by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
I have to admit I've shied away from 1/144 scale kits since being put off by some of the rather toy-like models that appeared in the 1970s. With my eyes "off the ball", I had no idea just how much times had changed until I was lucky enough to see the latest gems in this scale produced by Platz in Japan.
This is a double kit with parts for two complete aircraft packed in a tidy end-opening box, the rear of which doubles as a full-colour painting guide. Each aircraft comprises:
36 x grey styrene parts
3 x clear styrene parts
Decals are included for 3 x colour schemes
The moulding is quite excellent. The parts are crisply formed and display a remarkable level of detail for such a small model. The surface finish consists of finely engraved panel lines.
The interior is simplified, with no control column, but there's still a separate tub with a seat, instrument panel and rear armour. The undercarriage is very neat, with separate gear legs and wheels with detailed hubs. On the tailwheel, Platz have even managed to include the lightening holes that slipped past Eduard in their quarterscale Hellcat! Stores include a centreline drop tanks and a pair of bombs and racks, although the latter aren't shown in the instructions.
The cowl encloses a finely detailed engine, while the propeller has a well rendered hub.
Rounding everything off, the crystal clear canopy has crisply defined frames and separate quarterlights.
Instructions and DecalsThe assembly diagrams are well drawn and easy to follow. A nice development compared with Platz's earlier kits is that the text is now much more geared to an international market, with bi-lingual Japanese/English notes. Colour matches are provided for Gunze Sangyo, Tamiya and ModelMaster paints.
Decals are included for a trio of Hellcats:
1. F6F-3, VF-27, USS Princeton, Maui, May 1944
2. F6F-3, VF-9, USS Essex, 1944
3. F6F-3, VF-4, 1943
The glossy Cartograph decals look excellent quality, printed perfectly in register. There are a number of stencils, including propeller makers logos.
ConclusionPlatz's F6F-3 Hellcat is a delightful little kit. It's clear that an F6F-5 is also planned and I'll certainly look forward to it. Despite the small scale, the model doesn't compromise on detail and dedicated 1/144 scale enthusiasts will be bound to snap it up. I can also recommend it to modellers used to working in a larger scale looking for a change of diet - this and Platz's other WW2 fighters have made an instant convert out of me! Highly recommended.
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