Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat “White 19”
Pilot & Markings
Lieutenant Eugene Valencia — VF-9, USS Lexington, February 1945
Scale & Kit
1/48 Hasegawa Scale Model
As the older F4F Wildcat had demonstrated the need for an aircraft to exceed the abilities of the Japanese Zero, the newly designed Hellcat became the U.S. Navy carrier fighter. The Hellcat provided an improved rate of climb, more speed, and most important, the turning circle necessary to stay with a Zero in a dogfight. The Hellcat had a range of 483 miles over the Zero and could fly 30 mph faster. Surprisingly, this was all accomplished with a weight that is almost double that of the lightly built Japanese plane. After the war, Japanese pilots related their fear of the Hellcat each time they engaged in combat.
With an aircraft that was fast, manoeuvrable, heavily armed and rugged, many Hellcat pilots went on to become aces. Among the Navy aces was Lt. Eugene Valencia, who speaking of his F6F Hellcat said: “I love this airplane so much, that if it could cook, I’d marry it.” In 1944, Valencia developed a series of tactics for a 4-plane division that proved very successful in combat. Off of the coast of Okinawa, his division, known as the “Mowing Machine” blasted 50 Japanese planes without losing a single allied aircraft. This 50-0 kill ratio was credited to the strategy that Valencia created. With a total of 23 victories, Valencia became the third top Hellcat ace.
I used Hasegawa’s F6F-5 Hellcat 1/48 scale model airplane, as well as Aeromaster decal sheet to build Valencia’s aircraft. The cockpit was airbrushed Interior Green and later dry brushed to enhance the details. The seat and seatbelts are aftermarket parts. The model was painted Glossy Sea Blue with White stripes on the fin and wings. I used Glossy Sea Blue for the propeller hub, Flat Black and a Silver undercoating to achieve the ‘metal’ look with a chipping effect on the propeller blades. This is a great looking replica of the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat flown by the legendary ace Eugene Valencia.