Thank you to Bert Kinzey, Chris Sakal and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler and aviation historian, in a digital format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching history, details, and versions of the iconic F6F Hellcat. This new digital volume is a must-have!
The publication is a thorough and up-to date documentation of the F6F Hellcat, well-suited for modeler and the aviation aficionado. Detail & Scale has always set a high standard, but Digital Volume 10 has exceeded even this high standard. The first Hellcat volume was released in 1987, followed by a revised second volume published in 1996. The third revision includes much more information from historically accurate F3F-3 restorations, more photography, and an expanded modeler’s section. As always, I certainly learned a thing or two during this review!
This iBook features 283 digital pages, 315 zoomable high-resolution digital photographs of which 208 are color, and 23 superb color line drawings and detail illustrations. The iBook format retains the cherished look and feel of the original and current print-on-demand Detail & Scale series, and this new volume fits right in with my research collection.
The cover page and chapter pages feature custom artwork depicting Lt.(jg) Alex Vraciu and his Hellcat in action at the height of the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The artwork was created in close cooperation between artist Stu Shepherd and Detail & Scale. The list of contributors and sources fills a good part of a page and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume. On digital page v of the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. I would expect a similar operational description in a Kindle version. The authors’ biographies begin on digital p. ix and the illustrator’s biography appears on digital p. xiii.
This chapter provides historical context for the publication. Many museums and individuals contributed photos and research material access to the authors to produce this exceptional volume.
Chapter 1: Hellcat History
The early design concepts of Grumman are contrasted with another manufacturer of a famous aircraft, the Vought Corporation. Powerplants, variants, and other development facts are found here. Prototype flights, carrier qualifications and first combat experience occurred within 14 months, a remarkable timeframe. An excellent set of dimensions and line drawings rounds out the chapter.
Chapter 2: Hellcat Variants
The overall form of the Hellcat changed very little throughout its life, attesting to remarkable mission adaptability. All of the F6F variants are described in this chapter. I particularly appreciate the detailed Blue Angel and drone sections. I also thought the role of the F6F as a test bed for the Sparrow I missile was a fitting handoff of sorts toward the future.
Chapter 3: Foreign Hellcats
Britain operated F6Fs in the European and Pacific theaters during World War 2. France also operated Hellcats later in Indochina, while attempting to regain the former French colony. Uruguay flew a number of F6F-3s and F6F-5s as part of the country’s naval aviation arm.
Chapter 4: Interview with David McCampbell
This chapter is retained from previous editions. Time has not diminished the importance of Captain McCampbell’s interview to the history of the Hellcat.
Chapter 5: Hellcat Details
This section is filled with mainly color and a few B&W images of internal and external details. There is wealth of information here, and much of it is taken from museum restorations, including more recently completed projects. This chapter is a detailer’s gold mine.
Chapter 6: Hellcat Paint Schemes & Markings
In addition to the tri-color and sea blue schemes so well known, other less familiar ones are described and illustrated here. Post-war training, reservist, and drone colors round out the surprisingly varied colors of the Hellcat throughout its history
Chapter 7: Modelers Section
This signature chapter of Detail & Scale does an excellent job of covering the very wide range and history of Hellcat kits. Kits are grouped into “older kits” and “more recent kits” subchapters. All known releases appear to be listed and critiqued, even if rare and little known. A very detailed build review of the recently released Airfix 1:24 scale F6F-5 is of particular note. If you are considering purchasing this excellent kit, make sure you purchase and consult this Detail & Scale volume. I very nearly bought the kit based on this review!
More from Detail & Scale
Many of the Detail & Scale online resources, publications, and related links are found in this section. The live links put all sorts of good information at your fingertips.
Content Coverage Summary
In terms of content, this is another exceptional publication. In addition to the tremendous wealth of photographs and other information, this volume is written well, with an engaging style. The photograph resolution is superb, and the variety and diversity of images make Volume 10 invaluable. As always, the ability of electronic media to effectively conduct research and find information reduces barriers to verify and/or discover other sources. I found the volume’s organization to be excellent. I came away with a more thorough understanding of the Hellcat. I also spent lots of time in the extensive image collections, scheming about the best ways to detail a model!
Other considerations for digital format you should know
I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want a digital format book, instead of a paperback?" I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone else, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information. I also have tons of books in my library, mostly in dusty residence on stoic-looking bookshelves. This e-book format provides many advantages for the modeler. I can imagine that this publication will be a stunning addition to any USN aviation enthusiast’s digital or traditional library. I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but operations on the Amazon Kindle platform are nearly identical. At about $13.00, you can’t beat the price! I no longer buy hardcopy references if a digital version is available, following the trend of many major research libraries.
But if you are not sold on digital format, Detail & Scale is taking advantage of print-on-demand technologies and at this time many of their publications are available in one-off, hard-copies for traditionalists. Everyone will be happy!
I am extremely positive about this publication, as I continue to be for all the D&S digital publications I use. I found Volume 10 to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool.
Detail & Scale Series Volume 10 has my highest recommendation. I can’t find any negatives in this publication or in the delivery format.
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am very pleased to see the Digital Volumes continuing to be released, and I’m sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!