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Vought F4U-5N Corsair

by David W. Aungst

 

Vought F4U-5N Corsair

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F4U-5N is available online from Squadron.com

 

Background

 

Some time ago, I built a Salvadoran FG-1 Corsair because I liked the mottled jungle camouflage that I saw on a model boxtop artwork. In that artwork, the Salvadoran Corsair is being attacked by a Honduran Corsair, depicting an aerial conflict that occured during the "Soccer War" (as it is known in the US). I wanted to build the Honduran aircraft at some point to go with my completed Salvadoran machine, but lacked the documentation and decals to do it.

Aztec Modeling came to my rescue with decal sheet 48-012. Not only does the sheet provide several Honduran F4U Corsairs, but one of them is a Corsair credited with shooting down two Salvadoran Corsairs in aerial combat. How could I not build a model of the exact Honduran Corsair that shot down my already completed Salvadoran Corsair model? All I needed was a kit to start building.

 

Dogfighting Pair of Corsairs

 

The picture here shows both my models, the victor and victim of the only Corsair verses Corsair aerial dogfight in history. While I have never read an account of the actual fight, I have to think it was rather short. In fact, the victim may not have even seen it coming until it was too late.

 

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 Scale F4U-5N

 

Things I had read about the Academy F4U-5N Corsair put me in no hurry to rush out and buy one for this project. When Hasegawa announced their plans to release an F4U-5N Corsair, I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and hoped they would get it right. They did not disappoint me. The model built for this posting is the Hasegawa kit.

This kit is not up the standards set by the Tamiya Corsair kits, and it is not even up to the standards set by some other recent Hasegawa releases, but it is not a bad kit. It has a few issues with its fit. I found the fuselage halves, after assembly, are about .030" too narrow for the engine cowling and wing. I added a .030" styrene spacer between the fuselage halves at the base of the engine cowling to correct the problem. It was good I dry fitted the model as the fix to this would have been quite time consuming after the fuselage was glued solid.

Another fuselage issue is a mysterious ridge running around the nose area, just behind the high point of the wing. This ridge is caused by Hasegawa having an insert piece in the mold to provide a new nose area on their F4U-7 and AU-1 Corsair kits. The issue is that the insert does not align well in the mold and leaves a substantial ridge running around the nose. As the ridge does not line up with any panel lines, it needs to be leveled and smoothed. I gently carved the ridge off with a sharp X-acto knife and sanded the area smooth with 600 grit sand paper. It is still visible when the light hits it right, but I was not going to get any more crazy about trying to fix it.

The cockpit is quite simplistic in its construction, having only six pieces. It is nicely molded, though, with engraved instrument faces and raised details on the side consoles. With a little careful painting, the cockpit builds up into a nice looking representation of the F4U-5N Corsair's cockpit. Of course, some after market resin will greatly improve the cockpit, and Hasegawa is apparently banking on it by not providing much extra detailing in the cockpit. No one had released any replacement cockpits when I started building this kit, so my model has a carefully painted out-of-the-box interior.

 

Cockpit Interior Close-Up

 

Hasegawa took the cheap approach to the engine, too. While they do provide a separate piece for the engine crankcase, both cylinder banks are molded as one single piece with raised details. While not as nice as the engine in the Hasegawa P-47 kit, this representation is adequate for the limited view you get looking into the cowl from the front.

One error of the kit involves the thickness of the main wheels. They are the thinner type found on earlier Corsair versions. The F4U-5/5N and AU-1 had a thicker wheel to help support heavier gross weights. I chose to ignore this problem in the kit. I considered splitting the tires down the center and adding a spacer to make them thicker, but decided in the end to let it go. I was not looking to compete in Nationals with the model. Wheels are wheels, and they do not look that bad on the finished model.

The model molds all the wing flaps separately. They look pretty much like Tamiya's flaps. The wings are correct for an F4U-5/5N in that no fabric covered areas are molded on the outboard wings or flaps. When assembled, the trailing edges of the wings are a bit thicker than I would have liked, but once they are painted they are passable.

