Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1A Corsair

 

Model, Article and Photos by Tony Bell

 

Introduction:

Tamiya first released their 1:48 F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair almost ten years ago back in 1997, followed in the next couple of years by the F4U-1D and F4U-1A kits. Typical of Tamiya kits, they are well engineered with good (albeit a bit heavy in some folks’ opinion…) surface detail. The cockpit is nicely detailed straight from the box, as is the engine. The kit provides dropped flaps and the option of posing the wings either folded or flat. There are some minor issues with the kit, including the much-ballyhoo’d boarding step in the right inner flap (which the kit instructions indicate should be filled in - the horror!), and the slightly off looking braces on the canopy sliding hood.

The Cockpit:

OK everybody, say it with me: “Construction-started-with-the-cockpit.”

And so it did with this model. As this was to be an out-of-the-box build, I didn’t do anything extra to the cockpit, aside from thinning the back and sides of the seat. The seat back is particularly thick, but my 8” Bastard file made short work of it. I briefly toyed with the idea of adding a map case to the right console and replacing the trim wheels with disks of sheet styrene, but in the end I decided I would keep the canopy closed and stay true to OOB.

 

I started off by airbrushing Tamiya semi-gloss black in the nooks & crannies of the interior, being careful to keep it in the areas of natural shadow. I did this on all the cockpit bits, the fuselage side walls, wheel wells and landing gear doors - anything that was to be painted Interior Green. I thinned the black about 80% with rubbing alcohol and sprayed it at about 10-15 psi. I then mixed up a batch of Interior Green from Tamiya paints and airbrushed the interior bits, misting it on in light coats to allow the pre-shading to peek through.

 

I applied a mix of India ink and Future floor polish (although any acrylic clear gloss will do) to all the I.G. areas in order to add depth to the recesses, followed by an airbrushed coat of Polly Scale clear flat. I brush painted the cockpit side consoles “scale” flat black (i.e. dark grey) and then dry brushed everything with a medium green-grey mixed from Payne’s Grey, Chrome Yellow and Titanium White artists’ oil paints. Various switches and knobs were picked out in red, silver, white and gloss black with a fine brush and Citadel paints. A silver Prismacolor pencil was used to draw some scuff marks and chipping.

 

The seat harness was made from strips of masking tape painted Tamiya Buff, with the stitching was drawn on with a needle sharp pencil. For the instrument panel I simply trimmed the carrier film from the kit decal and applied it with liberal amounts of Solvaset setting solution. Once it was dry, I sprayed it with Polly Scale Flat and applied a small dab of five minute epoxy to each gauge face for the glass.

The Engine:

The engine is also very nicely detailed, in spite of the simple, three part construction. The cylinders were brush painted with Citadel “Gunbolt Metal”. The funny thing about this paint is that if you add rubbing alcohol directly to in an attempt to thin it, it will turn into a curdled, gooey mess. If on the other hand you dip the paint brush in alcohol and then dip the brush in the paint and mix it up on a palette, you end up with a very brush-friendly mixture that goes on smoothly and dries quickly. Go figure. Chemistry was never my strong suit. I also brush painted the rocker covers with Citadel “Chainmail Silver” and the pushrods with “Chaos Black”. The black pushrods were subsequently brushed with Future to make them glossy.

 

The reduction gear housing was airbrushed with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000 (a nice mid-grey) while the bolt heads were brush painted silver. The whole engine was then treated to a wash consisting of Poly Scale clear satin mixed with India ink.

Assembly:

This was one of those models that put up a bit of a fight, in spite of it being a Tamiya kit. The fuselage halves went together without a fuss, and the cockpit didn’t even require any glue. I left the bottom seam unglued so that I could spread it a fraction of a millimetre and achieve a perfect fit with the middle lower wing piece.

 

Tamiya has engineered the fuselage halves in a modular fashion to make them common with the Birdcage variant, with an insert just behind the cockpit to differentiate between the versions. The insert seams fall on panel lines, so careful attention to fitting and gluing is needed to ensure that they are consistent with the moulded panel lines. The instructions would have you glue the fuselage halves together first, followed by the insert. I decided that, in the event of a less than perfect fit, it would be easier to deal with one seam at the top of the fuselage rather than two seams on the sides. I therefore assembled each fuselage half separately, applying liquid cement from the inside. As it turns out there was a slight gap on top which was easily filled with a small amount of superglue.

