Eduard's new Dash 3 Hellcat comes in a substantial box with separately bagged sprues, decals, two photoetched-metal sheets (one in the prepainted Zoom style), and a sheet of die-cut masks for the canopies and wheels.
Gray-green plastic and clear parts are delicately thin with minimal mold seams. Release-pin marks are few and well hidden. The smooth, flash-free plastic parts feature finely scribed panel lines and rivets. Control surfaces are separate parts with scribed rib tapes. Three different engine cowlings are provided. Two parts - an earlier antenna mast, and a windshield for later versions - are not used.
The 8" x 5", five-color decal sheet by Cartograf is well printed and features 219 images in decals that are thin and closely trimmed. Markings are provided for five aircraft: I chose the F6F-3 of Lt. Richard E. Stambook of VF-27 on the USS Princeton
in October 1944.
Instructions are compiled in a deluxe staple-bound, 16-page booklet that includes a historical description, symbols key, parts map, and Gunze paint references. Assembly drawings are detailed and error-free. Four-view drawings of colors and markings complete the booklet.
The assembly sequence begins with seat belts and shoulder harnesses, followed by the instrument panel, consoles, and seat. There is a choice of a plastic instrument panel or Zoom prepainted photoetched-metal panel. I used the latter, and it's outstanding!
The highly detailed engine has a photoetched-metal ignition harness, separate crankcase face, and magneto housings. A Zoom metal data plaque and a metal or decal Pratt & Whitney logo provide additional detail.
The gun barrels are fragile and incorrectly molded. Hellcat gun barrels were fitted inside smooth, close-fitting blast tubes without cooling vents. The outboard guns should not protrude from the end of the flush-mounted blast tubes. Parts for a retracted or deployed tail hook are provided.
The landing gear is probably the most complex assembly in the kit; study the instructions closely. The main wheel wells are too shallow. The tires come without the diamond tread commonly seen in photos and look a bit thin.
The photoetched-metal sway braces for the auxiliary gas tank are fragile and difficult to handle. Included in the kit are two canopy hoods: Part H1 fits in the closed position; Part H2 is for the open position. Masks are provided for both, but the die-cutter didn't go all the way through the sheet in places, making the masks difficult to disengage.
Check your references for the proper location and style of the propeller markings. I used Squadron/Signal's In Action and Walkaround
books on the Hellcat, as well as Detail & Scale's Vol. 49.
I airbrushed my model with out-of-production Floquil Military enamels followed by several coats of Testors clear gloss lacquer in preparation for decaling. The decals - more than 90 of them on my model - came off the sheet without curling, were easy to move into proper location in a small puddle of water, and adhered without silvering using Micro Sol. A final coat of Testors Dullcote evened up the patina. I colored the navigation and formation lights with Tamiya red, green, and blue paints. I made my antenna wires from stretched clear sprue.
My model measures a couple of scale inches large in length and span. Much of the 30-plus hours I spent on this model were used up painting the three-color scheme and applying all those decals. Less difficult than previous kits from Eduard, this one was a fun addition to my World War II U.S. Navy aircraft collection.
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