One thing I love
about this hobby is the continuing opportunity to try new techniques, materials
and media. At the same time, I have a bad habit of just diving in without
doing any kind of testing or experimenting on scrap material to see how
a new technique, material or medium will behave or turn out. The model
I happen to be working on at the time winds up becoming my test piece.
This can add an element of adventure to a modeling project.
| Before applying
the plane's main color, the canopy straps were sprayed with the same Park
Green, Flat Black mix used on the interior of the cockpit. Once the main
color was sprayed on, the insides of the straps would be dark green and
the outside would be the color of the fuselage.
the reference sheet that came with Impact Hobby's decal set, postwar Corsairs
of the U.S.M.C. VMF-225 Squadron were painted overall "dark sea blue."
A 4:1 mix of Tamyia's Sea Blue (XF-17) and Blue (X-4) thinned with denatured
alcohol was used to get what appeared to be a good match to a color photo
of the actual plane being modeled. The paint was sprayed on using a Testors
mini spray gun. Only two coats were needed to cover the model.
Image courtesy Dave Gorman
To prep for
decals, the painted model was sprayed with Pledge
floor polish to provide a high-gloss finish. Modeling magazine articles
have often mentioned clear-coating models with Future and it was
something I had wanted to try.
Using the Testors
mini spray gun, Future was sprayed on full strength with the regulator
on my compressor set at about 25psi and the paint setting on the spray
gun set at medium-low. The Future covered very quickly on one pass
and no second coat was needed.
I was concerned
when I noticed the entire surface of the model covered with thousands of
tiny air bubbles, as if the Future was foamy as it hit the model.
Thankfully, the bubbles all settled out in a couple of minutes. I was advised
that my air pressure may have been too high when spraying.
| My concern
was replaced with panic when I noticed several runs and puddles on the
model. Remembering some advice read in an online modeling forum, I used
the edge of a paper towel to wick away as much of the running Future
as I could.
When the Future
finally dried, I checked the model expecting to see some serious problems
caused by what appeared to be too heavy a coat of a finish I was unfamiliar
with. (Want some fun? Check out Reworking
AMT-Ertl's U.S.S. Enterprise Kit: The Big Screw-Up.) Instead, the
had leveled out and left the model with a beautiful, glossy and very even
finish ideal for the application of decals.
Image courtesy Dave Gorman
I wanted to build a model that was historically accurate and hoped it might
be possible to replicate a plane in my father's squadron, USMC VMF-225.
A Google search surprised me.
Impact Hobby Decals' sheet #48-004 has markings for 5 separate planes comprising
the piston engine aircraft of the U.S.M.C. VMF-225 squadron. These range
from the Vought F4U Corsairs of World War Two to the Douglas A-1H Skyraiders
of the Korean War. The sheet includes markings for F4U-4, bureau number
96082, one of the Corsairs in my father's squadron.
The decal sheet, with artwork by JDMC Aviation Graphics is beautifully
printed in 7 colors by Cartograf of Italy. The markings include everything
from the prominent "Star and Bar" insignia on the fuselage and wings to
the safety labels on the plane's propellers. The sheet can be purchased
directly from Impact
The markings on the decal sheet were extensively researched with the only
issue being the "U.S. MARINES" and the "VMF 225" markings which were printed
in yellow instead of white. The set includes an extra sheet with the markings
in their correct white color.
The locations of the markings would be based on the placement guide provided
by Impact Hobby and on an excellent photo of the actual aircraft (above)
provided by Dave Gorman, whose father was also a Corsair mechanic in the
advice of more experienced modelers, no decal setting solution was used
because of the Future clear coat. This was a problem as the decals
were prone to "silvering" where a layer of air gets trapped underneath
the decal and becomes visible through the clear carrier film.
| I found
an excellent substitute for decal setting solution. Future was brushed
onto the model before laying a decal down. Once the decal was on, more
was brushed on and gently removed with the edge of a paper towel. The decal
softened and snuggled down onto the model like it would if a mild decal
solvent was used (see Fine Scale Modeler magazine, July 2010:
Future for Decaling).
When dry, decal
were hard to pick out. The markings had become part of the finish instead
of just decals laying on top of it. Applying decals to a model has never
been my greatest skill. Impact Hobby's quality decals and the
clear-coat helped to produce a decaling job I'm very pleased with.
| The model was
weathered with a wash of Model Master Flat Black to accentuate panel detail.
The Future clear coat was unaffected by the thinned enamel paint.
