Airfix 1/24 F6F-5 Hellcat
By Malcolm Reid
Here is my first 24th scale build in 40 years - how time flies. This is the fantastic Airfix Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat - the obligatory box art shot (Airfix currently has the best box art IMHO).
This is the colour scheme I went for - not boring old dark sea blue.
O, what can I say about this kit? Well, it is rather large and quite complex. The stressed skin effect is great! But some issues to be aware of:
- The surface texture is quite rough so a good sanding with Tamiya sanding sponges (or similar) will go a long way - I did not quite sand enough ...
- The parts fit in places is beyond tight. For example, the engine cylinders which slide onto the core section. Lots of scraping and fettling. Any paint on any mating surface is going to create problems.
- For some reason, the oil canning was not carried over to some of the inboard wing sections. Some have it, some do not.
- Detail out of the box is great, the only thing really necessary to add are ignition cables in the engine (for which Airfix provides a really good guide in the instructions) and a radio wire antenna.
- The decals performed really well although I still chose to paint the roundels and fin flash.
- Follow the instructions!!! Also, go through them and cross out those portions of the build sequence you do not want (like folded / open wings) before you start. It will save you lots of head scratching and paging back and forward - the instructions themselves are well presented and can make for good bedtime reading.
As you can see from the image, I built this with one wing folded. I'm not sure that was standard ops procedure, but I have seen one or two photos in that configuration. The reason for this was twofold: 1) to save space and 2) to show of the wonderful wing fold detail.
The engine panels fit really well except the two at the wing root. There is a particular step in the instructions which shows how to align the engine and bulkheads up - a really tight fit. I suspect I did not get mine to "click" in place. I added one or two wires behind the engine to add interest.
The instrument panel and cockpit detail out of the box are great but one can go to town if so inclined. I am not one of these people as I am the only person who will know what is in there. The plastic kit seatbelts are great and with the cushion decal, the seat looks really great.
According to the paint instructions the sliding part of the canopy is a single colour slate grey and doesn't follow the airframe camouflage.
I used EZ Line for the antenna wire, but it is a little too thin for 24th…
Colours were difficult to find out the bottle. I do not like Humbrol and our go to paints in South Africa are Tamiya for which one usually must concoct one's own mix. So, these are the recipes I used based on some really fine colour photos of various FAA aircraft from WWII. I think they look OK.
- Underside = Tamiya XF-21 – (I should have added around 30% white)
- Upper dark sea grey = 50% XF-66 and 50% XF-63 + spot XF-8 + spot X-16 to add a bluish hue
- Upper dark slate grey = 9 parts XF-49 + 7 parts XF-63 + spot XF-62 olive drab
- Interior green cockpit = 50% XF-71 + 50% X-2 white
- Interior green in engine bay = 2 x XF-4 + 1 x XF-5 + 20% XF-20 medium grey
FAA Hellcats didn't use the rockets (apparently) so I went for two 500lb GP bombs.
Painting the inside of the undercarriage bays was easy: use the same colour as underside of aircraft.
The white of the front cowling is blown out in the photos - it is weathered...I promise!
Weathering as follows:
- Gloss coat using Tamiya X-22 acrylic
- Decals applied using MIG decal solvent
- Gloss coat again to protect decals
- Then used MIG washes - starship grime and dark wash - I like these products as they are actually quite oily. Let them dry and then work them in using a soft brush with a small amount of turpentine or white spirits
- Then let dry for 24 hours
- Final matt coat using Tamiya TS-80 flat clear decanted from the can and thinned with Tamiya lacquer thinners. Several thin coats are misted on to give a nice finish. For years I have battled to find a matt varnish that works. This one definitely does!!!
- Exhaust stains are dark black/brown mix over a medium grey
- Gun stains done using pastels
- Oh, yes, and I used those fantastic Uschi van der Rosten mottle templates to provide a patchy finish to the paint
Airfix provides articulated ailerons, elevators and rudders and the landing flaps can be posed up or down. This is not in a gimmicky way per early Trumpeter kits. The hinges are really robust and the control surfaces fit closely to the wing without any unsightly gaps. Most of the photos of Hellcats show them with everything neat and tidy when static...so it was with mine then.
I so thoroughly enjoyed this build that I took my 24th Mossie down from the shelf of doom (after resting there for close on 8 years) and have cleaned it using the garden hose to remove various spider nests...we will see how that one goes.
© Malcolm Reid 2021
This article was published on Friday, March 12 2021; Last modified on Saturday, March 13 2021