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Here’s my latest build, hot off the bench – Hasegawa’s 1:48 F6F-5, the “10,000th Hellcat” boxing. The Hasegawa kit can be made into a fine model straight from the box, but I made a few additions and corrections. Good points are excellent parts fit, accurate outline and shapes, finely recessed panel lines, early HVAR’s, and a drop tank. Drawbacks are a canopy that cannot be posed open, average cockpit detail, very basic wheel well detail and off-color decals. Anyone who has built a Hasegawa kit will be familiar with their baffling inability to print the color white on their decal sheets. On an all-blue airplane, the yellow-tinted markings will stand our starkly, so aftermarket decals are a must. Here are some of the corrections and additions I made during construction: I used a True Details cockpit, but soon regretted that decision. The parts fit poorly and threw off the fit of the fuselage, necessitating extra filling and sanding. I used two different Eduard photo-etched sets to add details, including a new instrument panel, rudder pedals, ignition wiring harness, landing gear and gear well details. Once assembled, the cockpit was painted Tamiya acrylic NATO Green. The “grin” of the Hasegawa chin scoop on the cowling is a little off, so I replaced it with a new cowl from Quickboost. Most people will be fine with the kit part, but the resin replacement also features opened cowl flaps, which gives a more animated look to the finished kit. I also added a small section of micro screen to the inside of the chin scoop. I cut away the flaps and replaced them in the lowered position with a CMK resin set. If you do this, you’ll need to scratch-build a well for the flaps, too. The kit machine gun barrels feature holes for cooling vents. They look good, but are incorrect. Gun barrels of F6F’s were in solid metal sleeves. I should have replaced them with styrene rod, but I got lazy and left them alone. For the wingtip navigation lights, I cut away the plastic, and replicated bulbs with small sections of thin styrene rod, painted red and green. I used Micro Krystal Kleer to make lenses for the lights. I made a towing bracket under the tail hook with a small section of wire bent to shape. To display the canopy open, I used a Squadron vac-formed canopy to replace the too-thick kit part, but used the kit windscreen. I painted the simple overall sea blue camouflage (FS #15042) with a Model Master spray can. Warming the can in a sink of warm water helped the paint to spray more evenly. Overall gloss sea blue aircraft can be rather drab, but there are ways to add color to this scheme. It was very common to see overall sea blue Hellcats sporting white drop tanks, holdovers from the previously used tri-color camouflage scheme, so that’s how I painted mine. Also, photos indicate that -5 Hellcats could have either sea blue, aluminum or sometimes white wheels. I painted my wheels Model Master Metalizer Steel, to replicate a weathered and oxidized aluminum look. The rockets were painted Tamiya Medium Grey, with Olive Drab warheads and Steel fuses. I finished the rockets with stencils from an old Pro Modeler decal sheet for US bombs and rockets. Finally, I used strands of my wife’s hair to rig the antenna wire. To recreate the exhaust stains on the fuselage, I used Tamiya Weathering Master sets. These are primarily used to weather tanks and armor models, but work well for aircraft exhaust stains. They are powders in different colors, and applied with a small make-up brush applicator. For the exhaust stains, I used soot, light sand, and rust. I’m not skilled enough with an airbrush to recreate these stains, but the weathering powders look good enough to me. The aircraft I was modeling was new and well-maintained, so I kept additional weathering to a minimum, with just minor paint chipping here and there. The aforementioned kit decals were not pure white, so I made my own geometric wing and tail carrier ID markings from a solid white decal sheet. The numbers, stencils and stars and bars came from various Super Scale sheets. The markings are for an F6F-5 from VBF-87, deployed aboard USS Ticonderoga from May through September of 1945. The squadron entered the war late, but did see combat while making strikes on the Japanese mainland during the final weeks of the war.