 

The circular fuel tank panel just ahead of the cockpit had to be rescribed after I sanded the fuselage seams, and the inner and outer ring of fasteners surrounding the panel were tediously restored with a micro drill bit chucked in a pin vice. I rescribed a couple of small panels on the top of the fuselage using a scribing template and a sharp sewing needle. One neat little trick I’ve learned when rescribing panels is to brush a small amount of lacquer thinner in the newly scribed line, let it dry and then sand with 1000 grit wet sandpaper. This avoids pushing the plastic back into the groove and results in a very clean line. I used a fine razor saw to restore the panel lines that crossed the fuselage seam, and, while I was at it I used the saw to cut the panel lines of the control surfaces and trim tabs perpendicular to the trailing edges.

 

The wings were a bit of a pain in the butt (now I know why most Tamiya Corsairs are seen with the wings folded). Not counting the flaps, the wings are broken down into six main parts (upper right, lower right, upper left, lower left, upper inside right, upper inside left and bottom centre) and eight secondary parts. It was a challenge to get it all lined up and level with the wings down, in spite of the Tamiya fit and engineering of the parts.

 

My normal habit is to attach the wings to the fuselage and then use them as the reference to align the horizontal stabs. With this kit it’s better to do it the other way around, as the horizontal stabs have very positive interlocking alignment tabs that make it impossible to screw up. As it turned out I had to gently steam the right wing root and crank it up a degree or two in order to line things up. To do this I filled a saucepan with an inch of water and sealed the top with a piece of kitchen foil. I brought it to a boil on the stove and poked a hole in the foil with a pencil, producing a narrow jet of steam. I gently warmed the plastic at the wing root while applying pressure and then quenched the plastic under cold running water. I repeated this a few times until the wings and stabs lined up.

 

The fit of the leading edge intake pieces was so-so, requiring some filling (I used superglue) and rescribing to fair them in. I filled the slight gap between the wing root and the fuselage with Mr. Surfacer 500 and wiped the excess away with a Q-Tip soaked in rubbing alcohol after it had dried for about 20 minutes.

 

Although I usually dip my canopies in Future, the kit’s transparencies were so clear and free of distortion that this time it was unnecessary. I masked the canopy panel by panel with Tamiya tape by applying a piece of tape and burnishing it down with a toothpick, making sure to work it into the edges of the frames. Then, with brand new No. 11 X-acto blade, I slowly and carefully trimmed the tape while holding it up to the light, applying just enough pressure to cut through the tape. The braces on the sliding hood look funny to my eye, curving inward and upward at the front. Fortunately Tamiya provides two sliding hoods, with and without the braces. I used the one without and simply masked it with the braces in the correct position.

 

I attached the canopy with liquid cement applied sparingly with a fine brush and filled the seam with Mr. Surfacer 500. By applying the Surfacer with a fine brush and carefully sanding it with fine wet ‘n dry, I was able to avoid damaging the canopy and the engraved panel line detail.

 

Painting:

After washing the model with dish detergent and letting it dry over night, I sprayed the canopy frames black and then primed the model with an airbrushed coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 cut 50/50 with lacquer thinner. As usual, this revealed several small booboos - file marks, scribing slips, missed seams, etc. - which were fixed and spot primed. I then pre-shaded the panel lines by airbrushing them with Tamiya semi-gloss black thinned 80% with pure rubbing alcohol.

 

The underside white was a 50/50 mix of gloss and flat Tamiya white. The intermediate blue was Tamiya XF-18 Medium Blue mixed with about white, while the non-specular sea blue was mixed from equal parts XF-17 Sea Blue and XF-8 Flat Blue, with a bit of XF-53 Neutral Grey and XF-62 Olive Drab mixed in. Both of these mixtures were given a dollop of Future to give them an eggshell sheen and avoid the almost chalky texture that Tamiya paints tend to take on when thinned with alcohol and misted on in light coats.

