Hellcat Skinning Project
by Art Flores (Fall 2006)

PDC website
Furball website

Hellcat Skin:  Alex Vraciu's 19
Screenshots of VF-6 from USS Intrepid

he reason I chose this skin is because Al Vraciu is one of the most famous Navy aces of the Pacific.

Commander ALEX VRACIU U.S.N.

Alex Vraciu first saw combat flying the F6F Hellcat off carriers with VF-6, becoming an Ace in January 1944. Transferring to VF-16 aboard U.S.S. Lexington his tally of victories continued to mount and during the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot he splashed six dive bombers in eight minutes, the following day adding a Zero, bringing his total to 19. His luck ran out in December 1944 when he was shot down strafing an airfield. Bailing out, he spent five weeks with Filipino guerrillas before meeting up with advancing Americans. He ended the war as the U.S. Navy's fourth highest Ace, and retired in 1963.

More info here.

And a really great interview with Alex Vraciu.

click on photos to enlarge

working on the curve by the tail insignia...

Scratch One More!

Been to the dentist, have we?

This doesn't fix the 3D model error, but this "paint fix" makes the cowl look a whole lot better.

Reference Photos for Hellcat 19

Colors are all over the palette. This is due to:
1. the age of the film/photograph
2. lighting (indoor or outdoor)
3. quality of the camera
4. angle of the sun, time of day, weather conditions
5. is the plane a replica? is it a museum re-build?

This photo is an artist's painting. It is my favorite depiction of this famous plane.  I like the colors and feel that it shows proper shades of blue, more so than the bright blue photos shown above.

iArt's Hellcat gunsite

click here to download
(guaranteed to help you bag your limit of Vals, Zeros and Kates)

Note:  these photos are relatively sharp and clear. Though
and white, they are evidence of a great deal of weather-
ing and
wear and tear on these navy planes.  The wing and
fuselage show
smudges and scuffs that indicate that this plane
at least saw
plenty of action. I have tried to show this on my
skin of Hellcat #19.

This plane is definately not the same as #19 shown at left.
See how there is no "9" where his leg is. The meatballs are
spaced further apart. There is no "bull" logo, no "Gadget"
and the "black cat" is missing. My guess is this is his other
Hellcat, number 32.

PROBLEMS Department -- weird sections:


  • 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?

Final Thoughts...

In researching this project I found out that this pilot was stationed on the USS Lexington. This aircraft carrier is now a museum anchored at Corpus Christi, Texas, just a stone's throw from my home (well 200 miles is a stone's throw in Texas!) I've been to the Lexington a couple of times and hope that someday, there'll be some Wildcats and Hellcats on deck.

What timing!  Next week, Dec. 8th, stay close to your TV set.  Set your station to The History Channel
Dogfights THE ZERO KILLERS - December 8 @ 10PM/9C
1943...the skies over the Pacific. The infamous Japanese Zero is decimating American aircraft. No allied plane can match Japan's deadliest fighter plane manned by killed Imperial Navy veterans. The American Navy rushes to deploy a new fighter to take on the unstoppable Zero...the F6F Hellcat. The Zero has met its match. Now, you're in the cockpit with legendary dogfighters Robert Duncan, Hamilton McWhorter and Alex Vraciu...their epic dogfights blazing a new chapter in the annals of aerial warfare.

If this plane gets to the PDC Download page you might see these sample download layouts.

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