The undercarriage is actually rather nice, and delicate parts such as the scissor links are faithfully reproduced. The main gear bays also feature some basic raised detail. As with the Wildcat, the canopy is moulded in once piece.
Five marking options are provided:
• Three very similar F4F Wildcats, all flown by Captain Joseph Jacob Foss, US Marines VMF-121, Guadalcanal, November 1942;
• F6F Hellcat, USS Essex VF-83 Ensign Littleton Word, May 1945; and
• F6F Hellcat, USS Cabot VF-31 Lieutenant J.G. Ray Hawkins, September 1944.
The decals themselves are the usual Hasegawa type; nicely printed but a little thick. The whites appear very slightly cream to my eyes though.
It’s nice to see a ‘combo’ boxing comprised of two different kits rather than two the same. The Hellcat is a bit of a disappointment, mainly because it has been knocked into a cocked hat by the more recent Eduard offering. The Wildcat can hold its head high however, as it still pretty much the best kit available of the type in this scale.
Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for