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1/48 F8F Bearcat “Beetlebomb”

October 29, 2013 in Aviation

The early days of the Blue Angels was filled with Hellcats. I don’t know too much about this era, but I can imagine there were a host of Navy pilots looking for something to do at the close of World War II! The next mount was the F8F Bearcat.

Despite the traditional Dark Navy Blue livery of all other Blue Angels, the solo acrobat at this time flew this orange yellow bird. Even after the Angels moved on to jets, Beetlebomb continued to perform.

This kit was made by Hobbycraft Canada, I improved it with a set by an unknown manufacturer that a friend gave me years ago. Strangely, the one sheet of poorly drawn instructions contained no info about who made it! It did however spruce up the sparse cockpit and wheel wells of the model. It also included a metal engine and some PE.

This was a hoot to build. Hobby Boss has now released an updated version of this plane, but Hobbycraft did a better than acceptable job on the venerable Bearcat.

4 additional images. Click to enlarge

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21 responses to 1/48 F8F Bearcat “Beetlebomb”

  1. Beautiful job on a rarely seen subject ! A BIG atta boy, Mike ! Where did those decals come from ?

  2. I am almost sure that decals have been done in at least 1/72 scale by Microscale, for 1/48 I don’t know.

    An interesting subject and a very well done model of it! Good work on that finish, it is not THAT easy to make a single-colour finish so interesting!

    Didn’t they have a yellow Hellcat and even a T-6 before the Bearcat?



    • Answering my own question: “Beetlebomb” prerunner, a T-6 that flew in the all-yellow scheme before the Bearcat did. The Blue Angels flew the Hellcat before the Bearcat but as far as I can find on the Internet they had no Hellcat “Beetlebomb”.

      Regarding decals, Hobbycraft even boxed this kit with those decals. And there seems to be plenty of after-market out there as well!



  3. Correct on the decals. The Hobbycraft offering dissolved on contact, so I used others — I can’t remember if they were Microscale or Aeromaster. . .

  4. I am under-informed on Blue Angel history, so thanks for filling in the gaps. I was amazed to find even ONE yellow BLUE ANGEL!

  5. For some reason, that airplane looks really good in yellow. Sure is a nice change from the usual blue F8F’s. Nice build.

  6. “and coming around the club house turn is Beetle Bomb”…one of my favorite Spike Jones recordings, still makes me laugh. Nice “outside the box” build, Mike. Was the kit molded in gray plastic or was it yellow plastic? I ask as it’s a chore to paint a light color (especially yellow) over a dark plastic.

  7. Puts me in mind of Bob Hoover’s “Rockwell” Mustang….(wonder what ever happened to that?)

  8. Spike Jones where where I first heard the name. Hopefully the plane was not a nag . . .

    The plastic was gray. I primed it with German Semi-gloss white (RLM 09?) before spraying the yellow. I have found this Model Master color to be easy to spray, with better coverage and a nice smooth finish.

  9. My friend, Joe Caputo, has challenged me to build another Bearcat in black and white stripes and call it Beetlejuice!

    I think I’ll pass, but maybe it will inspire someone else.

  10. Nice. Really interesting topic. I would be interested in hearting your opinion of buildiny a Hobbycraft Canada kit. I live in Canada and have heard good and bad but don’t have a kit myself.

  11. change “hearting” to “hearing”!

  12. Hobby craft Canada models appear to come in two varieties — home grown and imported. Home grown are good basic kits with recognizable/reasonably accurate outlines, but little internal detail. The Canadian Cannuck and Arrow kits are the only game in town as I know it. The imports included a host of kits that may have been produced by Trumpeter (of China) — especially armor. These were better kits but led to a sad chapter of litigation threats and hard feelings. I don’t know the whole story, but I have built a number of the kits without knowing the storm of controversy behind them.

    In general, I would say they are very serviceable kits, but require a fair amount of after-market to bring them up to modern standards.

    I am working on a Cannuck even now . . . .

  13. Actually, “Beetlebomb” was flown by the team’s public affairs officer. There wasn’t a solo perfomer until the Panthers.

    Nice work on this model.

  14. All the sources I have read described the original Beetlebomb F8F as an adversary type solo aircraft simulating acrobatic aerial combat against the main flight, as did the SNJ which preceded it in the same role. Both were painted Yellow orange overall to make them stand out as the other (aka “bad”) guy.

    The first Beetlebomb flew until September 29, 1946 when she crashed shortly after take off. Subsequent Beetlebomb flights ceased after another fatal crash on April 24, 1950.

  15. AHA! I found the decal maker — Superscale.

    (I left the residue in another Bearcat box.)

  16. Michael,
    Very nicely done to show off this little crowd pleaser. You are right, Superscale 48-430 is the sheet for the F8F’s of the “Blues”. You are also correct about the SNJ and F8F “Beatle Bombs”. They were used during the final portion of each show as the adversary aircraft and the other “Blues” got into a dog fight and simulated shooting it down. The rear passenger of the SNJ would throw a dummy with a parachute out as the bad guy. Beatle Bomb would then try to hide in some fashion to simulate being shot down. The SNJ was scheduled to be replaced by the F8F in 1949. In it’s final show the SNJ was almost lost due to the fact the passenger did not throw the dummy clear of the airplane and the dummy and parachute became entangled in the planes tail feathers. With some effort the pilot was able to land it.

  17. It’s always good to see something a little different, especially when there’s a story attached, and you’ve made a particularly nice job of this one.

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