1/48 Hasegawa “Year of the Cat” F6F-5K Hellcat “Target Tow / Drone “
Here she is in all her glory… hot off the work bench.
This one was built as one of four F6F Hellcats that I was building at the same time in our “Year of the Cat” Group Build.
I wanted to build something different, so I chose different schemes that you normally don’t see built. I also wanted some with color. The “Target Tow” version fit the bill nicely.
Once I chose to build this particular type of paint scheme, it was brought to my attention by George Henderson and Dan DeSilva, that some of these planes had wing tip modifications done to them. Up until this point I was not aware of the modifications done…
Thanks guys for the heads up !
On the real planes, fuel tanks were sometimes added, being built as part of the wing tip, along with the associated vent and piping lines. To top it off, these Target Tow / Drone planes also occasionally had the tail wheel strut extended. The extension made it so that the tail wheel was no longer retractable.
This was something I had not noticed before. George was even kind enough to post a few pictures for me. Here’s one he provided that clearly shows the modifications. Look close in this photo below and you will see what we are talking about
Hasegawa was notorious for including decals with their kits where the white colors were actually off white, almost a cream color. This came into play later during the build, when I decided that I would build a plane other than the number #15 (which was provided by the kit decals). More on that later…
Plane #15 had the wing tip mods done when this picture was taken that George so kindly provided for me. As he pointed out, it is possible that the plane was modified prior to the picture, so a standard Hellcat wing tip may have been possible earlier in it’s career.
Now the hunt was on to find another picture or two that showed Target Tow / Drone planes without these modifications done…
It just so happened that I found these pictures in my Ginter F6F Hellcat book.
These photos show a nice side view of a drone plane that did not have an extended tail wheel, and it also appears to have the standard wing tips… BINGO ! We have a winner.
Here’s a picture of my build in a similar pose:
In this picture you can see there are several Hellcat planes getting ready for take off. Plane #7 is getting ready to clear the deck… Number #6 is getting ready to taxi into position on the right side catapult. A pilot is clearly visible in the cockpit of this plane.
These photos were taken just before the Cease Fire was signed for the Korean War. Not may people know this, but F6F Hellcats were used as flying bombs during the Korean War. A few successful hits were made on several targets using the planes in this manner.
On to the build… Here’s a link to where I constructed the four F6F’s. I have one more plane left to complete. It’s almost done now.
This model was built with a minor change. I used an aftermarket resin cowling in place of the kit supplied part. There has been some grumbling that Hasegawa got the look of the Hellcat “grin” wrong. I have had access to an actual F6F undergoing restoration and it is off some. But I can live with the kit provided parts too, as they are acceptable to me.
The choice is up to you if you decide to build one of these… Here’s a close up of the resin cowling as viewed from the front.
The replacement resin cowl also has the cooling flaps posed in the open position. This adds a little more details to the nose of the plane.
I had a minor fiasco when the canopy fogged during the painting process. Luckily I was able to salvage it and it actually turned out quite nice after a few dips in some Future… Here you can see the kit supplied cockpit as viewed through the kit’s canopy after the Future treatment.
The plane I chose to depict was number #5. I picked this number because I was afraid that if I used a different number from the decal stash, it would not match the off white Hasegawa provided decals. So I simply removed the number #1 that was ahead of the 5 and went with it.
The planes in the carrier take off photo as well as the side view picture look to me as if they all had short tail wheels. They also don’t appear to have the top of the forward fuselage painted as an anti glare panel. This was most often done using flat black paint. I chose not to replicate this on my build. If I happen to come across a picture in the future that shows this on a number 5 plane I can go back and add it at a later date.
I also chose not to add the small unit designator numbers for “VU-3” that was displayed on the sides of the rear fuselage. I didn’t want a true white colored decal to be closely displayed to the off white decals from the kit. It would have probably been very noticeable. The Bureau Number on the side is also not 100 percent correct. It is for a F6F-5K drone, but not for number 5…
One other thing I noticed in the original photos is the landing gear and main wheels. They appear to be darker. They could be painted in “Engine Gray” or Gloss “Sea Blue”… The wheels could simply be dirty from brake dust and grime too…it’s hard to know for sure.
Number #11 in the original picture also appears to have something mounted under the wing, inboard of the under wing rocket mounting stubs. This is something that you normally don’t see on Drone planes as the armaments were normally removed. I filled in the gun ports on the leading edge of the wing to duplicate the look of having the weapons removed.
I’ll call this artistic license.
Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed building these Hasegawa ‘Cats. They look pretty good once completed and are not too fiddly…
I hope you have enjoyed looking at this one…
“Comments are Encouraged”.
19 additional images. Click to enlarge.