is my Testors F8F-2 Bearcat converted to an F8F-1B.
put this kit together back in 1999. The
conversion consisted of filing and sanding off the oil cooler exhaust vents
under the cowling and shortening the vertical stabilizer by simply cutting out
some of the plastic above the trim tab, gluing the top and bottom halves
together, and puttying and sanding until the proper shape was achieved.
Model Master Dark Sea Blue was airbrushed on and, for the decals, I used
the Aeromaster Sheet “U.S. Aircraft in French Service”, # 48081 (http://www.eaglestrikeproductions.com/cgi-bin/amddecals.pl?scale=48&setid=081&dbs=aeromaster&pgs=2&currpg=1&dclimg=ad48081)
The decals were flawless, with no setting solution at all being used for the
images below to see larger images
fast forward to the first week December 2006, when I suddenly had the urge to
take it out of my display case and finish it once and for all.
Within a week and a half, it was finished, with the “upgrades”
consisting of the following:
retraction struts (not included with the kit) made from two diameters of plastic
rod, with one end of the larger diameter rod being drilled out and gluing the
smaller diameter rod into it. Brass
wire was used to make a locating pin which was glued into a small hole drilled
into the larger rod. A small hole
was then drilled into the rear of the landing strut which the locating pin for
the retraction strut was then glued into. The
other end of the retraction strut was secured to the top of the wheel well with
brake lines made from beading wire with the retaining straps made from lead
rear fuselage antennas made from brass wire with the aerial wire made from
fishing line (4 lb. test).
barrels filed and sanded to make them more round in appearance (have a square
shape out of the box) and drilled out.
chipping using a silver artist’s pencil.
off and painting the wing non-skid areas by drybrushing with Flat Black.
stain using chalk pastels (white, black, and reddish-brown) touched up with
drybrushing of Flat White and Panzer Gray due to spraying on Testors Dullcote
which made white pastel almost invisible.
Ivory Black oil wash over engine, propeller hub, landing gear and in wheel
dark sea blue mixed with flat white over the model’s topside along with
drybrushing of wheel struts, wheel wells, and tires.
1951, the French had become involved in heavy fighting against the insurgents of
the Communist Viet Minh in
(later Vietnam). During
this same time period, jets were replacing the Bearcat in U.S. Navy carrier
based squadrons, and to assist the French, the United States, through the Mutual
Defense Assistance Program, agreed to supply surplus F8F-1s and F8F-1Bs to the Armee
de l’Air for service in Indochina.
to delivery to the French, the F8Fs were overhauled and the fuel system was
modified to meet French standards. Shortly
after delivery the French further modified the aircraft with SCR-300 radios to
improve air-to-ground communications. With
these modifications, the aircraft were re-designated as F8F-1Ds.
the initial transition training from the Bell P-63C Kingcobra, there were a
number of accidents due to the different landing approaches using the nose gear
equipped Kingcobra versus the tail wheeled Bearcat.
Once these problems were overcome, the French pilots soon learned to make
the most of the Bearcat’s short takeoff capability, power, maneuverability,
and high performance to attack ground targets with bombs, rockets, and napalm.
The Bearcat flew its first combat mission in March 1951 with Groupe de
Chasse (G/C) 3/6 ‘Rousillion’ and went on to become numerically the
most important fighter of the Armee de
It performed well throughout its combat career, notably during the
abortive defense of
in 1954. With the fall of
the combat career of the Bearcat in French service ended.
model represents a machine of G/C 1/22 Saintonge
in 1953. This
was one of the aircraft based on the airstrip at
Dien Bien Phu
to supply close air support for the garrison.
It was destroyed on
March 12, 1954
when the Viet Minh began their artillery barrage
at the outpost.
Bearcat in action by Charles L. Scrivner, Squadron/Signal Publications
: The War in the Air by Rene J. Francillion, Arch
images below to see larger images