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 ]

Thailand between Burma, Malaysia and Vietnam in south-east Asia has a population of now almost 70 million with Bangkok as its capital. It has many different etnic groups and from the sixteenth century onwards contacts arose with the Portuguese who called it Siam. In the east there was French Indochina but the area of Siam was never really colonized in all those years. Thailand is still a monarchy with elections but the Royals of Rama have a very large power.

In February 1911, the Belgian pilot Charles Van Den Born made a first aircraft demonstration in Siam at the Sapathum Horse Racing Course in Bangkok. Thai King Rama VI was so impressed that on February 28, 1912, he sent three army officers to France to learn to fly. Military aviation started in 1913 when some Breguets and Nieuport biplanes were purchased. After a bloodless coup d'état in 1932, Thailand became a monarchy. In the 1930s, more than 70 Curtiss Hawk III and some 84 Corsair V.93 biplanes followed, of which more than 72 were built locally.

In April 1937 it officially became the Thai Air Force ("Kong Thap Akat Thai"). During the Franco-Thai War in early 1941 there were air battles against the French Vichy in Indochina. After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, a local agreement was reached after 2 weeks in which the Thai rulers could stay under Japanese control but whereas War had to be declared to the United States and England. Thailand would act as buffer towards British India and military support from the Japanese followed, but the battlegrounds were mostly elsewhere. However, aircraft such as the Ki-43 "Oscar" and the Ki-27 "Nate" were received and these were used in 1945 for the defense of Bangkok against air raids by the Americans.

After 1945, Thailand would be more Western oriented along with the other countries and the United States because of emerging communism and the Cold War in Asia. Dozens of US second-hand aircraft were obtained such as nearly 200 Grumman Bearcats under MDAP but also trainers such as the AT-6, Chipmunk and Tigermoth. In 1957, the jet age began with the Lockheed T-33. Transport aircraft were also received such as the Douglas C-47, C-54 and C-123. Not much later followed 30 F-84 Thunderjets and more than 50 F-86F Sabres.

For later info about the Thailand Air Force, look at the Fantrainer page here...

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