The cannon fairings fit into holes in the leading edge of the wing. The holes in the wing are big enough to fit both fairing into one hole (almost). I attached the fairings as best I could, then applied liberal amounts of super glue to fill the cracks that ran around the fairings. The same problem exists for the wing pitot mast on the left wing. While neither of these issues were hard to fix, they were annoying. Hasegawa could have done better to make the holes the right size to fit the insert pieces.

The kit provides alternate pieces to build either an F4U-5 or F4U-5N. The Honduran Corsairs were a mixed bag of F4U-5 and F4U-5N aircraft (with a few F4U-4s thrown in for good measure). According to the instruction sheet for the decals I was using, the Corsair I wanted to build was an F4U-5N.

The F4U-5/5N is armed with 20mm cannons in the wings. The F4U-5N came from the factory with flash suppressors on the cannon barrels (being a night fighter). Hasegawa provides the flash suppressed cannon barrels in the kit. I made an assumption that the flash suppressors were removed on the Honduran aircraft as they never flew at night. Hence, I substituted the standard barrels (kit parts Q12) for the flash suppressed barrels (kit parts Q10/Q11).

This cannon barrel modification, along with the deletion of the radar pod on the right wing, are the only two things I changed to make the F5U-5N into the day fighter that the Honduran Air Force used it for. I left the flash suppressed engine exhaust stubs intact. The kit also provides the non-suppressed stubs, but I figured the Hondurans would not have gone to the trouble to change these. I also attached the small flame hiding strakes above the engine exhausts on the fuselage sides. I figured that these hurt nothing, so the Hondurans would again not have gone to the trouble to remove them.

I originally had no photographic evidence for these assumption, but they seemed to make sense (at least to me). After I was finished with construction of the model and mostly finished painting, a friend showed me a picture (in color, no less) of the exact Corsair sitting on a Honduran air strip. The picture showed that my assumptions were indeed correct. The picture is found in the Osprey Gunfighters book. This is one of the nine-inch square-format softcover books, ISBN#0-85045-723-8. The picture is from high and behind of the aircraft sitting on the flight line of a grass strip.

The kit landing gear builds up nicely and attaches into the wheel wells with strong, positively aligned mounting points. I chose to paint the landing gear in steel metalizer, in spite of the fact that the practice in the US on late Corsairs was to paint the landing gear the same color as the aircraft -- Dark Sea Blue. I did similar to the wheel wells, painting these Chromate Green instead of blue. I figured that thirty-plus years after these aircraft were built, after an undetermined number of repairs and re-builds, who knows what color these areas were. The steel and green colors added some variation to the aircraft where the blue would have done nothing to enhance them or add interest. Since the picture I had did not show the landing gear, I felt I could exercise some artistic license. I'll accept whatever ridicule this painting detail earns me...

 

 

One improvement in the Hasegawa kit over the Tamiya Corsair kit is the fact that weapons are included. The kit provides ten underwing rockets (although the F4U-5/5N only uses eight), two 500lb bombs, and two external fuel tanks. All the external stored are very nicely molded. The aircraft likely was clean (with no ordnance) when it downed the Salvadoran Corsair during the Soccer War. But, since I applied the kills on the side of the aircraft, the model represents this aircraft at some point after the Corsair killing mission. I considered adding weapons to the model as I like the look of a loaded Corsair. In the end, I chose to ignore the weapons and leave the model empty. This is likely the way it was while sitting runway strip alert during the "Soccer War".

 

 

Camouflage and Markings

 

My model depicts the F4U-5N Corsair flown by Major Fernando Soto Henriquez at some point following the 17 July 1969 mission where he shot down two Salvadoran Corsairs. Major Soto had previously in the same day gotten a kill on a Salvadoran Mustang, also while flying this same Corsair.

