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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 15:01 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
Posts: 4765
Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
This is the excellent Airfix 24th scale kit of the magnificent and highly successful Grumman Hellcat in its later F6F-5 form. This aircraft was the most successful fighter in terms of kills in the Pacific during WWII (google the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot for example). A true classic from the Grumman "iron works". Grumman had to replace their earlier F4F Wildcat which was outclassed by the Japanese zero and they came up with a beast of a plane powered by the marvellous P&W R-2800 Doubt Wasp engine giving 2,000hp. Another classic :D . The main users of the Hellcat were the US Navy and the British Fleet Air Arm in WWII. The French Aeronavale (Navy) used these later in the 50s in their war in Indochina (Vietnam).

Kit box art - I just love their red branding. Makes these kits stick out on the hobby shop racks...:

Image20210104_142452 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Kit colour schemes - 2 x US Navy (WWII), 1 x British FAA (WWII), 1 x French (Indochina) :

Image20210104_142624 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Image20210104_142612 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Image20210104_142531 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Image20210104_142541 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

So what about the kit ? Well, I'll say it's the best Airfix kit I've built by far. I've built quite a few of their recent new 48th scale releases which are simply wonderful to build. But this is to another level in terms of fit and detail. Some observations :
a) The "oil canning" effect of riveted airframe panels is amazingly replicated and lends a whole new 3D detail to the model. Under paint, the wavy panel lines are very perceptive but not overstated making it look the part. However, oddly enough, they missed this on the inner wing upper surfaces for the unfolded wing option. A minor design error... :?
b) The fit - the CAD on this kit is so accurately translated to the actual moulds and plastic that even a layer of paint on a mating surface can lead to fit issues. Scrape the paint off and the fit is spot on. That said, some parts need a liberal test fitting and scraping away of some excess plastic i.e. in the engine assembly. The fit is so precise that things like the individual exhaust pipes click firmly into place and don't require any glue. I used very little filler on this model.
c) No additional detail is required apart from the engine ignition harness (for which Airfix provides clear guidelines on how to install) and some minor tubing in the engine bay. The main wheels (tyre portion) could benefit from a single cast resin unit though...
d) Airfix have a nifty way of replicating seat belts in plastic. Very realistic indeed. Cockpit detail is exceptionally good.
e) Ailerons, elevators and rudders are all articulated, and not in a finicky Trumpeter manner. The trim tabs themselves are also articulated onto the relevant flying control surfaces. Flaps can be fitted in the extended or retracted position. Most images I've seen of Hellcats roosting show all control surfaces to be retracted or in neutral postion.
f) Option is provided to fold the wings. This is useful as this is one big model with wings spread.
g) Extensive undercarriage bay detail - most beautiful I've seen on any kit to date with the possible exception of the Tamiya 32nd F4FU Corsair.

Samples of the 71 page instruction booklet in the new Airfix style :

Image20210104_142707 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Image20210104_142638 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Image20210104_142656 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

The kit cost R2,550. Is it worth the price ? Absolutely (assuming you have the cash handy). You'll get many hours of pleasure assembling and painting this thing. I really enjoyed every aspect of the build.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 15:25 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
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Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
I decided to do mine in the three tone British Fleet Air Arm (FAA) colour scheme - I have a Tamiya 32nd F4U Corsair which will be done in single colour dark sea blue. One is enough....

This scheme is described as dark sea grey and dark slate grey uppers and duck egg blue (sky) lowers. I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out the exact matches for these upper surface colours. Internet searches on other model websites only created confusion with many differing colour mixes proposed, none of which looked correct to me. Humbrol has a full series of these colours in their enamels but I don't use them anymore due to a bad experience with a batch a while back which almost destroyed a model. Even so, the dark sea grey from Humbrol does not look right when comparing to period colour photos of FAA aircraft - too dark and too "grey" i.e. not enough of a blue hue. There are quite a few good colour images with good colour saturation on the web of Spitfires, Hurricanes, Avengers and Hellcats in this FAA colour scheme. So using those images, it was back to a bit of paint mix 101 using Tamiya paints. I think I got them right (as right as I could...) as follows :

Dark sea grey - 50% XF-66 light grey + 50% XF-63 German grey + spot XF-8 dark blue + spot of X-16 purple. These last two colours impart the required blueish hue to the grey which matches the photos
a) Dark slate grey - this was more of a colour approximating an off olive drab - colour mix is 9 parts XF-49 Khaki + 7 parts XF-63 b) German grey + 1 part XF-62 olive drab
c) Sky = XF-21 + 20% X-2 white
d) Interior cockpit green was 50% XF-71 IJN cockpit green + 50% X-2 white
e) interior green for engine and gun bays - 2 parts XF-4 yellow-green + 1 part XF-5 flat green + 20% XF-20 medium grey

ImageIMG_6474 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

I built the model with one wing folded, random engine panels removed and both gun bays open to get the maximum level of detail on display. I have seen one or two photos of Hellcats with only one wing folded but I'm not sure this was the norm.

Gun bay detail :

ImageIMG_6438 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Rear fuselage detail :

ImageIMG_6439 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

The upper wing roundels were masked and painted (blue mix is 75% XF-8 + 25% XF-1 black + spot X-16 purple). I also masked and painted the white stripes. For the rest of the markings, the decals were used and these went down beautifully using MiG 2-part decal softener. No silvering was experienced. Why can't all kit decals be like this ???

