Hasegawa 1/48 “Year of the Cat” F6F-5 Hellcat, the first U.S. Navy Blue Angels plane
Tonight’s presentation is hot of the work bench. It is the second completed build for this year, (but most of the work was done last year…).
I have been building a set of four Hasegawa F6F Hellcats as part of our current “Year of the Cat” Group Build. Here is a link to the build log on the planes if you are interested in checking it out.
This is the second Hellcat of the four F6F’s that have now been completed…
A few nights ago I posted an article about the NAS Daytona Beach Hellcat. Here’s a link for it too just in case…
The Blue Angels were started back in April 24th,1946, shortly after the end of World War Two. Admiral Nimitz ordered the Chief of Naval Training at NAS Jacksonville to put together a flight demonstration team.
Lieutenant Commander Roy M. “Butch” Vorhis was the Chief Flight Instructor of the Instructor Advanced Training Unit stationed at Jacksonville NAS. He was picked to organize and develop the new team.
Here is a picture of the very first Blue Angels team. This original photo is in the Ginter book on F6F Hellcats and is credited to the USN.
The captioning below the photo in the book reads as follows:
“the first team, left-to-right: LT Al Taddeo, LTJG Gale Stouse, LCDR “Butch” Vorhis, LT Maurice Wickendoll, and LT Mel Cassidy. (USN)”
Here I tried to capture the look of the Hellcat in the background of the Group photo. If you look closely at the original picture, the spinner hub is dark, possibly painted in dark blue or black in the original picture. I chose to leave mine in a natural metal color as seen in the in flight formation photo. This picture could support the story that two sets of planes were used…
The Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat was chosen as the plane the demonstration team would use. Unfortunately, the plane was not used for very long as the newer Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat would soon replace it after only a few months. The Bearcat would be operated by the “Blue’s” starting in August of the same year.
Another little interesting bit of information is that during this time, the Blue Angels were simply known as the “Flight Exhibition Team”. They were not called the “Blue Angels” until 1947, when they were officially renamed to what we know them as today.
Since the Hellcats were only used for a few months, not too many original era photographs are known to exist today. However I did manage to find a few. This picture shows three of the planes in formation. This is claimed to be the very first “Official” picture of the Team.
There were supposedly two sets of planes used by the team.
Some sources state the planes were painted in a slight variation with different style of lettering used on each set. Since there is so little documentation, this model is built as a “best guess” estimation as to how they could have looked.
Here is another photo I found that shows one of the Team taxiing out for the very first air show, which was given at Craig Municipal Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 15th, 1946.
and a picture I took of my model, using the black and white filter to see how close I came to the original picture.
along with the same picture in color before going to the black and white shades.
There is some controversy surrounding the style and color of markings. Some sources state the planes didn’t have the US NAVY letters under the wing on the Hellcats. I managed to find a picture that was enhanced by the author showing how the letters may have been.
I was fortunate enough to have our fellow Imodlers help with information on this build. Allan J Withers was kind enough to post pictures for me of his Blue Angels Hellcat.
Jim Sullivan was kind enough to share some pictures with me and his personal thoughts on the colors of the letters used on these planes.
Thanks Guys ! Without your help this one would not have been as accurate… 🙂
This is a great website and we are very fortunate to have some fantastic persons here…
The current consensus on the colors used is that US Insignia Blue FS 15044 was “probably” used on the original Hellcats. Currently Model Master only offers this color in a “Flat” sheen. It’s not glossy at all, so a lot of clear will be required to make it shine if you use this color… If memory serves me, I had three coats of Future and some wet sanding with 2000 grit wet or dry paper in between coats.
Years later when Butch Vorhis was interviewed, he stated that they had the planes repainted in a lighter shade of blue. He added that it was a color that was no longer used by the US Navy. Since the US Navy went over to an overall Glossy Sea Blue finish on it’s planes, the “Insignia Blue” was no longer needed as a back ground color on the US Star Insignias. It is possible that “True Blue” may have been used, but I think that it’s way too light …
In his interview, Butch Vorhis was asked why they didn’t take more pictures of the planes. He replied something like this… “At that time, we were busy trying to get the team together and the flight demonstration figured out. We never knew it would become something as big as it is.” So this would explain the lack of photos…
Currently the “Blues” use FS 15050 which is appropriately called “Blue Angels Blue”.
Similar controversy exists on the colors of the letters and numbers used on the original Hellcats as part of the “Flight Demonstration Team”.
Some sources indicate that actual Gold Leaf was used, while others stated a color very similar to “Insignia Yellow” was used. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone knows for sure…
So I went with Jim Sullivan’s recommendations and went somewhere in the middle with this. I used the decals produced by a company called “Bestfong”. They were OK and came with a separate white set of decals to use as an underlayment for the yellow.
I opted not to use the white and simply placed the yellow decals directly over the blue back ground.
The Blue Angels Hellcats had several modifications done to them. From what I have read, the armor plating, all weapons, and the gun sight were removed. They had the leading edge openings for the .050 caliber machine guns faired over. My best guess is that the empty shell casing ejector chutes under the wings were covered as well.
This Hasegawa kit was a very nice build. I ran into a few self induced hiccups though. I fogged the canopy for one… I’ll call that operator error / head space and timing problem.
Two more Hellcats to go… and they should be done soon.
A great big “Thank You” goes out to Jim Sullivan and Allan Withers… and to those who have made comments encouraging me along the way during these multiple builds.
As usual, comments are encouraged.
23 additional images. Click to enlarge.