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Academy 1/48 F8F Bearcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2004 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F8F Bearcat Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12201 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details, parts for F8F-1 and F8F-2 Cons Spartan cockpit
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $25.00

First Look


The Grumman F8F was developed as improved carrier-based interceptor to help defend the ships from air attack. Equipped with a slightly more powerful engine over the F6F, the F8F was 20 percent lighter than the Hellcat, giving it impressive climb rate and maneuverability.

Entering service with VF-10 in May 1945, the squadron was still working up their new aircraft when the war ended. Nevertheless, the F8F would serve after the war and production maintained through 1949, equipping 24 fighter squadrons before the jets would enter service. The Bearcat was withdrawn from US service in 1952 without having fired a shot in anger.

The Bearcat would see combat in the service of the Royal Thai Air Force, South Vietnamese and the French Air Force in Southeast Asia. While the French were unsuccessful in that theater, the RTAF operated the Bearcat for many years and much success.

Molded in light gray styrene, the Academy F8F is a reissue of the Hobbycraft kit, also previously issued under the Academy label. Nevertheless, this mold is as crisp as ever as all of the parts are flash-free. The external details feature finely scribed details throughout.

As with most 1/48 Hobbycraft kits, the only real fault is with the spartan cockpit, but there are many aftermarket cockpit sets available to dress this area of the kit up. The remainder of the model is well done and fits together nicely.

Don't let the title of the kit throw you, markings are provided for one French and three USN Bearcats:

  • F8F-1B, French Air Force, Indochina, 1954
  • F8F-1B, USN Blue Angels, 1946
  • F8F-2, VF-62, E/206, 1952
  • F8F-2, VF-61, C/103, USS FDR, 1949

This kit is a welcome re-issue that represents the last and greatest propeller fighter from Grumman. With a resin cockpit installed, this kit will look stunning on any contest table.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!