Published on
August 29, 2011
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Cyber-Hobby - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art


The Grumman F6F Hellcat series was one of the most important U.S. Navy carrier fighters of World War II, with the first F6F-3 production models appearing in late 1942. Powered by a P.W. R-2800-10 radial engine of 2000 hp., the fighter was powerful, heavily armed with six .50 cal. machine guns, well protected with armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, and fast, 335 mph. at sea level and 376 mph. at 17,300 ft. Although it could be out-turned by the Zero, its main adversary, it held virtually every other advantage, especially since by the time the Hellcat came into service in 1943, many of the highly experienced Japanese pilots had been lost in combat, and their replacements were poorly trained compared to the American pilots, who entered combat with roughly four times the flying time of their Japanese counterparts.

A total of 4,402 F6F-3’s was built before production ended in April, 1944. About 200 F6F-3N’s and 18 F6F-3E radar equipped night fighters were also built. The later F6F-5 was powered by a 2200 hp. P.W. R-2800-10W, increasing the maximum speed to 386 mph. at 17,300 ft. It had a modified cowling, windshield, different ailerons, more armor protection, and bomb and rocket racks under the wings. Some aircraft carried two 20 mm. cannons in addition to four .50 cal. machine guns. A total of 6,436 F6F-5’s was built, and with prototypes, this brought the production total to 12,274 aircraft. Variants included the F6F-5E, F6F-5N, F6F-5P, and F6F-5K target drone. One means of quick identification of Hellcat models is the fact that nearly all F6F-3’s were delivered in the tri-color camouflage scheme, whereas F6F-5’s were painted dark glossy sea blue. A few F6F-3’s were repainted sea blue later in their careers, so this is not always a foolproof method. Also, F6F-3’s had the extra window behind the cockpit, while the F6F-5 did not. Many F6F-3’s and F6F-5’s were delivered to the Royal Navy, and postwar, the type was operated by the French Navy and Uruguay.

The Hellcat had an impressive war record, destroying enemy aircraft at a ratio of 19-1. Many Navy and Marine pilots became aces on the type. One of the advantages of the type was that it was very easy to fly, and had a large wing, which made carrier landings easier. After the war, the Hellcat quickly disappeared from active Navy fighter squadrons, being replaced by the F4U Corsair, F8F Bearcat, and the early jet fighters. Some were used as target drones, and a few were launched as pilotless missiles against North Korean targets during the Korean War. Navy Reserve units used the type until the mid fifties, and the survivors were stored at NAF Litchfield Park, Arizona, where I photographed some as late as 1958. Most were then scrapped, but a few were sold to civilians, and the survivors are now flying on the warbird circuit.


The Grumman Hellcat is described in every book published about famous World War II fighters. However, more detailed information can be found in the two excellent Squadron paperbacks, the In-Action series and the Walkaround. In addition, Bert Kinsey’s Detail and Scale book is also useful, especially for interior details. The old Profile issue may also have good information. There is plenty of information available on the Hellcat.

The Kit

The Dragon/Cyber Hobby Grumman F6F-5N kit appears to be part of a series of Hellcat kits, as there are some parts for other variants included with this kit. The kit consists of 112 styrene parts, 3 clear plastic canopy parts, and 4 brass photo etched seat belts. A few of the styrene parts are not to be used, and the clear plastic canopy provides an open canopy for the F6F-5, while the closed canopy which for some reason is labeled as “do not use”, although it is for the same airplane. Molding is crisp, with excellent surface detail, and there is only a little minor flash. The outlines appear to be accurate, and if anything, the kit suffers from excessive detail, as much of the interior detail could never be seen from outside, unless you are building the airplane with panels open. One good feature is that the plane can be built in either wings folded or wings extended position. One thing I liked was the fact that the sprue attachment tabs were, as much as possible, connected to parts in places that were not on the kit exterior.

Instructions are very detailed, provided exploded drawings on how the kit’s components are to be assembled. Most are very helpful, but I found a few of the drawings to be confusing, especially those associated with the wing folding mechanism. Some interior paint details are missing, although references can help solve this problem.

