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F6F-3 Hellcat 1/72 scale Italeri

Manufacturer: Italeri, distributed by Testor, 620 Buckbee St., Rockford, IL 61104-4891, 815-962-6654,
Kit: No. 01213 Scale: 1/72
Price: $9.00
Comments: Injection-molded, 57 parts, decals
Pros: Recessed panel lines, separate flaps, deployed and retracted tail hooks, two-piece canopy, good decals
Cons: Annoying detail errors, incorrect color recommendations, some poorly fitting parts
What sets Italeri's new Hellcat apart from all the other 1/72 scale kits? Notably, separate flaps, never done before in this scale. There are other nifty features, including a two-part canopy that allows it to be posed opened, a detailed engine with a separate crankcase, deployed and retracted tailhooks, and recessed (although a bit overdone) panel detail. The "fabric" detail on the control surfaces is overdone, too; the sags between ribs look as though they were ground out but not polished in the mold.

Italeri's kit also features a cockpit tub with consoles, but there is no throttle or any other detail on the interior faces of the fuselage halves. Decals provide details for the instrument panel and consoles. In my sample, the interior tub fit poorly into the fuselage.

Apertures for the rear-vision windows in the fuselage spine are flashed over. They are easily cleared with a knife and file, but watch out - it's easy to make the ports too large for the separate clear windows. The canopy can fit in the opened position without problems. However, the windscreen fits poorly to the fuselage. The problem lies in the grooves cut around the cockpit coaming; they are not the same left to right. Many modelers add canopies after painting, and then it's too late to fix the fit problems. I had to settle for attaching my windscreen and filling around the bottom seams with white glue (painted black).

The overall fit of the parts is OK, with typical filling challenges around the bottom wing/fuselage seams. I found a few annoying problems. The front bank of engine cylinders has the valve push rods molded on the back (they should be on the front). I flipped it around, but then I couldn't use the pocket for the propeller shaft. The separate, well-molded crankcase helps cover that, but then I had to shorten the shaft.

Italeri provides separate lower cowl flaps (parts No. 18A and 19A), but they are twice as thick as the trailing edge of the cowl they fit into. The upper cowl flaps are missing.

The antenna mast of the real Hellcat is mounted just to the left of center on top of the spine, but Italeri has it mounted a good 2mm left and down on the side of the spine. I filled the hole with gap-filling super glue and drilled a new one on top of the spine.

The horizontal stabilizers may look the same, but they are "handed" left and right and won't fit properly if you get them mixed up (like I did). I like the separate flaps, but they suffer from sink holes. The flaps should hang clear of the top surface of the wing, but the hinge points are not long enough to allow for that.

Despite Italeri's color recommendations, I painted my Hellcat with the proper flat sea blue/intermediate blue/ flat white scheme. The decals went on after a coat of Future floor polish. The decals were well printed with a great "cat's mouth" marking from USS Princeton - perhaps the most radical nose art of the WWII Navy. They went on fine with a couple of applications of Solvaset, but the stars-and-bars on the fuselage were too large. I had to paint the red portions of the "mouth" on the front of the cowl. I used a mix of Tamiya "flat base" and Future for my flat coat.

Final assembly involved trying to fit the windscreen, adding flaps and antennas, and installing the landing gear. The struts are well detailed, but when installed they seem perpendicular to the wing instead of angling forward a bit.

The finished Hellcat looks good, but sits a little funny because of the landing gear angle. I spent about 25 hours on my model. The overall dimensions are a bit short: 14 scale inches in length, 6 scale inches in span.

If you can live with or fix the annoying inaccuracies, Italeri's Hellcat has a lot to offer.


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