I free hand airbrushed the colours, working from light to dark. The paints were thinned about 75% with rubbing alcohol and sprayed in light coats to gradually build up the colour density until the pre-shading just barely peeked through trying to strike just the right balance between heavy-handed and a solid colour.

 

Next I mixed a lighter and a darker shade of each of the blues by adding white or XF-17 Sea Blue, respectively. I thinned these about 95% with alcohol and sprayed random patterns at low pressure, keeping the lighter shades generally more towards the middles of the panels and spraying the darker shades more along the panel lines. I then mixed a dark brownish grey shade of paint (the “schmutz” shade, as I like to call it), again with Tamiya acrylics, thinned it 95% with alcohol and sprayed random patterns around the areas where grime would accumulate, such as the wing roots, the ammo bay covers, engine panels, etc.

 

Decals and Weathering:

To prepare the surface for decals, I airbrushed the entire model with Future cut about 15% with Tamiya thinner. I find that doing so vastly improves the evenness of the coverage and avoids the pooling/fisheye effect that I sometimes get with Future.

Being the iconoclast that I am, I decided to do Lt Ira Kepford’s VF-17 aircraft, because hey, you just never see it on the contest tables. That’s sarcasm, in case you missed it. Actually, I chose Kepford’s mount for the same reason that most people probably do: the cool Jolly Rogers emblem on the cowl and the big block of kill markings. That and the fact that there exist several clear photographs of the aircraft from different angles, making it easy to get the painting and weathering just right.

 

The markings came from the Sky Model sheet number 48042, which includes markings for approximately five hundred Corsairs (thirty four, actually). The decals are printed by Cartograf, and consequently feature perfect registration, excellent colour density and thin carrier film. Unfortunately the Stars ‘n Bars national insignia are useless as the Bars are ill-proportioned. It appears as if they are centred on the circle, whereas they should actually be thinner and slightly offset towards the top. The other issue I discovered was that although the photos of Kepford’s aircraft clearly show kill markings on both sides, the sheet only includes one decal. Fortunately there are plenty of miniature Japanese flags on the sheet, so I was able to piece together a second 4X4 scoreboard for the other side.

The Sky Model decals went on without a hitch, responding well to Solvaset and conforming nicely to the details. I took a chance and decided to use the Tamiya national insignia, in spite of their apparent thickness on the sheet. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with them as they worked very well with Gunze Mr. Mark Softener and a few sparing applications of Solvaset along the panel lines. I take back the bad things I’ve said about Tamiya decals all these years.

 

Once all the decals were on and had dried for a couple of days I sealed them in with another coat of Future and applied a “schmutz” coloured wash of  artist’s oil paints (Payne’s Grey and Burnt Umber) thinned with turpentine to the recessed panel lines and details. After the wash had dried for a few hours I wiped away the excess with a paper towel moistened with a small amount of clean turpentine. I then sealed everything in with an airbrushed coat Polly Scale clear flat thinned with distilled water and strained through a piece of old nylon pantyhose.

 

Using reference pictures as a guide, I drew the paint chipping on with a silver Prismacolor pencil. The great thing about this method is that if you make a mistake (like “chipping” the fabric wing panel - oops), you can simply wipe away the offending marks with a damp Q-tip. The chips were done by using Brett Green’s method of lightly and repeatedly tapping model with the pencil to build up the wear areas without them looking like scribbles. Another coat of Polly Scale clear flat sealed things in for the next steps.

 

The fuel stain on the fuselage was the same artist’s oils “schmutz” wash mixture which I had left out to evaporate over night. I applied it with a soft No. 6 sable brush and touched it up with another clean brush dipped in mineral spirits. The wings were dirtied up with a 50/50 mix of MiG Pigments Europe Dust and Light Dust applied dry and fixed in place by jabbing at them with a soft brush moistened with mineral spirits. After I finished with the MiGs, I went back and added a few more “fresh” paint chips with the coloured pencil.

