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Top Flite F8F Bearcat 0.60 size (Red Box Rescue)

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#1
For those who follow my YouTube channel You are in the know. So let me fill you in on this build and we will dive right in.

I picked up this mostly built Top Flite Red Box F8F Bearcat at SEFF 2018 for $75. Needs finishing and some love. With my recent hiatus due to selling my home, purchasing a new one and subsequent move, I've had to put off my P-51 build until next build season.

This kit went out of production years ago but I was fortunate to get this model along with it's original build plans. Thankfully, I could also source scans on the internet and print off a couple of copies for building things that need done. Originally constructed for a glow engine, the original builder also deviated from the plans by building out the tail control surfaces using solid wood. Since this is intended to be a quick build I had considered just rolling with them but the scale modeler in me was under distress as the ribs not being there would really bother me and I always try to save every ounce of weight in a tail. So, here is what I'm essentially starting with:
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You can see that I've got a 4-blade prop on-hand that I intend to use for this project. There are holes in the original cowl that need to be fixed as well. This model has had a lot of sunlight exposure over the years, leading to yellowing of the canopy and plastic cowl. This also makes the plastic brittle. Rather than mess around with the canopy, I was able to source a new one from ParkFlyer Plastics for $7. No-brainer there. The cowl will be reinforced with fiberglass and epoxy on the inside and the holes filled with bondo. The cowl is exactly the same as the one Top Flite provided for their 60-size Corsair. The cylindrical profile is incorrect and there are accounts on the web from the original designer on how to modify the cowl to get the proper tapered shape. I'll cover that when I get there.

Pretty straightforward rescue build here. I'll build it out per the plans with retracts and flaps. As flight accounts reveal a fairly nasty tips stall at lower speeds, I intend to keep her nose-heavy and the flaps are a bit of insurance of lift on landing speeds. I am considering covering film on this one but as usual, I'm leaning toward the more complicated... fiberglass finish with paint. It's just more resilient in the summer sunshine but it usually leaves me wanting panel lines and rivets. I'm hoping I can resist that urge and just have a flying model that works and is stress-free.

I've started construction of the wing control surfaces. There were none built so cutting out templates from the printed plans, I've pulled out my scrap balsa stash and started construction on the ailerons.
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Standard Top Flite construction technique used here. Nothing fancy or uncommon. I've done this same thing with the flaps. While there are no cross-section profiles for the flaps, I've left the leading edges of them flat and I'll be using some offset hinges that should work just fine and not require any further shaping.

Up next is re-making the elevators and rudder per the plans. I may get the cowl going with the glass just to give it some good cure time. As I'm unfamiliar with the temperature fluctuations and humidity content of my new basement workshop, It seems reasonable that I may end up with a learning curve on my fiberglass layups.

Chime in with comments and suggestions on parts you'd like me to cover in more detail. I'm super excited to be building again and sharing the build with the community is one of my favorite parts.
 

Robyle3

Active member
#2
Aha! The bear is my fav allied fighter, I'll be looking forward to seeing this done.

(Hypothetically) If you were to add panel lines, would you paint them, or etch them? I have no ideas how to work with glass so that detail intrigued me.
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#3
The way I do panel lines is fairly easy. I first make sure my finished surface is ready for paint. Any and all glass work and filler needs to be done. I use 1/64" chart pak tape. I apply the tape on the airplane wherever a line is to be made. I then apply three light coats of primer over the lines/tape and wet sand back until the tape is exposed again. Once the tape is removed, you are left with visible and tactile panel lines with minimal weight gain. From there, any paint applied keeps these lines as long as you do not go too heavy with the paint. An airbrush is preferred as rattle cans can go on quite heavy depending on the formula and brand that you use.
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#5
The prop is a 14x8x4 from FMS as far as I can tell. I was thinking maybe MotionRC but I'm not entirely sure. I purchased it as a possible static prop for my P-47 but the diameter was a bit silly... too small.

I got the elevator main construction completed. I need to add a bit of balsa for the trim tabs as well as some stock for where the control linkage goes. A balsa block goes at the tip and then final sanding to shape. I did not capture a picture of the old ones but they had cutouts for rudder throw... the thing is, the rudder would not even interfere with the elevators in any way due to their placement forward of the rudder. Again, use your friggin references.
IMG_9408.jpg
 

wilmracer

I build things that fly (sometimes)
Mentor
#6
I did not capture a picture of the old ones but they had cutouts for rudder throw... the thing is, the rudder would not even interfere with the elevators in any way due to their placement forward of the rudder. Again, use your friggin references.
That doesn't sound like a John mistake. He must not have done the prior work himself
 
#7
The way I do panel lines is fairly easy. I first make sure my finished surface is ready for paint. Any and all glass work and filler needs to be done. I use 1/64" chart pak tape. I apply the tape on the airplane wherever a line is to be made. I then apply three light coats of primer over the lines/tape and wet sand back until the tape is exposed again. Once the tape is removed, you are left with visible and tactile panel lines with minimal weight gain. From there, any paint applied keeps these lines as long as you do not go too heavy with the paint. An airbrush is preferred as rattle cans can go on quite heavy depending on the formula and brand that you use.
That is remarkably clever
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#8
That doesn't sound like a John mistake. He must not have done the prior work himself
I don't think John did this. Pretty sure he picked it up at a swap meet somewhere and just never got to completing it.

That is remarkably clever
Not my idea. I've seen many methods used over the years. This one, I stole from John Morgan, and I'm fairly certain he stole it from someone else.
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#9
First up, a shot of a completed aileron/flap.
IMG_9425.jpg

I completed the elevators. Shaping made loads of balsa dust... just a friendly reminder that a respirator is your friend here. It was hilarious to compare the elevators that came with the aircraft. Shape, size, and lack of effort were very apparent.
IMG_9423.jpg

With that, I drilled holes for the elevator control linkage, which is internal, and then cut slots for the pin hinges. Alignment of each side is basically lined up, not perfect, but good enough. The tips of the H-stab were not cut at the right angle per the plans so I had to correct that as well as sand the proper taper.
IMG_9424.jpg

I started framing out the rudder. This is the last control surface to be constructed. It is the same construction as the other surfaces. The covering will come next. I'll use some covering I have on-hand and then shoot some primer on it. I'm out of my preferred covering (Solartex) but regular film covering should be fine.
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#10
Wrapped up the rudder last night. I added some balsa to the base of the rudder as reinforcement for the control horn. This wraps up the construction of the control surfaces so I'll move on to covering them. It will serve as a bit of protection against bench rash. Time to work on the cowl and start modifying the wings for retracts.
IMG_9427.jpg
 
#11
Control surfaces are looking good!
The prop is a 14x8x4 from FMS as far as I can tell. I was thinking maybe MotionRC but I'm not entirely sure. I purchased it as a possible static prop for my P-47 but the diameter was a bit silly... too small.
Ah, ok. The 14" prop is good. I've had some issues with their 17" prop throwing a blade on motors over 300kv on 6S, so wanted to check. Ended up replacing it with a much pricier varioprop.