Published on
October 29, 2015
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Base Kit
Any F6F with Early 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 Hellcat’s early armament configuration, six .50 cal Browning barrels with drilled cooling jackets visible, 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 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 set is an ideal upgrade for Hellcats equipped with the early style of armament depicted in this upgrade. 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. Unlike the later style of covered barrels, the barrel tip and the cooling jacket appear as distinctly separate parts. To recreate this, the four inner barrels feature very fine metal work to depict the step between the outer jacket and inner barrel. The small barrel ends are not drilled out, however, they do have a slight depression that should stand out with a wash. On the innermost barrels, extremely fine holes are drilled into the side of the barrel to further create the look of a cooling jacket. Although the cooling jackets are not separate pieces, as found in the larger scale sets, the innermost barrels still look fantastic.

The set’s instructions include a small photo of a WWII Hellcat with .50 cal. cooling jackets visible, a diagram to help ensure proper placement of the various barrel lengths, and metric measurements to aid in mounting the barrels. While no details are provided on which Hellcats used the early style of armament in the instructions, your references should help you determine if this set, or Master’s late-style F6F-5 armament set (AM-72-087), are appropriate for your own build.

I compared Master’s set to the gun barrels found in Eduard’s fantastic 1/72 scale F6F-3 Weekend Edition 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 Master products I’ve used and reviewed, this early armament Hellcat set is a real gem. 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 these small touches help any build stand out!

My thanks to Master 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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