Minicraft/Academy F6F-5 Hellcat
Minicraft/Academy's (hereafter referred to as Minicraft in the interest of brevity) Hellcat is a very nice little piece of modern high quality tooling. The panel lines are crisp and recessed, the canopy is crystal clear, and the cockpit looks good with only a set of belts added, though the instrument panel is represented by a decal only. The kit even includes clear parts for the lights along the spine. The main flaw that I could spot is the overly blunt leading and trailing edges on all the tail surfaces. As well, the kit representation of the wing guns look more like 30 mm cannon than 50 cal machine guns. Incidentally, the kit comes with the armament of six wing guns, but could easily be modified to a four cannon a/c. Some bulbous rockets are provided, but I used chunks of plastic to represent the mounting points instead. A centreline fuel tank is included, along with 500 lb bombs, neither of which I chose to use. The straps for the fuel tank appear overscale. I added anti-sway braces to the bomb pylons. Fit was excellent, with minimal filling required.
Decals for a Hellcat are available on Carpena's Indochina 1er Partie sheet (from Flotille 11F) and Model Art sheet 72/026 (Flotilles 1F & 12F), but I modelled a minimally marked aircraft using decals from the spares box. The aircraft is one depicted in Squadron-Signal's VNAF book. The Heller cocardes I used were too thick to conform to the recessed detail. I tried something a little different for the finish- after an overall coat of gloss sea blue, I mixed in a little white and with my airbrush at its minimum setting I sprayed the centres of all the panels and the fuselage sections. The result looked pretty good, and it also deadened the gloss realistically.
For an in-depth look at the Hellcat in French service, see the Avions special edition on Grumman fighters.
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