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F6F-3N Hellcat
Night Fighter

Trumpeter, 1/32 scale

 

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number and Description: Trumpeter Kit Number 02258 - F6F-3N Hellcat Night Fighter
Scale: 1/32
Contents and Media: 400 parts in light grey plastic; 16 parts in clear; three rubber tyres; three white metal cast undercarriage legs; 14 photo-etched parts; acetate film for instruments; markings for two aircraft
Price: Around AUD$89.50, distributed in Australia by J.B. Wholesalers
Available through specialist hobby shops worldwide
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Outline and appearance conform to published plans and photos; high quality mouldings; high level of detail in most areas; optional position slats, flaps and flying surfaces (but no metal hinges); surface features include finely recessed panel lines, fasteners and rivets.
Disadvantages: Surface detail will be a matter of individual taste.
Conclusion: Far more and finer detail than the old Hasegawa kit and is certainly much better engineered with far more modelling options

 

Reviewed by Mick Evans


Trumpeter's 1/32 scale F6F-3N Hellcat is available online from Squadron
 

FirstLook

 

Trumpeter’s has released an interesting variation in its 1/32 scale Hellcat family, this time as an F6F-3N Night fighter. This is a nice addition for US Navy aircraft modellers.  

There have been many reviews of Trumpeter’s 1/32 scale Hellcat in various magazines and websites, but this is the first time that I have seen the plastic so I will give it the full review. 

This kit is very impressive and outclasses the previous 1/32 scale F6F-3 Hellcat kit from Hasegawa, which has been around for well over 20 years.  I compared the Trumpeter offering with the Hasegawa kit that I already had in my collection, and while the Hasegawa kit was excellent in its time, it is totally outclassed by this newer release from Trumpeter.  Typical of Hasegawa 1/32 scale kits of that era, the kit had raised panel lines with chunky interior detail, and sometimes questionable accuracy.

So what about the Trumpeter kit? Well firstly, its cost is approximately twice that of the Hasegawa kit, but I think it is reasonably priced for the size and detail that Trumpeter offers.

On opening the box we are presented with a beautifully engraved and detailed kit.  There are approximately 273 finely engraved grey coloured injection moulded plastic parts, 2 photo etched parts, 4 soft nylon parts, 18 clear injection moulded parts, and 1 photo instrument panel.

 

  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
  • Trumpeter 1/32 scale F6F-3N Night Fighter Review by Mick Evans: Image
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The plastic parts have absolutely no flash at all and the surface detail is crisply moulded displaying fine panel lines and rivet detail.  The surface of the parts has no moulding imperfections.  The moulding that this manufacturer is applying to their kits these days is nothing short of superb.

Cockpit detail is provided by the way of 35 plastic and etched parts, the engine and engine bay area is made up of 24 plastic and etch parts while the fuselage interior is made up of a further 14 plastic parts. Most of this detail should be visible when the model is complete. 

Etched metal seat belts are provided for the pilot’s seat.

The fuselage interior has all of the internal ribbing and structure moulded in place that adds to the realism of the interior detail.

The engine build up is excellent in both detail and realism and is completed with a very comprehensive build of parts to replicate the exhaust system.  The engine is enclosed in a crystal clear cowl for those who wish to show off the engine detail, but most modellers will simply just paint the cowl.  Both open and closed cowl flaps are supplied so you have the option of positioning them open or closed.  The wings contain nicely detailed undercarriage and gun bays.  The wings also have optional positioned flaps allowing the flaps to be displayed lowered or streamlined as well as separate ailerons which can be displayed displaced.  The wings can also be displayed in the spread or folded position, and has reasonable detail for the wing fold area.

Extra parts included for the -3N include the wing mounted radar pod and two 20mm cannons to replace the inner wing .50 calibre machine guns.  Unfortunately only the 20mm barrel is provided so some work is required if you choose to display the wing gun bay in the open position.

A centreline fuel tank is provided as well as two bombs for the inner wing pylons.  Six wing rockets are also provided to be mounted on the outer wing panels. 

Finally a ground handling tractor and tow bar is also provided. This is almost a complete kit in its own right.  Approximately 30 parts go in to make up the tractor.

During my reading of some build reviews of the earlier F6F-3 kit mention was made around the main wheel hubs being too wide for the tyres and the tail wheel oleo being too fragile.  I was keen to look at these part first hand and see if there was a simple fix rather than purchase after market wheels.  The fix for the main wheels is simply a matter of sanding down the mating surfaces of the two wheel halves before gluing them together.  These should be trial fitted against the rubber tyre until the correct width is obtained.  The tail wheel is a bit more difficult and the only way that I can see to strengthen this is replacing some of the plastic actuators with metal parts that have been carefully scratch built or you will simply have to be very careful with the plastic parts.  The look of the tail wheel oleo is accurate, and if the manufacturer had beefed it up in any way it would have been a compromise between accuracy and strength. 

The final comment is around the rivet detail. This looks heavy on the bare plastic but I am sure it will tone down under a coat of paint.  Manufacturers are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t add all of the rivet detail and this will always be a matter of dispute and individual taste.  Personally, I think that the rivet detail moulded on this kit it is fine, as I work around aircraft every day and see this detail first hand, which is sometimes difficult to assess from photographs.

The instruction sheet is made up of a detailed black and white exploded view that details assembly of the kit with no ambiguity. 

The kit looks seems to conform to the 1/72 scale Warpaint and walk around plans that I have.

Two marking schemes are provided on a glossy colour sheet detailing the colours required for the provided scheme.

 

 

The decals are crisp, accurate in colour and in register and provide for two aircraft the two aircraft illustrated are:

  • Grumman F6F-3N, Sno 319 of based on the USS Solomons in November 1944.  The aircraft is finished in the tri colour scheme of Dark Navy Blue, Intermediate Blue and Insignia White.

  • Grumman F6F-3N, Sno 6 of VF(N)-76 based on the USS Charger in October 1943.  The aircraft is finished in the tri colour scheme of Dark Navy Blue, Intermediate Blue and Insignia White.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Trumpeter’s kit has far more and finer detail than the old Hasegawa kit and is certainly much better engineered with far more modelling options. I certainly think it is worth the price difference, but only the modellers hunger for the latest and greatest and your hip pocket can determine that.

For me, now I have to go and buy a Trumpeter Corsair kit to display beside this one!

Thanks to J.B. Wholesalers for the sample

Text and Images Copyright 2008 by Mick Evans
Page Created 9 December, 2008
Last updated 9 December, 2008

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