Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat Monogram 1/72


I had finished F6F Hellcat and FM2 Wildcat. Necessarily, I couldn't stop carrying on Grumman Cat series. F8F Bearcat is unblessed aircraft as for model kits. There is no decent kits in 1/32 and 1/48 scales. So, I selected the old 1/72 Monogram. This is a very good kit and the only good kit in every scales. Yet, it's not perfect. I aimed to represent F8F's perfect outline shape.

Differences between -1 and -2 model

I think there are not so many modelers who exactly understand these differences of -1 and -2. Because most of existing drawings don't correctly distinguish them, especially, the angle of windscreen. See following figures. The windscreen of the -2 model is more slanted than -1. The upper half portion of the -2 tail fin is identical with -1. That is the -2 fin is extended at its root. Thus, the trailing edge of the -2 tail fin is bent at its tab. The wing filet at the leading edge is only -2 model.

Next, see the comparison with F4F and F6F. Positional relations between the engine cowl and cockpit are the same as each three aircraft. Cockpits are located in a high position to inprove visibility of carrier landing.

The consideration of nose line

The nose line is distinguishing characteristic of Grumman Cats. I think this is a design policy of the Grumman as a top maker of carrier-based aircraft.

There is a flat area at the top of cowl. The nose ridge is sharp at the front of the windscreen.

Seeing from this angle, the cowl side is not straight but rather curved.

The cowl side looks curved in this angle. That is the same image as F6F Hellcat.

The highlight line shows complicated outline.

See the transition of the cross section shape. See the width and the bubble shape of the canopy.

On the other hand, the nose line is straight from the right side view.

The fuselage is slim and tight in the top view.

The cross section of the cowl rear end is expanded at 2, 10 o'clock and 4, 8 o'clock.

The nose is massive and the rear fuselage is slim.

The outer panel seems to be bent at the firewall. Also, the width of tail fin can be checked.

I think the purpose of this nose ridge (= cutting of both sides) is for the visibility in the deck landing.

Kit review

The kit outline image is very good. Especially, the shape of the engine cowl and the ridge of fuselage top between the engine cowl and windscreen are well represented.

The Monogram kit well represents the Grumman DNA. The total length and width are correct.

The composition is very simple. The main wing consists of only two parts. The horizontal fin is only one piece.

The fuselage width is correct. The plan shapes of the wing, horizontal fin and fuselage are good.

The wing is assembled through the hole.

However, there are some minor faults. The kit is unclear whether -1 of -2. The height of the tail fin is the middle of -1 and -2. The step-less lower side of the cowl is -1. The exhaust looks like -2. The cross section of the canopy is not bubble shape. The fuselage side view is slightly slim (the position of the canopy is a little low). And so on. Other points are to be commented later.

Hawk (Testor) 1/48 kit

Though it not so accurate in comparison with drawings, this old kit has a good atmosphere. The other way, Hobby Craft and Hobby Boss kits are generally correct in comparison with the side view drawing but both kits have not so good atmosphere. The reason is they are incorrect in the cross sectional shape.

Original drawings

Before the construction, I made original drawings. I didn't copy any existing drawings. Sources are photos of actual aircraft, figures and station diagrams in the official Repair & Election Manual of F8F.

Side view drawing

F8F-1 large size drawing

F8F-2 large size drawing

  • The outline shape was drawn from the photos of existing aircraft taken from far enough and exactly right side. Thus I think the outline shape is accurate enough.
  • Panel lines and rivet lines are almost 100% clarified from walkaround photos and the official manual. Some stringers are double rivet line.
  • I counted the number of fasteners and depicted them. Well, I know I'm maniac. The total length (from the front end of spinner to the trailing edge of rudder) is 330". That is confirmed from the collation with station diagrams and drawing.
  • The thrust line is -4.5° to the fuselage reference line. The angle of incidence is -1.5° (main wing) and 0.5° (horizontal fin). The offset of tail fin is 1.5°.
  • Each fuselage frame, canopy frame and rudder hinge are exactly vertical to the fuselage ref line.
  • There are some variations as for small access panels.
  • The diameter of propeller is uncertain. Some references state it's 151" but restored actual aircraft equip larger one.