 

Once the topside weathering was all done I gently ran a new X-acto blade around the masks to break the paint and removed the canopy masks. This is always one of my favourite tasks as the model really starts to look finished at that point. In many close up photos of the Corsair canopy I’ve noticed a light coloured seal around the windscreen Perspex panels, which I attempted to duplicate with very thin strips of white decal stock. Man, what a pain in the butt. It took me two or three attempts at each strip, as each time the strip would either break or curl up on itself. To top it all off, I don’t like the look of it at all; it’s far too pronounced for my tastes. To tone it down a bit I mixed up a medium grey wash of Citadel acrylics (“Chaos Black” and “Skull White”) and carefully applied several filters to the seals with a fine pointed brush. Better, but still less than perfect.

 

The underside was weathered with dabs of oil paint streaked back with a paintbrush slightly moistened with thinner, and exhaust stains were airbrushed on with highly diluted Tamiya - you guessed it - “schmutz”.

 

Fiddly Bits:

The IFF lights under the port wing were first painted silver, followed by clear red (Gunze), clear green (Tamiya) and amber (Gunze clear red plus clear yellow). The wingtip position lights and the blue formation lights on top of the wing were painted likewise, while the landing light recess was painted silver and the clear lens fixed in place with Future.

 

The landing gear doors were first “pre-washed” with a mix of Future and India ink and then painted Tamiya flat white with Future and thinned with alcohol, allowing the shading to peek through. I then dry brushed them with white artist’s oils and airbrushed some streaks with the heavily thinned Tamiya schmutz colour.

 

After priming the landing gear legs and wheel hubs with Future, I sprayed them with Alclad II aluminum and picked out the details with a wash of Polly Scale semi-gloss and India ink. The tires were brush painted with Aeromaster tire black and the treads were airbrushed with a light dusting of heavily thinned Tamiya buff. I attached the gear legs and wheels with five minute epoxy and carefully aligned everything before the glue set.

 

Now, in pictures of Kepford’s aircraft in flight the bases of the blades look to be the same colour as the hub, but I believe this is an artefact of motion blur. There is another photo of VF-17 pilot "Bitz" Bitzegaio standing in front of his aircraft, in which the hub is clearly depicted and the bases of the blades are clearly natural metal. I extrapolated this to Kepford's mount and painted the prop accordingly. The Hamilton Standard logo decals came from a spare Aeromaster sheet and the paint chips were drawn on using the Prismacolour silver pencil. The detail on the hub was picked out by brush painting it with a mix of Polly Scale flat and ink.

 

One more note about the propeller. Although VF-17 flew the -1A Corsair at the time the pictures were taken, the aircraft actually had the later -1D style of props fitted. These props were smaller in diameter and broader in chord than the ones used on the -1A. I could have raided my Tamiya -1D kit for the prop or I could have replaced it with the correct resin prop from Ultracast, but in the end I chose the simple (OK, lazy) route and stuck with the inaccurate -1A prop.

 

The tape over the gun ports and around the fuel tank was made from strips cut from a piece of cigarette paper that had been airbrushed off white and attached with diluted white carpenter’s glue.

The final detail to be added was the antenna. Referring again to pictures of the real thing to get the configuration correct, I made the antenna wire from monofilament nylon thread brush painted with Humbrol Metalcote steel thinned a bit with lacquer thinner and fixed it in place with superglue. The insulator is a small section of styrene tubing heated over a candle and stretched like sprue.

 

Conclusion:

Due to the complicated nature of the foldable wings, this model wasn’t quite as much a shake ‘n bake as other Tamiya kits have been for me in the past. It is, however, still a Tamiya kit with all that implies. It can be built up into a very respectable model straight from the box, and yet there are heaps of aftermarket accessories out there for those who are so inclined.

 

Although very well printed, the quality of the Sky Model decals was diminished somewhat by the inaccurate national insignia and the lack of kill markings for both sides of the aircraft.

