F6F-5 Hellcat Late Armament

Published on
October 29, 2015
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Base Kit
Any F6F with Late Armament
Company: Master Model - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Master Model - Website: Visit Site

Over the past few years, Master has established itself as a quality provider of turned-metal aftermarket details for ships, armor, and aircraft. Their latest set of new releases cover the F6F Hellcat, providing welcome metal details for three variants in three major scales. The detail set under review today covers the F6F-5 Hellcat’s late armament configuration, six covered .50 cal Browning barrels, in 1/72 scale.

Most Hellcats were equipped with six .50 cal machine guns mounted three per wing. The three guns mounted in each wing were staggered, with the innermost sitting forward of the middle gun and the outermost sitting aft, thus the barrels were also staggered when viewed at the leading edge of the wings. In fact, the outermost barrels on each wing were not visible, residing inside a blast tube that ends flush with the leading edge. In 1/72 scale, the .50 cal machine guns found on the Hellcat are diminutive, and regardless of which manufacturer’s kit you select to build, the gun barrels and blast tubes included are featureless rods, at best. Careful drilling may allow the tips to be drilled out, but this will still fail to capture the complexity of the barrels.

Master’s late-style set is an ideal upgrade for Hellcats equipped with the fully covered barrels. This set consists of six turned-brass parts, representing the fitment of each of the three machine guns mirrored on both wings, and a small instruction sheet. As the barrel of the outermost guns are not visible, Master provides a drilled-out brass rod to represent the blast tube they are mounted in. The covered .50 cal guns feature a fairing with a rounded end, nearly completely enclosing the tip of the barrel. The rounded end is beautifully contoured, especially considering how small these barrels are in 1/72 scale! A dime provides some sense of scale in the accompanying photo. The slightly protruding barrel itself is not fully drilled out, but a small depression should accept a wash for a very realistic look.

The set’s instructions include three photos of the Hellcat with covered .50 cals and blast tube visible, a diagram to help ensure proper placement of the various barrel lengths, and metric measurements to aid in mounting the barrels. Beyond branding the set as an F6F-5 product, no details are provided on when the covers appeared on the Hellcats, so your references should help you determine if this set, or Master’s early-style F6F armament set (AM-72-086), are appropriate for your own build.

I compared Master’s set to the gun barrels found in Eduard’s fantastic 1/72 scale F6F-5 kit. Eduard provides the three plastic barrels for each wing attached to a single mounting plug, which fits securely between the wing halves. Mounting the Master replacements should be as easy as cutting off the mounting plug’s plastic barrels and drilling holes for the Master barrels. Thanks to the mounting plug providing a solid backing, I would plan on test fitting the Master parts without glue after drilling the holes and only affixing them permanently during the Hellcat’s final assembly, after the model was painted. Other kits may require the barrels to be mounted earlier, simply to avoid losing the small parts inside a completed wing!

As is typical with all of the Master products I’ve used and reviewed, this F6F-5 Hellcat late armament set is a great value. It’s simple and straightforward to use while also providing an amazing level of detail. I’d highly recommend the set for anyone building a Hellcat in 1/72 scale. The detail is beyond what one can create, even with a steady hand, and it’s the small bits that help any build stand out!

My thanks to Master Model for providing these detail parts for review and my thanks to the IPMS Reviewers’ Corps for the chance to review the set.


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