Royal Navy versions of American WW2 carrier aircraft are seldom released by the major kit manufacturers. If you're lucky, there might be an occasional set of extra markings thrown in, almost as an afterthought, but fans of FAA aircraft have traditionally grown used to feeling rather like the the poor relations at a party. So, Eduard's follow up to their hugely successful F6F-3 Hellcat is all the more welcome as it's dedicated to Royal Navy aircraft - and not only that - it's a Dual Combo introducing new parts to allow modellers to build both a Hellcat Mk I (F6F-3) and Hellcat Mk II (F6F-5)!
The kit arrives in a large, attractive box with the sprues and accessories bagged separately for protection. The box is chock-full of sprues, for a total of:
237 x light olive styrene parts
34 x clear styrene parts
208 x etched metal parts
A set of painting masks
Decals for 6 x colour schemes
As you'd expect, the bulk of the parts are shared with the original release. The moulding is excellent, with crisp details and no sign of flash. click HERE
for a full Review of Eduard's F6F-3.
The big change is the inclusion of two new sprues. The first has the fuselage and cowlings for the F6F-5 (Hellcat Mk II). The second has a set of 2.75 in. and 5 in. rockets mounted on zero-length launchers. The rockets feature separate tails and, although the fins could do with a little thinning, it's good to see them set at the correct X angle. The original bombs and drop tank are still included a very comprehensive set of Hellcat stores.
Although the F6F-3 kit was designed to be less complicated than some earlier Eduard models, it was still a minor surprise that the etched fret was rather limited. Well, Eduard have added new items here, so the frets now include cockpit side consoles and throttle, along with other parts like the trim wheel and ocument case. The pre-printing is superb, as usual, and it's also good to see a more representative Cockpit Green used this time (the colour on the old fret was more akin to Chromate Yellow).
Instructions & Decals
The instructions take the form of a 20-page A-4 booklet. The assembly diagrams are very clear and colour-shaded to show attachment points and where styrene parts must be modified to fit etched alternatives.
There are two full-page stencilling guides for the Mk I and Mk II, plus full-colour artwork for the 6 schemes offered:
1. Hellcat Mk.I, s/n JV132, Lt. Blythe Ritchie, 800 Sqn. FAA, HMS Emperor, May 8 1944
2. Hellcat Mk.I, s/n JV131, 800 Sqn. FAA, HMS Emperor, June 1944
3. Hellcat Mk.I, s/n FN430, P/O Hannay, 1844 Sqn. FAA, HMS Indomitable, August 24 1944
4. Hellcat Mk.II, s/n JX814, Sub.Lt. W.M.C. Foster, 1844 Sqn. FAA, HMS Indomitable, Okinawa, April 12 1945
5. Hellcat Mk.II, s/n JZ796, Sub.Lt. Oscar Lorenzo, 808 Sqn. FAA, HMS Khedive and HMS Trincomalee, Ceylon, 1945
6. Hellcat Mk.II, s/n JZ935, Sub.Lt. T.B. Speak, 1839 Sqn. FAA, HMS Indomitable, Okinawa, April 5 1945
Also included is a separate sheet of comprehensive stencils for both airframes and the rockets.
The decals are beautifully printed. They are thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. Register is spot-on in the review sample and the colours look good, with a nice dull Roundel Red.
Eduard's Royal Navy Hellcat combo is a very exciting release all 'round because it introduces new parts and an expanded etched set. US Navy F6F-5s are bound to be on the way from Eduard but, for those who can't wait, aftermarket decals are widely available - and with two full kits for only 2/3 the price of a pair bought separately, this is excellent value for money - whatever nationality you wish to build. Highly recommended.