Building High Planes Awesome 48th Scale Rare Bear
The Bearcat that became Rare Bear was a severely damaged wreck when discovered by Lyle Shelton in 1969. It had been abandoned next to a runway in Valparaiso, Indiana after it crashed there from a throttle-on torque roll in 1962. The airplane had been stripped by parts hunters, so Shelton found a fuselage, wing center section, landing gear and a right wing panel, but little else. Shelton bought the wreck and had the pieces trucked to Orange County and restoration began. One of the major modifications made during the rebuild involved installing a more powerful Wright R-3350 (from a Douglas Skyraider) in place of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine that is standard for a Bearcat. A Douglas DC-7 propeller and cowl were used and Shelton bought the landing gear fairings and doors from the wreck of Bob Kucera’s Bearcat. Bill Fornoff loaned him a left wing panel and Gunter Balz supplied a rudder. The windshield and canopy were supplied by Edward T. Maloney. The rebuild was finished with the first flight on 13 September 1969. (Thanks Google)
Rare Bear has flown in many color schemes throughout its racing career, and this High Planes kit scheme depicts Rare Bear as it flew at Reno in 1995. These kits are limited run offerings, so be warned that there will be a bit more effort required to achieve a finished product comparable to more maim stream models. One unusual feature of this kit was the inclusion of the massive 3-bladed prop which was taken from a P-3 Orion and modified for use on this particular version of Rare Bear. Later it returned to the 4-bladed prop for some reason.
I wasn’t happy with the kit’s cowl, so I cut it off and replaced it with a corrected Bearcat cowl from Obsecureco Models in an effort to achieve the correct opening.
The vacuum-form canopy is a poor fit and requires a bit of work. I did not like the kit cockpit and replaced it with a resin cockpit from the spares box. The rest of the components were pretty straightforward. The next issue was the gold decals. I do not understand why, but when I cut the long pieces into two parts for ease of application, the gold changed shade showing where the cut was made. The cowl was going to be a big problem so I matched the gold as close as I could and painted the cowl ring.
Once the decals were applied, all that was left to do was paint and attach the prop blades. I used Alclad Chrome on the front and flat black on the rear of the blades. I can’t say I am thrilled with the results I achieved on this mode, but it will have to do as I am onto the next Bearcat for the Blue Angel project.
3 additional images. Click to enlarge.