Grumman F8F Bearcat

1/72 scale SWORD model of the Grumman Bearcat
kit review / modelling report

For information about the real Bearcat F8F see page 1

Also, SWORD had a 1/72 kit of the F8F Bearcat (kit no SW 72022).

It is a short run kit with about 60 parts in a bit hard grey shiny plastic and also 2 resin engine cylinder rows. This "Bearcat in foreign service" release is from 2005. Panel lines are recessed. 

There are 2 sorts of fuselages in the kit, enabling the F8F-1 (parts 20 + 21) and F8F-2 (parts 1+2) with the higher tail and slightly different panels and cowl. In the instructions, these numbers are mixed up.

The cockpit is very small but there are nice details with some raised panels. Not a lot is seen anyway as the main interior colours are black. 

There is a central fuel tank and rockets and guns are provided in this kit. 

Kit decals are for 2 schemes: a Thailand Air Force F8F-1 in aluminium finish and a blue'ish French Armee de l' Air as used in the Indo China War. More about the decals later on. 

It was decided to make a Thai air force B.Kh.15 as the Bearcat was locally designated. 

OK, let us start modelling the kit.....

In STEP 1 I drilled a hole in the engine cylinder part U2 to receive the propeller later. The cockpit interior is nice and mainly black. 

In STEP 3 it is a bit unclear where the engine bulkhead should go and how deep inside the cowl. But the engine cowl ring is a separate parts and fits OK. 

The lower wing is one piece with 2 upper halves to be joined in conjunction with the fuselage side. This gives a stable assembly and the wheel bay parts fit remarkably good. Remaining gaps can be closed with white glue and painted later.  I engraved the ailerons a bit more with a scriber.

(SWORD shows a drawing for a folded wing, but if you want this you have to do this yourself). 

On the kit parts small bulges (18, 19) are found and nothing is noted in the instructions. Probably these are upper wing gun bulges. I left them out having no information but if you have good photos, they may be required. 

The front of the lower wing needs some trimming in order to fit inside the fuselage recess. And the lower cowl area should be adapted with part 43 which is there for the other version. I needed that for my Bearcat version. 

The part 43 seen in place

Some filler is needed to close at gaps and get a smooth result.

Tiny gaps at the wing roots also needed a little filler and sanding.

Each main wheel needs a hole to fit into the aixle. The brake disks should be at the front. 

Looking at the gear, I found the main gear legs being far too long. I removed no less than 5 mm from the base in order to get a good angle when parked on the ground. 

The propeller had some flash so sand here. To fit the propeller a rod was fitted at the back to be received at the engine front. 

The amount of filler and sanding was limited overall for the kit. After sanding, the model got a grey primer with the airbrush. After correcting any flaws, the model was ready to get its paint.

I opted for the nice Thailand Air Force Bearcat F8F-1. It has a dull metallic aluminium scheme. The basic metal colour airbrushed was Revell Aqua 90 "silber" acrylic. This was also applied in the gear bays and so on. 

Looking at real photos of these Bearcats, I found variations in the scheme. The rudder markings seen are often not white-black but white-dark blue.  Also aircraft were seen that have yellow-black stripes. 

These need hand painting and this is a lot of work. For the kit scheme it was to be white-dark blue. First the area was airbrushed white. Than I used dark blue decal from Microscale cut in equal wide strips.

The nose number "2315" is  far too large; a replacement was retrieved from the spares box. Also the bull emblem is far too large on the decal sheet! I needed to do something here and it was cut in several parts and "compressed". 

The anti-glare panel was airbrushed dull black. Also aft of the exhaust pipes.
Parts like the canopy and windshield were set in place. Tiny gaps can be filled with white glue and when dried out painted. 

The wingtip anti-collision lights were  painted on and given a drop of Microscale Kristal Kleer

I also added the central fuel tank which was dark blue. Finally, the propeller was installed fixed with white glue and an wire antenna was added from flexible EZ line.

The overall model was finally given to protect the decals an overall gloss coat with Johnson Future/Pledge. It now looks fine with an even shine. 

That completed this kit. I found that the SWORD kit is much better than the more expensive ART MODEL kit described on page 1

[  513,000 | capital: Bangkok | 69 million inhabitants | GDP per capita $7,600 ]

The Thailand Air Force ("Kong Thap Akat Thai") was established very early in 1913 when Thailand was known as Siam. From France some Breguets and Nieuport biplanes were acquired. In the 1930s over 70 Curtiss Hawks and over 100 Corsair V.93 were used. From 1939 the name Thailand was used and after the second world war ended some American second hand aircraft were put in service like the Bearcat. From 1951 over 200 Bearcats F8F-1 and F8F-1B were delivered designated as B.Kh.15.

Trainers types were the AT-6, Chipmunk and Tigermoth. From 1957 some T-33 jets were supplied under MDAP with transports like the C-47, C-54 and C-123. During the Vietnam war also the air force was re-enforced. Some 30 F-84 and over 50 F-86F Sabres were used followed by F-5A/B. Some USAF aircraft operated from Thai bases. In the 1980s Fantrainers were ordered and locally produced and F-5E fighters and F-5T trainers followed from 1988 by F-16A/B. Various transports were also operated including from 1980 C-130 and from 1982 some 19 GAF Nomad. The L-39ZA was also procured in the 1990's along with PC-9's and from 2000 some 20 Alpha jets. Current fighter aircraft are dozen modern Saab Gripens and still F-16's.

The air force uses a specific designation system with B.Kh for fighters, B.J for attack aircraft, B.TL for observation, B.Th for bombers, B.F for trainers and B.L for transports.

B.Kh.15  Bearcat (F8F-1) of the Thailand Air Force  ( "Kong Thab Akat Thai" )  of the 2nd Fighter Bomber Wing used in the nineteen fifties. 

A nice model in the 1/72 fighter collection.

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Created this page, September 12, 2015