The following is one of over 5,000 great modeling articles created through iModeler.

Grumman’s pugnacious Bearcat

September 2, 2014 in Aviation

This is Academy’s 1/48 scale rendition of the ultimate Propcat, the F8F-1B Bearcat. Designed as a shipborne air superiority fighter for the US Navy, with a design emphasis on speed and manoeuvrability, the Bearcat proved to be everything the US Navy was looking for. The manoeuvrability of the Bearcat was such that it could out turn a Mig 15 and even a Mig 17. In the hands of a skilled pilot the Bearcat surely would have been a formidable adversary for any Mig 15 or 17 pilot. However, World War II ended before the Bearcat reached full operational status and therefore, the Bearcat did not enter service in large numbers with the US Navy. The Bearcat was also exported to the Thai Air Force and the French Armee de I’ Air. The French received 140 Bearcats which saw heavy combat in Vietnam. After the French withdrew from Vietnam, their Bearcats passed to the fledgling RVNAF. Nguyen Cao Ky, Head of the RVNAF and later premier of South Vietnam also flew the Bearcat.
The Bearcat was powered by an R-2800-30W engine that could propel it to a max speed of 689 km/h. Armament comprised four 20mm cannons and with six underwing hardpoints it could carry napalm tanks, HVAR’s and bombs in the ground-attack role.
My Bearcat is dressed up in the markings of the famous 514th Fighter Squadron of the RVNAF. These Bearcats were heavily weathered due to the adverse weather and climatic conditions in which they operated. The weathering on my Bearcat was done with watercolour paint for the panel lines, paint chipping was done with a silver pencil. Oxidation of the paint was simulated with Doc o’ Brein’s weathering pigments. The prominent exhaust staining was replicated with Tamiya weathering kits.

18 additional images. Click to enlarge

People who liked this article:
GuestProfile photo of George WilliamsGeorge WilliamsProfile photo of hammermrhammermr

22 responses to Grumman’s pugnacious Bearcat

  1. Purrrrrfect, Marne. All good.
    Where’d the big one one in your front yard come from?

  2. One of my favorite aircraft Morne though I prefer them in Air Racer guise. Never realized the RVNAF used a modified version of the Stars and Bars.
    Well done.

  3. Great looking Bearcat Morne. I like the bleached out finish.

  4. Wondering if that’s the Bearcat that was sitting in front of the VNAF club at Tan Son Nhut, near HQ MACV back in Saigon that was?

    Surprised it’s still around, if so. he current owners are not fans of the previous regime, or it’s artifacts. Except to make a propaganda point, of course.

    How old is the photo?

    • Hi Bernard. Your guess is as good as mine. I got the photo from the web. It didn’t say anything as to where the photo was taken. Another photo depicts a Bearcat as part of a memorial. You are probably correct in believing it to be the aircraft at the VNAF club in Saigon. No doubt you saw it there.

  5. That is the airplane in front of ther VNAF club, though not nowadays. That’s not a contemporary shot.

    Nice work on the kit, the weathering is very realistic (I actually saw the F8Fs in RVN and Thailand) but I think somewhere Hobbycraft slipped you a mickey, er, an F8F-2 kit. You’ll notice the rudder on your kit is considerably taller than that in the photo of the real one, which is the major visual ID of an F8F-2.

  6. No “mistakes” THERE, Morne….nicely done ‘Cat.

  7. Nicely done, as usual, Morne, and thanks for passing on the details re your weathering.

  8. Super ‘Cat, Morne! I have a -1 built as a french bird as well as a Trumpy; I think I’ll start a Bearcat Flash Mob!

  9. Hi Juan. Thanks!!! I think that would be a super cool idea!

  10. Great Cat, Morne ! like the weathering and the exhaust staines, as well
    to lights at the wingtips 🙂
    Mine was nearly ruined by those awful decals from Academy, it is a strange
    looking bird, every inch looks so powerful and it stands on this thin, long
    legs because of the huge propeller


    • Danke Bernd!! I concur with your assessment of the decals. They are real stiff and slightly off register as well. Copious amounts of decal setting solution needed. Aufwiederhoren!

  11. beautiful weathering and finish – great work, Morne!

    • Thanks Ramon. The Bearcat in RVNAF and French markings offers a great opportunity to practice weathering techniques since the Dark Sea Blue scheme faded quickly in the harsh climate of Vietnam.

  12. Morne,
    What can I say that has not already been said. Excellent

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.