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1/72 Hobby Boss F4U-4 Corsair

by Catherine Vickers

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I first came across Hobby Boss kits last year when I saw a build article by Spencer Pollard & Haris Ali in Military in Scale magazine.  The simplicity of the kits attracted me, so I acquired a number of them at last November’s UK Nationals.  I’ve always liked the look of the Corsair & I like easy to build kits, plenty of stores & single colour paint schemes, so the Hobby Boss F4U-4 was pretty much ideal. 

The basic airframe went together pretty simply, though a little fiddling was necessary with the locating tabs on the tailplanes to allow them to fit higher in the slots on the fuselage to reduce the step between tailplane & root fairing.  The only other mod, as recommended in Military In Scale, was to cut 1mm from the rear of the cowling’s lower rearward extension so that the cowl could be tipped downwards until the top surface was in a straight line with the top of the front fuselage.  A couple of fill/sand/prime cycles & the airframe was ready for paint though, since the undercarriage & wheel wells are usually Gloss Sea Blue on overall blue USN aircraft of this vintage, I fitted the legs & undercarriage doors prior to painting.  Since the kit is really intended to snap together, the components tend to be a very tight fit, especially after a couple of coats of primer, so I did a little trimming of the locating tabs on the legs & doors so they’d fit without having to be forced & then glued them in place. 

Painting was, of course, extremely simple – a coat of Xtracrylix Gloss Sea Blue, which is something of a misnomer as it actually dries satin, & a couple of coats of Future to put a proper gloss on it & the model was ready for decals.  I used the kit decals & they were absolutely superb – thin & opaque with good adhesive qualities.  The carrier film all but vanished once they were dry & disappeared entirely after a wash & a sealing coat of Future.  Once everything had dried, I then brush-painted the engine, tailwheel tyre, cockpit & the oleo sections of the undercarriage legs & added a set of Reheat harnesses. 

The only awkward part of the build was the underwing stores.  To start with.  I made a mess of one of the droptanks so John, my fiancé, found a couple of Korean War Corsairs in the ARC Gallery which carried an asymmetric load of a droptank one side & a bomb the other.  I razor-sawed the pylon from the damaged tank & he delved into his spares box & came up with a grotty old bomb which he tells me came off an Airfix B-29 which he scrapped some time in the mid 1970s.  Some heavy-duty filling & sanding & a coat of Olive Drab reworked it into something much more acceptable.

Having won that round of the fight, I tackled the set of eight 5” HVARs, which are probably the worst part of the kit.  I’d have left them off, but they locate into big, deep slots on the underside of the wing, which would have needed a serious filling job right across the cartridge ejection slots for the guns!!   The main rocket bodies & their integrally-moulded pylons are ok,  though a little simplistic, but the separate fin assemblies are awful – the rather heavy sprue gate attaches between two of the fins, so it’s not easy to get the parts off the sprue to start with & because the gate is large & on a curved surface between two fins, it’s a pig to clean up.  Eventually, all eight were assembled & painted & it was at this point that it became apparent that they wouldn’t fit without serious applications of brute force & the possibility of damage – the various coats of paint on both wing & pylon had made the already tight fit of the pylons to the wing well nigh impossible.   The pylons needed reducing in thickness to let them fit the wing slots, which would have left them requiring repainting, but John cut a piece of 80 thou plasticard & clamped it to a big file so it acted as a depth stop & allowed me to remove material just where it was needed & not damage the paint on the visible areas apart from a few minor touch-ups.   

I fitted the rockets which, even after filing down,  needed a good shove to get them in place, but then held in nicely without glue, then also fitted the pre-painted bomb, droptank, prop & wheels.  After a final spray of satin varnish, I fixed the screen & canopy in place. 

There seem to be varied opinions about these Hobby Boss kits – some complain that they’re too simplified & that you can buy better kits for the same money whilst others, myself included, find the simplicity to be a major plus point.  For anyone starting out in the hobby, or anyone more advanced who just wants a nice simple build to get out of a rut or even a test airframe to try a new finishing technique, then they’re ideal.  I’m delighted with the way mine turned out & I hope you all like it too.

Catherine

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Photos and text © by Catherine Vickers

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