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Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

by Arlo Schroeder


Scratchbuilt 1/16th Scale Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

Text by Ben Backes


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Arlo Schroeder, a former Boeing Wichita employee, spends a good portion of his retirement scratchbuilding 1/16 models in his basement workshop. Many aspects of this model operate, just like the real thing. As you can see from this article his models are amazing.



This model depicts an F6F-3 of VF-10 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) as flown by Lt JG Jay Shinneman during the famous Mariannas Turkey shoot of June 20th 1944.



Construction Photo Feature


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The completed model currently on display at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.


Photo 3

Every model starts somewhere and this one started with the wing center section, with landing gear and wing attachments.

Photos 4 & 5

Yep, the landing gear actually works. Here you see it rotate into the raised position.


Photo 6

The major fuselage, wing and tail surfaces are vacuum-formed on a table built right into the workbench. This photo shows the form for the left rear fuselage piece. The form is carved from balsa using templates at each reference line. When the shape is right Arlo coats the wood with super glue to harden it and sands it out smooth then vacuum-forms the pieces.

Photo 7

The wing center section and the beginnings of the cockpit area and rear fuselage interior.

Photo 8

Building up the rear interior.

Photo 9

The firewall.

Photo 10

Engine crankcase and intercooler

Photo 11

Just how big is a 1/16th scale Hellcat anyway? Well… it's twice as big as this Hasegawa 1/32nd kit sitting in front of it.

Photo 12

Six Browning .50 caliber machine guns made from brass.

Photo 13

The left outer wing, gun bay, and flaps. The control surfaces work, so do the flaps, and the ammo bay covers.

Photo 14

Stabs and elevators.

Photo 15

Interior of the stabs.

Photo 16

Look at those tiny operating piano hinges.

Photo 17

And here's what the underside looks like.

Photo 18

Crankcase and engine mount

Photo 19

Engine components before assembly with an American dime thrown in for size reference. A master for one cylinder from each row was built using disks of .005 inch thick aluminum for the cooling fins stacked up in alternating sizes. Then a rubber mold was made and resin copies were cast.

Photo 20

The completed engine.

Photo 21

Wing folding mechanism.

Photo 22

A rotating jig was made to aid in scribing the fuselage panel lines.

Photo 23

When Bob Waldron heard about the project he scaled up his placard set for Arlo.

Photo 24

The completed cockpit just before the windscreen was attached.

Photo 25

For the canopy, Arlo started out carving a balsa form. Then he used plaster to make a female mold of the shape. The next step was to make a resin version of the form that was much easier to smooth and polish. Then the canopy was then vacuum-formed.

Photo 26

Strips of dry-transfer rivets provided by Archer Fine Transfers are taped into place and ready to be rubbed on. The windscreen is attached and blended in. The track for the sliding portion of the canopy is also attached.

Photo 27

Model Master Enamels were used for painting and the markings were custom-made dry transfers by Woody Vondracek of Archer Fine Transfers.

Photo 28

The tailhook in the extended position.

Photo 29

Out back behind the house the completed model with the cowling removed, the wings folded and the gun bays open.

The model took about 3600 hours to build over a two year time period.

Arlo's favorite era to model is pre-WWII and for the last few months I've been watching him finish up a Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver. 

In 1/16th scale he has also built a Boeing F4B-2, Grumman F2F-1, Curtiss BFC-2, Brewster F2A-2 Buffalo, Boeing P26-A Peashooter, Douglas TBD-1 Devastator, Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull with catapult (also at the Naval Aviation Museum), and finally a Grumman TBF-1C Avenger (on display in the National Air and Space Museum.) Before going to 1/16th scale, Arlo scratchbuilt in 1/32nd scale a TBF-1C, Vought SB2U-1 Vindicator, and a couple of big flying boats, the Consolidated P2Y-2 and a Martin PBM-5A Mariner.

So what's up next on his workbench? A Grumman F8F Bearcat.

If you want to see more, send me an e-mail with your vote for which one!


Model and Images Copyright © 2001 by Arlo Schroeder
 Text Copyright © 2001 by Ben Backes
Page Created 09 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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