"Frog F8F-1B Bearcat
LAST IN THE line of famous Grumman piston-engined fighters of the cat family, the Bearcat has until now only been available in 1:72 scale from Monogram. But Frog have doubled the available choice to the modeller with their version of this stubby American fighter.
Following the proven design philosophy of the Hellcat and Wildcat the Bearcat first flew in 1944 but was just too late in reaching the squadrons to see action in World War 2. With a top speed of over 420 mph from its 2,100 hp Pratt and Witney engine, the Bearcat gave legion service to the US Navy and Marine Corps as well as the French Air Force.
Moulded in dark blue plastic, the Frog kit is accurate in outline but lacks some finesse as far as surface detail is concerned. Although panel and control surfaces are unobtrusively etched, the line marking the wing fold is very vague and in some places almost disappears completely.
The part resembling the Pratt and Witney radial engine needs a lot of work carried out on it, as the cylinders are no more than square finless blocks, but the close cowling does hide most of this Frog short-cut.
The bubble canopy comes in two parts so the model can be displayed with this open in which case work has to be carried out to the cockpit interior.
Wheels have good hub detail but the tail wheel assembly looks very heavy and needs a great deal of tidying up.
The wing cannons would be more at home an an AFV but it is a simple matter to replace them with stretched sprue, similarly the underwing rockets and bombs are best replaced or at least cleaned-up to match the rest of the kit mouldings.
Markings for a Bearcat of VF-72 of the US Navy and one used by the French Air Force in Vietnam in 1952 are included on the decal sheet which comes up to the standard one has now come to accept as normal from Frog.
At 55p this is a good model that will complete Grumman's table top air force for all those who have been collecting 'Cats'. Our review sample was kindly supplied by Jones Bros of 56 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London W.4.
1976-06 Airfix magazine"
"... and its prop-driven predecessor
Predating the Tomcat by more than two-and-a-half decades, the Bearcat did, in some respects,
provide as noteworthy an advance in shipboard fighter equipment in its day as does its current descendant.
Of course, the Bearcat arrived on the scene at a time when the fan-up-front was already being considered as passe for the fighter.
Nevertheless, from the commencement of its service phase-in in May 1945, it served with first-line
US Navy units for more than four years, its withdrawal commencing mid-1949; it saw its share of action with the
Armee de l'Air and it did stints with both the Thai and Vietnamese air forces.
The Grumman F8F Bearcat, which now appears in a new 1/72nd scale kit from Frog, has been modelled,
and very successfully, by Monogram, and anyone having the earlier kit may be happy enough with it, although, on balance,
we feel that this new effort is preferable. Comprising 39 component parts moulded suitably enough — always assuming that
you do not have a penchant for the natural metal-finished examples flown by the Thais and Vietnamese — in the usual Frog
dark blue-grey plastic with fine raised panel lines, the result is effective. We have a personal preference for engraved
detail as the raised type tends to get obliterated when joints are smoothed down. There is a modicum of flash on the mouldings,
but they are generally clean and the trailing edges of the flying surfaces are acceptably fine.
The cockpit interior could make good use of a lot more detail and we must admit to some misgivings
over the massive locating lugs inside the wheel wells for the main undercarriage members — perhaps a little judicious
trimming would not be entirely out of place. The undercarriage itself is a little on the chunky side but not excessively
so, and the wheels are nicely formed. External stores comprise a centreline drop tank, two bombs and four rockets. The engine
is a one-piece moulding but looks well enough, being set well back inside the cowling, while the two-piece canopy is extremely
clear and sits well on the fuselage.
The variant depicted is the F8F-1B and the excellent decal sheet offers markings for an aircraft of
the US Navy's VF-72 in 1950, based at NAS Quonset Point, and for a Bearcat of GC 1/21 Artois of the Armee de VAir in Indo-China
in 1952. Our sample kit was provided, incidentally, by G.W. Jones Bros & Company of 62 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4, who
are retailing it in the UK at 55p (plus 20p postage)."
1976-06 Air International