After the build experience I had with the Trumpeter 1/32 P-47D Thunderbolt, I needed something simple. Something with no fuss. Something that didn’t have eight sprues of parts and was horribly over engineered.
I found it in Eduard’s 1/72 F6F-3 Hellcat.
This kit comes about as close to being the perfect kit as anything I’ve ever built. I think the only thing holding me back from saying it’s the perfect kit is that it’s not a Spitfire.
I built the Weekend Edition boxing, which comprised just three sprues (one clear), and a simple decal sheet. And it’s not an expensive kit- just $12.29 at ScaleHobbyist.com.
The cockpit was simple, yet sufficiently detailed to warrant going canopy open. I painted it interior green and black, and picked out a few details. A little dry brushing and some very simple tape belts and it was finished. The engine, while simple, looked very good with some simple paint and dry brushing.
The fuselage assembled perfect, with no gaps at all. Just a little tidying up of the seams with a sanding stick and it was ready for paint.
A few years ago, a friend had built this kit, and he’d said he used no glue for the wings or tailplanes. At the time I thought “Yeah, right”. I’ve heard people make claims like that. “I never get tip dry with XYZ brand of paint.” “I use ABC brand of putty and it never shrinks.” Modelers are great at exaggeration. (I’ve never met a modeler who wasn’t. 🙂 )
So I thought I’d give it a try and test fit the wings and tailplanes.
He did not exaggerate.
The fit was perfect. Not nearly perfect. Not close. Not quite good. Perfect. I realized I could paint the wings apart from the fuselage (which makes this tri-color camo easier) and add the wings later. With no gaps, no evidence of the fact at all.
I actually emailed my friend and apologized for doubting him.
I used Tamiya paints for the undersides and intermediate blue. The intermediate blue was a mix, though after I finished the model I wasn’t really happy with it. It just appeared too light. The uppers were painted with Pollyscale Sea Blue.
Once the parts were painted, I mounted the wings. The fit was so precise that just the addition of the paint made it a difficult fit. I added a little Tamiya Extra Thin cement almost as a “grease” and that worked. But it did not need the glue to make it hold, that is for sure.
After the initial painting, I used various oils to do the dot filter technique, and then some Prismacolor silver pencil chipping. I coated it with Future, and then on went the decals. The build was a commission build for a specific aircraft, so I had to pull together a hodge podge of decals to get the tail code.
I sealed those with more Future, and then did some final fading and shading with an airbrush, and a few last minute adjustments of the paint chipping. I added the dangly bits- landing gear, pitot and antenna, and finished it off with a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish.
This really is an absolute gem of a kit. There is no fuss, no fit issues, no drama. It’s almost a snap tite model with its precision. I wish every manufacturer would get this kit, and resolve to do this good on everything they release. I seriously think even Mr. Tamiya would say “nicely done” on this one.
I don’t build in 72nd scale very often. Yet I already have plans to build another one of these.
Just for the fun of it. That’s what building models should be about!