On the down side, there were a few problems. To be really nit-pickin’, the instrument panel lacks a radar scope, a thing that can be easily made from some of the sprue included in the kit. Another problem was that the engine, while highly detailed, does not line up with the magnetos upright as they show in the photos. The center cylinder on the front bank should be centered, with the magneto housings and prop governor lined up straight, whereas, as you assemble the engine on the kit, they come out canted to the left as you face the engine. Also, the cowling is very thin, and needs a lot of trimming as well as some puttying, before it is attached to the fuselage. There are holes for tabs for the cowl to fit into, but no tabs. In addition, the rocket racks are molded with the rockets instead of on the wings, which creates no problem for a standard F6F-5, but for the F6F-5N version, which was essentially a night fighter, it would be more appropriate to model the airplane without bombs or rockets aboard. I could find no photos of F6F-5N’s with rockets or bombs on the racks, and I would doubt that they ever carried them in combat. I had to trim off the attachment fittings from the rockets and attach them to the wings in the proper position. In addition, the wings have no aileron hinges, something which shows up clearly in photos, and which are included in the Hasegawa and Academy kits. Also, parts B7 through B-10 are parts of the wing assembly, and I found their locations and positions to be confusing in the instructions. The inside part didn’t fit with the folded wing structure installed, so I just left them off. I’m just going to build the model, not fly it.

The cockpit interior is very nicely done, with a floor, seat, stick, instrument panel, throttle control, rear bulkhead, rudder pedal assembly, gunsight, and side panels. Photo etched brass is provided for the seat belts and harness. Ahead of the panel is the firewall, with an engine mount and some kind of oil tank, neither of which can be seen on the assembled model. Behind the pilot’s seat is another bulkhead, with another tank. Again, invisible. The engine has a complete exhaust system, again, none of which can be seen with the cowling installed. The landing gear is very complex, with each leg consisting of 8 parts, including the wheels. The wings have a number of parts in the outer wing panels which simulate the exposed detail when the wings are folded. There are two wing attachment brackets for each wing, one folded and one extended. Fit is a bit of a problem here. The pitot tube is way too large for a Hellcat, and should probably be trimmed down. The ailerons are molded individually and fitted into the wings, while the rudder is a separate piece, and elevators are cast with the horizontal stabilizers. The tail hook can be extended or retracted, a good point. The prop is very well done, and just pushes onto the tapered crankshaft on the front of the engine. The external fuel tank consists of 6 parts, and this doesn’t line up too well with the holes in the belly.


The kit provides decals for three F6F-5N’s. None of these has much color, as all of the night fighters were sea blue with minimal white markings. One plane, “White 18” was from VF(N)-90 from USS Enterprise, in 1944. A second option is “White 13”, flown by Lt. William E. Henry of VF(N)-41 from the USS Independence. The instructions say that the date is 1945, but another source lists the pilot’s name and dates it as Sept. 1944. A third aircraft, “7-4” is from VF(N)-76 from the USS Hornet II, 1945. The decals are of extremely high quality. See comments later in the review.


This kit has generally very good fit, and doesn’t require much putty. A few small parts are difficult to install, but basically, after all of the intricate detailed parts are assembled, overall assembly is quite simple. The key to all of this is to know when to paint the various parts. I used the fixed canopy, because, when I tried to attach the forward windshield, it slanted back at an angle, so it was easier to just attach the one piece canopy, which lined up perfectly. I then masked it off, painting it interior green and then gloss sea blue.

Painting and Finishing

Late war Navy airplanes are very easy to paint, since they are usually glossy sea blue overall. I did the interiors in US Interior Green and Zinc Chromate, colors I mix from Model Master enamels. After assembly, I sprayed a coat of glossy sea blue, which for some reason, was dry only a few minutes later.

When I had the fuselage and wing panels completely done, I installed the landing gear and belly tank.

Then I detailed the wing interiors, and installed the radome and pitot tube. The decals were Italian, by Cartograf, and were some of the best single color white decals I’ve ever seen in a kit. It is just about impossible to see any clear decal on the insignias, and there is very little silvering. These decals do not need any trimming, as they have no edges outside of the color. There are a lot of small items, such as “no step” or “hydraulic fluid” placards on this airplane, and these are very nicely done, although you’ll have to have a magnifying glass or Superman X-Ray Vision to read them. I had more problem with the instruction sheet, as the placement instructions for the decals were very small. The magnifying glass helped out here. One problem is that when these decals were printed, they were on white paper, which made them difficult to see. I’ve seen some white decal sheets printed on blue or another color, which makes things much easier.

After the decals were in place, I sprayed the model with Glosscote and then a light spray of Dullcote. After that, I installed the radio antenna wires, wings, and propeller. The folded wings were a little difficult to line up properly, but with the right profanity, I got it done. It was finally finished.


This kit is probably the definitive kit of the Hellcat for anyone wanting to do a superdetailed model of this plane. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, but for a modeler with average skills, it is a good kit to build. You’ll have to read the directions carefully and have some references handy, but with some patience, you’ll eventually have an excellent model of this very famous aircraft. Highly recommended for experienced modelers.

Thanks to Cyber Model, Dragon, and IPMS/USA for the review kit.


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.