A final coat of Tamiya Clear (X-22) mixed with a small amount of Flat Base
(X-21) was sprayed on to give the model a satin finish.
The Parafilm canopy
mask was removed by carefully lifting off a corner with the tip of a sharp
hobby knife and scraping the rest off with a fingernail. While not a particularly
easy process, I find the Parafilm much easier to use and more effective
than other masking methods.
In order to
display the plane "in flight," the kit's nicely detailed four-blade propeller
just wouldn't do. Rather, I would simulate the look of a spinning propeller
using a circular piece of clear plastic, my airbrush and Tamiya Smoke (X-19),
a translucent grey paint.
A 3 1/4 inch
diameter blank was cut from .040 inch thick clear copolyester sheet using
a very sharp Olfa circle cutter. The edge was rounded over slightly with
| The blank was
taped down to a printed pattern like the one on the right which I originally
created to get the same effect for my 1/144
scale P-51D model. The outer 1/16 inch of the blank was masked off
with Parafilm. Pieces of styrene sheet were cut with 75° angles (strictly
arbitrary) and taped down 5/16 inch above the blank, following the pattern.
Plastruct rectangular tube was used as a spacer.
The blank was
then sprayed with Tamiya Smoke. Because the masks were placed above the
blank instead of directly on it, the edges of the painted areas would be
fuzzy instead of sharp to give the illusion of a motion blur.
The blank was
removed from the template and the Parafilm was removed. A new Parafilm
mask was then applied to the center of the blank and the outer edge of
the disk was sprayed with a 2:1 mix of Tamiya Clear Yellow (X-24) and Yellow
The mask was removed from the prop and the entire piece was finally airbrushed
with Future floor polish. The clear disk, made from copolyester
had a funny property of causing the Future to bead up on its surface.
Needless to say, the first coat wasn't pretty. A second coat covered nicely,
however, and a third coat, applied with a half-inch acid brush looked very
As for the kit's four-blade propeller, the blades were removed and the
remaining prop core was super-glued to a prop shaft made from the 0.080
inch diameter wood stick from a cotton swab. By chucking the prop core
and shaft in a hand drill and using it like a lathe, I was able to shape
and smooth out the core using a file.
| The clear plastic
prop was then glued to a brass ship porthole which fit firmly onto the
prop core. The prop core was painted medium gray and the dome was painted
The Impact Hobby
decal sheet includes a straight red line to represent a red spiral painted
on the prop hub. This works well until the stripe reaches the hemispherical
front end of the hub where it refuses to follow the curve to the center.
The decal was applied only to the edge of the dome shape. The stripe's
color was matched with a 10:1 mix of Tamiya Flat Red and Clear Blue (X-23)
and the spiral was hand-painted to the center of the dome. (Strangely,
to this day, no one has ever asked me why the propeller blades are a motion
blur but the red spiral on the hub appears static.)
A #46 drill
bit (0.081 inch diameter) held in a pin vise cut a hole in the plane's
engine. The propeller shaft then fits snugly into the engine. I like the
As a final weathering
touch, the engine cowling was masked off and exhaust streaks were airbrushed
onto the sides of the fuselage using Tamiya Flat Black. Gunfire residue
("GSR" to you CSI fans) was airbrushed around and behind the wing gun ports
using a 1:1 mix of Flat Black and Hull Red (XF-09).
the rigging that ran from the aircraft's tail to the mast on the forward
fuselage, a small length of sprue, the "trees" that model kit parts come
attached to, was heated and softened over a small candle flame and stretched
into a long hair-thin plastic filament. It was held into position with
The model is mounted
on a base made from a craft-store mirror with an unfinished basswood frame.
The frame was modified to hold the model and position a display plaque
and clear plastic cover before being stained and covered with polyurethane.
A display plaque was engraved by Ed Dietrich of Andrew Lundy Associates
and was scanned to become the chapter header just over the photo of the
finished model, below.
| The Corsair
took about 15 hours to build and paint. Many of the kits I've built required
extra work just to correct engineering problems like bad part fit or molding
issues. I was pleased with how easily this one went together. The challenges
model presented were mostly in the detailing, painting and finishing and
actually helped to make this a very enjoyable project.
The model was
presented to my father on Fathers Day, 2011.
to Dave Gorman for some excellent photos which helped to create a historically
accurate model and as always, thanks to Sharon L. for being supportive
and putting up with my occasional single minded obsession with whatever
it is I happen to be obsessing about at the moment.
Click on the
picture of the finished model above to go to the F4U-4 Corsair Gallery