Author Topic: The U.S. Navy Grumman XF6-XJP Hellfire Cat - A Flaming Tale in 1/72 Scale  (Read 488 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The Grumman F-6F Hellcat is one of the most iconic U.S. Navy aircraft of W.W.II.

Less well remembered is an aircraft it spawned, one of the first U.S. Navy jets, the XF6-XJP Hellfire Cat.

It all began when Allied intelligence picked up information that the Japanese were going to soon be fielding (and also flying) one of the most advanced aircraft yet seen in the Pacific theater, the revolutionary jet-powered Nakajima J9Y.

Not having its own jet aircraft, the Navy was caught flat-footed against this threat.  They needed all the power and performance of the turbojet. A crash program was called for.

In 1946 t was decided the quickest way to square the circle was to convert an existing aircraft to accept the new power plant and an F6-F Hellcat was modified. Thus the Grumman XF6-XJP (eXperimental Jet Power) Hellfire Cat was born.

Initial fight tests on land were promising. Any concerns about the jet efflux causing deck-scorching were brushed aside as unwanted input from know-it-all eggheads.

The future looked bright indeed for the Grumman XF6-XJP Hellfire Cat. Then came aircraft carrier trials.

The aforementioned deck-scorching would prove to be a very practical consideration. Fortunately, the damage control parties were up to snuff.

The Hellfire Cat would continue to be put through its paces.

Unfortunately, the new power plant was beyond the metallurgy of the day and the XF6-XJP was prone to suffering critical failures that often caused the aircraft to catch fire. Still, with the Japanese having the technological edge, the Navy was determined to press on with the Hellfire Cat.

The first production batch of Grumman XF6-XJPs was delivered to the Naval Aircraft Test Center near San Diego, California.

They were assigned to an evaluation squadron, even if the pilots may not have been sanguine at the prospect.

Crews took to calling the Hellfire Cats "Reverse Kamikazes" and while this criticism may seem overly-harsh, it is unfortunately backed up by photographic evidence.

This would doom the type, but fortunately for the U.S. Navy, the Japanese Nakajima J9Y would never be fielded (or flown) in large numbers due to production bottlenecks caused by the allied blockade.

After all this, the U.S. Navy probably weren't the only ones that could use a beer.

The XF6-XJP Hellfire Cat faded from the scene before the year 1947 dawned and brought with it the end of the war. To this day, this remarkable aircraft has been totally overlooked and even the so-called "experts" insist it must be the product of some fiery imagination.

Brian da Basher

« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 08:36:59 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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This all started with a venerable 1/72 MPC Grumman F6-F Hellcat a good friend sent me (thanks a million, hamsterman!). Isn't that box art stunning? They certainly don't make 'em like that anymore.

The sides of the box are no slouch either.

And here's the extra chrome parts, just as advertised! I will, of course, jealously hoard these.

I think the Grumman F6 Hellcat is one of the more challenging aircraft to whiff. It has an odd shape and a very large engine up front which makes a lot of mods problematic. However, if you don't actually change much of the original shape, there are possibilities. I started by re-purposing a sub prop as jet fan blades.

Once I added an amputated nose from something as a shock-cone, it was starting to look like this baby was going to have ALL THE POWER.

A burner can was fashioned from a from a 1/144 U-2 pod tip and another U-2 part (sorry Bono) was used as a fairing for a retractable tailhook and wheel.

Lastly, I added lower landing gear doors cut from card.

Here's how it looked before painting.

Speaking of paint, the old hairy stick was trotted out again and loaded up with Polly Scale Prussian Blue acrylic.

The canopy was tinted with Model Masters Light Blue and the burner can done with Jet Exhaust and some sooty black dry-brushed over top.

The engine interior was done with Model Masters Steel and the guns in a custom mix of gunmetal.

The decals were mostly from a sheet for an Academy F6-F Hellcat.

The NATC markings on the tail came from a sheet for a P-59.

Since the aircraft was flown by an evaluation squadron, I went with a minimal, if large, marking scheme.

I built this over last weekend and was lucky to have the entire time to spend on it. I had a lot of fun from start to finish.

This kit even comes with a stand and I was really tickled about that for some reason.

It's probably because my last model was almost "downed by friendly fire" i.e. fell over, that I appreciated such a stable display platform.

The arm is just snapped in. I didn't want to mar that clear plastic with glue. The fit is is good and it's very solid which is something for a kit of this age.

Another nice thing about this stand is the angles you can get with it.

Before I forget, here's a couple of "money shots" (U.S. penny for scale).

I'd like to thank Mr Tomcat for moderating this GB, Bill for sending me the kit and all the rest of you who are playing along or even just dropped by for a look.

I hope you enjoyed the Grumman XF6-XJP Hellfire Cat and reading a little more about an aircraft that sadly ended up on the ash heap of history.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 07:49:53 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Tophe

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While I faced the same problem with single-jet Mustangs: where is the engine, with the pilot's legs there? Well, it could be a jalting disabled man, leg-less, all right. ;)

Offline elmayerle

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Beautiful concept, model, and backstory; your creativity continues to be most enjoyable.

Offline buzzbomb

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Love it.. well done. Again

Offline finsrin

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Fine transformation of F6F to jet power.  Looks exactly as it should/would. :smiley:

Offline The Big Gimper

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I can see Brian you have an in-exhaustible list of ideas. I can see you being a welcome member of the jet-set.
Work in progress ::

I am giving up listing them. They all end up on the shelf of procrastination anyways.

User and abuser of Bothans...

Online Robomog

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Another good one Brian !


Offline pigflyer

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You did it again genius.   
If I don't plan it, it can't go wrong!

If it's great, I did it. If it's naff, I found it.