F6F Hellcat – 1:32 Hasegawa
First, let me say this—I originally wanted to title this post, “To Hell with this F6!” But, thought our web site benefactors wouldn’t appreciate it. However, my fellow builders, this kit was anything but fun.
Maybe its because I’ve been distracted and forgot some of the golden rules of model building, or maybe just maybe its because this kit is a SOB?
So, this build took longer than usual because, hey, after all we have lives…right? At any rate, I purchased this kit on the cheap because I really didn’t have any attachment to the Hellcat until I found Lt (jg) Alexander Vraciu. After reading about his exploits and his “Ace in a day” service as part of the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”, I knew I had to build one in his honor.
There aren’t many options for Hellcats at 1:32, so I opted for the cheaper of the two manufacturers. Believe me, chose the Trumpeter if you want to build an F6 in 1:32. (See Paul Teixeira’s build here)).
BTW- Paul makes me look like an amateur with any kit.
According to rumor (and some investigation) this kit originated in the late 70s. I buy that, this thing is wrought with vintage kit thinking. The cockpit is a joke. The pilot is so laughable, you will almost pee your pants when you see it in the tree. So, what do you do? Solider on! After night searching out various upgrades for the kit, I decided, “No. Just use this build to play with some scratch-build techniques”. I’ve never been brave enough to do any scratch-building on a high $$$ kit for fear I’d screw it up.
I decided that I wanted to build this warbird in flight, so I started by finding some 1:4” acrylic rods to mount the plane to base. I scratch-built the rod holder with an old ball-point pen barrel. Make-shifted some interior bracing and it worked. Except for the fact that I wanted to use the drop-tank (which didn’t even come close to fitting), so the mounting hole is a little too far back so I bent the acrylic to bring the nose up. Also, this kit was never meant to be built in flight, which you find out when you try to fit the tires into the wing bays. I used only the outer half of the tires in the kit. Then they fit. Seriously…
I really didn’t care how bad the cockpit interior was since it would be closed up with a pilot behind the controls. I cannibalized a PTO pilot from another kit to serve as Lt. Alex Vraciu. Believe me friends—the cockpit is a major laugh-fest. Maybe, maybe it’s some sort of controls, but defiantly not a F6. I did, however, add a sun-shade to the top of the instrument panel. You can see this in-theater addition in this photo.
Masking the cockpit glass was an exercise in patience. Which I failed—twice. There are no wing navigation lights, so I build those out of the handles of clear plastic spoons. Shaped them and painted the interior blue & red.
Once the entire thing was painted I just wanted to be done with it. And here is where I forgot one of the golden rules of modeling—place all the little decals first, then the big national markings. Nope, forgot that completely and had to micro-sol the major roundels off each side of the plane so the “step here” black markings could be located correctly. Therapeutic? Not at all. I can’t tell you how many time I wanted to pitch his thing out the window of my office and see if it could really fly.
The best thing I have to say about this kit—the plastic is really thick.
Ok, rant over. Here I present to you my version of Lt. Alex Vraciu’s, White No. 19 Hellcat of Fighting Squadron 6. Given the chance to build one—build the Trumpeter version (you’ll thank me). That’s all folks. I look forward to your comments. Keep building!
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.