ImageIMG_6442 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6445 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 15:52 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
Posts: 4765
Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
The challenge was the large canvass provided by the actually kit to do a reasonable weathering job. These things experienced the worst weather on the oceans and looked pretty beaten up. That said, I didn't want to go overboard so retrained the weathering as follows :
a) Basic colours airbrushed on.
b) Using the Uschi vd Rosten mottling masks, I applied a random layer of slightly darkened base colour (thinned down nicely so as not to overdo anything). These masks have changed my modelling - I just love the random speckled effect they give to the paint job - just like the scuffs and mottling on real painted aircraft. Greatest invention in modelling in the past 10 years, I'll say !!!
c) for the upper roundels, I masked off the roundel locations before painting the base colour. Mask was then removed and a "reverse" mask of similar inner diameter was applied to protect the base camouflage. This provided a base grey canvass onto which first X-2 white was applied, the inner white circle masked and the roundel blue then airbrushed onto a white base. Well worth the effort.
d) Once painting was complete, a coat of Tamiya X-22 acrylic clear gloss varnish was airbrushed on. This is the stuff in the larger bottles. Let dry for 24 hours and you have a bullet proof layer to protect the base coat.
e) Decals on using two-part MiG Ammo decal solvent - works well. This was a relatively quick and simple affair as firstly there is very little stencilling on the airframe and second the kit decals are great to work with.
f) Once dry, remove any solvent residue. Add random chipping on typical wear areas using a sponge and Tamiya XF-4 yellow and XF-16 aluminium to replicate either primed surface or bare metal. Then apply a solid layer of X-22 acrylic gloss varnish. An acrylic layer is required as a barrier to prevent the oil based washes from effecting the base enamel paints. Let dry for 24 hours.
g) I then used MiG Ammo Starship Streaking effects wash (A.MIG-1209) over the underside sky and upper slate grey and Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008) over the dark sea grey. This is applied to all panel lines and rivets and around other detail using a paint brush. Let the wash dry (about 10 minutes) and then use a very soft lint free cloth to remove the excess leaving a nice stained look to panel lines and rivets. This is not like a traditional panel wash which only highlights the panel. This stuff is nice and oily and can be manipulated around detail and does not result in a stark panel line definition. If you put too much on it can be removed with a cloth or earbud very (!) slightly dampened with turps or white spirit. Hence the need for the acrylic gloss barrier. Don't try this on a matt acrylic layer.
h) Once complete, let dry for 24 hours and then seal with another layer of X-22 gloss acrylic varnish.
i) now for more defined fluid leaks and oil streaks - I used a mix of Abteilung black and dark brown oils and a thin brush. Also added gun stains using dark grey pastels.
j) Let dry for 24 hours.
k) Final varnish - this time matt. I like Tamiya's matt varnish from the spray can (TS-80 flat clear) decanted into the airbrush and thinned with 50% Tamiya lacquer thinner.
l) Final spray on of thinned black/brown mix to replicate exhaust staining. The inner portion of this stain was then filled in with Tamiya X-20 medium grey - Hellcat exhaust stains were grey on the inside with darker edges
m) Done :wink:

ImageIMG_6446 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6450 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6454 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6455 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6457 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 15:55 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
Posts: 4765
Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
ImageIMG_6458 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6459 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6460 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6462 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6463 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

Stores fit was 2 x 500lb GP bombs and a centreline fuel tank. FAA Hellcats apparently didn't use the wing mounted aerial rockets.

ImageIMG_6465 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 15:57 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
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Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
Final thing to do was to add the radio antenna cable using EZLine elastic thread :

ImageIMG_6466 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6469 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6470 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6471 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr

ImageIMG_6472 - 800 by Malcolm Reid, on Flickr


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 18:23 
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Joined: 26 Sep 2009, 09:19
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Location: short final 31 fullstop
much better to see on the "big screen" Looks fantastic as usual

T


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2021, 19:07 
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Joined: 29 Jun 2004, 17:19
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What a beast. A beautiful, magnificent beast!

Great model indeed. =D> =D> =D>

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2021, 16:46 
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Joined: 12 Apr 2016, 21:38
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Great model. =D> The weathering is spot on without being overdone.
How long did the building process take?


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2021, 21:32 
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Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
Illustrious wrote:
Great model. =D> The weathering is spot on without being overdone.
How long did the building process take?


Thanks gents :smt023

Illustrious, this was an interesting build. I was stuck in Cape Town on business and bought the model there. It took around 1 month to cut every single part off sprues, remove mould seams, test fit and do some sub assembly which did not require painting. Once I got home, around 3 months to paint sub assemblies, glue the whole shebang together and then final paint. It's a really nice kit. So much so that it's reenergized my 24th Mosquito build. This has been sitting on the shelf of doom for around 6 years. After all, the 24th Hellcat needs a scale friend :D


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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2021, 19:52 
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Joined: 12 Apr 2011, 20:49
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Location: Zwartkop
Beautiful kit Mistral! =D> =D> =D>

Pity that after WW2 the Hellcat's at Wingfield were serviced and with all their ground handling equipment, tools, etc., were loaded onto 2 aircraft carriers and after 3-4 days sail out of Cape Town the aircraft were pushed overboard. :shock:

AT6C


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PostPosted: 09 Jan 2021, 07:18 
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Joined: 03 Apr 2013, 18:00
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Mistral, just superb. Man, you are good.


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2021, 18:03 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
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Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
Thanks Drifter. Compared to some builds seen on LSP, I still have some way to go. A large "canvass" helps :wink: .

Geoff, I didn't realize we had these in SA ? I often wonder why they didn't use these in Korea instead of the Mustang....radial must be far more bullet resistant than inline water cooled....


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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2021, 07:29 
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Mistral wrote:
Geoff, I didn't realize we had these in SA ? I often wonder why they didn't use these in Korea instead of the Mustang....radial must be far more bullet resistant than inline water cooled....

We used what the USAF (and the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in particular) used in Korea: the Mustang.

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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2021, 11:18 
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Joined: 13 Mar 2014, 09:05
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Location: Van Riebeeckshof, Bellville
Well done as always Mistral!!

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