 

 

Models and Accessories:


Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

AB48048
F4U-1D Corsair (TAM)
Part 1/48 Aircraft Photo-Etch



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

AI484105
F4U-1 Corsair Gun Bay
Aires 1/48 Resin Details



AI484225
F4U-1 Corsair Details
Aires 1/48 Resin Details



AI484228
F4U-1 Corsair Cockpit
Aires 1/48 Resin Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

AI484253
F4U-1 Corsair Control Surfaces (TAM)
Aires 1/48 Resin Details



AR336
F4U-1A Corsair
Arii 1/48 Aircraft



CMK4073
F4U-1 Control Surfaces (TAM)
CzechMaster 1/48 Resin Details



ENG48152
P&W R-2800 designed for Tamiya, Hobbycraft, Otaki F4U-1 Corsairs
Engines & Things 1/48 Resin US Engines



ENG4828039
R-2800-8: 2000 hp, USN, Vought F4U-1,-1C, Brewster F3A-1, Goodyear FG-1 (updraft carb, located on bottom of supercharge)
Engines & Things 1/48 R-2800 Resin Engines



ENG4828040
R-2800-8W: 2000 hp, USN, F4U-1D,-1P, F4U-2 (updraft carb)
Engines & Things 1/48 R-2800 Resin Engines



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EU48351
F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair (TAM)
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EU48381
F4U-1A Corsair (TAM)
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



EU49215
F4U-1D Corsair
Eduard 1/48 Colored Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



EUEX-033
F4U-1D Corsair (TAM)
Eduard 1/48 Vinyl (Kabuki tape!) Canopy/Wheel Masks



EUEX-061
F4U-1 Corsair Birdcage (TAM)
Eduard 1/48 Vinyl (Kabuki tape!) Canopy/Wheel Masks



EUFE-103
F4U-1 Corsair (TAM)
Eduard Zoom 1/48 Simple Photo-Etch Sets



EUFE-215
Vought F4U-1D Corsair (TAM)
Eduard Zoom 1/48 Simple Colored Photo-Etch Sets



EUFE-244
F4U-1 Corsair placards (TAM)
Eduard Zoom 1/48 Simple Colored Photo-Etch Sets



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EZM001-48
F4U-1/2 Birdcage (2 Vers TAM)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



EZM023-48
F4U-1a/1d/2 (2 Vers HCF)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



EZM101-48
F4U-1A Corsair (2 Vers TAM)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



FA0103
WW2 Fighters Assortment: P-47 Malcolm Hood, P-47 Razorback, P-51D Dallas, Hawker Hurricane, Bf 109F, Supermarine Spitfire PR.IV, P-51D Standard, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.V/IX, Bf 109G Erla Haube, Fw 190 Blown Hood, F4U-1A/1D Corsair, Supermarine Spitfire Prototype
Falcon 1/48 Clear-Vax Canopy Sets



FA0112
WW2 US Navy #2: F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair, AD-6 Skyraider, TBD Devastator, F8F Bearcat, J2F Duck, F4U-1 Early ÔBirdcageÕ Corsair, F4U-4 Corsair, F2A Buffalo (RAF), F2A Buffalo (USN), SNJ Texan
Falcon 1/48 Clear-Vax Canopy Sets



QB48006
F4U-1 Corsair Engine (TAM)
QuickBoost 1/48 Resin Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

SQ9504
F4U-1A/D Corsair (2)
Squadron 1/48 Vac-Form Canopies



SQ9515
F4U-1 Corsair Birdcage (1)
Squadron 1/48 Vac-Form Canopies



SQ9583
F4U-1/2 'Birdcage' (2) Tamiya
Squadron 1/48 Vac-Form Canopies



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

TM61046
F4U-1/2 Bird Cage Corsair
Tamiya 1/48 Aircraft



TM61061
F4U-1D Corsair
Tamiya 1/48 Aircraft



TM61070
Vought F4U-1A Corsair
Tamiya 1/48 Aircraft



TM61085
F4U-1D Corsair w/Moto Tug
Tamiya 1/48 Aircraft



UC48028
Corsair Seats (F4U-1 to F4U-1D F4U-2)
Ultra-Cast 1/48 Scale Aircraft Accessories



UC48159
Hamilton-Standard 13ft 1in 3-Blade Prop & Spinner for F4U-1D, F6F-3/5, TBM-3 Avenger, F7F Tigercat
Ultra-Cast 1/48 Scale Aircraft Accessories



VPI1220
1/48 F4U-1/2 Detail for Tamiya
Verlinden 1/48 Aircraft Accessories/Details



 

Reference Material:

'
Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

AJPXE019
F4U Corsair - all English!
AJ Press Hard Cover Books



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.