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Chuck A. Villanueva
122 articles

1/48th Hasegawa F6F-3 Hellcat USN PTO WWII

December 17, 2016 · in Aviation · · 24 · 2.1K

Late in the mini informal GB, is one that I built when the kit was relatively new from . Around 1997 I built this one back in the day when the world wide web was still growing. The days when Fine Scale Modeler, Scale Modeler and SAM magazines were the go to sources for me to read about scale modeling. ARC, Modeling Madness, Hyperscale were just in their infancy and I wasn't aware of them if they even existed yet. So any reviews came from what I read. At the time Hasegawa was state of the art. No one at the time mentioned if the cowl was wrong or any other critique of Hase's Hellcat, this I learned long after it was built. The day of Verlinden resin, True Details, Airwaves aftermarket bits were available. Black Box, Kendall were just growing, Eduards was just getting started with their PE as well. The new kids on the block was Meteor productions with Cutting Edge. A little history of modeling in the 90's. Aeromaster was in their stride with decals, a series of paint in Acylic and enamel and working with Kendall resin aftermarket cockpits and other enhancements. One of the offerings I had to have is AeroMaster's special series of decals they introduced was The US Navy/Marines Top Gun's of WWII. (SP48-08). A set of decals that had Corsairs, Hellcats and Wildcats that operated in the Pacific Theatre. The set came with a manual which also included a history and bio of the pilots that flew the aircraft in the decal set. As well as the marking and painting guide for each aircraft represented. Similar to many respects to Victories Spitfire decal series that was released recently. AeroMaster would later do a similar decal series for the Japanese aircraft which I missed. As both sets were not produced for very long. Beside unfortunately AeroMaster went out soon after.

The Hellcat is the 8th aircraft in the set, it was flown by Lt jg Alexander Vraciu, 19 June 1944, now records show he did not fly his personal Hellcat Modex 32, but that even #13 shown here as well is not totally verified either. As after battle reports would note the BuNo but not the side number of the aircraft. According to the report this is the aircraft he most likely flew on this day, shooting down 6 Judys during the Mariana's "Turkey Shoot". Flying with VF-16 at the time off the USS Lexington. Other than the decals, it is all OOB, paint used all AeroMaster Warbird acrylics, Dark Sea Blue, Intermediate Blue over White. Scheme painted free hand with my trusty Paasche H airbrush. I had envisioned building every single aircraft listed on this set. So far this is the only one. Though with surprisingly only 2 other Hellcat in the stash, at least I have several Corsairs that I can use. But will need to pick up some more Hellcats and Wildcats to complete this endeavour. Thanks for viewing, Fly Navy

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24 responses

  1. Can't have too many Hellcats, Chuck...thanks for sharing.

  2. Very fine Hellcat Chuck, I've always liked that Hasegawa kit. Hard to beat a good tri-color paint scheme.

  3. Nice looking cat Chuck, that cat was a fun build for me as well. Question. What happened to the antenna mast?

  4. Beootiful Cat.
    I too for years used the Paasche H exclusively. Been messing with all kinds of other sprayers over the years, but just picked up an Iwata Neo I got half price with a Micheal's coupon. Wow. Smooth trigger, great spray down to pencil lines and easy cleaning. It is a Chinese made item packaged with Iwata's brand on it, but it works real good.

    • I'm still an Paasche-H painter, 45 years. You can get it down to pencil lines with a #1 tip and proper thinning.

    • First airbrush I ever used was the H, I have tried others, Badger even a Paasche dual action, but never felt comfortable with the others. This is the 2nd one I have owned. Tom is correct, you can can get it down to pencil width lines. Not to say the others are better or equal, just my choice.

  5. Yeah, Alex got to be "top scoring Navy ace in a single mission" for a whole 19 minutes - until Dave McCampell shot down 7 Judys. Of all the aces I met, he qualifies for "Nicest guy." But you also knew you'd never want to disappoint him.

    Nice work from back when modeling was easy - you could build it and like it without having to OCD yourself.

    Modeling Madness, BTW, got started in 1996. 20 years this past summer. It was five interlocked 10MB "websites" on AOL's personal websites. Now a single picture that gets published there is 20x the size of the whole original.

  6. Another nice add to the lineup of Hellcats!

    • Thanks Greg, it's a wonder I haven't built another since then. As I do have another one in the stash. Scratch that actually I did start a Monogram Hellcat come to think of it. Totally forgot about it.

  7. Congrats to this fine Hellcat, Chuck !

  8. Nice looking Hellcat, Chuck, and I really enjoyed your write-up and the comments that followed it.

  9. From another Paasche H user, that looks very nice! I've painted almost 50 models with my Model H; they are a true workhorse and haven't changed much since the 1930s. Great article Chuck! 🙂

    • True that Gary, simple to use,easy to clean, just keep in mind how the weather is when to paint. Ok when in humidity as I spent a year in New England water trap comes in handy. Not so well when temp falls under 60. To cold to paint anything

      • I've fought the fight with high humidity here in central Texas. No moisture trap that I used helped that much; I remember waiting for the humidity to fall so I could paint a model. Then, I leased a CO2 tank; problem solved- no noise, no moisture...I've never looked back either!

  10. Your Hellcat is fantastic ! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    About 10 years ago I met a F6F pilot who flew with Vraciu in VF-16. He said that when he was on the Lexington, he routinely flew a Hellcat numbered 13 on the side. (claimed it was a lucky plane). He even claimed a zero kill flying number 13 during the "Turkey Shoot". It was his only victory.

    I wish I had access to his log books so I could get the bureau number. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago. His name was Arthur Payne Whiteway.

    I'm not saying that Vraciu didn't fly this plane on this day, since it's possible that the plane flew several sorties during the day. Someday I plan on building a #13 as a remembrance to my friend.

    Outstanding job Sir !

  11. Thats an amazing story Louis, to actually meet a squadron mate who flew with Vraciu. First hand account of one of many pilots that flew in combat, you don't hear of their stories. Not everyone can be an ace. But they were just as important as anyone who flew in combat. Thanks for sharing that bit. I would love to see that photo. Personally I do not toot my own horn, but every medal and honor I earned being in the Navy was not about me, but the men I served with. In my heart if it wasn't for them I was just another sailor. I am honored to have served with those men and woman and those who served long before I even thought of donning Navy blue.

    • I'll send you a PM about the picture and I'll include a link to his obituary where they tell of his WW2 Hellcat experiences with VF-16. He was a really great guy. Too bad he's gone. Unfortunately for us, time marches on and takes these people with them when it's their time.

      I feel the same way about my military awards with my fellow Army vets. Believe me, I totally understand your thoughts and feelings on this.

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