The Hellcat was unquestionably the most important Allied shipboard fighter of the Second World War, and to this aircraft more than to any other went the distinction of turning the tide in the air war over the Pacific. Although it didn't make it's appearance until the late Summer of 1943, 4,947 of the 6,477 enemy aircraft destroyed by U.S. Navy carrier pilots were claimed by Hellcat pilots and, with the scores of shore-based Hellcat units added, the total grew to 5,156 enemy machines at an astonishing kill/loss ratio of greater than nineteen to one! The first use of Hellcat night fighters from carriers took place during the occupation of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943 when two Hellcats intercepted an enemy bomber formation, disrupting its attack and saving the task group from damage. The definitive Hellcat night fighter variant was the F6F-5N which saw extensive service in the Pacific, notably in the defense of the fleet at Okinawa where they faced determined 'round the clock kamikaze operations. The F6F-5N possessed a much better climb rate than USAAF night fighters available in early 1945 and interestingly, on one occasion in Leyte, a P-61 Black Widow squadron was withdrawn and replaced by a US Navy F6F-5N unit. 1,434 F6F-5N night fighters were produced plus eighty, designated Hellcat N.F. II, operated by the Fleet Air Arm.
Of course, injection molded models of the Hellcat in 1/700 scale have been previously produced by several manufacturers. Most recently, Tamiya introduced its excellent model of the 1/700 USS Saratoga in its late war night carrier role which, surprisingly, included only four Hellcat F6F-5N night fighter models. We think that the 3D printed models offered here are comparable in detail to the very fine Tamiya effort and they should make it possible to easily expand the Night Fighter Air Group (or a land-based unit) but we've posted some high resolution photos so you can judge for yourself. Although photography of these little gems is a challenge for our equipment and limited skills, we hope that we've been able to show the well proportioned model including the robust fuselage complete with a detailed canopy, wings including the starboard radome, the tail assembly and especially the landing gear including the tail wheel!
The surfaces of these models are not perfectly smooth (3D printing is done in layers) but the plastic can be sanded and painted much the same way you would handle resin or styrene. The models may still have some powder and oil-like agent on them that can easily be removed by washing in warm water with a drop of detergent added.
NOTE: While we currently maintain limited inventories of most items, some items may be "printed on demand", which usually requires 10-15 business days from order to shipment.