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F6F Kit

Eduard 1/48 Hellcat Mk.I/Mk.II Dual Combo Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2008 Manufacturer Eduard
Subject Hellcat Mk.I/Mk.II Dual Combo Scale 1/48
Kit Number 8223 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-Etch
Pros Very nicely detailed kit, bargain price Cons No provision for folding wings
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $49.95

First Look

F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit
F6F Kit

The Fleet Air Arm received over 1200 F6Fs during World War II, these initially being designated as Gannet Mk.I, but ultimately retaining the name Hellcat with the F6F-3 becoming the Hellcat Mk.I and the F5F-5 becoming Hellcat Mk.II. These aircraft were deployed aboard Royal Navy carriers and operated from shore stations, seeing action in Norway, the Mediterranean, and in the Pacific theater.

Unlike their US Navy counterparts, the FAA didn't get as much air combat experience in the type, but they nevertheless showed that the Hellcat was very capable against the Bf 109 and Fw 190 fighters it encountered. In the Pacific, HMS Indomitable and her 1844 Sqn Hellcats were the highest scoring Hellcat unit in the FAA with 32.5 kills.

At the end of World War II, the RAF and FAA were purging their ranks of lend-lease aircraft and only two squadrons of Hellcats were still in service at the end of 1945, and these were disbanded shortly thereafter.

Eduard has released their second installment in their Hellcat series, this time producing a Dual Combo (two complete kits) with the parts for one Hellcat Mk.I (F6F-3) and for the first time, the Hellcat Mk.II (F6F-5). At first glance, you might think that there are two identical kits in this box, but the differences are in the details. Let's take a look:

First, as with their first release, Eduard's Hellcat kit is molded in a gray-green styrene and presented on nine parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts. The kit is rounded out with two frets of color-printed photo-etch parts for the cockpits, and two frets of photo-etch for the external details. Yellow-tape paint masks are also included.

If you look at the first two photos, you can see the upper photo has the rear window cut-out molded into the fuselage halves for the Hellcat Mk.I/F6F-3 and bulges in the cowlings for the exhaust stacks. The second photo shows these parts to be the Hellcat Mk.II/F6F-5 as the rear window and exhaust bulges have been deleted, just as with the full-scale aircraft.

The third photo shows the wings and these are identical to the first kit, but not so fast. The second set of wings included in the kit have a number of inspection panels on the underside of the outboard wing panels deleted and a large removable panel in its place. These details are small and subtle, so while we didn't image the second set of wings, know that Eduard does capture these subtle details in this release.

The next two sets of trees are common to both kits and contain the engines, propellers, landing gear, gear doors, basic cockpit details, etc.

The last tree is new and applied only to the Hellcat Mk.II. It has two different types of air-to-ground rockets reproduced here with separately molded tail fins.

The clears are also common to the first release and have two sets of canopies, one fitted to be posed closed, the other for an open canopy.

The photo-etch has been redone since the last release. The first fret has the color-printed details for the Hellcat Mk.I/F6F-3 and while the main instrument panel is the same, the left console has been re-engineered and has a completely new throttle quadrant as well. Even the seatbelts and shoulder harnesses are different. The second fret is similar to the first, but if you look closer, the main instrument panel is revised to reflect the changes in the instrument layout for the F6F-5 and Hellcat Mk.II.

Finally the last two photo-etch frets have been revised, and while there are more parts on these frets than on the first release of this kit, many of these parts were relocated here from the color-printed fret as that one received quite a few new parts to cover the engineering changes made to the Hellcat series and reflected in this two kits.

Markings are provided for six aircraft:

  • Hellcat Mk.I, JV132, E-F, 800 Sqn, FAA, HMS Emperor, May 1944, as flown by Lt. Blythe Ritchie
  • Hellcat Mk.I, JV131, E-L, 800 Sqn, FAA, HMS Emperor, June 1944
  • Hellcat Mk.I, FN430, 6-R, 1844 Sqn, FAA, HMS Indomitable, August 1944, as flown by P/O Hannay
  • Hellcat Mk.II, JX814, W-132, 1844 Sqn, FAA, HMS Indomitable, April 1945, as flown by Sub Lieutenant WMC Foster
  • Hellcat Mk.II, JZ796, C7-X, 808 Sqn, FAA, HMS Khedive, 1945, as flown by Sub Lieutenant Oscar Lorenzo
  • Hellcat Mk.II, JZ935, W-145, 1839 Sqn, FAA, HMS Indomitable, April 1945, as flown by Sub Lieutenant TB Speak

We've posted the common FAA camouflage scheme used by most of the subjects in this kit along with the available paints that correspond to the Gunze Sangyo colors listed in the Eduard profile.

Eduard has turned out another masterpiece and will not be as intense a build as their super-detailed Fw 190, yet it will not leave much room for improvement unless you opt to open up the gun bays, fold the wings, or unbutton the cowling. Don't worry, I am sure those options will come along in the aftermarket soon enough.

If you'll recall, the original F6F-3 release had an MSRP of $39.95, and this one has an MSRP of $49.95. For $10 more, you get TWO Hellcats and one of them is the F6F-5/Hellcat Mk.II that has not been released individually yet. This kit is quite a bargain for what you're getting in this box!

My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!