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1/48 "SMIRNOFF" Racing Bearcat


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Just finished the 1/48 High Planes edition of the Conquest Conversion F8F Bearcat that raced at Reno in the 60s. This is a limited run, low pressure injection kit. That means the plastic needs a lot of clean up, there's no locating pins, and the detail parts have to be sanded (or ground down) to get them to fit well. While it takes a lot more elbow grease to build such a kit, it captures the modifications to the racing Bearcat very well with the shorter wings, extended tail, small racing canopy, closed off wing intakes (filled in by the builder, that is), and P-51 prop spinner.

The attraction to the model is the scheme and the markings. The paint scheme itself isn't too difficult, and decals are provided for the "trim". I chose to paint the trim as most decals like that don't fit well, and getting them to blend smoothly around such compound curves is more work than masking and painting. The only catch to painting the trim was having to mix the blue to match the decal sheet. I mixed some MM Medium Blue, Cobalt Blue, and Testors Sky Blue using Mk1 eyeball, and it's close enough for government work.....MM Gloss White was used for the rest of the plane, with copious amounts of Future for the glossy finish.

The racing markings themselves are very nicely printed and alternates are provided for doing Smirnoff from different years. They're thin, but not too hard to use with care. The main problem I had was with the CLEAR areas between and around the lettering and trim colors. After being applied to the model, it wanted to come apart. The decals behaved as if the ink was the only thing holding the backing sheet together, and I ended up removing as much of the clear as possible on the model. However, I do think that the decal sheet was weakend by age, and the problems I had were mainly due to that. This kit came out 20-30yrs ago, and I'm betting those decals would have performed better if built back at that time.

In the end, this is just an average build (contest-wise) with quite a few gaffs when you get up close. However, it makes for a very pretty build to sit on the shelf, and compliments my Gulfhawk Bearcat quite nicely. Comments, criticism, and questions welcome, as always....Cheers!







Edited by ghodges
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