I used all Testors Model Master paints on the model. Honduras maintained the overall Dark Sea Blue (F.S.15042) camouflage in which the aircraft were delivered. All they did was add their own national insignia in the form of light blue and white trim on the wings and tail. Different from most US Corsairs, they also added a flat black anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit windscreen, all the way to the front of the engine cowl. This is clearly present in the picture I had.

Early research I did stated the camouflage colors held up remarkably well and the blue was pretty much as intense during the "Soccer War" as when the aircraft were new. To that end, I painted the model in Dark Sea Blue with a touch of white added to enhance scale-effect. The model was quite dark after I painted it.

 

 

I had just finished painting the major camouflage and national insignia when my friend showed me the picture that I mentioned above of this Corsair. Other items visible in the picture with the Corsair indicate it is a vintage photo from around the early 1970's, close to the "Soccer War" period. The aircraft in the picture is significantly faded from the Dark Sea Blue I had just finished painting. Further, the colors of the national insignia provided in the decals were also much too dark and rich.

I decided the only real fix for the model was to repaint it. Merely adding white to the dark Sea Blue did not accomplish what I needed, though. This mixing brings out the green quality of the Dark Sea Blue far to well. Instead, I mixed a little Insignia Blue (F.S.35044) with Aggressor Blue (F.S.35109) to come up with the base faded blue I wanted. Adding Dark Ghost Gray (F.S.36320) lightened this base color for use on the upper surfaces of the aircraft. I also chose a much lighter blue shade for the national insignia, custom mixing a color to match the color present in the picture. I'm lucky my friend showed me the picture when he did. These color issues would have annoyed me on the completed model every time I looked at it.

The picture also confirmed that the anti-glare panel was indeed black. Some sources list this as Flat Sea Blue. Aditionally, the picture confirmed what the Aztec instructions mentioned regarding some fresh paint touch-ups on the elevators. I mixed up some not-so-light blue to apply on these. The inner wing sections had a large anti-skid gray area painted on them. I used European Gray (F.S.36081) for this and dusted it with some of the base blue color to help it to blend in better. Custom Decal Artwork

One change I made to the decals provided by Aztec was with the Honduran national insignia. They provide the wingtip and rudder decals as large blue and white decals. I was concerned that these decals would not completely cover the areas in question, leaving the wing and tail edges in dark blue (the base color on the model under the decal). I decided to make my own decals of only the white portions of these markings. That way I could paint the light blue on the model, including the wing and tail edges, then apply the white decals to complete the markings. I could touch up the edges in white paint to fix any places the decals did not quite reach and not have to come up with a matching paint for the light blue decals.

The image to the right shows my custom artwork for the decals (reduced in size to save space). I also changed the background color to make the white portions more visible.

 

Aztec Decal Instructions

 

According to the Aztec decal instructions, the silhouettes of all three kills were painted onto both sides of the aircraft. Other sources claim the silloettes were only on the entry (right) side. I decided to only place the kill marks on the right side.

The aircraft had data markings. They differed from what the Aztec instructions showed and provided. I ammended their instructions to conform to some of what I saw in the picture. I did maintain some of the data markings provided by Aztec, even though they were not in the picture, and applied them because I wanted them.

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. The engine exhaust staining that is so prevalent on most late Corsairs was not really present on the Corsair in the picture, Hence, I kept the exhaust stain to a minimum. I finished the weathering with some dry brushing to pop out the surface details. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".

 

 

Conclusion

 

This model makes a nice addition to my growing "Postwar Warriors" collection. It builds easily and accurately captures the look and stance of the late model Corsair. I can see myself building another of these kits, someday, although I will probably opt for getting the AU-1 version of the kit.


 

 

Additional Images and Project Summary

 

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

7 March, 2002

Total Building Time:

32.0

Research:

0.9

Construction:

8.2

Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):

17.2

Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):

5.1

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

0.6

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2002 by David Aungst
Page Created 25 March, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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