Revell's Classic 1/48 F6F-5
By Mike Whye
If you were building models in the 1960s, you remember some of Monogram's 1/48 models with action features such as landing gear that can be flipped up and down and wings that can be folded. Panel lines were raised and, boy, could you feel the rivets by running a finger across the skin of the wings and fuselage! Detail, as we know it nowadays, was sparse--basically, the pilot in the cockpit was it. So it's back to the past when you buy Revell's re-issue of Monogram's 1/48 F6F-5 Hellcat (kit #5262). Yup, that old kit is still around, not just on the nostalgia shelves of the hobby stores but among the currently issued models. Yes, it's baaack.
The Real Hellcats
At this point in the review I usually digress into a short history and this one will be short, not because the Hellcat doesn't deserve a long write-up but because its history is so well known. Made by Grumman as a follow-on to its F4F Wildcat, the Hellcat contract was let in mid-1941 and its first flight occurred a year later. Not until Sept. 1943 did a Hellcat shoot down a Japanese plane, an Emily flying boat. Whatever air superiority the Japanese Zeroes and other aircraft were having over the U.S. Navy fighters evaporated when the Hellcats took to the sky in ever-increasing numbers. By the end of the war, Hellcats accounted for about 56 percent of all Japanese aircraft shot down - 5,163 by the Hellcats. Hellcats downed another 60 enemy aircraft in other theaters and with Great Britain's Royal Navy.
If you wonder if the kit has been improved....well, if you count new decals as the improvement, then yes. Otherwise, no. There's no cockpit detail, nothing to see in the wheel wells either...not even on the inside of the landing gear covers.
Decals allow you to show an F6F-5 of VF-83 on the USS Essex in 1945 (it was shared by three pilots, each of whom became an ace) and another F6F-5 of VF/VBF-12 on the USS Randolph, also in 1945. In both versions, large white decals cover a lot of the vertical stabilizer and rudder; I’d be temped instead to do some masking and spray paint those areas white.
You aren't going to get much more out of Revell’s 1/48 F6F-5 than anyone did in the 1960s other than some different and better decals. It's a good simple kit for anyone who's getting into modeling at any age or returning to modeling after some years away. It should be a quick and easy build. Its MSRP is $17.99.
Our thanks to Revell for the review kit.