RN Tabby: 1/48th Hasegawa F6F Hellcat
Introduced in 1995 (my version was the 1999 kit), Hasegawa's F6F kit held a lot of promise for model makers looking for a better 1/48th scale Hellcat. While it is true the kit raised the bar and became the F6F to beat, there were valid criticisms of the kit as well.
Notable Kit Features:
Nicely detailed cockpit with raised detail and decal instruments
Low parts count
Finely scribed panel lines and surface details
Good fitting parts construction
Basic engine parts consisting of backplate and rear cylinders and a separate front row of cylinders (so not something you could take the cowl off and show but decent)
Centre tank and HVARs included in my kit release
Nice clear glass canopy parts
I came across this Hasegawa kit on sale at a model show, abandoned by someone who by then had the 1/48th Eduard kit which was a further improvement over this Hasegawa kit. I figured, given the low price, I could give the kit a good home and build it up with the Royal Navy decals I had leftover from one of my Eduard F6F builds. There is definitely something refreshing about a Hellcat with a British tri-colour paint twist. I decided on the markings of one of the few Royal Navy Hellcat Aces, W.C.M. Foster, who flew off the carrier HMS Indomitable in 1945. This aircraft was lost in combat in April 1945 when it was mistakenly shot down by anti-aircraft guns of "friendly" ships while piloted by Ch.R. Thurston.
Seat belts molded into the seat (depending on how you feel about this)
All control surfaces molded attached in neutral position
Panel lines representing the fuselage seams are not exactly the best depiction of the Hellcat fuselage. The fuselage was more lapped metal (which was better represented in the Eduard series releases)
Hasegawa missed the "Hellcat Grin" of the front intake by a bit
Gun barrels are ventilated type and I believe Hellcats had solid sleeve types
Canopy positioned in the open position does not sit properly
Wheel wells are lacking detail
Hasegawa decals can be problematic / off-colour
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Built out of the box with the exception of the decals from the Eduard kit
Missed adding the solid sleeve gun barrels using hypodermic needles (but maybe I will get to that later)
I started off the paint scheme for this aircraft with the lightest colour of the underside (as typical). Sky was called for and here is where I now think I made an error. The British had a Sky colour which has a definite green tinge to it (used on Spitfires and the like) however they also had a Sky colour that was more a light gray... looking back I went the wrong direction here with the green tinge underside. It is a constant struggle to get everything right on any build. Masking that off I sprayed the upper camouflage of Olive Drab (FS34087) and Dark Gray (FS36173). Both these tones were faded considerably and varied in colour during the spray set to produce a more weathered look. Gloss coat of Pledge was used to apply the decals on and flow the panel weathering tones in browns and grays. After I was good with those results, I top-coated the paint with Model Master Flat. Post paint process of all the time consuming small detail parts to get my shelf ready Hellcat.
The After-Build Report:
The introduction of the Hasegawa kit offered improvements over any other contenders in 1/48th scale at that time. It was, and still is, a easy build with fair detail, however its shortcomings left it open for a better kit still to come. Many years later, in 2008, Eduard set the bar high with the release of their F6F Hellcat kits and they are arguably still the best F6F Hellcats available in this scale.
Completed build #178 - December 2014 using the 1/48th scale Hasegawa #JT189 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers