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Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

by Ian Robertson


Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F6F-3 Hellcat is available from Squadron.com



Hasegawa's 1/48 Hellcats are excellent kits that have come under scrutiny for an error in the shape of the cowl. Specifically, the "grin on the chin", a distinctive feature of the Hellcat, is noticeably undersized in the Hasegawa kit.



Although a very nice model can be produced out of the box, I decided to add Cutting Edge's resin cowl replacement to my kit. I have heard that the cowl from the Otaki Hellcat can also be used as a replacement, although I have not tried this myself.


The Replacement Cowl

Cutting Edge's replacement cowl for the Hasegawa Hellcat corrects the grin and basic shape of the cowl and has the added bonus of open flaps. The cowl is designed for the F6F-5 or a later production F6F-3 because it lacks lower flaps and bulged exhaust fairings.

For those building an earlier F6F-3 these features may have to be added, depending on the particular aircraft you are modeling. Lower cowl flaps were present on the first 909 F6F-3 Hellcats produced whereas the bulged exhaust fairings (located on either side of the cowl beneath the upper flaps) were not deleted until the 1500th F6F-3 Hellcat.



Lower cowl flaps can easily be added to the Cutting Edge cowl using Hasegawa's cowl as a guide for their position and size. The kit parts (2 x F4) can be used for the bulged exhaust fairings.


Early F6F-3 Aboard USS Yorktown

I decided to build an early F6F-3 flown by Lt Commander Jimmy Flatley serving aboard the USS Yorktown during the Marcus Island raids of 1943. A beautiful color photograph of this aircraft appears in Lawson and Tillman's book "Carrier Air War" (pp 116-117). From this and similar photos of Yorktown's F6F-3s I noted the following details about the aircraft and its camouflage:

  • cowl has lower flaps and bulged exhaust fairings (i.e., early F6F-3)
  • inboard machine gun fairing on each wing (these fairings were discontinued at the same time the lower cowl flaps were deleted).
  • vertical antenna mast (some early F6F-3s had a forward slanted mast)
  • undersized national markings on fuselage
  • sea blue on upper fuselage meets with upper surface of wing

The cowl was modified for an early F6F-3 in the manner described above. The inboard machine gun fairings were carved from pieces of sprue and attached to the wing with CA glue.


I painted the model with Polly Scale acrylics in the standard US Navy 3-tone camouflage of white, intermediate blue, and sea blue. The undersides of the wings were streaked heavily with thinned black paint. The large fuselage insignias typical of most Hellcats appear to have been deleted on this aircraft in favor of smaller markings - I went to my spares box for these. Exhaust stains were applied using a combination of thinned black paint and chalk pastels. Stretched sprue was used for the brake lines on the landing gear and for the antenna wire. The rudder and trim tab were repositioned.



The Hasegawa Hellcat makes a very nice model out of the box. However, in my opinion the Cutting Edge replacement cowl significantly improves the shape and character of the front end. Also, a vacuform canopy will be useful (Squadron makes one) if you intend to open the canopy - the kit part is too thick.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright 2001 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 04 September, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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