Saturday, September 6

Brett's build of the Eduard Weekend Edition 1/48 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat - Pt 1:construction

Brett Reynolds is a very clean and thorough builder and has graced us here on TMN with many a nice article and build – today he presents part I of II on the build of the lovely kit of the Eduard F6F-5 Hellcat in 48th scale. Today’s article concerns the build and alterations he made to the kit whilst the second part will be the finishing and painting of the Hellcat – Ok here we go…

Eduard Weekend Edition 1/48 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
Kit No: 8434
Kit type: Injection Moulded
Parts: 5x coloured sprues, 1x clear parts sprue, 1x decal sheet
Build Review by Brett Reynolds
Available from Eduard Directly at this link

Brett's build of the Eduard Weekend Edition 1/48 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat - Pt II:Paint & finish

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft conceived to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy (USN) service. The Hellcat was an erstwhile rival of the faster Vought F4U Corsair for use as a carrier based fighter. However, the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landing that the Hellcat did not, allowing the Hellcat to steal a march as the Navy's dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position the Hellcat did not relinquish (From Wikipedia).

The Hellcat developed the reputation of a well-armed and rugged aircraft, which was relatively easy to fly and maintain for carrier operations.  In two years of combat, Hellcats shot down 5156 enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat, the most aerial victories ever scored by on type of fighter. Only 270 F6Fs were lost in combat, resulting in a 19-to-1 kill ratio.

The Kit
The kit consists of the same plastic as the full ProfiPACK editions minus the photo-etch, paint masks, resin wheels and multiple decal options. The plastic is cleanly moulded with no imperfections or flashing, but I did notice a slight misaligned in some of the parts such as the control surfaces and gun barrels.
The surface detail of the fuselage and wings is excellent with finely recessed panel lines and rivet detail. Surface texture of the plastic is smooth. Control surfaces are separate parts but are not positionable without modification. Options are provided for an opened or closed canopy utilising different parts.
The instructions are printed as an A5 size B&W booklet - you can download them at this link.

The Markings
As with Weekend-Edition kits, only a single set markings is included. The markings depict a F6F-5 in the standard USN overall Gloss Sea Blue finish, flown by Lt. Leo Bob McCuddin of VF-20 off the USS Enterprise, October 1944. Lt. McCuddin scored five victories over Japanese fighters in three combat engagements, all in the space of six days. Although he flew “White 71” at least once in combat, the six victory flags below its cockpit probably represent the aircraft’s tally, rather than any single pilot (Source: Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No.10).

The Build
As with most aircraft kits, we start off with the cockpit. After a little clean up, fit of the kit parts was straight forward, consisting of a cockpit floor, rear wall, side consoles, seat and front instrument panel.  Here the parts are dry-fitted with the fuselage.
I decided to beef up the cockpit frame edge and instrument panel cowling with thin plastic strip for a more realistic look. Then dry-fitted with the cockpit parts to ensure there was no interference when the fuselage halves are assembled.
At a minimum I would have added some seat belts to the kit seat but Eduard has released a Zoom photo-etch detail set (FE454) for this kit, which is virtually the same photo-etch from the ProfiPACK. For this build I decided to use a spare set from a F6F-5 ProfiPACK in my stash.
Since I had already started gluing the kit cockpit before deciding to use the photo-etch set, I had to pinch the cockpit parts from the other kit as well, hence the change in colour of the plastic.
It is necessary to remove certain raised details from the side consoles in preparation for fitting the photo-etch parts.
The kit provides a separate front instrument panel with no surface detail for use with the photo-etch parts.
The cockpit sub-assemblies were readied for painting. I placed masking tape over the areas where photo-etch parts would later go. Never the best trying to glue metal onto painted surfaces.
However I did glue the lap belts in placed before painting. These were nicely pre-painted, but I usually make a mess of gluing these after painting the seat, so I decided to glue them into the position I wanted first and then repaint them.
The whole cockpit was painted in Model Master Interior Green FS34151 which was a near perfect match to the Eduard pre-painted photo-etch. The pre-painted photo-etch parts were attached with CA glue. Details were hand painted before airbrushing a clear coat of Future.  I then proceeded with a light oil wash of burnt umber and a little dry-brushing of Model Master Chrome Silver to highlight and represent worn paint coatings. In hind-sight, I might have applied another coat or two of the oil wash to bring out the detail a little more.
A coat of Model Master Lacquer Flat Clear was airbrushed before final assembly of the cockpit components. Note: a liquid latex masking agent was applied over the instrument dials before the flat coat so they maintained a shiny glass look.
In-between the painting of the cockpit, I started work on the sub-assemblies; cowling, stabilisers, wings and engine.