Top and bottom view drawing

large size drawing

large size drawing

  • Panel lines and rivet lines are depicted as projections on the wing reference plane. Each wing rib is not vertical to the horizon plane but square to the wing ref plane.
  • Blue lines show variations or uncertainty.
  • Some stringers are double rivet lines. These are almost clarified from close-up photos.
  • The airfoil is NACA23018 (root) and NACA23009 (tip).
  • The dihedral is 5.5°(wing ref line), the wing span is 426", the horizontal fin span is 190".

Cross section drawing

Each cross section figure was drawn from photos of actual aircraft. They were adjusted with the side view and plan view drawings.

large size drawing

Front view drawing

large size drawing

  • The black outline of the propeller blade is the front view shape including blade pitch. The red outline is the developed figure of the blade. The black line was drawn from photos of the actual aircraft. The red line was calculated from black outline with assumed pitch.
  • Wing ribs are square to the wing reference line. But the landing light is vertical to the horizon plane.

F8F-1top and bottom view drawing

large size drawing

large size drawing

  • The width of the -1 cannon access panel is narrower than -2.
  • The ammunition box is set from the lower wing.
  • Other major differences between -1 and -2 are the wing filet at the leading edge, the filet between lower wing and fuselage, the navigation light on the lower fuselage, the windscreen & canopy and the cowling.

The construction of the fuselage

The kit fuselage height is a little slim at the center section. Therefore, the position of the canopy is a little low. I'd correct them. I don't like putty. So, the kit fuselage was cut and re-assembled with shims. The fuselage center was cut at the red line (see the following pic). The cut line was sanded as a wedge shape to lift up the canopy position. As a result, the fuselage bottom line became incorrect. Then, the rear fuselage was cut at the purple line and the shim was inserted. The green line was for the detail work of the cowl flap. The yellow line was for the wing assembly. The tail fin was enlarged by 2.5mm (0.1") at the aqua line.

The fuselage was cut at each line.

The shim of white styrene sheet was inserted at the top of the front fuselage. Then the both sides of the nose ridge were sanded.

Compare each cross section shape with drawings.

The cockpit floor is from Tamiya F-84G.

The front edge of the cowl was cat at the access panel line and re-assembled with the shim. The shape of the lower cowl air outlet is not simple. The line is straight at the center, (red). On the other hand, it is bent at the side(yellow).

The wing

The kit dihedral and sweepback of leading edge are a little insufficient. So, the kit wing was cut at the center line and re-assembled. The wing thickness of the kit is correct. The leading edge was sanded to be NACA23000 series airfoil.

The main spar of styrene sheet was glued to ensure the dihedral. I didn't notice the difference of the sweepback at this time.

Then the sweepback was corrected.

Ribs were glued on the gear bay.

More details were added.

The fuselage and wing were assembled. Then panel lines were engraved.

The cockpit

The coloring of the seat and bullet proof plate is unclear.

The roll bar was made of styrene sheet.

The seat was referred to Naval Fighter No 80. The seat belt is from Finemold.

The gunsight is unclear. F8F-1 might equip the Mk-8. It is un-visible from outside. F8F-2 might equip the gyro gunsight Mk-18. But F8F-2P or -2N doesn't equip it.

The windscreen and canopy

The kit clear parts are one of its weakpoints. The windscreen and canopy were made from heat formed 0.5mm (0.02") acrylic sheet.

The wooden master was sanded to the just size of drawings.

The size and image were checked on the model fuselage.

Then the surface was peeled off by the thickness of acrylic sheet.

The side window consists of a quadric surface (see green lines).

The heat formed acrylic sheet was sanded with #800 to #1500 grit sand paper. Then it was polished with rubbing compound.

Frames were engraved with etching saw.

Acrylic canopy was glued with UV Clear glue.

The engine

The P&W R-2800 C-series engine was from Quick Boost.

Details were added. See the wiring of ignition harnesses.


Access panels were engraved with the handmade template.

