Sam Publications has published another incredible reference work, this time on one of the mainstays of the navy's air power in the Pacific theater. Author Thomas M. Cleaver has put together a 175-page opus with just about every aspect of the Hellcat one could want. Whether you're a history buff, modeler, an aviation enthusiast or all of the above, this book will be a necessity for your files.
Sections on the aircraft in combat with the U.S. Navy and Foreign Service are profusely illustrated with photographs. A section of color profiles by artist Jim Laurier are beautifully done, and contributing modelers Dick Clark and Mario Serelle illustrate their building models of the Hellcat in three scales. There are specifications, lists of top-scoring aces and squadrons, and a section on "Kitography", listing what kits, decals, and accessories are available. Highly detailed scale drawings in 1/48 and 1/72 scales are provided, along with a chapter of walkaround close-up photography.
For me, one of the most useful sections is one of the appendices of the book, entitled "Understanding The Subject". Using drawings with explanatory arrows pointing out the differences and changes in the aircraft through its production run has already answered two or three questions a modeling friend and I had about the aircraft.
I suspect the author is first and foremost a modeler, since his comments in the section "What To Build" give him away when he refers to 1/72 as The One True Scale (in capital letters).
A great piece of work. My descriptions don't do it justice, and I recommend clicking on the SAM Publications URL because it brings up several pages from the book. Most highly recommended.
Thanks to SAM Publications Ltd., and thanks to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this fine effort.