Trumpeter | 02256: 1/32 Grumman F6F-3

Reviewed by Randy Bumgardner

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Trumpeter has given us many new tool kits of subjects that we may never see from mainstream manufacturers. They continue this trend with another kit in their Hellcat series, the F6F-3. Delayed for almost eight months, the F6F-3 has finally been released. Compared to Trumpeter's first offering of this aircraft, the F6F-5N, very little has changed. A review of the original release can be found here.

The parts layout is almost exactly the same as in the F6F-5N kit – with one exception. A new sprue with the correct windscreen has been substituted for the -5/-5N windscreen. The clear parts are nice and thin with almost zero distortion or flaws.

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The markings provided in the box are for two Pacific aces who flew the -3:

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The decals are nice and thin with great registration. However, the fun-bus slams on the brakes right there... The colors look alright, although the insignia blue does look a little “too blue”, but the alignment of the stars and bars if incorrect. The bars in the insignia are too low. In every reference I've found the star and bars are aligned, or in some cases, the star is slightly below the bars. Trumpeter has this reversed. On top of this, both of the markings options are incorrect. In February of 1944, Vraciu was flying “white 19” not “black 19”. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen the upper aircraft numbers, e.g., the fuselage and tail numbers, in black on the Hellcat. In addition, he had already scored some victories and had a scoreboard on his aircraft.

On McCampbell's aircraft, Trumpeter overlooked the decals for the white CAG fin flash at the top of the vertical stabilizer. It is included in the painting callouts as a simple white stripe across the top of the tail. Trumpeter neglected the blue “CAG” designation that goes inside the stripe. However, what I find interesting, and the strangest error in the markings, is the actual markings themselves. Trumpeter asserts that this particular aircraft was marked this particular way during October of 1944. However, McCampbell didn't fly “The Minsi” during October of 1944 – he had already received a new -5 and named it “Minsi II”, followed shortly afterward by another -5 named “Minsi III”. The first of the Minsi's, “The Minsi”, was replaced by “Minsi II” in September of 1944. So, perhaps Trumpeter didn't do enough research, or perhaps they meant to type “September” instead of “October” on the markings guide.

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As far as the rest of the kit is concerned, I imagine it will go together just like their F6F-5N kit does. The fit is pretty good and there is a lot of detail in this kit. The surface detail contains recessed panel lines with the dimpled rivets that we all know and love. The rivet detail is not too bad on this series of kits. I've seen far worse from Trumpeter.

On the down side, the fuselage has not changed from there previous release, the F6F-5N. When the -3 kit didn't ship in August of 2007, and was delayed until April of 2008, I had hoped that Trumpeter was going to re-mold the fuselage. Alas, this didn't come to pass. This was one of the first things I checked when I received the review sample was the sides of the fuselage. I also noticed that the cowling restricted the modeler to a late series -3. The cowl does not have the lower cowl flaps, nor does it have the exhaust bugle on each side. So, if you want an early to mid production F6F-3, you will have some rescribing and scratchbuilding in your future.

However, if you are not detail hungry and are willing to overlook a few things, this kit does build up into a nice representation of a Hellcat.

Many thanks to Stevens International for the review sample.

© Randy Bumgardner 2008

This product is available from the following LSP sponsors

Sprue Brothers

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016