The night fighter version of the Hellcat was introduced into carrier combat late in November of 1943. Approximately 218 F6F-3E/Ns and 1434 F6F-5E/N were produced. The E having the AN/APS-4 radar installation (attached under the wing) while the N was equiped with the AN/APS-6 (in a faired wing-mounted radome). In both versions, the transmit and receive radio equipment was located in the fuselage with the radar screen centered in the instrument panel.
Flown by both the Navy and Marines from carriers and land bases, the night fighter xas a powerfull opponent armed with two 20mm cannon and four .50 cal. machine guns in many of the aircraft. Other than the radar installation and different armament, the Nightfighter variant was essentially the same as the standard F6F.
The Eduard 1:48 scale F6F kit has been released several times in the past. Below is a list of Aeroscale reviews which covers some of them:
- F6F-3 Hellcat in Orange box
- Hellcat Mk.I/Mk.II Dual Combo
(two kits with British markings only)
- Hellcat F6F Royal Class box
(with F6F-3, F6F-5 and nightfighter versions).
A full review build of the F6F-3 Weekend edition kit by Michael Wolfe can be found Here
The F6F-5N Hellcat
Eduard's new F6F-5N Hellcat kit comes in their standard "ProfiPACK" top opening cardboard box. One point I should make clear right away is that the name of the kit is misleading in that it does not mention the possibility to build the -3N variant. Eduard should have wrote F6F-3/5N Hellcat on the box since optional parts to do both variants are included in the kit.
Since this is a "ProfiPack" kit, there is a lot included in the box, below is a list:
- Six sprues of light olive green injected plastic.
- One sprue of clear injected plastic.
- One bag with several resin detail parts.
- Two photo etched frets of which one is pre-painted.
- One sheet of masks.
- One decal sheet.
- One instruction booklet.
As you would expect from Eduard, the quality of the plastic part is really good. Traces of flash are almost non-existent and I found no sink marks in my sample. For more detailed informations about the basic content of the kit, please refer to the aformentioned reviews.
The resin parts are not new as they were present in the Royal Class boxing, but it's the first time they are included in a single kit of the Hellcat. They are of course very important since they offer, amongst other stuff, the typical additions to the nightfighter version. Included are a faired wing-mounted radome, a radar instrument destined to the instrument panel (an optional PE part is included as well), hollowed engine exhausts, 20mm cannons, new treaded wheels and small antennas. The resin parts are nicely done.
Photo etched parts are a speciality of the Czech Manufacturer so it is not wondering if they are of excellent quality. Provided are pre-colored parts mainly destined to the cockpit (instrument panels and consoles, seatbelts, levers, placards etc...), while the second photo etched fret holds some parts to detail the engine (ignition wires, intake grill) and the outside of the aircraft. Though there is no mention to use the bombs in the instructions, PE parts are provided as well for them.
The instructions are printed in color and consist of a 16 pages A4 booklet. They are nicely done and easy to follow. An history of the aircraft is included as well as a parts layout, a color table (Gunze Aqueous and Mr.Color range of paints), an eight pages assembly guide, a masking guide, five pages of decal and painting guides and a page of instructions for the stencil placements. My opinion is that the Eduard instruction booklets are overall amongst the best (if not the best) assembly guides on the market.
Very nice decals, printed by Cartograf, are provided for five aircraft:
A - Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat, VMF-511, USS Block Island, April 1945.
B - Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat "Butch", VMF-511, USS Block island, April 1945.
C - Grumman F6F-(3?)5N Hellcat, VMF(N)-541, Falalop island, Ulithi Atoll, May 1945.
D - Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat BuNo. 72627 (72827?), VMF(N)-533, le Shima, May 1945.
E - Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat BuNo. 78669, Maj. Bruce Porter, CO of VMF(N)-542, Yontan airfield, Okinawa, May 1945.
All the aircraft are of course painted in Navy Blue which is not a very colorful finish. However, Eduard have managed to include some interesting marking options. The first two Hellcats are carrier based aircraft and carry their typical vertical tailplane unit markings. The last three are land based aircraft. Options C has a nice pin-up artwork on the cowling, option D a "Little Nance" nickname and option E a "Black Death" artwork as well as five kill markings. The last marking was present in the Royal Class box while the others are all new.
The quality of the decals is excellent and they are in perfect register. One nitpick though is that the pin-up artwork is printed in four colors (quadrichromy) with small dots. Admitedly, you must be very close to see them, but a naked girl always draws the attention, so...
This is a great package of a great kit. If you only need to have one Hellcat in your collection, maybe this boxing is the one to consider purchasing as it includes all the parts to do a standard F6F-3/5 Hellcat but also their nightfighter variants. Highly recommended to all kind of modelers except for the real novices.
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