About this Plan
Bearcat. Radio control scale model, for electric power. Wingspan 45 in, wing area 2.75 sq ft. For 3 or 4 functions. Scale is (approx) 1/10.
Direct submission to Outerzone.
Update 2/9/2023: Added kit review from S&E Modeler, September 1999, thanks to RFJ.
Quote: "In Review: The Balsacraft Bearcat, by Tom Hunt. A 600 powered sport-scale model.
I have been working for Grumman (now Northrop Grumman) for nearly 20 years. In all that time I have never built and flown (successfully) any 'Grumman' production aircraft as a radio controlled model. I have built and flown quite a few 'research' models that never made it much past the preliminary design phase here at work, but alas, no Wildcats, Hellcats, Tigercats, Panthers, Cougars, Tigers, Intruders, or Tomcats. Now I own a beautiful sport scale, hand launched, F8F Bearcat.
The Bearcat was introduced too late to see any action in WWII. Some Air National Guard squadrons did fly the aircraft until late in the 1940s, but jets took over the Grumman line by the Korean War. A few were sold to the French and used in Indo-China through the '50s. The Blue Angels Navy Show Team flew this aircraft from 1947-1949.
To find out more about this use of the aircraft, I took a short trip over to the Grumman History Center one day at lunch to see if I could dig-up some information on the 'troop.' I found many black-and-white photos and one color. Until 1949, none of the Blue Angels Bearcats (earlier, they flew Hellcats) aircraft had the logo on the fuselage. Earlier aircraft also had their 'insignia blue' paint lightened with quite a bit of white. This gave them a very flat medium blue appearance. In 1949, when the name was added to the fuselage, the aircraft were repainted in the standard insignia blue scheme.
The Bearcat, and a few other Balsacraft sport scale kits, are imported from England by Hobbico. All are Speed-600 (Mabuchi RS-550) direct-drive powered. Other models currently offered are the Hawker Sea Fury (oz13711), Hurricane and Bristol Blenheim (oz11253). Soon to come are the Spitfire and Focke-Wulf Fw 190A (oz14415) and they may already be here as this article goes to print.
The model is an all-wood design. Some parts are CNC cut from three-layer plywood (lightweight but not the traditional lite ply we are used to). The rest of the wood is either die-cut or strip wood and sheet. A few vacuum-formed parts are included - in the case of the Bearcat, the cowl, canopy, a pilot bust and a 'scale' exhaust blast shield.
The kit also includes many hardware goodies. If built as intended, the only thing you will need besides the propulsion system and radio is some glue and covering material. The kit even includes some very nice dry-transfer decals. The entire model is skinned, so if one had the ambition, a light, fiberglass coat could be applied and the entire model painted. I chose to use Super MonoKote flat insignia blue throughout, as well as the matching LusterKote paint.
The model is intended to be hand launched only. No hardware or alternative instructions are provided for putting landing gear on the model.
The model, at first glance, seems a bit large for a direct drive "600" motor, but it does build light and strong. My fears of an under-powered model were not realized during the first flight. It is curious to see a 'turnabout of fair play' in this kit. Designed originally as an electric powered model, the kit includes parts and instructions to convert the model to glow?! EGAD! Who would want to do that?
Assembly: The instructions come in two parts, a written description, and an assembly drawing/parts-list section. It would have made life a little simpler had they been integrated, but both as stand-alones are reasonably well done. The plans are clear, well laid out and, coupled with the assembly drawings, they make construction relatively easy.
I do have one small complaint though. Many of the die-cut balsa and strip wood parts are inked with a part number; however, neither the written instructions nor the assembly isometrics make note or point out these part numbers. A cross-reference chart is made available, but why bother stamping the parts if the numbers have no meaning in the instructions? The CNC parts are not identified on the wood at all. It is a good idea to take each sheet out and label the parts by hand using the illustrations provided on the next-to-last page of the assembly drawings booklet.
I don't plan to provide a stick-by-stick dissertation of the building sequence. I'm sure you like to hear more about flying and propulsion systems. I would, however, like to touch on a few things in each assembly that might not be obvious to the modeler.
Wing: The wing is built in one piece. One half is built flat on the table up to the point where the top skin would need to go on. At this point, the modeler is instructed to prop up the unfinished wing panel to the proper dihedral angle and build the other panel to the same point. I agree with this procedure. It gives one some time to look at all the inner structure before it is closed-up with the top sheet.
The washout is put into each panel as the upper sheet is installed. A 'twist jig' is provided to set the twist angle at the last rib. I find, however, that small pieces of scrap (varying in thickness) should also be put under the trailing edge in a few spots to avoid a curve being introduced from just warping at the tip. It is easy to see how this can happen when the root of the wing is pinned down and the twist jig installed at the last rib and pinned down. A gentle 'bow' to the trailing edge results if left unattended to.
I used Elmer's Pro-Bond Polyurethane glue to glue the top skins on. It is a slow cure (overnight) adhesive that expands to 3 to 4 times its uncured volume, filling in any gaps or missed places. Great stuff for sheeting foam wings too!
I decided not to use the supplied plastic snake pushrods and a single servo for aileron control. Instead, I installed some 24-gauge ribbon wire in the wing before top-sheeting the wing for a pair of FMA S-90 servos, one to drive each aileron. This assures a no-slop, no hysteresis assembly, has the potential of being lighter and makes adjustments so much easier. The wing is more than thick enough to completely hide these servos.
Fuselage: There is nothing really important to note here. Only that the CNC ply parts have a bad tendency to warp quite a bit after they come out of their sealed bags. During construction, the parts must be continually 'straightened' while being glued to assure a true-built fuselage..."
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