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Matt Minnichsoffer
21 articles

F6F Hellcat – 1:32 Hasegawa

October 27, 2018 · in Aviation · · 19 Comments

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 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.

The Build

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.

19 responses

  1. Seriously, Matt, I love this. I much prefer the kits that fight you all the way, teach you some lessons, and leave you feeling (as I’m sure you do) that you are a better modeller for taking on a challenge.

    I can feel your pain. Paul Barber @yellow10 will tell you a story about a Ju88 (in 1/32) that I almost made. It still haunts me, but I learned a lot, about myself and modelling.

    Beautiful Hellcat, Matt. Well done, sir.

  2. Well...despite all the negativity (imagined or otherwise), this build looks top-notch from where I'M sittin'. I think you've done an outstanding piece of modeling with this kit. I like it!

  3. Matt, I've seen lots of Hellcats on this site (Paul's, Louis', others'...), and loved them all. Maybe it's the angst and frustration, but I simply love your treatment of this subject and you've done a fabulous job. It looks like a real warrior, victorious and battle-worn. Kudos, friend, and well done. Makes me want to build one!

  4. Appreciate all your comments and support fellas. I'm building another on of these some day, but next up is a Jug.


  5. Well the Hasegawa kit does have a saving grace ...its fuselage cross section is better than the Trumpeter kit. TC 's write up ; " I did a more extensive study of the Trumpeter Hellcat, and I have to report that there is something wrong about the kit. Whether this is a “deal breaker” is for the modeler to decide, but here it is: somehow, Trumpeter has gotten the cross section of the fuselage around the cockpit and for about one-third of the distance from the cockpit to the vertical fin wrong. It is too fat, too wide, and the result is that in this area of upper fuselage just aft of the cockpit the sides of the fuselage curve outwards in a way that is very “un-Hellcat-like.” In side profile the model looks all right, but in head-on profile, the cross section is completely wrong, as it is not the flat-sided upper fuselage associated with the Hellcat. This makes it look “squat” in a way the Hellcat just doesn't do. I have reviewed every photo I have of Hellcats, including some photos I have taken of the two Hellcats out at Chino, and from the 4 o'clock or 8 o'clock positions, this “fatness” that can be so clearly seen in the model from those angles is nowhere to be seen on the real thing." He does have a solution for pushing in the sides of the kits fuselage to better represent the cross section.

    If your looking to make a better representation of a "Hellcat" it maybe easier to use the Hasegawa fuselage or pieces of it and combine it with the Trumpeter kit. Which is a rather expensive proposition. My point there, is no perfect kit out there. Modeling skill,elbow grease,grit and determination are the order of the day.

    Given the lump of clay that you have with the Hasegawa kit ...Matt your "Hellcat" still plays the role of Alexander Vraciu bird very well there is no mistaking it for any other pilots aircraft. Two thumbs up.

  6. Looks like you got past the nasty stuff just fine, Matt. Good looking model!

    I feel your pain. There's a Monogram Mustang on the shelf that nearly flew into the garbage can a time or three...

  7. Excellent work on this Hellcat Matt.

    It looks great and I "liked" the article too. You conquered the Cat. I really like the choice of markings too.

    I would venture to say that most of us here on Imodeler have experienced this sort of anguish at one time or another.

    Right now I have an AMT A-20 Havoc and a 1/35 King Tiger tank sitting on the "shelf of doom" for similar reasons. Some time you just have to walk away and count to ten. Or several years in my case of the A-20.

    Well done my friend.

  8. Nice building. Nicely arranged.

  9. Matt, thanx for the plug! BTW very very nice build. You nailed it. Great in flight presentation. Love the pilot figure. Great overall weathering and finish. You know me I love a dirty airplane. Sorry you had such a crappy time building. I remember this kit from my childhood...I'm sure back then I just slapped it together and painted it blue and then played with it for hours. Loved the Hellcat ever since. Give the Trumpeter build an opportunity. You can find it online very cheap.

  10. You've one the battle, looks great!

  11. Nice work. I don't do alot of 1/32 kits, but I do have that one in the stash. After seeing Trumpeter Hellcats built up, I decided Hasegawa with an aftermarket cockpit is the way to go. Are those Techmod decals that you used?

  12. Looks excellent! I think about half my modeling projects end up with a list of travails to be overcome - not the least of which is wheels and gear doors that don't fit in the closed position, since all of my builds are wheels-up! Par for the course for me...

    Anyway - you ended up with a marvelous looking Hellcat. Well done.

  13. Great work on an older kit.

    Now try the 1/32 Revell P-47D bubbletop. That kit gave me an 'uh-oh' moment when I opened one up not too long ago.

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