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Louis Gardner
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Hellcat theme 1/48 Hasegawa F6F-5 David McCampbell

December 5, 2016 · in Aviation · · 18 · 2.4K

As a continuation of the recent themed articles, here's another one for your enjoyment tonight. This is "Minsi III", -5 bureau number 70143. This is the plane in which he scored the last 23.5 kills of his 34 total.

This is another one of my Hasegawa Hellcats, built as a tribute to David McCampbell, who was the US Navy's highest scoring Ace during WW2. He earned his wings of gold on April 21st, 1938.

Not many people know this, but McCampbell actually served as a LSO (landing signal officer) from May 1940 until the USS Wasp was sunk near Guadalcanal on Sept 12th, 1942. He went on to become a LSO instructor teaching at NAS Melbourne Florida until August 1943. The last picture is a color photo I found online that actually captured McCampbell as a LSO in action on board a carrier.

In September 1943 he started VF-15 and later in 1944 he was promoted to the rank of Commander. A few months after his promotion, he became the Commander Air Group "CAG" of Group 15. This placed him in charge of all aircraft (fighter, bombers and torpedo planes) on board the USS Essex.

He was credited with 34 victories and survived the War. This made him the highest scoring American "Ace" pilot to live past the end of the conflict. The other two pilots who scored more kills than him were both from the US Army and flew P-38's in the Pacific. (Richard Bong with 40 kills, and Thomas McGuire with 38), but that's another story...

McCampbell also set a record with shooting down 9 aircraft on a single mission on October 24th, 1944. Right afterwards he returned to the Essex, but couldn't land because the deck was full. So he landed on the USS Langley instead. As he attempted to taxi away from the arrestor cables, his Hellcat ran out of fuel and he had to be manually released from the cable. Later the armorers found that he only had two .050 caliber rounds left amongst the 6 wing mounted machine guns... Talk about a close call.

Previously that same year during the Marianas "Turkey Shoot" on June 19th, he became an "Ace in a Day" by shooting down 5 Japanese planes (all reportedly "Judy" dive bombers). Later that afternoon on another mission he downed two more Japanese planes. This time they were the A6M "Zero" type planes.

He is the only US Navy Ace to become "Ace in a Day" TWICE ! I guess that's one of the reasons they called the Hellcat the "Ace Maker". I'm not trying to take away from this accomplishment by any means. Instead my intentions are to simply compliment what a great plane the Iron Works built.

He was awarded the Nation's highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor for these two particular missions. Sadly he passed away on June 30th, 1996. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

I have included several photos of the man and his machine along with one of his tomb stone in Arlington.

There has been some controversy about the kill marking locations and where the name "Minsi" were located. Some have said it was on both sides, others stated it was simply the port side, and yet others stated it was definitely on the starboard side only...

There were 3 planes named "Minsi" (and one named Monsoon Maiden) that he flew and I think that may be part of the controversy. I'm sticking with what I have presented since these wartime pictures show everything is on the Starboard side. Now with that said, someone will produce a war time photo showing something different. To complicate matters even more, I know of at least one restored Hellcat that showed the kill markings and "Minsi" on the Port side. I really don't know what is correct to be 100 percent honest...

Looking back at this one, I would have painted the wheel wells overall glossy blue if I had it to do over again.

The plane was built pretty much right out of the box. I sprayed it using Model Master enamels using an Aztek air brush, and didn't weather it at all. I presume it would have been well taken care of considering it was after all the "Bosses plane". From looking at the color photo it does look pretty pristine.

I hope you enjoy this one...

As always, comments are encouraged.

Reader reactions:
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28 additional images. Click to enlarge.

18 responses

  1. Beautiful rendition and photography, Louis...interesting back story as well.

  2. A fine build and a fitting tribute. All these Hellcats.. the one in my stash is calling out to me.

    • Go for Robert ! You'll be happy you did... Then you can post some photos of your Hellcat here on I-modeler. Maybe we could do a group build thing? I'm game and have several to build... an Eduard, several more Hasegawa's and a Hobby Boss left in my stash.

      Thanks for the compliments buddy.

  3. Louis, that's a beautiful Hellcat! What a fine finish you achieved with that enamel too. Well done from a big enamel fan, she looks great; and the superb photos really show her off well. I enjoyed the history too; there is always more interesting stuff to learn about these jocks and the 'planes they flew! Talk about the right stuff, man, they had it.

    • Thanks Gary.

      The history of what we build is one of the things that I really enjoy about our hobby. It allows us to tell the story so these people are not "lost" to history. That's why I try to include a small history lesson with my articles if possible. It helps to bring the model "alive" in my opinion.

      Thanks for the kind words on my build my friend. I agree that these guys definitely had "The Right Stuff".

  4. Great story and build on the Hellcat Thanks for sharing The Hase F-6F builds quite nicely as I have built one way back in the 90's. But just not the plane but the aviators who flew them. Fly Navy

    • I'm glad you enjoyed the article Chuck.

      The Hasegawa is a nice one for building. If memory serves me correctly, I built mine around 2003 or 2004.

      I try to include stories of the men who flew the planes that I build models of. It makes the model more interesting if you know the stories behind the planes. (at least for me it does).

  5. Ooooooh shiny! A real beauty. Great story too.

    • Thanks Bill. The only addition I remember building on the kit was a stretched sprue antennae. It was a great one to build. Pretty much trouble free. The shine was achieved using "clear coat" from a rattle can.
      I'm glad you liked the story too...

  6. Louis, good looking cat, and the Hasegawa kit is still a wonderful kit that builds well. Nice work !

  7. Lovely Minsi, Louis !
    And a very good and interesting read. Great presentation.

  8. Another very nice Hellcat - with all the Hellcat posts lately, I may have to move one from the stash to the on-deck pile!

    • Go for it Greg. I'm going to be building another one soon as well. But I'm going to try and finish up a few started projects first. I also want to get cracking on the 1/48 Airfix Defiant as well.
      Thanks for the compliment.

  9. Nice work on my favorite Hellcat (wrote a book about him). One thing though: "glossy" in 1/48 becomes too glossy. to "scale effect", try Satin in 1/48 - you'll see what I mean if you look at the photos of the original.

    • I'll give it a try sometime and see how I like it. I have done that with some of my German 109's, since they sometimes waxed the planes. I followed your advice on building hints for my 1/48 SB2C Pro Modeler kit and more recently the Airfix P-40. You have been spot on so far. Thanks for the compliment. Did you ever get the chance to meet the Captain ?

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