I’m back!- or at least partially back with this Hellcat build. As mentioned above I usually take the summer off from modeling and this year was no exception. Now that the weather is getting a bit cooler, I can almost feel the onset of winter and my recharged modeling mojo that goes with it.
One thing that can really get you back into the modeling mood is a modeling contest and despite Covid restrictions (must be double vaccinated with proof, always wear a mask, etc.), The Alberta Military Modeling Club had their annual contest a few days ago. I really like this contest, because everything is military for obvious reasons and I’m interested in almost all of it, unlike other contests that have Sci-Fi, Figurine and other models I have zero interest in. I brought along a couple of my models, including my recent CF-104 Starfighter and Hawker Tempest Mk V, which unfortunately competed in the same category of Detailed Single Engine Aircraft. I’m happy to report that the Starfighter won Gold and the Tempest Silver, but more importantly, the CF-104 also won 4 other Special Awards that were not necessarily aircraft related. I was very surprised and humbled, so my hat’s off to the AMMC for putting on such an interesting and rewarding experience for me and many others. I’ll be sure to come back next year, maybe with a 1/24 Hellcat?
Speaking of the Hellcat, I left off this build noting that the front fuselage halves would not close and left a gap at the front which I filled with styrene, which wasn’t all bad, since the front windscreen is a bit too wide to begin with.
The windscreen is not only a bit too wide, but it’s a bit too tall at the base as well, so I sanded the lower inside part of it on all sides.
As I do on all my windscreens and canopies, I then painted the inside frame in gloss black lacquer. Since black won’t let light through, imperfections at the base and around the frame won’t show through and it makes the plastic “glass” appear thinner than it really is.
This was followed by a coat of Interior Green, as per references.
Dry fit on the fuselage, the windscreen is still a bit too thick and there is a small gap at the base, which is too thick for scale.
Surprisingly, the instructions don’t ask for gluing and attaching the windscreen until the very end of the build in Step 297, but if you want to protect the cockpit and alter the windscreen a bit, it should be done now. After gluing on the gunsight permanently with Micro Kristal Klear, I then removed the paint from the base of the windscreen with solvent, then glued it in place using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement, which oozed under the clear plastic and filled the gaps without any fogging. This is a bit tricky, because you want lots of cement under the windscreen to create a secure bond, but you don’t want too much that might be seen from the inside, so it is best done in small iterative steps until you get the look you want. After everything dried, I then sanded down the clear plastic so that it was flush, while leaving a thin panel line.
The base of the notch at the rear of the windscreen (on right) is not a real panel line, so I gently sanded the bottom edge to blend it in a bit. With the glue applied earlier, it did not need to be filled.
This kit can be built in 3 main versions, with the wings folded, wings not folded and also in flight. Before proceeding with any step, you need to check the top right each page to ensure that you are assembling the version you have chosen.
After final assembly of the fuselage in Step 43, I skipped Steps 44 to 51, which are in flight only, then started on Step 51 above. Here is the assembly of the lower fuselage in Steps 52 to 61, with the following observations:
- While there is lots of flash and seam lines on most of the parts, it is all easily removed
- There are many sink marks, but if you check ahead in the instructions, most of these sink marks are impossible to see during final assembly, so you really don’t need to worry about most of them
- The fit of all parts is extraordinary! Everything fits with minimal trimming
- While the instructions call for painting the parts in between Steps for ease of painting, I chose not to because I wanted a strong bond using liberal cement in some areas, which would have crazed the paint. I will paint everything as you see below at once, which will be tricky but not impossible
A detailed shot of the right side- and also decision time. This is where you can decide if you want the wing flaps up, using flap hinges F3 to F6, or down, using hinges F9 to F-12. As much as I wanted lowered flaps, after a review of many Hellcat pics, the flaps appear to always be in the up position when parked, so I used part F3 to F-6 which as you can see on the left, is even labeled “S1, S2, P1 and P2” noting if they are supposed to be on the Starboard or Port side.
So that’s about it for now with not a ton of work, but it’s a start, which will likely really get rolling in November when the snow flies.