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Vought F4U-1A Corsair

by Mikhail Putnikov


F4U-1A Corsair


Tamiya's 1/48 scale F4U-1A Corsair is available online from Squadron.com




The F4U Corsair is a favorite subject for modelers. When Tamiya started production of their new 1/48 scale Corsair kits it generated a new height of modeling activity. Several great models and building reviews have been presented here on HyperScale . Now I have decided to join in the Hyperscale Corsair Club.


Without any doubts Tamiya produces the best Corsair model on the market. The few goofs are rather minor and relatively easy to correct. I just want to call you attention to my experience and some details of this model project. Taking this opportunity I would like to thank Mike Reeves, Stephane Wrobel and all my friends who helped me.

OK! Letís start!





The first area that really needs improvement is the exhaust ports. I canít accept the flat exhaust pipes so I replicated them from fine metal tube. In the picture (photo 1.1) new openings on the underside of the forward fuselage are clearly seen.



The vent door of the engine compartment cooling was thinned and catapult hooks were installed (note, on the picture model with the plastic mold on hooks). Additionally, I slightly improved the wing root intake openings, installed new vanes of carburetor and intercooler intake. Nothing serious, but the wing root intakes are a really important element of construction and you canít ignore that.



I next paid my attention to the R 2800 engine. Tamiya has provided a good-looking radial engine. I intended just to add wires and new push pods but then I decided to replace the kit plastic parts with the AIRES engine resin set.



Adapting the rear part of AIRES engine took me some time but it was worth the effort.



Next was the cockpit area. The kit cockpit was pretty good Ė in fact, one of the best cockpits I've ever seen. The main features of floorless cockpit are correctly represented. Unfortunately, injected plastic technology has some limits and it would be impossible to mold everything from plastic. That isn't a problem for an average modeller (not infected by Advanced Modeling syndrome) but when you get AIRES cockpit set you can't help yourself. It's just incomparable. It provides in resin, a lower cockpit tub, two sidewall pieces, front and back bulkheads, a seat, control stick and other details as well as a photo etch fret for the instrument panel, seatbelts, and canopy interior parts which include the interior frame mirrors and latch handles. Deep in my mind I realize that many of cockpit improvements are hardly visible on the assembled model but I like detailing and do that for pleasure.

Returning to the Corsair cockpit, lots of variations of cockpit coloring seem to be possible. I used an USN WWII Aircraft Interiors article by William Reece as the reference and that allowed me to avoid long discussions concerning the Corsair interior paints. According to this article on the F4U-1A, the cockpit should be FS 34151 Interior Green and all other areas Zinc Chromate Yellow FS 33481 (Salmon on the early aircraft). That doesn't contradict other references and my personal point of view. The process of painting, weathering, detailing and installing of cockpit didnít cause any problems. That is the usual sort of things. The only disappointing thing was that I painted an oxygen bottle Light Blue like on Soviet aircraft. On the USN aircraft it should be Yellow. "He that never climbs never falls"Ö



(note, the photo flash has caused the changing of colors on this picture, they look too bright)

Once the cockpit was completed, the fuselage halves were glued together. There are two options available as the wings are assembled. I built the folded position with extra detailing of the center and outer wing sections. Molded on plastic detailing was cut off and then I replicated the scratch build flap control rods, hinge pin pulling strut, flap strut and control lever and some other parts. I can't say that I was absolutely satisfied with the results but in my opinion new wing folding mechanism looks more realistic than the plastic one. I don't want to tire you with the description of installation AIRES wheel bays or how I separated control surfaces, installed new trim actuators and navigation lights. That is too boring and have been discussed thoroughly a hundred times. It would be better to draw your attention to the landing gear detailing.


Landing Gear

The Corsair had a remarkably complex main gear assembly. Unfortunately Tamiya offered slightly simplified landing gear. After installation AIRES resin wheel bays the best solution was to make the new turned metal gear struts. New H-shaped drag links (stretched Evergreen profile) with rods, scratch build hydraulic cylinders, torque arms and brake lines have been added. The rear undercarriage has been detailed with the Eduard Items. This significantly enhanced this overly simple part of the kit.


The rest of the kit went together very well, with an excellent fit.



Painting and Markings


Before painting I checked my references and chose the most famous - Ira Cassius Kepford's ďIkeĒ F4U-1A Corsair (serial number 55995). In his five months of combat duty, Ira Kepford scored a total 16 confirmed kills and one unconfirmed. Color profiles and drawings of this particular Corsair from various sources contradict each other. Fortunately, Iíve managed to find two good quality pictures that allowed me to get a fix on the following interesting details.

  • the aircraft looks worn and faded (exposure to the sun often left the upper surfaces a faded medium blue with no distinction between the Sea Blue and Intermediate Blue colors)

  • areas around the fuselage national insignia has dark spots (old style of national insignia with Red border might have been overpainted)

  • Sea Blue paint near the fuselage fuel tank was washed off and Intermediate Blue paint is clearly visible.

  • the badly flaked paint at the wing root leading edge (this is characteristic of the Corsair frequently seen in the wartime photos of the Corsair aircraft)

  • wing national insignia placed on the on wing tip line (very often Corsairs had portwing national insignia placed close to the pitot tube line)

  • spinner and hub of the propeller were painted (in my opinion it was Intermediate Blue paint but some sources suggested that it should be Red)

  • Hamilton Standard propeller 13'-1" (3,99 m) diameter typical of VF-17 was installed

  • the "whip" aerial, on the spine, just behind the cockpit was installed

Armed with the above notes I made my own mixture from the Tamiya AS (Blue, White and Black) paints for creating fresh, faded and very faded Insignia Blue paints and two shades of Intermediate Blue paint. I used the FS595B color samples and lightened all paint colors with the Light Gray paint for achieving the appropriate "scale effect".



Weathering technology was usual. As usual, at this stage I tried to achieve the best compromise between used looking appearance of real aircraft and model accuracy. I believe model should look a bit "clear", shadow better. Hard exhaust stains, chipped paint and rust shouldnít spoil an overall impression of the model.

"The biggest artist point in weathering is knowing when to stop -- how much is too much" and every modeller has his own opinion on this matter.




  1. F4U Corsair In Action by Jim Sullivan Squadron Signal Publicatons #29

  2. F4U Corsair Part 1. In Detail and Scale by Bert Kinzey Squadron Signal Publicatons

  3. Vought F4U Corsair Aero Detail #25

  4. F4U Corsair AJ Press


Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Mikhail Putnikov
Page Created 15 January, 2002
Last updated 04 June, 2007

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