Grumman F8F "Learcat" Reno Racer

Gallery Article by H. Davis Gandees



The model depicts a fictitious Bearcat modified to beat Griffon powered P-51 Mustangs.

  • Learjet 35/36 wings (tip tanks removed) and horizontal stabilizers.

  • T-33 all metal vertical stabilizer/rudder.

  • Balanced and blueprinted P&W R-2800-73 engine with nitrous oxide- 4500+ HP. During WWII P&W tested this engine stock at 3500 HP for over 250 hrs.

  • Boil off oil cooler boiler vented out at tail.

  • Windscreen from rear section of P-51D. 

  • Canopy lowered 3 inches. 

  • Stinger tail cone to smooth airflow.

  • Lengthened P-51 prop spinner to improve airflow into engine.

Click on images below to see larger images

Concept Strategy

  • The current Bearcat airfoil is not laminar flow and has too much drag. Replace with thinner Learjet wings and swept horizontal stabilizers.

  • Wright R-3350 engines are not reliable. Utilize "souped up" P&W R-2800-73 with nitrous oxide boost.

  • Smooth out airflow into engine. Install lengthened P-51 spinner.

  • Employ young aggressive former military test pilot with large "brass cajones"


  • As the Learjet weighed 9,000 lbs and had a max speed of 512 mph @ sea level with 7,000 lbs thrust, .66 (thrust to HP conversion factor) x 7,000 lbs = 4,629 HP needed to achieve same speed. 

  • 4,500 hp would be enough to be competitive with the fastest top Griffin powered Mustang speed to date of 492 mph. The Learcat would also be 2000 lbs. lighter than the Learjet.

The Model

  • Testors F8F Bearcat fuselage and Hasegawa Learjet 35/36 wings and stabilizers. 

  • Prop Blur PE prop blades on extended P-51D spinner.

  • Wings attached with L-beam styrene spars.

  • Learjet modified horizontal stabilizers attached with brass rod spar.

  • Kit canopy lowered 3 inches.

  • Windscreen modified rear section from P-51D canopy.

  • Styrene tail stinger

  • Tamiya pilot figure.

  • Lots of putty, sanding and polishing to blend wing/fuselage.

  • Alclad II Chrome/Polished Aluminum NMF.

H. Davis Gandees

Photos and text by H. Davis Gandees