Blisters and tabs were added.

The pylon, aileron hinge, flap hinge, dive recovery flap were added as well.


Mr. Color Surfacer was sprayed and the surface was polished.

Gross Sea Blue was painted.

Again, the surface was polished. Then, Gross Sea Blue was thinly painted again.

Dry decal rib tapes

Rib tapes were depicted with custom made dry decals. After that, Sea Blue was over painted on them.


Most of markings except for the white tail fin tip were custom made dry decals.

I found the font of BuNo was mistaken. But it was too late. I already ordered dry decals.

The final detail works

The kit Aeroproducts propeller was basically good. I corrected the blade shape a little.

These are original kit parts. Kit gear leg was longer by 2mm (0.08").

The propeller blade is corrected.

The logo of Aeroproducts is from Revell kit decal.

The torque link, brake pad were scrutched.

The brake line and some more details were added.

The exhaust is made of brass pipe.

The pitot tube was made of brass rod.

The completion

Finally, Grumman's ultimate fighter was completed. The surface finish was 90% satin gross polished with Mr. Laplos #8000. I like this realistic polished surface. Though detail works were not sufficient, I could almost perfectly represent her glamorous and tight shape. In parallel, I could illustrate her shape in the original drawings. I hope some manufacturer will release an accurate F8F model using my drawings.


The font of the Bu.No.

At least three types of font can be seen on US Navy / Marine F8F.

The left font is the standard Navy style. The right font is mostly seen on the factory finish aircraft. My model should be applied the right font.

Color profiles

The first profile is F8F-2 of VF-61 "Jolly Rogers" in 1949. The fuselage insignia is 30" size, the wing insignia is 40". The letter C is 32" and 101 is 20".

The next profiles are F6F-5 of USS Hornet VF-17 "Jolly Rogers" USS Hornet and FM-2 of VC-93 USS Petrof Bay. These profiles are illustrated in the same scales (incidentally, other color profiles such as P-51, Spitfire, Seafire are the same as well). What a big F6F is!

Following figures are F8F-1s of Armee de l'Air in Indochina. The first one is GC II/9 Auvergne. Most of Indochina F8F retrofit air outlets on both fuselage sides. The next is F8F-1B of GC I/22 Saintonge. The serial number is uncertain and referred to a certain web site. The third one is uncertain unit (it may be GC II/9).

Armee de l'Air's F8Fs can be seen in

This may be the most colorful Bearcat in the front line units. F8F-1 BuNo 95320 of VF-19A Commander E.E.Cook Jr. The color of "AIR GROUP NINETEEN" is darker than red and it may be black or blue. The letter 100 on the wing is about 26", and the letter B on the wing is about 40". This BuNo is the third font.

The special F8F-1 "Beetle Bomb" of Blue Angels BuNo 95187. Gross Yellow was a difficult color for computer illustrating for me. The usual black shadow made the color tone dull. So, it was changed to a brown shadow. The Black walkway was painted on the upper wing root. The letter of BLUE ANGELS was painted on both sides of the lower wing and not painted on the upper wing. The smoke generator was attached on the tail.


1 The famous airplane of the world (new edition) No.94 Grumman F7F/F8F ISBN 4-89319-094-6 Bunrindo
2 The famous airplane of the world (new edition) No.35 Grumman F4F,F6F,F8F Bunrindo
3 The famous airplane of the world (old edition) No.78 Oct.1976 Grumman F8F Bearcat Bunrindo
4 F8F Bearcat In Action Aircraft No.99 ISBN 0-89747-243-8 Squadron/Signal Publications
5 VNAF : The South Vietnamese Air Force 1945-1975 ISBN 0-89747-193-8 Squadron/Signal Publications
6 Blue Angels : U.S. Navy Flight Demonstation Teams 1928-1981 ISBN 0-89747-117-2 Squadron/Signal Publications
7 Raceplane Tech 02 Bearcats & Corsairs ISBN 1-58007-035-3 Specialty Press
8 Naval Fighter 80 Grumman F8F Bearcat ISBN 0-942612-80-9 Ginter Books