My experience in building historical aircraft is limited compared to other
modeling genres. I wanted this model to not only be appreciated and displayed
proudly by my father but also to be a model that showed the same kind of
quality of workmanship that I would expect to put into a spacecraft or
sci-fi model. I was ready to have some fun!
Chance Vought's F4U Corsair was an aircraft carrier based fighter plane
which saw service in the 1940s and '50s. Distinctive for its graceful "Reverse
Gull Wings," it gained a reputation as one of the fiercest fighter planes
of the Second World War.
During a conversation with my father, he talked about his service with
the U.S. Marine Corps working as a mechanic on F4U-4 Corsairs. I wanted
to pay tribute to him with a model of one of these great planes.
Image courtesy Dave Gorman
At 1/48 scale, Hasegawa's Corsair is a nice size without being a particularly
complicated kit. The complete kit consists of 47 gray injection-molded
parts. Two more clear molded pieces make up the canopy. Molding quality
is excellent without any sink-marks or flash, surprising as the molds for
this kit go back to the 1970s. Detail is crisp but limited to the basics.
Panel lines are raised rather than engraved, typical of kits of this vintage.
The instructions consist of a single sheet with detailed drawings of each
step of the kit's assembly. Painting recommendations are for Humbrol and
Mr. Color paints. Printed on the back is a brief description of the plane
in seven languages and a decal placement guide.
The decal sheet has markings to make a U.S. Marines or a U.S. Navy Corsair
of the Korean War era. Though nicely printed, it would not be used as I
would be modeling a Corsair flown right after World War Two.
I started the kit by assembling the Pratt
& Whitney R-2800 radial engine. The engine consists of a low profile
back piece representing the engine cylinders and a separate front portion
depicting the engine's bullet nose and cylinder push-rods. The entire sub-assembly
is about an inch across.
I sprayed the engine cylinders with Model Master Silver Enamel (#1246 in
a "rattle can") and gave it a wash of Tamiya Acrylic Flat Black (XF-01)
to bring out the details of the part. Flat Black was also painted onto
the engine's back plate. Fuel lines were hand brushed with Tamiya Copper
(XF-6). The front section of the engine was sprayed with an 8:1 mix of
Tamiya Light Sea Grey (XF-25) and Clear Blue (X-23) and then given a wash
of Model Master Flat Black (#1749). The push-rods and other details were
then painted with Tamiya Black (X-1).
While the finished engine sub-assembly is not completely accurate, it looks
very good and even better when placed in the nose of the plane. A more
detailed engine would be a nice touch, but most of that extra detail would
be hidden once it was assembled into the model.
The cockpit is typical of older aircraft kits. The shape and overall design
is correct but detail is kept to the most basic of representative shapes.
Side consoles are covered with simple rectangles, circles and points which
do correspond to the rough appearances and positions of actual instruments
and controls. The main instrument panel has some nice looking raised instrument
detail but that detail is not even vaguely accurate. There are no decals
for the instruments.
The cockpit interior was sprayed with a 5:1 mix of Tamiya Park Green (X-28)
and Flat Black. The control stick was also painted the same color.
I planned on building this Corsair with the canopy closed and knew most
of the cockpit detail would be hidden so I worked with what the side panels
had to offer. Tamiya Flat Black, Flat White (XF-2) and Flat Red (XF-7)
were used. Details were hand-painted to as closely match the correct positions
of the instrumentation of an actual Corsair cockpit as the molded parts
The raised detail on the main instrument panel was filed off completely.
A color image of an actual Corsair instrument panel was printed out on
a laser printer and glued to the kit's panel. At 1/48 scale, it looks pretty
good when viewed through the canopy of the finished model.
The kit's tiny
pilot is nicely detailed. Only an inch tall in a sitting position, its
size made it a real challenge to paint. Using a 2x magnifying visor, I
was able to get a satisfactory look using a base of Tamiya acrylics.
The tan flight
suit was colored with a 5:3:1 mix of Flat White, Lemon Yellow (X-8) and
Flat Brown (XF-10). The life vest was painted Lemon Yellow and the face
was hand brushed with a 3:2 mix of White and Flat Flesh (XF-15). The seat
harness was painted with an 8:1 mix of Flat White and Flat Brown. The helmet
was painted straight Flat Brown and the oxygen mask and gloves were painted
with a 3:1 mix of Flat Brown and Black. The entire figure was then given
a wash of Model Master Burnt Sienna to bring out details and accentuate
Hasegawa's Corsair kit, like many aircraft kits, was designed to be built
and displayed "on the tarmac" with landing gear deployed and the gear doors
assembled in the open position. The gear doors were not meant to be assembled
in the closed position and so did not fit into the gear bays properly.
I've always preferred to display aircraft models "in flight" with the landing
gear up and the gear doors closed. This would require a little work.
Blocks of plastic, .080-inch to .100-inch thick needed to be glued into
the gear wells to support the gear doors when glued in the closed position
(arrow, top photo at left). While the left-side main gear doors fit into
the gear wells almost perfectly, the right-side doors needed a spacer of
.015-inch thick sheet plastic to fill a gap between them (arrow, middle
photo). When sanded flush, this filler piece made just enough of a step
to show the separation between the two gear doors.
The oil cooler vents were sprayed with Model Master Silver. A wash of Tamiya
Flat Black really brings out the details (bottom left photo). They were
glued into the wing bottom-half and masked with low-tack masking tape before
the wings were glued together (photo below).
| I would display
the model in a "flying" pose by suspending the model from the rear by a
1/4-inch diameter clear acrylic rod. To make this mounting as secure as
possible, I cut a section of aluminum tube with the same inside diameter
and used Milliput epoxy putty to hold the tube in position.
The engine and
cockpit sub-assemblies were glued into the fuselage and the two fuselage
halves were glued together. The thin cellophane bag that held the kit parts
was cut to mask over the cockpit for spraying the model with primer. Once
the cockpit was glued into place, the cellophane was so positioned as to
be easily removed after painting.
| The tail gear,
which is designed in the kit to assemble in the extended position would
not be used. The tail-hook would be seen behind the mounting rod, however.
It was removed from the tail gear and glued into the back of the gearwell.
The gearwell door was then cut up to clear the acrylic mounting rod and
was glued into position.
| The kit is designed
to represent a Korean War era Corsair and has two very delicate antennas
on the bottom of the fuselage. Since the Corsairs of the mid 1940s did
not have these antennas, they were removed. A small mast was also removed
from the top of the vertical stabilizer.
| The wing was
glued to the fuselage. Where the wing upper surface met the fuselage on
each side there was a gap which was easily filled with Model Master
The model was primed
with the typical spray-can light gray automotive primer. Any visible seams
and flaws were brushed with Model Master primer and sanded out.
The clear canopy is
very well molded. This delicate part is very thin and strap detail is very
crisp. It was masked off with Parafilm to prep for painting and was glued
into position using Elmer's white glue. The model was ready for painting.