Hellcat Skinning Project
Grim Reaper (VF10)
Art Flores & Clyde WILZ

The Hellcat20 Project:
The history of VF 10 as detailed by Clyde Wilz:

The United States Navy fighter squadron VF-101, the Grim Reapers, began life as VF-10 in June of 1942. The new F4F Wildcat squadron was formed by Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Flatley in San Diego, California and evolved into the famous "Mowing Machine" that was the only fighter squadron in World War II to fly the F4FWildcat, the F6F Hellcat, and the F4U Corsair. The squadron motto of "Mow 'em down!" served VF-10 well as they fought out the war in the Pacific Theater flying from bases in the Solomons and from various aircraft carriers. When VF-10 was formed, LtCmdr Flatley had just returned from the Battle of Coral Sea with two kills and the Navy Cross. LtCmdr Flatley, along with LtCmdr Jimmy Thach, was considered a master of fighter tactics. On his way to San Diego, Flatley wrote a comprehensive fighter doctrine for his new squadron. That new doctrine and Flatley's superb leadership were a highly successful combination against the much more maneuverable Japanese Zeros.

click to enlarge

The Reapers' first combat deployment saw them flying F4F Wildcats from the USS Enterprise in October 1942. VF-10 arrived in time for the Battle of Santa Cruz, a carrier vs. carrier fight to protect US forces in Guadalcanal. Shortly after, Flatley was promoted to Commander, Air Group 10. When Commander Flatley left the Reapers he reminded them to never forget their lost brothers and told them that when they engaged the enemy to "rip 'em up and down, but do it smartly." VF-10 finished their first deployment in 1942.

VF-10 returned to combat in 1944 aboard the USS Enterprise as part of Task Force 58; a nine aircraft carrier force. The Reapers were now led by LtCmdr William "Killer" Kane and flew the F6F Hellcat while flying missions over the Japanese stronghold of Truk. During VF-10's first mission over Truk on 16 February 1945, the Reapers shot down fourteen aircraft and destroyed another seventeen on the ground. "Killer" and his wingman accounted for five of the kills themselves. In the period between February and April, VF-10 helped reduce the number of Japanese warplanes on Truk from over 350 to less than a dozen. Task Force 58 and the Reapers continued to sail deeper into Japanese held waters and right into the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The squadron finished it's second cruise shortly thereafter.

The Reapers rejoined the fight in March 1945 and flew F4U Corsairs from the USS Intrepid as part of Task Force 58 again. The squadron flew missions over Japan and Okinawa but spent April and May defending the fleet from the swarms of kamikaze attacks. The Reapers had their best day ever on 16 April when they downed thirty-two planes. LtJG Phil Kirkwood's division shot down twenty aircraft in one mission. The Ace of Kirkwood's division, Ensign Alfred Lerch, splashed six Ki-27 Nates and one D3A Val in one sortie. In a span of thirty-four days, VF-10 racked up eighty-five kills to one Reaper lost.

Unfortunately all I can find are cockpit shots with various pilots.  Nothing that shows "Moe" on the cowl.  I live in San Diego (big Navy town) and talking to lots of vets they tell that "Moe" was there.  VF-10 became VF-101 and was the training squadron for the Tomcats, they have "Moe" on the vertical stab.  I haven't heard any vets say anything about "Moe" being anywhere except the cowl.

As I said before, this doesn't represent any individual's specific plane.  It is meant as a representation of VF-10.
I did some further research and it appears that the Navy at that time placed the “meat balls” (Japanese flags) in two columns not three as it is now (fixed).  Also on the nose cowl, the number of the plane was also present. 
(fixed -- Art)

As for the red ball, all the guys in the squad prefer the version without it.  Anyway I'm learning more about skinning than I ever thought I would. BTW in my limited research it appears that the red ball version (this fuse) wasn't used.  It may have been used on the F4F. 


More on the history of VF 10/VF101:  http://members.cox.net/clydew/vf101.htm



Thanks to Wilz, we started this F6F assignment in the Summer of 2006. Both of us
tried working on the skin and started running into problems.  
  • The left side of the fuse is actually back a little farther than it should be.  There are migration issues with the right side to the left.  Part of the left fuselage is used by the right side, that is, left and right are same skin. Other parts are mirror images, therefore the number "20" has to be reversed.
  • The wheel covers on the underside are not identical. One can be painted normally, but the other uses a horizontal part of the wing.  This is evident when you look at the TGA file and see the small "20" on the wheel cover assembly. One "20" is normal, but the other one had to be painted 90 degrees off. And, this "20" had to be squashed and stretched.  This issue is already known and can be seen on Xaero's "Helkitty" template.
  • There is a spot on the underside wing that is about 2x2 pixels square which is the color for an area near the gear. Sorry, I can't add skin detail such as panel lines or rivets there.
  • The cockpit frame is used by an area that is the same as the flat piece over the instrument panel. This same area is used by the gun barrels, antenna post and the rear wheel covers. Therefore it is difficult to paint all these items without the skin showing up prominantly in front of the pilot.
  • When painting the instrument panel, do it reversed, because the right side will flip to the left side (viewed from the pilot's point of view).
  • Since the top and bottom of the horizontal stabilizer /elevator use the same skin, it is impossible to paint the bottom of the aircraft a light color.
  • It would be nice to paint the interior of the cockpit using olive green, but I believe the cockpit frame is same inside and outside.
  • It would be nice to paint inside of the gun barrel black, but I don't know if it is possible.
  • Propeller skin would be nice?
  • Can the legs be painted on the body as I've seen on another plane?
-- ART

gunsite for Hellcat 20

Art's Hellcat gunsite

click here to download
(if a whole bunch of numbers and letters
show up on your screen, wait until it
finishes loading and then go to FILE and SAVE.)

Accuracy?  Enemy pilot was shot between the eyes,
didn't even have time to open parachute!

Cockpit and pilot details

In flight, the instrument panel is flipped
horizontally, left side becomes right!

Coming soon, pilot with goggles on face.
guns are black
Gun barrels are charcoal black

Details of left wing

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