Hellcat Mk I Weekend Edition

Published: October 16th, 2017     
Product Image
Box art
Reviewed by: 
Rob Booth, IPMS# 37548
Scale: 1/48
Company: Eduard
Price: $29.95
Product / Stock #: 8435

I already have Eduard's excellent F6F-3 Hellcat in US Navy markings in my growing stash waiting for my skills to catch up to the beauty of the kit. I am no expert on the Hellcat, so when Eduard announced their Royal Navy markings "Weekend" version of an already well received 1/48 version of this aircraft, I jumped at the chance to do a review build as a warm-up. The Hellcat's history is well known and extensively documented, so let's get on with impressions of this 1/48 scale plastic version.

This kit issue (#8435) is the identical mold tooling as Eduard's previous issue in other markings. The difference being the inclusion of the plastic sprues only, without the photo-etch, masks and/or resin included in their higher priced, more detailed offerings (which are now out of stock on Eduard's website).

Box cover art is Eduard's usual artist's impression of one of the kit's marking options, an OD/Ocean Gray over Sky example - s/n FN430, flown by P/O Haney of No. 1844 Squadron FAA, HMS Indomitable, Indian Ocean, August, 1944 and an example of the same camo scheme with Invasion Stripes - s/n JV105, No 800 Squadron FAA stationed aboard the HMS Emporer in the Agean Sea in September, 1944. I chose the former scheme for my build.

Upon opening the package, there are four sprues of Eduard's medium gray plastic in two sealed plastic pouches, and one clear sprue for windscreens, canopies and other clear parts in a separate plastic pouch. Also included is a beautifully printed markings decal sheet, a supplemental decal sheet of stencils, and Eduard's typical, clear, easy to follow pictorial instruction booklet. Excellent COLOR painting and decaling illustrations are included.

Surface detail on the plastic is finely rendered recessed engraving. A quick review of the individual sprues reveals crisp moldings and no flash. I made some quick side by side comparisons to equivalent parts from my US Navy version of Eduard's Hellcat, and the sprues are identical, albeit cast in a different color styrene.

I started work on the cockpit. I built the kit-supplied cockpit, and used the seat harnesses included on the decal sheet. Kit instructions are clear and detailed on assembly sequencing and color call outs.

Following cockpit assembly, I assembled the fuselage with the cockpit nestled in place, and then worked on the wing area. The instructions are clearly detailed as to the building sequence. I left the landing gear, gear doors and tiny actuators for later final assembly. The remainder of the kit was assembled per the instructions, and went together very quickly. I don't think I used any filler or putty anywhere on the kit. Just a few seams to be sanded here and there, and it was ready for paint. The wing root joins provide for a recessed insertion of the full wing assembly - a well-engineered fit sequence that requires nothing more than capillary action of liquid cement for a perfect fit and dihedral set.

I opted for the open canopy to allow visibility of the beautiful cockpit assembly. Before proceeding with painting, I made the decision to depict the aircraft in scheme #1 - s/n FN430, flown by P/O Haney of No. 1844 Squadron FAA, HMS Indomitable, Indian Ocean, August 1944. There are no invasion stripe decals included for the other scheme, so I went with the quicker painting option.

After masking the windscreen and canopy cover with Tamiya masking tape, I temporarily affixed the closed sliding canopy with some liquid masking medium, and proceeded to prime the airframe with Tamiya Primer. A few of days later, I shot a couple of coats of Vallejo Acrylic RAF Sky over the entire underside of the airframe. After curing for a couple of more days, I masked the lower surfaces and applied Vallejo Acrylic Ocean Gray to the upper surfaces. While this cured, I made a set of paper masks for the camouflage from scaled copies of the kit instructions. Using some temporary poster glue, I applied the appropriate masks in the areas to cover the gray, and sprayed Tamiya Olive Drab over the exposed areas. Removal of the masks after painting revealed the typical British camo pattern.

After a sealer coat of Pledge Future had cured, I applied the kit's decals and stencils, which performed perfectly after a touch of Micro Sol to settle them into the fine surface detailing. Full disclosure ... I bungled the port side "R" marking, allowing it to curl up inside itself into a decal blob before getting it onto the model surface. I found a white "R" that passed the "close enough" rule from another sheet in my spares stash. A final layer of Future to set the decals, and it was on to weathering.

I use thinned Windsor-Newton oils to pin-wash panel lines. There are plenty on this kit, and the contrast is realistically subtle. I went a little heavier on the engine and wheel well areas to replicate a suitably dirty aircraft stationed aboard a WWII carrier in a southern ocean. A coat of Vallejo Satin Clear toned down the shine for a realistic finish, and got the kit ready for final assembly and detailing.

The gear and wheels, tail hook, nav. lights and other small details were attached, and the model was done. Not exactly in a weekend, but not too far off. I spent about 15 hours total on assembling and painting this fine kit, not including set or dry time. If I did it again, I'd tweak the OD color a bit. My use of Tamiya OD straight from the bottle seems a little too dark and a little too brown. I'd prefer a lighter, greener version, but overall I am very pleased with the final outcome.

Very highly recommended, and a very reasonable price point at $29.95. Order from the Eduard website (you are a Bunny Fighter Club member to get your 20% discount, aren't you?) or your favorite hobby shop today. Thanks to the IPMS Reviewer Corps and Eduard for the opportunity to review this kit.

  • Back left quarter view
    Back left quarter view
  • Cockpit closeup
    Cockpit closeup
  • Decals
    Decals
  • Front right quarter view
    Front right quarter view
  • Front left quarter view
    Front left quarter view
  • Fuselage sprue
    Fuselage sprue
  • Painting guide
    Painting guide
  • Prop & engine
    Prop & engine
  • Top view
    Top view

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