The Hellcat has a distinctive front-end look with the lower chin intakes serving the aircraft’s oil cooler, supercharger and intercooler. This shape has been difficult to represent in injection moulding and resin replacements are available, but I think Eduard has produced the best out-of-the-box attempt of this part.
The cowling sides have ejection pin markings on the internal surface which should be cleaned up.                                                                                                                                        
Testing fitting the cowling with the fuselage, I marked off the areas where the engine exhausts poke through and where the cowling flaps are. I filed down the plastic here to sharpen the trailing edge for a more realistic scale thickness.
Some fine mesh was added to the back of the supercharger intake.
The cowling halves were glued to the front face one at a time. Note the correct alignment of the horizontal panel line between the cowling front face and side parts.
The horizontal tail surfaces comprise of three parts; upper and lower stabiliser halves, and the moving elevator surface. A large tab on the elevator slides into a recess in the stabiliser which locks the elevator at the zero position.  However, the elevators on parked Hellcats are usually seen drooped so I decided to do some modification here.
A special note; the stabiliser and wings have a stand-off peg at the inboard side of the internal cavity which is there to hold the shape of the wing/stabiliser to ensure a correct fit with the wing/stabiliser root in the fuselage halves. So don’t go cutting this off.
The image below shows an unmodified elevator (top) and a modified elevator. The recesses for the hinges have been cut out and the tab connections removed.
A pair of hinges was made from plastic strip for each stabiliser. I could then tape the elevator at the desired angle before gluing. I left this towards the end to avoid accidental breakages.
Dry fitting of the wings exposed a moulding alignment issue with the gun barrels. Any attempt to clean these up would result in oval-shaped barrels, so I decided I would replace them with brass tube at final assembly. The barrels were cut off and recesses were drilled out of the block.
The flaps were attached to the upper wing halve first then I added some tabs of plastic strip on the trailing edge of the internal cavity of the top wing to provide some extra support when assembling the wing halves. The wheel well and gun barrel block were also attached at this time.
Like the elevators, the wing ailerons have a tab which slots into their respectively recesses. Like the gun barrels, the ailerons had an alignment issue and required a bit of cleaning up and some plastic card to close up any gaps between the wing and aileron.
The wheel wells are nicely detailed out-of-the box and are finished off with a few detail parts.
The wingtip lights for the Hellcat are actually a coloured light with a large clear cover. I drilled a small recess into the corner of the clear part and filled it with the appropriate coloured paint.
The light was super-glued into the wingtip and faired in. The clear part was then sanded and polished to a smooth finish.
The detail of the kit’s P&W R-2800 engine is reasonable and could be painted up to look the part, but I decided to replace it with a resin engine from Quickboost. The resin engine requires a bit of clean-up to remove the casting block and the thin casting tabs behind each of the cylinder heads. It should be noted this resin engine is not suitable if you want to do the full open engine display. Eduard Brassin does a very nice R-2800 for this purpose. The Quickboost is great for improving that front-end view.
To fit the Quickboost engine, cut off the kit’s attachment point, leaving about 1mm.
Two things missing from the Quickboost resin engine for the builder to add are the push rods and the ignition wiring harness. The pushrods were made from brass tube with the wiring harness from copper wire.
I’ve read a few reviews and comments saying the chord of the three-blade Hamilton Standard propeller being too large. I probably agree with that, but with some sanding, the blades can be reshaped. Below is a pic of the kit part next to a painted prop from a Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1D kit which is the same propeller.
To attach the propeller to the resin engine, I drilled out the engine and inserted a length of 2mm diameter aluminium tube. The propeller hub received a piece of styrene plastic tube, drilled out to match the aluminium tube. You can also see in this image the in-progress painting of the engine. The crankcase was painted in neutral grey; the cylinder heads flat black and dry brushed with aluminium. The whole thing would receive a oil wash mix of black and burnt umber.
The tail wheel required a little clean up. The lightening holes were drilled deeper for more realism. The tail wheel needs to be attached when joining the fuselage halves together.
The main landing gear and locking mechanism is acceptable but I removed the moulded on wiring and replaced it with copper wire.
The main wheels are provided as separate tyres and wheel hubs. Assembled, I found the main wheels to look a little narrow at 4.3mm wide; this is more associated with the prototype aircraft. I thought the tyres from the Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1D kit were closer to the correct scale width at approximately 5mm. I added a spacer to the gluing edge of the tyre. It’s important to remember to add a spacer to the wheel rim as well to match the added width of the tyre.
There’s no tread on the kit tyres, so sanding the widen tyre smooth is not a problem. There are aftermarket options available if the builder wants a tyre with tread.
The fuselage halves line up very well but the locator pins are very small and give way easily. Take your time and you’ll have minimal clean up on the seam. Areas that I found needed the most clean up were forward of the canopy and underside around the oil cooling air intake. Don’t forget if you want to use the external fuel tank to cut out the tab in the fuselage aft of the oil cooling air intake.
If your dry fitting while assembling the wings and stabilisers was successful, joining them to the fuselage should be easy. The kit is very well designed and the fuselage wing/stab roots hold their corresponding parts at the correct dihedral.
Any small gaps in the wing root were filled with Milliput and smoothed out with water before it cured.
The kit external fuel tank, while appearing to be correct in size and shape, it is missing the prominent centreline seam that runs round the tank. There is also a version of this tank that has the seam running horizontally. Quickboost make both these style of tank.
The tank is secured on the real Hellcat with the help of two metal banding straps, Quickboost provide these as photo-etch metal parts. Referring to my references these straps go round the tank and go vertical until attaching to the aircraft. I first glued the tank to the slot which was cut out of the bottom of the fuselage. Gluing one end of the first strap in position I quickly learnt the photo-etch metal straps were too long, nearly reaching the wing.
The Quickboost instructions weren’t much help when trying to work out if I did something wrong, so only solution I had was to cut the straps in half, then trim the length of both so they meet up in the middle of the tank underside.
Another small improvement was to replace the kit’s solid engine exhausts with 1.2mm diameter brass hallow tube.
Almost ready for painting; first was to mask and paint the canopy both sides with the Interior Green colour used for the cockpit. The front canopy was then glued to the fuselage.
OK that is it for the construction - on to the painting and finishing to show you just how good a result Brett got from this simple kit in Pt II tomorrow..

Brett Reynolds

Thanks to Eduard for sending us this hellcat kit to build – you can get it at this link from the Eduard Website

Aero Detail 17 – Grumman F6F Hellcat (1996)
Dann, Richard S. – Walk Around No.9 – F6F Hellcat (Squadron-Signal Publications 1996).
Kinzy, Bert – F6F Hellcat in Detail & Scale (Squadron-Signal Publications 1996).
Tillman, Barrett – Hellcat Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Publications 1996).