Grumman F6F Hellcat
The US Navy’s Zero Killer
models by Bjørn Jacobsen
In 1943, the US Navy was in desperate need
for a new and improved carrier-based fighter
which could replace the F4F Wildcat and match
the dreaded Japanese Zero which had so far
dominated the sky in the Pacific.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was that fighter.
It become the Navy's dominant fighter in the
second part of World War II
Although the F6F resembled the Wildcat in
some ways, it was a new design, powered by
a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the same
powerplant used for both the Corsair and the
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.
Some military observers tagged the Hellcat as
the "Wildcat's big brother".
The F6F was best known for its role as a
rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which
was able to counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero
and help secure air superiority over the
Such was the quality of the basic simple,
straightforward design, that the Hellcat was
the least modified fighter of the war, with a total
of 12,200 being built in just over two years.
Hellcats were credited with destroying 5,223
aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy,
U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy.
This was more than any other Allied naval
The Hellcat first real action against the dreaded
Japanese Zero took place on November 1943
when the Hellcats engaged Japanese aircraft
over the Tarawa Atol, shooting down a claimed
30 Mitsubishi Zeros for the loss of one F6F.
Hellcats were the major U.S. Navy fighter type involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where so many Japanese aircraft were shot down that Navy aircrews nicknamed the battle "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". The F6F accounted for 75% of all aerial victories recorded by the U.S. Navy in the Pacific
U.S. Navy and Marine F6F pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills (56% of all U.S. Navy/Marine air victories of the war) at a recorded cost of 270 Hellcats in aerial combat (an overall kill-to-loss ratio of 19:1 based on claimed but not confirmed kills).
We should however bear in mind that the Hellcat successes were not only attributed to a superior aircraft.
The fact is that from 1942 onwards, they faced increasingly inexperienced Japanese aviators as well as having the advantage of increasing numerical superiority
Building the Hellcat
The Hasegawa Hellcat (1/48) is probably not the best Hellcat kit on the market, but that’s what I got, and I just have to make the best out of it.
The building is strait out of the box.
No after market stuff.
The only thing I had to fix was the flaps, which was not an option in the kit, so I just made them of styrene and glued them on when I photographed the Hellcat at take-off and landing.
I also lubricated the propeller shaft with graphite so it easily spins when I use a blower (in my case, a hair dryer)
The painting is never complicated on a US Navy plane. This one is light underside, navy blue at the top and sides in an intermediate blue.
The weathering is not very complicated on a carrier plane, but the big Pratt & Whitney engine was notorious to leak oil, so oil leaks and exhaust stains had to be applied.
The decals caused no problem.
The plane I am making is a F6F-3, from the carrier VF-9 USS Essex from 1944
Photographing the Hellcat in action
The pictures of the Hellcat with spinning propellers are not manipulated in any way. As I said obove, the propeller shaft is lubricated and the propellers will spin whenever I put a vent in front of them.
When I have several airplanes in one picture (for example when flying in formation) I take several pictures of the aircraft from different angles and paste each of the planes on a suitable background. It’s a very easy process that gives a lot of realism to the picture.
If you are interested in the aerial warfare in the Pacific War Theatre, please have a look at
Page 33 The Battle of Midway
Page 40 The A6M Zero – the ruler of the Pacific sky from 1940 to mid-1943
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Thank you for visiting!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments