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Tamiya 1:32 F4U-1A Corsair End-to-End Build

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  • Tamiya 1:32 F4U-1A Corsair End-to-End Build

    Time to do another big plastic project. I will start this in earnest as soon as I complete the road repair job on the layout. I got them painted with one coat today and will finish them by the end of the week.

    I've been eyeing several big planes to do as a follow-on to the TBM. I'm interested in this one, the Tamiya Corsair, which had great reviews as living up to Tamiya standards of engineering perfection. The others were Tamiya or HK's model of the Mosquito, SWS' model of the A1-H Skyraider, and Tamiya or SWS' P-51. All of these are beautiful, big models with tons of the stuff I like…details, details, details.

    I got paid for part 1 of my magazine article on the distillery and wanted to buy me something. My favorite hobby shop, Scale Reproductions, was having their anniversary sale and giving good deals so I went to look around. None of the models on my hit list were on display, so I was talking with the Brian Burger, the proprietor about putting an order in for one. When I mentioned the Corsair he said that he just got in two; one for a special order and one for stock. They hadn't even been put into stock yet and weren't priced. He gave me the sale price (under $140) which was decent and I bought it.

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    To got along with this, I've had the Corsair book by Fredrick Johnson for years. It was originally to support the build of a TopFlite Corsair RC kit that I was to build for a friend, but it didn't happen.

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    The book has some wonderful drawing by Rikyu Watanabe showing some very nice details of things I would need to detail areas like the wing-fold. I can't really comfortably display 1:32 planes, but can with the wings folded, like i was a hangar deck or something.

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    And then there's this great drawing of the cockpit which really shows off the coloration including the leather padding on the top of the instrument panel and the gun sight projector.

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    I have to buy some color for the exterior. This is an early version Corsair and is a 3-tone color scheme: Navy blue, medium blue and white bottom. Tamiya doesn't make jar colors for these, but makes spray colors. I'd rather paint it with the airbrush and therefore need bottle paints. Life Color has them as does Vallejo. I like how Life Colors dries. Vellejo flashes off pretty quickly, but doesn't really dry for at least 24 hours. Life Color, like Tamiya does dry completely too the touch much faster.

    I'm also wondering if I should get some aftermarket for it. The model comes with some minimal PE including inlet vents and seat belts. As for the engine, missing are spark plug wires, but I'd rather wire them using wire and little pieces of Albion micro brass tubing. Eduard makes some sets for it, but the Tamiya molding is so fine, I'm just not sure how much better it will look. Thoughts?

  • #2
    That looks like a great challenge.

    Are you going to do it as a Blackburn's Jolly Rogers VF-17, Boyington's Black Sheep VMF-214 or some other squadron?

    And as for future kits, I'd vote for the SPAD!
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain


    • #3
      The model has markings for three planes including VF-17 #1 Blackburn's "Big Dog". This version includes the stars and bars with the red outline, which apparently lasted for a very short time. It also includes decals for the black patches that covered three bullet holes that he received from friendly fire when he and a squad mate were in a cloud chasing a Zero and instead shot Blackburn's plane. Since the main fuel tank was in front of the cockpit on the Corsair, the bullets didn't hit any vitals. The white striping on the top of the forward fuselage was put on to seal the seams over the fuel compartment. I've read two different takes on this. One, was to prevent leaking fuel fumes into the cockpit which had led to the loss of some planes due to explosive environment and switch sparking. The other was to prevent liquid fuel leaking into the air stream and then onto the windscreen. Both are probably true.

      Blackburn's plan has a red prop hub and dome. The other two planes modeled have Navy Blue prop hubs.

      I'll probably go with the #1 due to its historical significance.

      I don't believe that anyone has a large-scale Corsair model in the later F4U-4 version which had the great 4-bladed prop, a higher horsepower R-2800, and different cowl with the air intakes on the bottom, and a different front canopy. The later versions were painted the easier all dark-sea-blue scheme.

      And I agree, the Spad will win.

      Speaking of Spads. There is another website that's worth looking into, where some of the best aviation RC builders in the world show their work. Like me, they blog many of their entire builds and some take years. There is one by Barry Dalwig, where he's been building an ultimate 1:6 scale A1-H since March 2007. It's a remarkable build with literally ever detail imaginable being rendered. Wing fold mechanism will work by servo along with dive brakes, canopy, and bomb drop. Plane is powered by a three-cylinder radial with a scale exhaust system. He, by trade, is a California forrest fire helicopter pilot who just retired. If you want to have your mind blown, go here and spend a while reading about a master at work.

      Building a plane like his is like building a live-steam locomotive. They can take so many years that many builders die in the process.
      Last edited by Builder 2010; 09 Oct 18,, 15:07.


      • #4

        As I a kid I remember reading Blackburn's The Jolly Rogers and falling in love with the Corsair....I may have been 11 or 12. I think there was also a novel of a fictional Corsair squadron named the The S.O.B.s I read about the same time.

        Thanks for the link....looks like a great time killer!
        “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
        Mark Twain


        • #5
          Yup, it will kill a lot of time and be very fulfilling at the same time.

          Went to hobby shop and picked up some Tamiya bottle colors for the paint job. I am partial to Tamiya for lots of reasons, none the which is familiarity using it since the 70s. I bought Intermediate Blue for the mid areas and Royal Blue for the Navy Blue parts. Tamiya makes a Navy Blue in spray, but not in bottle. What Navy Blue looks like to me is a mixture of Tamiya Royal Blue and their Field Blue. I have a little bit of Life Color's Navy Blue that was used for the Essex project. Life Color makes the Navy, but I couldn't find a good intermediate blue. So it might be a mix to do the job. Based on the recommendation by Marty Schwanbau, the head of the shop's terrific plastics department, suggested using Tamiya Retarder to keep it wetter on large spray jobs and prevent striations between passes. So I bought that too. You can't get that from buying stuff on line.


          • #6
            Sprue Rack

            With models like the Corsair and some of the big ships the number of sprues can be very high and keeping track of them is a challenge. I often spend lots of time picking up the wrong ones and scanning them to find the alpha identifier. After a while you do learn most of them, but it's a huge time waster. Hobby Zone has a sprue organizer, but I decided to use up some scrap I had laying around. This is old ply that may date back to Germany. It was badly warped but that didn't matter in this case. I looked at all the frets and didn't want to make the separators bigger than the smaller sprues so I chose 4" X 6" and glued them to some scrap Masonite left over from putting on the fascia boards.

            Everthing's held together with Aleen's Tacky Glue and thick CA. Tools used in this construction were: Saber Saw, Chop Saw and 1" Belt Sander.

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            I tried out a sample of the Corsair's sprues and, although my spacing may be tight, at least some part of the sprue will slip in.

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            I'll label the slots from A to O (15 slots), left to right. While some models may have more than 15 sprues, that's all it's going to be since I ran out of plywood. Now all I have to do is to remember to replace each fret in its slot after I cut a part from it. Otherwise, this is all for naught. I'm also trying to put my tools back after I'm done with them. Habits are hard to change at any age, but especially my age.


            • #7
              F4U-1A Cockpit Build Start

              I finished the sprue rack. Of course I only cut 15 pieces (that's all I could get out of the piece of awfully warped plywood) and upon attempting to load the Corsairs sprues I find that their numbers go to the letter "T" and I ended at letter "M". I'll make due. Most models don't have that many sprues. If I have to I'll build an extension. After marking the alpha locations, I loaded it up.

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              And with that, work officially commenced on the Corsair build.

              I've watched some videos about this build and notice that folks like to assemble all the little bits and then airbrush the assembly. Then they go back and do all the detail painting with a brush. I decided to go that route. I already lost one part to the Quantum Rift continuing to uphold my theory that small parts do actually leave this dimension and occassionally grace us with their return (but mostly not).

              All of the levers and trim tab wheels are separate parts. I'm not sure why, but Tamiya has two of the wheels in clear parts with their based called out as semi-gloss black. I looked at my color rendition and it shows these wheels to be entirely black. But to entertain Tamiya, I liquid masked the clear rotary knob and will paint the bases.

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              Tamiya calls for their interior green to be a 2:1 mix of Flat Yellow and Flat Green, but I already had some nice zine chromate green from PolyS that I'm going to use. I did want certain parts to show a little wear so I preparinted them silver and used liquid mask that will be removed exposing "bare metal" after the interior green goes down.

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              I had a little scare. I started assembling the main instrument panel by gluing the clear gauge lens piece to the back of the gray frontal piece, only to see that the instrument decal had a different gauge configuration. What the...? Upon closer inspection of the instructions I see that there is another sprue "T" that has a different instrument facing with the correct gauge design. So where is the clear part? It's on Sprue "Q". "Where the heck is sprue "Q"? I didn't remember seeing another clear sprue. I searched and searched and then called my LHS to find out how to get missing parts. I was instructed to contact Tamiya USA. I did so and was about to take a picture of my sales receipt as instructed to send off an eMail request, when I noticed the other lens piece on the same fret as the first one that I cut out. Oh... sprue "P" and "Q" and on the same tree. The model obviously has parts for several different iterations of Corsairs. I'd better keep my eyes open going forward. In the above image you see both configurations.

              I put the decal behind the right one.

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              The images are brilliant and in perfect register. My plan is too cover the gauge faces with liquid mask and then airbrush the semi-gloss black. Since I had another gauge cluster I decided to see how this scheme works, so I made a test. There's no decal image behind it, but it does work...sort of. I'll probably have to do some micro-touchup after peeling off the mask.

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              It will work, but I will probably have to make the mask a bit thicker. Next session I'll continue building this beautiful interior. Tamiya has elimated most of the reasons from scratch-building all these little details.


              • #8
                F4U-1A Cockpit Build Continues

                Hi gang! Back from our trip to the York Toy Train Show and family visits. One of the readers of this thread on another forum suggested that I paint the panel and then install the clear backing with the decals. I carefully peeled the backing off and then was able to paint the panel separately. It was a much better way to do it.

                Spent the day continuing to build the exceptional cockpit. Tamiya has done a splendid job with this model. I went through the two sprues "D" and "R" and removed the parts that were indicated "not used" so they wouldn't confuse me further down the road.

                I mildly aged the bulkhead with some Tamiya black panel line treatment to highlight the texture.

                I put some liquid mask on the foot pads (already had it on the pedals) so I could expose some 'bare' metal after the green was applied. I then airbrushed the semi-gloss black on all the instrument. You had to drill the foot pad brackets to accept the pins on the pads themselves. I used a 0.032" carbide drill to make these small holes, and then glued on the pads. After painting, I removed the mask exposing the sillver below.

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                The foot pads are added and some more mechanisms and then built the hydraulic hand pump assembly. This part dropped and broke and I had to put the mounting bracket back using thick CA and some accelerator.

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                This picture really shows how wonderful the instruments themselves look. They're so nice it almost looks like you could fly this baby.

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                I think I'm going to build it with the pilot inside so I needed to start building the seated figure now. After cleaning up some mild mold lines I glued the torso together, the head and the left arm. The right arm needs to have his hand on the joy stick so I'm going to hold off gluing it on until I can place him in the cockpit. You have to build the plane around him. It also affects the PE seat belts installation. The pilot has his parachute on and its straps are white, whereas the seat belts are buff colored. I'm not a great figure painter since I don't do all the shadowing and hightlighting that the experts do, but I'll give it a shot. I really like that the goggles are actually a clear part where you paint the frames and have the clear lenses. This greatly simplifies the face painting since you will only see his eyes through the goggles, i.e., not too much.


                • #9
                  F4U-1A Pilot Painting


                  I try and exercise every other day and this cuts my work time down a bit, but I did get something done.

                  I painted the pilot. It's a complex paint job due to the full flight gear he's wearing. He's wearing goggles which Tamiya includes as a separate clear part, plus he's sitting on his parachute and has a life vest on.

                  I started by painting the little bit of face that would show, then did the whites of the eyes, and a small dot for the pupil. I then painted some eyebrows and then went back three times to back paint all the previous work to get the eyebrows even and at the right level.

