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Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat 'ProfiPACK'

Scale: 1/48th
Manufacturer: Eduard
Ref No: 8227
Material: IM, PE, R, Ma

Kit Review
Eduard first did a ProfiPACK version of the F6F-3 back in 2008 (#8221) and reissued it in 2010 and 2014, this particular version was released in 2018 and features new decal options and thus box art etc.

Being a ProfiPACK version you get the option of pre-painted photo-etched for the instrument panel, plus you have decals for the side consoles. The interior builds up pretty easily, although I opted for the decals on both the instrument panel and side consoles. The whole interior was done the Interior Green, applied over black as to afford a bit of post-shading effect. The etched seat belts fitted without too much problem, once moulded to shape prior to gluing, but I admit to being of an age now where my eyesight does not allow me to fit or worry about the smaller etched parts of the buckles etc (PE5). The clear lens for the gunsight can be left off until later if you prefer, as it can be easily knocked off whilst assembling the fuselage. I admit I forgot the pre-painted crossbars (PE34) for each side window and I have to say that I found the separate side windows were not the best of fits, being set a little too deeply into the fuselage and thus resulting in the front upright frame being below the level of the corresponding fuselage region at the top and bottom. The elevators are separate, but moulded with a locating tab so, as supplied, they can only be set in the neutral position. The engine is simple but effective and once painted and then given a dark wash all the fins on the cylinders will stand out nicely. Take note of the cowl type in stage F, as these are dependant on the decal option you are building. The little etched screen inside the cowling (PE14) is an example of the type of extra detail the ProfiPACK series offers and is well worth paying a little extra for. 
As I was intending to use brass gun barrels, the inserts (A8 and A9) in each wing had the barrels cut off and just the block added inside each wing because it gave a more solid area to drill into. The wing halves are a perfect fit and the ailerons are separate, but again the locating tap only allows the neutral position to be depicted. The landing flaps are also separate, but again these can only be depicted in the stowed position, you will have to use aftermarket resin flaps if you want these depicted extended (Quick & Easy do a set for example). The tip light lenses are separate clear parts, as is the landing alignment lamp in the port wing leading edge, so these are all left off until final assembly along with the landing lamp lens (H15). The secondary undercarriage doors (G41 and G42) fit so well, they don't need cement and thus can be slotted in at the end of the build. The undercarriage itself is best assembled in situ, but without actually gluing it in place, that way you can align all the parts, let the unit dry and then remove it as one for the painting stage (leave off the doors and wheels and paint them separately though). It is amazing how quickly the model is built, even building four at once as I was, the bulk of the builds were done in under a week
Colour & Markings
The model was primed with Mr Surfacer 1000 and as the model needed no filler whatsoever, only a little rescribing was needed along the main fuselage dorsal and ventral spines. The first colour was Insignia White on the undersides and for this I used the Hataka lacquer. The colour is first applied along all the panel lines, then lightly into each panel before finally a fine mist goes overall. This should give a nice patchy effect to give some contrast to a colour that can otherwise look 'flat'. The demarcation between the upper and lower regions was done along the fuselage using rolls of Blu-Tak to get a diffused edge, then the Intermediate Blue (this time Mr Aqueous Hobby Color) was applied in a similar patchy manner. The final task was, once the second colour had fully cured, to add a similar demarcation along the fuselage sides and up ahead of the vertical fin so that the Glossy Sea Blue could be applied. The upper most region of the dorsal spine plus the wings and tailplanes should be glossy, with the regions on the sides of the fuselage in a non-specular (matt) version, but for modelling using a gloss effect can look a bit odd, so I went with a satin effect instead during the final varnishing stage (matt the whole model, then freehand apply satin varnish to the spine, wings and tail). As I opted for Lt Lochridge's machine, this had the dorsal spine and vertical fin in Insignia White, so these elements were actually done at the same time as the undersides (sorry, got that out of sequence). With all the colours on, the model got a couple of light coats of gloss acrylic varnish so that the decals could be applied.
The decals were superb, they are beautifully printed and pulled down into the recessed detail with the help of a little bit of Micro Sol. The stencils are just the same, but I did find that the stencil diagram on the last page of the instructions does not match the key used on the actual decal sheet! This meant you had to go and hunt for each stencil, which required a magnifying glass to see them, so it was annoying and something I only found in this particular kit, as the others I build all had stencil diagrams that used a key that matched that on the actual decal sheet? Once every decal was applied and had dried overnight, they were all sealed with a couple of light passes with acrylic gloss varnish. Once that had dried overnight fully, a dark oil wash was applied to all the recessed detail, then the excess wiped off before the whole model was sealed with that combination of matt or satin varnish.
Final Details
The lovely resin main wheels were pre-painted and assembled before being added to the built oleo legs. New brake lines were added from fine black wire before each leg could be pushed into place and secured with extra thin cement. The secondary doors (G41 and G42) just pushed into place and I added the retracted tail hook (G48), which was painted with a graphite colour. The drop tank was built up early on and painted Insignia White, but I found that the front brace arm (G29) insert, was a poor fit and in filling and sanding it one of the struts broke off. I therefore found plastic rod of a similar diameter and removed the remaining strut before drilling the tank and inserting lengths of the rod to replace them. This later allowed me to cut them to length by test-fitting the tank in situ. The instructions have bombs racks shown, but they only relate to one decal option in the kit and the -3 should only have one rack under the starboard wing, there should not be one under the port wing as depicted in the instructions. The retaining straps for the drop tanks are partially moulded onto the tank itself and in this ProfiPACK version the rest of each is supplied as etched. These look very good, but you can't help have a visible joint line between the two, so overall each strap entirely as etched would have been a lot better. The canopy comes with open or closed versions for the main canopy and you need to be very careful how you glue the front windscreen on because its shape coupled with the profile of the cover above the instrument panel means that capillary action will have liquid cement marking the inside in the lower section on each side, so go with something like Contacta or a strong PVA like Pacer 560 instead. All the clear light lenses need to be painted as per the instructions with clear red, blue, green or yellow, then secured with PVA. I did find that each tip light needed to be trimmed to fit, which is very fiddly, but otherwise they are just too big as supplied. The dorsal spine lights fit nicely, although I did open up their mounting holes a little with a 1.5mm drill and that ensured they slotted into place firmly. The last item was the aerial masts and lead - oh dear, I must have knocked off the masts a dozen times, they just get in the way and because the locating pin and hole is too insubstantial and shallow, you just can't get a secure joint. After much swearing I did get each to hold eventually and then attach length of fishing line to represent the aerial leads.
What a lovely kit, it fits together like a dream with no need for filler and the detail is excellent with the overlapping plates on the fuselage nicely depicted. Doing four at once would have made such a task quite daunting, but they all went together so well that it was quite enjoyable to make and I just love the white dorsal spine on the option I went for, it was my whole reason for building this version!

See my other builds here:
Hellcat Mk I
Hellcat Mk II
F6F-5N Night Fighter

Paints used
Alclad II lacquer
White Aluminium
Aqua Gloss (varnish)

Gunze Mr Hobby Aqueous Hobby Color acrylic:
Mr Surfacer 1000 Grey
Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 (Black)
Mr Levelling Thinner
H54 Navy Blue
H56 Intermediate Blue
H58 Interior Green

Hataka lacquer:
HTK-C049 Insignia White

Tamiya Color acrylic:
X-1 Gloss Black
X-2 Gloss White
X-7 Gloss Red
X-22 Gloss Clear
X-23 Clear Blue
X-24 Clear Yellow
X-25 Clear Green
X-27 Clear Red
XF-85 Rubber Black