Revell 1/72 F8F-1 Bearcat

KIT #: 04680
PRICE:  $11.00 MSRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Reboxing of ancient, but still nice Monogram kit.


The F8F prototypes were ordered in November 1943 and first flew on 21 August 1944, a mere nine months later. The first production aircraft was delivered in February 1945 and the first squadron was operational by 21 May, but World War II was over before the aircraft saw combat service.

Postwar, the F8F became a major U.S. Navy fighter, equipping 24 fighter squadrons. Often mentioned as one of the best-handling piston-engine fighters ever built, its performance was sufficient to outperform many early jets. Its capability for aerobatic performance is illustrated by its selection for the Navy's elite Blue Angels in 1946, who flew it until the team was temporarily disbanded in 1950, during the Korean War. The F9F Panther and McDonnell F2H Banshee largely replaced the Bearcat in USN service, as their performance and other advantages eclipsed piston-engine fighters.

An unmodified production F8F-1 set a 1946 time-to-climb record (after a run of 115 ft/35 m) of 10,000 ft (3,048 m) in 94 seconds (6,383 fpm). The Bearcat held this record for 10 years until it was broken by a modern jet fighter (which could still not match the Bearcat's short takeoff distance).

Other nations that flew the Bearcat included the French Air Force and Royal Thai Air Force. French aircraft saw combat service against the Viet Minh in the First Indochina War as fighter-bombers in the early 1950s. They were used to support French Forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, operating at the edge of their combat radius, but failed to prevent the French defeat that brought about the end of the war. Upon its creation in 1955, nearly 70 surviving aircraft passed to the Vietnam Air Force.


I had always thought that this was a kit from the 60s but marked on the inside of the wing is 1976, so I guess I was in error on that. I do recall that the first time I bought this kit it was 79 cents at the PX and now it is $11.00. How times have changed.

What hasn't changed is the kit inside. I hate to tell you, but this isn't a -1 Bearcat.  It has the taller tail of the -2. It also has the three exhaust pipes coming out of the cowling on each side, just like a -2. The -1 had five and they were deeper inside the cowling. It also has the canon armament that was typical of the -2. Even the box art shows the small canopy brace used on the -2. According to the serial numbers on the decal sheet, both markings are for a -1 version. How you deal with that is up to you. Ignore it or sand down the fin, remove the cannon and cut off the exhaust stacks.

Typical of the era, the cockpit is minimal, though it does have a nice seat and pilot, the tail plane slots in between the fuselage halves, there is no wheel well detail, it has raised panel lines and it includes a stand. The kit also has a centerline tank and rockets for under the wings. I should also mention that the wheels are designed to spin via the 'heat the knife and smash the axle'method, something we old timers learned very well with our parent's cutlery.

The decal sheet for this one is first rate and includes markings for the box top plane, the CAG bird from CAG-19 in 1947 and a USN Reserve plane flying out of Anacostia in 1952. The decals are superbly printed by an Italian company. Instructions are well done though it follows the irritating trend of using only company produced paints, requiring the exterior color and interior color to be mixed. The outside and wheel wells and gear and wheels are USN Gloss Sea Blue. The interior is probably a chromate green as they have you mixing Bronze Green with Yellow. I'd use US Interior Green myself.  


AAs with many kits being issued by Revell Germany, this is something that isn't new and relies on nostalgia as much as anything for sales. Not sure why they couldn't have come up with two nice -2 decal markings, but there you have it. Despite its age, it is still worth building, especially as Starfighter decals has several nice -1 sheets for it


F8F Bearcat in Action, Charles Schrivner, 1990.

Thanks to me for getting this one to preview.

August 2010

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