The USS Princeton (CVL-23) was lost on October 24th, 1944 at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. A single bomb hit the aft elevator and ignited several ‘locked and loaded’ Avengers, causing a huge inferno. At the time, eight F6Fs based on Princeton were on patrol and engaged around 80 Japanese planes; horrible odds, and despite their heroism their home ship was lost and the group dispersed amongst other carriers.
The ‘Catmouth’ Hellcats.
My plan is to build a diorama with two Cats on board the USS Essex, where several VF 27 kites landed shortly after the Princeton was lost. This build will give me the chance to model a bird from the Fighting 27 and another of my favourite air groups, Essex’s own Carrier Air Group 15 (if you haven’t read Tom Cleaver’s great book, ‘The Fabled 15’ then you are missing a treat).
After landing on the Essex, Admiral Sherman was so incensed by the nose art of the 27th’s Hellcats that he ordered the planes to be repainted that very night. So the build will showcase the very last moments of those infamous Fighting 27 Catmouths.
The Grumman assembly line…
I’ve never built two of the same kits simultaneously before (albeit different manufacturers) and it will give a great chance to appreciate their relative merits. I shamelessly ripped this idea from fellow iModeler, Louis (hi Louis).
After the attrition of my last build (an ancient Revell P38) I chose two easy builds, the Eduard 1/48 Hellcat (weekend edition) and the (rather infamous) HobbyBoss F6F5.
After just a weekend I have almost got to the stage where I’m ready to button up the fuselages and so far it’s been nice and easy with both kits.
The photo of the Hellcat (above) comes from the incredible book, ‘The Great Book of World War II Airplanes’ illustrated by the amazing Rikyu Watanabe. This book is as close to modeler’s heaven as it is possible to get. It is huge, crammed with unbelievable technical drawings, more detail than you could dream of, and beautifully painted colour schemes. Also full of historically accurate and passionate love of history, it’s a must have (this is less a build in progress and becoming more of a book review…)
Although the photo below is of the USS Yorktown, I couldn’t resist adding it as a great example of the gorgeous drawings in the book.