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Mike

British Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk.I

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British Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk.I



1:48 Hobbyboss

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In association with

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The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier based fighter, designed to replace the Wildcat within the US Navy. It was incredibly successful, and a number found their way into Royal Navy service under lend-lease arrangements during WWII. Originally to be called the Gannet Mk.I, it was re-designated to share the original Hellcat name with the F6F-3 on which it was based.

The kit arrives in a typical Hobbyboss box, but the boxart is horrible! If your buying decision were based solely on the boxart, this kit wouldn't sell well. Perseverance is rewarded though, and inside are four sprues of mid-grey styrene, a small sprue containing the instrument panel and exhausts, separate cowling part, 2 sprues of clear parts protected by a foam wrap, a large sheet of decals, instruction booklet and color painting guide.

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There have been musings on the correctness of the cowling, amongst other things on the internet about the initial releases, but that could also be said of other Hellcat kits. Those issues (or non-issues, depending on your opinion) aside, the kit is nicely tooled, and packs plenty of detail into this diminutive aircraft. Where it definitely scores above other kits is in providing the modeller with a set of wing-folds from the box, with sturdy supports allowing the builder to pose the wings in either orientation during construction.

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The cockpit contains some nicely detail panels and consoles, with a decal provided for the instrument faces, which can either be installed en masse and made to conform with decal setting solution, or could be punched out and applied separately. The decals on the side consoles are a little chunky though, so you may wish to paint these. The firewall is provided with a set of engine mounts, and a couple of tanks, but unless you take a razor saw to your kit, these won't be seen. One of HobbyBoss's more esoteric signature features.

The P&W Double-Wasp engine is supplied, although detail is a little soft, and these is no depiction of the wiring loom or other details that will be seen through the cowling aperture. The bulkhead behind the engine has exhaust stacks built into it, which are fragile and don't have open ends. A little careful work with a small drill should quickly remedy that however.

The wings build up starting with the central section, which includes the underside of the fuselage, the gear bays and the flaps. Some neat detail is found in the gear bays, although there are also a couple of ejector pin marks that will need hiding before paint is applied. The structure of the wing is visible at the front of the bay, but there is no wiring depicted. The landing gear is sturdy and fits into some equally strong looking sockets, with separate oleo scissors and bay doors. Brake hoses will need to be added here, and the more observant modeller will probably wish to purchase some aftermarket tyres, as the kit parts are a little anodyne, with poor definition between the tyres and hubs.

The fuselage has ribbing detail throughout the interior, and closes up around the assembled cockpit and engine parts, again consigning all that detail to oblivion. The glazing is crystal clear, and small panels are supplied for the quarter-lights and the bulletproof insert within the windscreen.

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The outer wings are added later, and as previously mentioned can be posed open or folded by using different inserts. These support the wings in either position by acting as short spars, and the open set have detailed inserts that are applied to portray the faces of the folded wings. The ends of the box spars are included, and the inside of the wing area exposed during folding is ribbed inside for your pleasure. Once built up, the wings can be installed by sliding the long spars into the inner wing, and could conceivably be left un-glued to facilitate storage or transport.

The cowling fits over the exposed engine, consigning most of the detail there to darkness, and the single piece prop slips into the hole in the front of the bell-housing, with a small spinner finishing it off.

Then it's onto bombs, droptanks and wing mounted rockets, only here all of the holes have been thoughtfully opened up for you already. If you choose not to mount some of all of them, simply install a few bits of styrene rod or stretched sprue, apply glue and cut them flush when cured. Not too tricky!

The decals are bright and crisp, with good register and all of the roundels are dead centre. A set of invasion stripes is included, but check they fit properly before wetting them, as they can often be a let-down in terms of shape.

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From the box you can model one of two airframes, as follows:

JV105 800 Squadron Sept. 1944 (dark sea grey/dark green over sky - invasion stripes)

JV144 120-F. 1944 ((dark sea grey/dark green over sky - Pacific style roundels with no red)

Conclusion

A welcome addition to the British Hellcat kits in this scale, especially for the inclusion of a wingfold. It should build up into a handsome model, and although there are some shape issues that have come to light, 95% of us won't really notice. Detail overall is good, while a few parts are a little soft, and panel lines are restrained. A few fasteners on the cowling and underside of the fuselage seem a little on the large side, as do the instrument recesses in the cockpit, but these are issues that will probably only concern the more advanced modeller.

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I've read other reviews about the HobbyBoss Hellcats saying that the fuselage is too wide... Is that just for the earlier USN Hellcat releases, or are all of the Hellcats plagued with this problem?

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If I recall correctly this kit's cockpit is wide enough to be accurate for 1/32 scale not 1/48th..

A recent review I read compared the fuselage of this kit with one from Hasegawa. The Hasegawa canopy fell straight through the Hobby Boss cockpit opening with plenty of room to spare. Once again, this is such a shame as the moulding is very nice with the added bonus of folding wings. You just have to look at the clear parts above to see that something is not quite right. At first glance it would appear that they give you the bomb aimers glazing for an early Halifax rather than the Hellcat's windscreen? Unfortunatey anyone wanting a half accurate Hellcat would be best to steer well clear of this kit. Although lacking folding wings, the Eduard option is the way to go.

Once again - another lost Trumpy-boss opportunity... Cheers Dave.

Edited by Rabbit Leader

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I have the Eduard kit and read somewhere that the Hobby Boss makes a good wing fold conversion. Is this true - has anyone tried it? If would be cheaper than the Wolfpack conversion...

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Great review! Like all good American aircraft they look better in RAF/FAA schemes! ;)

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I have the Eduard kit and read somewhere that the Hobby Boss makes a good wing fold conversion. Is this true - has anyone tried it? If would be cheaper than the Wolfpack conversion...

I have! http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/52776-yellow-wings-hellcat/

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