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                  Next came the flight helmet (Buff), the straps for the oxygen mask and the goggles. The entire flight suit is buff also. The life vest is straight yellow and the gloves are dark yellow which I mixed. The parachute is Khaki. Shoes are Red Brown, and straps are white. (I noticed I missed the one in his crotch). The hardware was done with the Molotow Chrome Pen. I glued the goggles on using Bondic UV cure glue. It's great for transparent parts since the UV penetrates through and cures the glue underneath. It holds well and is totally clear. Then I did the trim painting on the goggles (Khaki). The goggles distort the facial features underneath and make his eyes look even funnier than how I painted them.

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                  The Buff got a bit shiny due to my handling. I may give it a little dull coat to knock off the sheen. I don't do figures well since I don't do all the counter shawdowing that the real figure guys do. He's going to be buried in the cockpit and I may or may not have it closed.

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                  Still to add is the oxygen tube which I've left off since I would have knocked it off by now.


                  • #10
                    F4U-1A Cockpit Completed

                    Since there was an actual owner of a TBM Avenger on the WAB during that last plane built, is there anyone out there that owns a Corsair?

                    I finished up what makes up the cockpit today.

                    It started with building the seat. It's five plastic parts plue one PE. Unfortunately, the PE part is completely hidden with the seated pilot.

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                    I airbrushed all the interior green parts that were included up to this point plus the interior of the fuselage and some other bulkhead parts for the aft of the aircraft. As noted before, the engineering on this kit is exceptional. Where you have fit challenges with Trumpeter, this one is amazing. And being 1:32, you can pick out details that would be almost impossible in smaller scales. Case in point; the skull and cross-bones decal on the pilot's flight helmet, and a decal on the instrument panel.

                    I glued the seat in place, and painted and installed the oxygen bottle. It called out semi-gloss black, but I painted it zinc-chromate yellow.

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                    The underside of the seat is unpainted, but does not show at all. Getting the PE seat belt to stick using medium and thin CA was a challenge. It is VERY springy material and took more time than I would like to finally get it in place. All of the other PE seat belt material is not used when having a seated pilot. I also didn't put the wash on the seat since, that too, would be occulded by the pilot.

                    I glued the aft cockpit bulkhead in place trapping the control column and then, using thick CA, glued the pilot in place. Only then did I glue the right arm in place in such a way to grasp the control stick's handle. For this I used standard Testor's tube cement since it has some bulk and would fill any gaps between the arm and the body.

                    Now I had to get those pesky PE seat belts to join with the molded-on belts, which I now had to repaint from the white of the parachute seat belts to the dark tan of the cockpit seat belts since I didn't realize that some of the molded-in details were seat belts, not parachute belts. This was a wrinkle I wasn't expecting.

                    The PE parts are probably stainless steel and are very difficult to shape. I tried to pre-bend them so the tension would be reduced a bit so the CA had a chance to hold them in place.

                    I scraped the paint off the pilot's seat belts so the CA had something to which to hold and then held them in place and hoped for the best. The first belt glued quickly, but the second was a different story. My experience with CA is if it doesn't glue the first time, any further attempts get worse. Each attempt had me scraping the cured CA off the plastic part so I wasn't putting new CA over old CA. Eventually it stuck and I repainted all the distubed areas.

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                    The instrument panel cowling had several small parts that glue to it before attaching to the instrument panel. Out of the five parts needed to be glued, I had two take off to the quantum rift: the little two-toggle panel on the right side and the clear gyro-stablized gun sight optic. Of the two, I finally found the clear part which would have been the worst one to lose, but couldn't find the little switch panel, so I scratch-built it out of piece of sprue and two pieces of high-E guitar string. I used a Xuron hard-wire cutter to cut small pieces of the piano wire, and if I need two pieces, I end up cutting 8 or more since they are microscopic and fly into the rift without warning.

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                    After painting and assembly the panel looks okay. There is a conduit that comes out of a hole in the instrument panel and goes to the bottom of the gun sight that is not included in the kit. I attempted to make it out of a piece of wire insulation. It didn't work, couldn't really be seen, so I scraped the idea.

