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F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale
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F6F Hellcat
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F-100 Super Sabre
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KIT REVIEW


Eduard F6F-3 Hellcat ProfiPACK Edition -- 1:48 Scale

There were many remarkable aircraft that emerged during the course of the Second World War, but no carrier-based fighter achieved the renown or impact of the Grumman F6F Hellcat.  There have been many kits of the Hellcat over the years and Hasegawa’s 1:48 scale kits are among the best, but Eduard arguably has risen to the top of the pack with their 1:48 scale Hellcat kits – 14 released in this kit lineage and counting.  In 2019, they reissued their 1:48 F6F-3 with some new parts and decals in a ProfiPACK edition. Let’s take a look.

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Even before Pearl Harbor, it was clear that the Mitsubishi A6M Zero outclassed the U.S. Navy’s primary carrier-based fighter, the Grumman F4F Wildcat.  Work on the Wildcat’s successor began in 1938, and in June 1941, the contract for the first Grumman F6F was signed.  The “Wildcat’s Big Brother” certainly resembled the F4F but was in reality a totally new airplane.  Following its flight test program, the F6F made its combat debut in September 1943.  It quickly gained a reputation as rugged and survivable, easy to fly, a stable gun platform, easy to maintain, and perhaps most importantly, it was superior to the Japanese Zero.  As a testament to Grumman and their workforce, a total of 12,275 were built in just over two years.  Hellcats were operated by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Great Britain’s Fleet Air Arm.

Hellcats were powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R2800 Double Wasp engine as used in the F4U Corsair and P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.  While optimized for air combat, it was also a versatile multirole fighter.  Hellcats were armed with six .50 cal. M2/AN Browning air-cooled machine guns with 400 rounds per gun.  A centerline hardpoint under the fuselage could carry a 150 gallon drop tank or a bomb.  Later Hellcats also had wing bomb racks allowing the airplane to carry up to 2,000 pounds of air-to-ground ordnance that could also include six HVAR rockets.

While perhaps a bit stubby-looking, the Hellcat was a deadly opponent.  Over the course of the Pacific campaign, Hellcats were credited with destroying a total of 5,223 enemy aircraft with only 270 combat losses (a 19:1 kill ratio).  There were 305 Hellcat aces, and at the top was Captain David McCampbell who scored all his 34 victories in the Hellcat.  Following the Japanese surrender, Hellcats rather rapidly found themselves turned into trainers or target drones as the Grumman F8F Bearcat came on the scene, but some F6Fs remained in front-line service until 1954 still serving admirably in the night fighter role.

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Eduard’s 1:48 scale F6F-3 ProfiPACK kit comes on five injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 108 parts.  One clear sprue holds 18 parts.  Four cast resin Brassin parts are provided for main the wheels.  Fifty photoetched metal parts are provided on one mostly pre-painted fret along with another 18 parts on an unpainted fret.  There’s also a die-cut self-adhesive masking set and two decal sheets.  The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over eight pages. Markings for five airplanes are included:

Strengths:  Eduard’s 1:48 scale Hellcat is based on their 2008 tooling.  It might not be as stunning in terms of recessed surface detail as their more recent Tempest or Spitfire kits.  But while this might be based on an “old” mold by Eduard, it’s still quite impressive by any standards.  Eduard did good work back then, too.  The kit itself is fairly simple.  It’s not over-engineered or overly complex, so there’s a lot here for both a beginner and an expert modeler.  I find it to be quite accurate, too.  One feature I really like is the slightly raised, overlapping trailing edges of the panel lines on the fuselage.  This was a feature on the 1:1 Hellcat, and here, Eduard did a nice job simulating that feature.  You can kind of see it, but you can definitely feel it when you run your finger over the parts.   

The Eduard Hellcat has been around for 11 years so I won’t belabor its virtues since they are already quite well known.  Still, it is worth mentioning that the kit has a well-earned reputation as a well-fitting, straightforward, and enjoyable build without any tricky spots.  Constructions options include alternate styles of engine cowling (that’s why the second fuselage sprue D is in the box since its connected to the alternate cowling parts on Sprue J).  Separate flaps, ailerons, elevators, and rudders are also featured.  However, when the power was off, do note that the control surfaces were spring loaded, so unless something broke, they returned to the neutral position.    

The kit cockpit on its own is pretty basic.  It is really intended to be gussied up with the photoetched metal parts in this set, and WOW – they make a big difference.  The photoetched parts really do add a great deal of detail and visually interesting features to the kit, such as the pre-painted instrument dial faces, the pre-painted harnesses (complete with simulated stitching details), and lots of other small details.  If PE detail parts are not your forte, the instrument panel and side console details are also provided as alternate decals.  A set of Brassin main wheels are also included, and the detail on these cast resin parts is really exceptional.  The masking set will save a lot of time with masking windshield, canopy, and the main and tailwheel hubs.  The engine is okay as an injection-molded part, but it really pops with addition of the photoetched metal ignition wires and other PE features.

Beyond all of this, Eduard chose some awesome markings options.  There’s a lot of great Hellcat schemes to choose from, and here you’ll find some of the most iconic of them all.  These include the cat mouth and eyes applied to the airplanes of VF-27 in 1944 before the PRINCETON was lost.  Option D covers one VF-34 airplane featuring a rare example of pinup nose art and the Grumman production number still spray-painted on the cowling.  This scheme also had an unusual white spine and tail.  Chenowith’s nose art “Ruth-less” is also quite distinctive.  The primary decal sheet was printed by Cartograf, and they don’t get any better than that.  The stencil decal sheet was printed in-house by Eduard, and they all look great.  I can see no technical errors in printing.    

Weaknesses:  I cannot offer any substantive critiques of this kit, though I do find the gear wells and the gear themselves to be a little “soft” in overall detail.   

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Eduard continues to get mileage out of their very well done 1:48 scale F6F-3 especially when combined with today’s highest quality photoetched metal parts, masking sets, and decals.  Fans of WWII subject matter and naval aviation more broadly will certainly enjoy this issue of the kit, and its relative simplicity, nice detail, and outstanding markings options.

Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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