Hobbymasters 1/72 scale Hellcat is a truly outstanding model. Complete with optional undercarriage and canopy positions, pilot figure, stand and info leaflet it really does have to be seen to be appreciated. It is a great example of just how good Hobbymaster have become at this game. Production of 1,809 pieces.
September 12th 1944 saw the introduction of the new F6F-5N’s for VF(N)-41 flying from the deck of USS Independence CVL-23. There were 1,432 of the Night Fighter version built with APS-6 radar housed in a pod attached to the starboard wing. This provided pilots with a radar picture of another aircraft up to 5.5 miles away and a ship up to 20 miles. F6F-5N pilots had to undergo a rigorous 29 weeks of schooling where they would learn how to rely totally on their instruments since they would be flying at night in the dark with no visual reference for navigation or altitude. Originally armed with 6 .50 caliber machine guns, 3 per wing, some of the later versions came with 4 .50 caliber machine guns and 2 long barrel Hispano 20mm cannons that replaced the 2 inner .50 caliber guns. The Night Fighters were given strict orders that once they located a plane on radar they couldn’t fire a shot until they could get close enough to identify the target as friend or foe. As it turned out most of the F6F-5N’s flew daytime missions with other versions of the F6F. This would allow the radar equipped Hellcats to locate the enemy and guide their group towards them. The top USN Night Fighter ace was Lt. William E. Henry, Executive Officer (XO) of the VF(N)-41 squadron. He was credited with 6.5 nighttime and 4 daytime victories and the last victory for the USN F6F-5N. The F6F “Hellcat” was basically designed as the “Zero Killer”. It could fly about an average 55 mph faster than the Zero and it was heavier and more powerful than the Zero. The Hellcat also had the highest kill ratio of any American fighter plane during WWII (19 to 1). US Navy pilots referred the Hellcat as the “Aluminum Tank”. F6F was one of the most feared and successful planes in WWII.