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Book Review
F6F Hellcat
F6F Hellcat In Detail & Scale
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Detail & Scale is a publishing company of modelers for modelers, and F6F Hellcat in Detail & Scale is their latest extraordinary source for anyone interested in the legendary Grumman Hellcat. History and specific aircraft details are presented and illustrated for this dominant US Navy carrier fighter, as well as an interview with Captain David McCampbell, US Navy's ace of aces.

F6F Hellcat in Detail & Scale is Volume 10 in the growing Detail & Scale Series by Detail & Scale, but is actually the 79th volume in a series going back more than forty years. This book offers modelers and historians of the F6F Hellcat an excellent source of history and detail. Detail and Scale is a publishing company that has been producing high-quality technical and historical military aviation books since c.1978. F6F Hellcat is presented through 102 pages, brimming with 270 color photographs (192 in color), and 23 illustrations. It is catalogued as ISBN 9798625145039.

Many Detail and Scale books occupy my library and they are excellent sources for modeling. They always impressed me and yet only recently have I comprehended just how comprehensive they are. Founders and authors Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak bring some 60 years of first-hand military aviation expertise into their Detail and Scale brand. This book features a new author, Chris Sakal, a life-long aviation enthusiast and Airframe & Powerplant mechanic, maintains USAF jets. Roszak, an USAF navigator who retired as a colonel, creates the illustrations in the books. This trio of Detail and Scale creators are modelers, too.

Though there is a lot of information here for modelers more on that later this is actually a history of the iconic Hellcat that any aviation fan should find fascinating. Detail and Scale book are available in print, and eBooks for the Kindle and iBook. The electronic versions feature expanded page counts and photo galleries.

As Grumman's F6F was supremely successful for the Navy, so should this book be for historians and modelers.

This is the third iteration of F6F Hellcat in Detail & Scale. The first was published in 1987 and each revised release featured more textual and visual information. Since the first release, several F6Fs have been restored, allowing a more comprehensive look at the fighter. Within 102 pages we are presented to the Hellcat through 28 chapters and subsections:
    Hellcat History
    Detail & Scale Drawings
    Hellcat Variants
      XF6F-1 & XF6F-4
      Blue Angels
      Hellcat Drones
    Foreign Hellcats
    Interview with David McCampbell
    Hellcat Details
      Cockpit Details
      Windscreen & Canopy Details
      Fuselage Details
      Wing Details
      Landing Gear Details
      Tail Details
      Engine Details
      Armament & External Stores Details
    Hellcat Paint Schemes & Markings
    Modelers Section
Of all US fighters, Hellcats ran up the second highest score of enemy aircraft destroyed. Pilots loved its excellent carrier handling characteristics. It was easy to mass-produce. F6F quickly became USN's primary fighter aboard USN's armada against Japan, and fought Germans, too.

The single page Introduction acknowledges sources and contributors while piloting the reader into eight pages of text and images of Hellcat History. This chapter presents the F6F in a concise history that also discusses the F4U Corsair, and the Hellcat's extraordinary place in the annals of combat aircraft history.

Hellcat Variants require 27 pages to present the the Hellcat pride. This is especially interesting to me as prototypes and the full range of developments are usually not covered in other Hellcat books. At least not as extensively as in this book. These sections explore tweaks and redesign attempts to make the F6F even more formidable. Blue Angels and Hellcat Drones are part of this chapter, and both are remarkable. The drone section is particularly interesting as it recounts F6F drone roles for both target practice, and as guided missiles; one story is "The Battle of Palmdale" where a Hellcat made a laughingstock of sophisticated USAF jet fighter interceptors. The section is fortified with vivid color photographs of garish hi-visibility paint jobs, too. Not only that, included is a page of photos from US Navy manuals, and original artwork, of the F6F-5K cockpit.

Hellcats were popular aircraft for other countries and Foreign Hellcats gives a brief 3-page look at the countries that flew them.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is a six-page Interview with David McCampbell, USN's ace-of-aces. Modelers will be interested in his recounting of the colors and markings of his F6Fs.

That wraps up the history part of this book, although the next section Hellcat Details is appropriate for both historians and modelers. The eight topics are richly populated with detailed photographs, essential for modelers. Photographic detail and information of structural components, instrument panels and consoles, and an abundance of other items (some but not all are mentioned in the following descriptions) are shown with clarity. The text often includes BuNo. serials for particular variants. Few aspects of an airplane are as popular as the cockpit and this subject launches the section:
    Cockpit Details:
      * six pages with 23 photos
      * F6F-3 and F6F-5 differences
      * Extensive discussion about cockpit and component colors
    Windscreen & Canopy Details: two pages with eight photos
    Fuselage Details: five pages with and 22 photos not limited to
      * Exhaust ports and cowl details
      * IFF and other lights
      * Antennas
    Wing Details: five pages with 26 photos
      * Catapult bridle hook
      * trim tabs
      * Approach light (not a landing light) and nav lights
      * Wing folds
      * Control surface actuators
      * Painting details
    Landing Gear Details: three pages with 12 photos
      * Wheel details
      * Service data plate color
      * Gear wells
      * Tail wheel
    Tail Details: two pages with seven photos
      * Arresting hook
      * Access panels
      * Lights
    Engine Details: three pages with 11 photos
      * Unique colors
      * Stenciling
      * Details of the R-2800, front and rear
    Armament & External Stores Details: five pages with 18 photos
      * Machine guns
      * Cannon
      * Drop tanks, bombs, rockets (and exhaust nozzles!)
      * Pylons

Hellcat Paint Schemes & Markings is six highly informative pages with period color photographs detailing the paint schemes and markings F6Fs wore, with Federal Standard (FS) numbers noted.
    * Blue Gray Over Light Gray October 1941-February 1943
    * Tri-Color Camouflage February 1943-March 1944
    * Gloss Sea Blue March 1944-1956
    * Drones and Non-Standard Paint Schemes
    * G-Symbol System
    * National insignia evolution
    * Paint schemes and color demarcation characteristics

A superb section for modelers and historians alike, which segues into...

Modelers Section - I said it in previous reviews and I'll say it again, Modelers!, you will love this section! Dozens of injection-molded Hellcats have been released since the 1950s in dozens of scales. While the five main "modern" F6F scales are 1/144, 1/72, 1/48, 1/32, and 1/24, Modelers Section begins with the survey Older Kits, which discusses older, mainly collector valued, Hellcat kits from days of yore. If you are familiar with the "box scale" era then you know airplanes were kitted in some freaky scales, the popular F6F included, ranging from 1/205 through 1/119 to 1/51. (Some advertised 1/48 kits are actually 1/50, a common scale from Japan in the 1960s and 70s. Read this section and then look over your stash - you may be sitting on a collector's gold mine! (Those scales exclude F6Fs scaled for ship models. Count those and you can add at least 1/720, 1/700, 1/480, 1/350 and 1/200 - but don't forget the big 1/16 balsa F6F from Guillow!)

Seventeen pages survey F6F models with concise reviews of all the kits, including scales, brands and rebrands. Kit histories are mentioned, as are aftermarket offerings and supporting products. Detail and Scale even offers recommendations of the best F6F in a scale.

Accuracy characteristics and details for particular kits are pointed out, i.e., mismatching F6F-3 and F6F-5 characteristics, lack of rocket stubs, misshaping of the drop tank, torque links, wing fold options, lack or presence of clear lenses for nav lights, etc. It is important to understand what changes were made for variants, and the authors' text helps with this information.

