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1:48 F6F-5 Hellcat Jasmine Model Catalogue # 202006 Available from Jasmine Model for $169.00 With a more or less full PE model, one thing that will instantly hit you is how it can be packed into quite a small box, compared with an injection styrene model. Compare this with an Eduard kit release, and this will fit in there 3 to 4 times, with space left over. However, what you have here is a model that is infinitely more detailed, simply because of the skeletal nature of the kit. This really panders to the technical voyeur amongst us, with a morbid fascination for internal structures and guts of one of WW2’s most respected and lauded US fighters, and hero of the war in the Pacific. This quite slender little box is around the same size as the 1:72 Valkyrie that I reviewed on Scale Plastic & Rail (R.I.P.), back in May 2014, and contains THREE sheets of stainless steel photo etch that has 321 parts. That’s right…..321 parts! Not exactly a weekend project. The box art shows the Hellcat with wings in flying position, but as you can see here, these can also be folded, which looks extremely cool. Opening the lid, the first thing you see is the manual. Remove this and there are the three stainless PE frets that are covered each side in a protective, self-adhesive film. All of these are packed into a re-sealable cellophane sleeve. Remove these too, and there is a cardboard shelf that also needs to be lifted out. Underneath lies a section of black foam with two cut-outs. These hold four bags that contain the various cast parts. These are made from resin that has been cut with an excellent metallic pigment. For all intents, they look like metal, but the lack of weight tells you these are not made from that material. If you see elsewhere that these are white metal, then they have either never seen that material, or they are ill-informed. As with the Valkyrie, reviewing a PE kit is not an easy job. We can’t talk about specific, beautifully moulded detail and how things might just need some lead wire to complete. This model, apart from those resin parts, is entirely a flat-pack affair, and it will be your keen eye, judicious folding skills and patience that will create the final look of this model. Rushing it, or using sloppy skills, will be noticeable as you can’t rely on moulded detail to hide any slackness on behalf of the builder. Looking at those three metal frets, everything does look all rather two-dimensional, but that's quite deceptive. This model is very much a three-dimensional affair, and it'll come as no surprise that you'll need to do a fair bit of bending of metal, as with the previous Valkyrie and Ho 229 kits. These could generally be built with nothing more than a pair of tweezers to bend the various parts, but I highly recommend a quality photo-etch bending tool. I regularly use a Hold 'n Fold 5.5, as this creates a consistently sharp fold over the numerous long lengths of PE. The quality of the photo-etched parts is of the highest. The tiniest of tags hold each part in place, and these will be easy to sever, despite being made from stainless steel. I would also suggest you avail yourself of some small jeweller’s files to remove any remnant that could detract from the finished result. You can pick up a cheap set of files for around £3, so in relation to the kit cost, it’s a worthwhile purchase. All parts are clearly numbered, but there isn’t much in the way of rhyme nor reason as to their location, so I guarantee you will spend a lot of time actually searching them out before you can use them. Some parts are easy to locate due to both their size and shape, but many are far less so, and look unrecognisable in their unfolded state. All I can suggest is that you spend a little time studying the frets and acquainting yourself with the location of the parts, and their relationship to construction. Jasmine has tackled construction in a way that many of us would recognise. With this kit, it starts with the cockpit, and contains 18 stages of folding and slotting work. All parts within the cockpit are from flat PE, including the seat and seatbelts. Next up is the fuselage, and this is of course using the cockpit as its reference part for adding the various ribs, formers and stringers. As nothing here is quite as straightforward as simply moving to the next area of construction, you will add various other assemblies, such as the tail wheel bay and arrestor hook, and then proceed with the fuselage again, and even back to the cockpit in order to enclose it within fuselage formers etc. You will note that the tailplanes are built from flat sections and you will twist the ribs through 90 degrees to the vertical, thus creating a 3D item. The wings, however, are composed of individual ribs that slot into the various spars and other constructional elements. Care needs to be exercised on the wings, fin and tailplane, as the control surfaces are moveable and therefore may be posed however you wish them, providing their weight doesn’t droop them naturally. Surface detail on the metal is very good, with nice relief etching and rivet/fastener detail. Many parts are very fragile until they form a more solid overall part of the model construction, so please treat them with a little reverence and respect. It’s true that a number of parts can’t be made from flat pieces of photo-etch metal, and where that is the case, Jasmine has included those parts as a resin material with the metallic pigment I mentioned earlier. These are so amazing in appearance, as to have a high metallic sheen and look like some expensive cast metal. For this model, these parts include the engine and its various ancillary fittings, plus the propeller, forward cowl ring, machine guns, tanks, undercarriage struts, and of course, the wheels. There are around 50 parts spread over 4 bags, and all with some great detail. The engine itself will take a little while to assemble as it has separate cylinders and exhaust piping. A glossy 16 page manual is included, with both photographic assembly images and drawings to help you on your way. Coloured ink is added to show you specific details on the photographic steps, Whilst I find the images pretty good, I think some larger photos would have been useful for some areas. You will also find the manual on the Jasmine website, and if you print these, or merely display on your screen, you might see them as larger images that will help further. Conclusion Firstly, I think the thing you really have to say is that if you aren’t a fan of photo-etch, but like the appearance of this, you aren’t going to have an easy time. This encompasses most of the skills required for this particular discipline, including various folding techniques, slotting, manipulating complex frames and structures. Thankfully though, there is no need to solder anything here, and if you take things step by step, and methodically, then the model is actually simpler to build than its appearance might betray. That’s quite a statement for a model whose control surfaces are all working, but I hope to prove that before too long with a build of this. You might read of some other forums and websites/Facebook, that the cast parts are white metal. That, as I have already said, is wrong. They are resin that is mixed with metallic pigment, and are lighter and easier to work with. All you will need to accompany this miniature masterpiece is a bottle of thin/medium CA, a sharp scalpel, folding tool, and a small set of files to remove any tag remnants. This isn’t a cheap model, but that’s because of being a niche product with a long development time. It is, however, a stunning kit, and very worthy of consideration if you have a penchant for the engineering side of an aircraft. This particular model fulfils that particular interest perfectly. Go on, it’s new year, so treat yourself! Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Jasmine Models for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.