                    I used some Microsol Liquid Mask on the gunsight's lens and airbrushed the cowl semi-gloss black, picked out the toggle switches with the Molotow Chrome Pen and then glued it to the cockpit assembly. My source book shows the leather front edge of the cowl to be a brown shade which I may paint tomorrow just to add more intereset.

                    With the addition of the canopy cowl, the interior is complete and ready to be installed in the fuselage. I notice that I've worn some black off his headphones that needs to be touched up.

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                    The cockpit of this model was the singular most complex and complex cockpit model I've ever built, and believe me, I've built a ton of them. Tamiya is to be congratulated for doing it this way. In later versions of Corsairs, a cockpit floor was installed. It was a real pain when the pilot would drop something in the cockpit and it would end up on the bottom laying on the fuselage skin. It would be most difficult to retrieve something there. Kind of like fishing something out from between a car seat and a console.

                    Next up: more interior fuselage stuff in preparation for joining the halves. Can't wait to build the engine... I love radials and this one's a beauty.


                    • #11

                      This kit is shaping up nicely! the cockpit & pilot are really looking good - quite a bit of detail, but then at this scale, it would be expected.


                      • #12
                        F4U-1A Fuze joined and Engine Built

                        Where did the forum go for the last few days? I kept trying to post and was getting little to no response. I was halfway into a post, but then the pictures locked up. I've done a bunch of stuff since the last post here, so I'll just put the status pics in, and we'll pick up with new posts tomorrow.

                        I put the two halves of the fuze together and it just fit perfectly. No filler needed and all that stuff that was inside just nested together perfectly. The bad part… you can hardly see anything of that gorgeous flight deck. If I hadn't taken all the WIP pics, no one would no about it.

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                        I added the firewall and the exhaust extensions that mate to the stubs coming out of the engine.

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                        The pipes are painted Tamiya dark iron and some rust powders. They nest beautifully.

                        The engine is piece de resistance! As nice as the Avengers R-2600 was, this one is better. Not as many parts, but beautifully molded. Tamiya does something very smart. They bring the sprue gates into the part from the back to the gluing side, not to the side where the details are. A quick cleanup with the #11 and the part is perfect.

                        Ignition wiring is the intertwined brass wire found on a bottle of Montepulciano D'Abruzzi Tuscan wine. It's 0.010" brass wire and is already twisted together which I used to my advantage. I wanted to insert two wires in the same hole in the ignition ring, and the twisted parts made this easy to do so in a 0.021" hole. I soldered the twist so it wouldn't unravel.

                        Before putting on the ignition wires I added some minor details called the "Inner-ear Drain Tubes".

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                        Then I drilled the ignition ring, repaired it after it broke two times and coaxed the wires into the holes and held with CA. The wires go to the back of the front bank through the baffle on the top of the front back cylinder, and to the rear of the rear bank through a hole in that bank's baffles. The lead to the front plug in the rear bank go straight back to that plug. Unfortunately, I didn't drill out those plugs not realizing that I needed to insert a wire, so I had to drill it with the engine assembled…tricky.

                        The end result is a beautiful engine! I get a kick out of building big radials. Their complexity is intriguing.

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                        The last set of three exhaust tubes for each side go one as the engine is installed. The Corsair has a very trim three outlet per side exhaust system coming out of the cowl bottom. Unlike Hellcats and especially A-1s, which have exhausts coming out of the engine sides don't foul up the side of the plane with exhaust stains which are so evident on the sides of those other aircraft.


                        • #13
                          Looking good. Sometimes we need to build a Tamiya model just to remind ourselves how fun this hobby is. I think my model building days are over for a while so keep posting. I really enjoy watching


                          • #14
                            Sorry to hear about your upcoming hiatus. Is it due to the hurricanes?


                            • #15
                              Yes, I'm 17 miles from where the eye hit. Not much damage to the house (shingles) but around 10 large trees down in the yard.

                              Think I'll be spending a lot of time with a chainsaw than a airbrush