Grumman’s pugnacious Bearcat
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.