The Grumman F6F Hellcat was the second in a series of aircraft that were produced by the Grumman Aircraft “Iron Works” bearing the name of felines. Grumman Cats served the US Naval Air as frontline fighter aircraft for sixty plus years.

       A contract for a successor to the then US Navy frontline fighter, the Grumman F4F Wildcat, was signed on June 30, 1941. Although the family resemblance with the Wildcat is evident in the Hellcat the new airframe was heavier and significantly larger, carried more fuel and ammunition and rather than having the forward landing gear retract into the fuselage the gear rotated 90° and folded into the wing. The XF6F-1 prototype flew on June 26, 1942. The prototype XF6F-3, with a more powerful R-2800 engine flew on July 30, 1942 and the first operational sortie took place in August of 1943.

       The Hellcat was the primary US Navy fighter during the last two years of World War II, also serving with the US Marines and the Royal Navy Fleet Arm. 12,200 Hellcats were produced before production ended. The first of 5,233 enemy aircraft were downed by Hellcat pilots was a Kawanishi H6K near Howland Island. By the end of the war 307 individual Navy and Marine pilots achieved ace status.

       The subject of this article is F6F-3, BuNo 40467 flown by Alexander Vraciu flying with VF-6 from the USS Intrepid during February of 1944. At this time the Hellcat carried 9 victory markings including 4 of them representing three Zekes and a Rufe shot down over Truk on February 17th, 1944. Vraciu would end the war with 19 aerial victories and 21 aircraft destroyed on the ground. He was the fourth ranked Navy Ace and retired from the Navy with the rank of Commander in 1963.

       This was my first build of an Eduard kit and I must say I was impressed with the quality of the kit, clean crisp molded parts that fit together with no puttying required, excellent photo etched detailing that highlights the cockpit and other areas.

       Assembly is straight forward but it does require a high skill level. I always have trouble with fine detailing offered by photo etched parts, my fingers are just too big and I am still working on techniques to get around my ham fistedness. Even with my clumsiness the cockpit came out excellent.

       The surface detail of the kit is above standard and as mentioned above the fit of the parts required no puttying but a little sanding was needed.

       The detailing of the main landing gear was also above par for a 48th scale kit.

       The kit comes with a choice of marking for 5 different aircraft and you must decide which markings before you assemble the engine cowling as there are three sets of cowling halves that match different markings.

       The markings for 40467 include the 9 Kill Markings, the running, bomb carrying Felix the Cat logo of VF-6, the plane’s nickname “Gadget” and a Snorting Bull logo of unknown origin.

       I added detail around the engine by using thin styrene strips to represent the ignition wires. I also used the 8 Lb. test monofilament fishing line for the antenna.

       Testor’s Model Master Enamels were used throughout this build.

       This was a fun kit to build and as always I enjoyed finding out about the history of the airplane and Alexander Vraciu.

       For more information about the history of Hellcat 40467 go to this link: Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat 40467 History

       For more information about the history of Hellcat 40467 go to this link: Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat 40467 History

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