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F8F-1B Bearcat, VNAF 1st FS 1963

When I bought this kit, I was really dissapointed. Really poor in everything.
I was almost convinced to put it into trash bin. But then I saw some works of one guy, who built really old fashioned and really really poor kits so nicely that I started changing my mind.
I must say it was lucky decision to built the kit finally and to use no aftermarket (because the result was still uncertain). I just wanted to test my skills and improve them.
When my wife said I must finish this kit, because she likes the aircraft, challenge was accepted.

The most interesting thing is that Viet Nam army made some field modification of this Bearcat to photo reconaissance variant, which was originaly produced as F1F-2P… But they just cut of some plates and installed cameras in. I made it according to F1F-2P variant, so it is not absolutely accurate in shape and location.

Another disappointing moment came when I had the aircraft painted and almost finished and I found nice site with a lot of pictures and noticed some vents on top of fuselage before windshield – too late to make them 🙁

The complete build is here:

https://imodeler.com/groups/work-in-progress-aircraft/forum/topic/f8f-1b-bearcat-in-viet-nam-service/

I will describe it just briefly.
I had to re-work seat in the cockpit, also to add most of instruments and some walls installation and controls.
I scratchbuilt complete wheel bays + some fuselage installations, including wing intakes.
Engine was highly improved with added screws, pipes and cabling. (aftermarket is really worth of buying, this thing needs to be replaced definitely!)
Main landing gears are re-worked to more accurate to real ones.
Tail wheel is completely scratchbuilt – I put the one from kit into trash bin, it was useless.
Wing fold mechanism is completely scratchbuilt, but aftermarket should exist – not sure if it fits or if they still produce, but I have seen it.
Cowling shape is a bit corrected – thanks, Tom!, and cowling vents are added.
Exhaust cover plates are new, parody from the box was the first thing I threw out.
All rivets are made by RB rivetting tool.

Painting: MRP White Aluminum on most of surface, ALCLADII Dark Aluminium on some places, for scratching I used AK chipping (hairspray technique), and all matt colors are Tamiya acrylics.
Weathering on wings is made by oil (I just made some touches with brush and then blur them a bit with cotton stick).

So – my recommendation – this kit is poor, but if I consider the price and the age, it gave me 2 months of fun and occasion to improve my skills.
I just regret lack of sources – I have no book at all about this type, so Internet was still on.
Next time I would take Trumpeter kit… I would still need some really “NAVY” machine in my collection. 🙂

And my last words are “Thank you guys for supporting me during the build”. 🙂

10 additional images. Click to enlarge.


20 responses to F8F-1B Bearcat, VNAF 1st FS 1963

  1. This is a splendid result, out of the very poor Hobbycraft kit, Martyn!
    You put all this quality work in there, correcting all kits inaccuracies and enhancing all areas that it lacked behind.
    I had the utmost pleasure to follow your build thread and, apart from the joy of watching, I learned many things.
    Congratulations!

  2. Wow. Sometime we just solider on and you a remarkable job on this kit. Keep building.
    Liked!

  3. Martin, back in the day scratch building, elbow grease, a of lot thought and ambition where the norm. It shows in this build and the results are fantastic. There is something that rings true about ” I made this” when you get down and dirty and don’t buy it off the shelf.

    Two thumbs up.

  4. Glad you persisted! It’s a fine build.

  5. Amazing result from a very average kit.

  6. Nice looking Cat Martin, seems you made the very best from an average kit. Like the fact in spite of its issues you still had fun building her. Did the same with the old,old Testors kit, which I posted here, a little work and some elbow grease and you have a decent looking Bearcat. I like it.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  7. Martin @naviatik, Superb job on this. Really outstanding!

    Contrary to popular believe, you can use ordinary masking tape for masking if that is all you have. Just need to rub it down on your jeans or some other fairly rough surfaced cloth to remove some of the adhesion. Not as good as tape used for paint masking, but close in a pinch. Being one who use to practice manual drafting, I am aware of the differences.

    Again, really awesome job!

  8. @naviatik – I followed this at the WIP group, and you have done really impressive work on this old model. You’ve tranformed it into something very special, very impressive.

    “Liked” (a lot!)

  9. A beauty of a Bearcat! Looks great!

  10. Awesome result, Marin.
    Very impressive build and thanks for showing this in your thread, I was happy follow it.

  11. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    Well Martin, seeing these images, one can really come to mind and be thankful
    that this model did not make it to the feared TRASH BIN phase.
    In spite of all the short comings you mention, the end results as seen are all
    way to positive in every angle this model is seen.
    The weathering looks very convincing and the folded wings add a very strong point of visual interest.
    Very keen modeling, as you can see .. persistence paid off … 😉 .
    Thank you for sharing these images.

  12. Thank you all, I am really happy you like it!
    I made new series of pictures on white background. It seems I am better with using white ….

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  13. That is a real beauty! I love the distressing of the markings, and the weathering/staining of the NFM on the cowl and around the canopy – how did you achieve that?

    I may have to dig up an old Bearcat in 1/72 to treat like this! I really like the S. Vietnamese markings, and they really stand out on NMF.

  14. Great result on this, Martin, I guess your wife was very pleased with the finished model? Definitely liked.

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