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Eric Berg
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1:48 HobbyBoss F8F-1 Bearcat “Beetle Bomb” Blue Angels

July 30, 2019 · in Aviation · · 30 · 3.9K

Here's my grimy looking ' -1 “Beetle Bomb” circa late 1949 as it might have looked after a hard weekend working an airshow. Note the attached photo of the actual plane.

By early 1948 the Blue Angels were flying four blue F8F-1 Bearcats along with a 5th painted yellow, named “Beetle Bomb”, that was used as a stand in Japanese Zero for airshow dogfights. By mid 1949 the Angels transitioned to F9F Panther jets and “Beetle Bomb” (the second bearcat so named which is the one in the photo) was assigned to perform solo aerobatics in between shows. Unfortunately it crashed during a training session at Pensacola in April 1950 killing the pilot.

This is the 1:48th HobbyBoss initial F8F-1 Bearcat new tool released in 2012 that includes the necessary decals to make this plane. The real “Beetle Bomb” was stripped of all armament and had the early Bearcat wings with no machine gun bulges topside. Having built the much maligned HobbyCraft Bearcat using an Obscureco corrected cowling, I can say the HobbyBoss line of Bearcats are the most accurate looking F8F's out there in this scale.

I built “Beetle Bug” (Why do I keep wanting to call it “Beetle Juice”?) in 2015 straight out of the box except for added PE seatbelts and BarracudaCast wheels. I don't recall any problems and enjoyed the simple quick build. Paint used is Pollyscale Reefer Yellow acrylic and some Alclad II aluminum on the leading edges. In my stash I also have a HB F8F-2 kit plus the older Academy/HobbyCraft release with a bunch of Cutting Edge resin “correction” stuff ready to go. Guess you could say, I like Bearcats.

Reader reactions:
15  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

30 responses

  1. Very nice!
    I like aerobatic planes 🙂

  2. Superb weathering - fantastic model!

  3. Real nice! Great work.

  4. Nice build. Also, appreciate the origin story on the a Blue Angels.

  5. Yeah...what they said ! 🙂

  6. Super nice Eric! I particularly like the weathering.

  7. Very handsome build, and an unusual scheme. Well done.

  8. Great looking Bearcat, Eric! An interesting, well-liked aircraft. Your version is extra interesting since it's one of only 2 like it.


  9. Really nice looking build. Yellow can be a difficult color to use on planes, and you have pulled it off very well. Great job!

    • Thanks. Yellow is indeed a pain. Secret is a good primer base of either flat white or very pale yellow. Polyscale Reefer Yellow or Railbox Yellow acrylics are my go to yellows. Trick is to go easy on how many coats you give it.

  10. These Hobby Boss kits really are the best Bearcats out there. One thing: they have NO CLUE what a fabric-covered surface looks like. I filled in all the "swimming pools" and sanded it smooth, then just lightly scored some rib tape. Otherwise, the only thing these kits need are Eduard seat belts.

    Yours is really nice and from the photo, very realistically recreated. Good work!

    • Thanks TC. You’re right, those fabric covered surfaces on the main wing flap are indeed pretty atrocious. I just didn’t feel like fixing them. At least HobbyBoss didn’t overly pepper these Bearcats with a zillion rivets unlike their big brother, Trumpeter.

  11. A yellow Blue Angel? Well I never stop learning. It looks good and very close to that reference photo. The old piston engines were filthy things even when operated by an elite and public unit. You got that exactly right. Well done.

  12. Really sharp looking Bearcat!

  13. Hello chaps

    I remember, long ago, I went with a friend to Castellet Airfield. It is in the South East of France and there is an racing circuit for cars, and an airfield next to it. If I remember correctly; all this was owned by Paul Ricard (the guy earned a fortune with alcoholic drinks named ...Ricard, was a member of french Communist Party in his youth and was active in Occitan language promotion)

    Well, there was an airshow to take place the day after, and this day they were rehearsing. Among the people involved in the show, came the then World aerobatics champion (Eric Muller I think) with a CAP 21, which is a very light and agile plane, and the guy does his program. Then it is the turn of a Bearcat in Blue US Navy guise. The guy in the Bearcat did the same figures but out of tremendous power of the Bearcat compared to the CAP.

    It occurred at least 35 to 40 years ago, but I still remember it

  14. @eb801, Eric I ran a Google search for "Beetle Bomb" and this beauty of yours came up. Man, you really nailed it with this model. Well done indeed! Damn, now I want to build one of these too! 🙂

    It was back in the mid-'80s, when I first took my young son to an airshow in Waco, Texas. There, we saw a beautiful Bearcat. It was the first time I'd ever been close up to one and I took a few 35mm photos of it, standing right beside her. The owner was Howard Pardue of Breckenridge, Texas. I believe he also had a Corsair there in very similar livery. Unfortunately, Mr. Pardue and his Bearcat met a tragic end. 🙁

  15. Thanks Gary for stopping by. I remember seeing Pardue in a Hellcat as well.

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