Grumman F6F-3N Hellcat
This was my first US Navy aircraft, and it is the 1/48 Hobby Boss kit, built pretty much straight out of the box.
I really like Hobby Boss kits – they seem to have excellent detail and quality, but without the quirk of Trumpeter kits. This one is a good example – it wasn’t particularly expensive, but it was one of a choice of several Hellcat’s I could have chosen. The plastic is all good (much better than Airfix), and the moulding is crisp and very well defined, both on the grey plastic parts, and the minimal clear parts. The flaps etc are all nicely defined with just enough detail to keep it all interesting – the only thing I would have liked to have seen were some weighted wheels
The kit goes together very well – there were no problems, just follow the instructions using a mix of liquid and normal adhesive. Very little sanding or filling was required – even on the wings where I decided to have them unfolded. I can’t honestly remember what the folded wing options were like – but based on the Avenger I built later I suspect they would be fairly basic.
Another good feature of this kit is the way things like the guns, aeriels, bombs and drop tank went together. Often I find these quite frustrating – but here they were well formed and easy to apply. I even decided to drill out the gun barrels – which is something that my wife caught me doing once, and which very nearly caused her to give up and just leave me.
Painting & Decals
Painting was just a case of mixing the two tone ‘Marlin blues’ (I don’t know if that is actually what they are called – but it’s the way I always think of it). This all fades down into the lighter grey underneath, and all of this was airbrushed freehand – starting with the grey, then light blue, the the darker blue.
The cockpit was fairly basic, but painted up nicely – if you’re into heavy detail this may be one place you would want to get some aftermarket bits, as you actually see quite clearly into the cockpit with the large canopy and nice clear moulding. The biggest disappointment here were the little side windows behind the sliding canopy – these had a distinct edge round them where they were glued. I’m not sure if this was me being heavy handed, or just a design flaw – but take a bit more care yourself if you do this kit.
Decals went down very well and look painted on throughout – I just used a bit of Microsol as usual to help them settle.
I felt these planes would be pretty well cared for – so I didn’t do a lot of weathering. I laid some oils down to pick out the panel lines, and sprayed a fairly vigorous exhaust marking down the side of the plane. I was aiming for ‘heavily used but well cared for’ – and I think that worked pretty well.
All in all an excellent kit, and an easy and satisfying build. It didn’t take long to do – and there were no problems – so highly recommended.
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