Eduard follows its 1/48 scale Hellcat with a smaller sibling, and the result is a fine representation of the classic U.S. Navy World War II carrier-borne fighter. While not as complicated as the recent Cyber-hobby kit (see my review in the November 2011 FSM ), Eduard’s Hellcat has great detail where it can be seen.
Front and center are Eduard’s hallmark features: precut self-adhesive canopy masks and prepainted photoetched-metal cockpit details. I had not used one of the masking sets before; it worked perfectly and was easy to do. The photoetched metal includes instrument panels, throttle quadrant, levers and handles, and seat harness. But as nice as these are, several parts are too fine to handle, even with sharp-pointed tweezers, and some of those little T handles and placards are too tiny to be seen with the naked eye, let alone installed; I left several of them on the fret. There is even a prepainted Pratt & Whitney eagle logo for the engine block that is 1mm in diameter. (I left it on the fret, too!) I didn’t use the photoetched-metal ignition harness for the engine (but I was tempted).
Once complete, though, the detailed interior is outstanding. It can be shown effectively, as Eduard provides opened or closed canopy parts. The open sliding portion is a bit wider than the closed one and is designed to fit over the turtle deck. Still, it is a tad too thick to sit correctly.
Eduard’s plastic parts are finely molded, with subtle, recessed panel lines. The sprues hold several parts that look like they will be used on forthcoming F6F-5 and night-fighter Hellcats. A set of rockets and bombs (with photoetched-metal fins), and a centerline drop tank are provided.
I took advantage of the tight fit of the wings in the pockets molded into the fuselage and painted the assembled fuselage and wings separately. This backfired, though, as the thickness of the paint was enough to make the fit too tight. I had to sand off a bit of paint but still didn’t need to use glue to install the wings or stabilizers. I like the separate one-piece wheels and one-piece tires for construction and painting.
I painted the model with Testors Model Master enamels; I found the flat sea blue was too dark and not blue enough, so I mixed it 1:1 with Testors Model Master blue FS35109.
Eduard’s Cartograf decals are superb, and I couldn’t resist the snarling-cat-mouth markings of VF-27 on the ill-fated USS Princeton. Four other marking choices are provided.
After 23 hours, I had my Eduard Hellcat ready for display. To me it has the perfect combination of detail, accuracy, options, good fit, and great decals.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2012 issue of FineScale Modeler magazine.