Kagero SMI Library #9 Grumman F6F Hellcat vol. I

Each of the SMI Library series of books is about 100 pages long and packed with contemporary photos.

This book starts with 15 pages in Polish and Engish, interspersed with photos, that briefly describes the development and use of the Hellcat, specifically the F6F-3 and F6F-5 and their variants. Since the -3 and -5 variants account for almost all Hellcat’s I’m not sure what Vol 2 will contain.

The 135 B&W images in the book are all very good and well captioned and they show plenty of detail. The 5 colour photos of modern Hellcats are good and there are 17 images that show you the decal placement for the decal sheet that comes with the book. The decals are in the usual 3 scales for aircraft, 1/35, 1/48 and 1/72. The decals are by Cartograph so are going to behave as you’d expect. You get options for the 3 aircraft covered in the 17 images. My only criticism is that it’s tough to see the placement of the stencils. Other than that, they’re perfect.

The book has…

  • 96 pages
  • 135 photos
  • 5 color photos
  • 4 color profiles (17 images)
  • Authors: Tomasz Szlagor, Leszek A. Wieliczko
  • ISBN 978-83-62878-89-5

Grumman F6F Hellcat was one of the best fighter aircraft of the World War Two era and the most effective fighter of the US Navy. There is no doubt that Hellcats won complete air superiority for the Americans over the vast areas of the Pacific, largely contributing to the victory over Japan. Volume One presents this legendary fighter in its first year of operational service – from the combat debut over Marcus Island and the Solomons in August 1943 until the end of the Marianas operation in late summer 1944. By then Hellcats participated, among others, in air strikes on Rabaul, Wake, Kwajalein and Truk, and supported the invasion of Tarawa in Gilbert Islands. The culmination of the Hellcats’ first year of service with the US Navy came about during the Marianas invasion in June 1944, when they took part in the First Battle of Philippine Sea. This largest aerial and naval battle in the Pacific to date broke the backbone of the Japanese Navy, and the Hellcats won such a tremendous victory in the air that the battle was aptly nicknamed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

Throughout the war the only foreign user of Hellcats was Great Britain, receiving first aircraft in March 1943. Until late 1944 the Royal Navy Hellcats operated mainly in northern European waters and in the Mediterranean, participating in several air strikes on German battleship Tirpitz moored in Norwegian fiords, supporting Allied landings in Normandy and southern France, and joining operations in the Aegean Sea.

If you want to do something a bit different with your Hellcat kit and have plenty of photo references into the bargain then this is a perfect book decal combo for you.

This book is available direct from the publisher here for about US$13.00.

Paul Tosney – Editor
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Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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