Kits are presented with photographs of several completed models. Aftermarket items are mentioned, and strengths and weaknesses of each kit are discussed. From the introduction through the modeling chapter, such expertise of the authors and contributors should allow modelers to build best Hellcat model possible.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
As do the other D&S books I have reviewed, this book provides awesome visual support of the text. Previous D&S titles I reviewed - older aircraft that are less accessible - feature a large gallery of artwork. Not so with this book. The authors had great access to the subject aircraft and thus photographs supplant the need for artwork.

Color photographs dominate this book although most of the photos from WWII are black-and-white. Except for the modeling section, every page either has a photo or a graphic. I did not notice a photo that is not studio quality. They are universally excellent, as are the following graphics, several of which are by the august Dana Bell.

A. Artwork and Illustrations
Detail & Scale created 23 original illustrations to support the text.
    1. Detail & Scale 1/72 Five-View Drawings of the F6F-5, and a profile of an F6F-3, including drop tank types and serial numbers.

    2. F6F-3N, VMF(N)-534, color profile.

    3. "Butch", F6F-5N #92, VMF-511, USS Block Island, color profile.

    4. F6F-5N, #13, BuNo. 70147, VF(N)-41,, color profile.

    5. F6F, Blue Angels, color profile, wing markings, and tails.

    6. Hellcat Drone Cockpit Details: original artwork and enhanced US Navy photos of the control stick grip; cockpit forward view; cockpit right side; cockpit left side/center pedestal.

    7. Hellcat Mk.I, 800 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Emperor, in profile and wing upper surfaces.

    8. Hellcat Mk.II, 1839 Naval Air, HMS Indomitable, April 1945, in profile.

    9. F6F-5, FS Arromanches, Indochina, in profile and wing upper surfaces.

    10. F6F, Uruguayan Navy, in profile and wing upper surfaces.

    11. F6F-5, White 1 RR, VF-88, USS Yorktown, color profile.

    12. F6F-3, color profile of overall Gloss Sea Blue with large codes and colored fin tip.

    13. F6F-5, NAS Glenview, 1949, Gloss Sea Blue with International Orange band, in profile.

    14. F6F-5, NAS Columbus, Gloss Sea Blue with redesigned International Orange band, in profile.

    15. F6F-5K, NAS China Lake, 1956, profile in Florescent Red.

    16. F6F-5KD, VU-3-K, USS Philippine Sea, 1953, colorful Hellcat in profile.

B. Charts and Tables
    1. Dimensions: size of the 1/1 F6F and models scale 1/72; 1/48; 1/32; 1/24.

    2. Radar Installations by set, variant, and Bureau Numbers.

    3. Captain McCampbell's Confirmed Victories by date and type of aircraft.

These graphics not only support the excellent gallery of photographs, they strongly enhance the text and also the enjoyment of reading this book.

F6F Hellcat in Detail & Scale is yet another exceptional book from Detail in Scale. It is obvious that military experience and modeling passion cultivate this detailed overview of perhaps the most important USN carrier fighter, and second most successful American fighter in terms of kills. The text is written with a smart balance of readability and "gee-whiz."

Yet again, modelers and historians alike should be thrilled with the level of detailed information exploring legendary F6F Hellcat. The presentation of interior components and special equipment should be especially appreciated. The chapter on models should be eminently essential to modelers.

The gallery of photographs, illustrations, and data graphics powerfully enhances the text.

Once again I do not have any meaningful criticism of this book and enthusiastically recommend it to modelers and students of Grumman's F6F, WWII USN combat aircraft, the Hellcat family, and post-war drones.

You can find out more about this and other Detail and Scale publications at their website:

Please remember to mention to Detail & Scale and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Concise yet exceptional examination of the F6F Hellcat, with excellent text and an extraordinary gallery of photographs and illustrations. Tables present data effectively.
Lows: I do not have any meaningful criticism.
Verdict: Modelers and students of Grumman's F6F, WWII USN combat aircraft, and post-war drones should be thrilled with this book. Heartily recommended.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Vol. 10, 979862514
  PUBLISHED: Jun 18, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Detail & Scale Aviation Publications!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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