Perhaps the single best piston-engined fighter ever built, the Grumman F8F Bearcat was a creation caught between two worlds, but belonging to neither. While it technically entered service in 1945, it never saw active duty in World War II, and soon found itself squeezed out of usefulness by the jet age.
Despite its short and relatively uneventful career, the Bearcat remains a remarkably popular aircraft. My theory is because it was the last of its kind. That and the fact that it bears a family resemblance to the Wildcat and Hellcat with the exception that it’s actually attractive.
The enduring popularity of the Bearcat has seen it boxed several times, from the archaic Hawk/Testors kit to the more recent Hobbycraft, as well as the big 1/32 line released by Trumpeter a few years back.
Now, Hobby Boss has entered the ring with a 1/48 kit that one can only assume draws heavily on its 1/32 Trumpeter cousin. Is it any good? Let’s find out.
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I really like this plane. Had the privilege to see one flying in real life last year ( http://youtu.be/cd8H-jeVHfA ). Looking forward to seeing this build.
Just so you know, the molding seam on the canopy is there because it is accurate! Not the seam, but so the canopy is properly ‘bubble’ shaped. They used a multi-part molding tool in order to form a greater than 180 degree cross section in the canopy. Not “lazy” but certainly more difficult to mold. I’d recommend a ‘correction’ or amendment to your assessment on that point – otherwise a fun read. My main gripe was that the wheel well detail is still not right – granted it is a complicated mess – and not much improvement over the Hobbycraft kit. As you said, mixed bag.
Finding an image of the canopy ‘bubble’ is a bit difficult, but when you see such a molding mark (as on a Hasegawa F-14 or F-16 canopy), that is the reason. For the Bearcat, the bulge is subtle and begins after the front frame, which has straight sides. What *is* possible is HB has exaggerated the ‘bubble’ shape. I found tons of images via Google, but few that even come close to making the shape obvious (subtle, indeed!) My own pix of the P’Cola NMNA Bearcat (which is ‘stock’ and not a private rennovation) only shows the slight bulging where the pilot’s head would be – evidently to provide a bit more clearance for looking around that huge pile of ironmongery on the nose!
With the available ‘polishing’ kits (that go up to 12000 grit pads), removing the seam is not much work at all.
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