This project started out as an idea
about a year ago, when I decided I’d like to make a simple but relevant
conversion of a kit. The obvious choice was Tamiya’s 1:48 Corsair- I’ve
built it five times, and it’s a beautiful kit. Then, in December of 2007, the
dream became reality when I ordered the kit and a Superscale decal sheet.
First, some history of the F4U-1C.
(I won’t go into detail about the previous variants, since reference material
is so common.) The Chance-Vought F4U-1C was basically the same as a late -1A or
early -1D. The main differences/identifying features were:
Two 20mm cannons in each wing
instead of the usual three .50cal. Machine guns
-1D style canopy (without the
Two, instead of three ammunition
access panels in the wings
Only a few (if that many) -1Cs
were painted in the tricolor scheme, most were overall Gloss Sea Blue
Only 200 -1Cs were built, and they
went into service in early 1945. They were favored by pilots in the night
fighter role, because the cannons’ hitting power meant less time to bring down
a target. However, the -1C was generally inferior to the other Corsair models in
air-to-air combat, because of the increased weight, and also because of the
cannons’ slower rate of fire, and limited ammunition (around 200 RPG). The -1C
really shone in the ground attack role, because its cannons were powerful enough
to destroy things that the other variants’ .50 cals couldn’t even touch.
Now for my modifications to the kit:
Detail the cockpit
Fill/rescribe the ammo access
Add the cannons and their
fairings and blisters
Add general interior/exterior
As is the case with most kits, work
started with the cockpit. Tamiya’s cockpit is very good OOB, however, a few
areas could be improved. I started with the pilot’s control consoles.
separated the left console from the part due to the work required. I added the
trim wheels, some levers, and the fuel tank selector, all from bits of styrene.
Placards were made with .005” styrene sheet. The right console just needed a
few levers and the pilot‘s map case. Next came the sidewall details. I scraped
off the kit’s inadequate detail and added my own from bits of styrene. The
details added included the throttle and the radio controls.
The throttle itself took a few hours
to complete (including glue and paint dry time). I started with a circle punched
out of .020 styrene, and cut several wedges out of it. I then stacked these
wedges to create the body of the quadrant. The smaller levers were made by
gluing tiny bits of stretched sprue to tiny bits of styrene strip, and then
coating the sprue with liquid cement to “melt” it into the correct ball
After the sidewalls, I detailed the
seat. I first removed the incorrect mounting details on the rear bulkhead, and
then sanded the seat back to the correct curved shape. I also thinned it quite a
bit to make it more to scale. The seat support framing was scratchbuilt from
.020 rod, and seatbelts were added from tissue paper. The photoetched buckles
came from my spares box.
The front bulkhead and instrument
panel also received some detail. The pilot’s foot trough supports were
replaced with .010 styrene, and the throttle control cables were replaced so
that they actually reached the throttle.
I also added some rib detail on the
inside of the fuselage, as well as on the clear window, which was only present
on the early -1s. I plugged a couple holes that would be visible on the
completed model to finish off the cockpit.
Now came the time for painting.
According to my references, all Corsairs built after October 1944 had interior
green cockpits, with the consoles and sidewalls above them painted flat black.
This is how I painted my model- the interior green was mixed from Testors zinc
chromate and flat black. The cockpit placards were painted flat black and then
scratched with a pin so that the white plastic showed through. I used the kit
decal for the instrument panel, however, I cut each individual instrument out
and applied them, instead of just applying the whole decal. Finally, the cockpit
was given a wash of black and brown watercolors to help bring out the details
and show some grime.
With that, the fuselage detailing
was complete, so I closed up the fuselage halves, but not before I had separated
the rudder from the vertical stabilizer. The engine was detailed with copper
wire and some small bits of styrene. I also reshaped the magnetos and replaced
the propeller governor. Tamiya’s Corsairs have excellent fit, and so after
only some minor seam work (due to my own sloppiness, not the kit), I moved on to
the wings. (Now is a good time to remove the small generator air scoop on the
right forward fuselage- it’s only correct for the -2 Corsair).
images below to see larger images
The first part of the wing
construction dealt with the landing gear and bays. I removed the incorrect
rib detail from the inboard bay walls, and then added small oblong pieces
of .005 styrene to replicate the canvas covers present on the sidewalls. I
added a little wiring, but didn’t go into too much detail because not
much would be visible on the finished model. The landing gear struts
themselves received brake lines from copper wire, and other small details
from stretched sprue.
The real conversion work all
took place on the outer wing panels. The first step was filling in the
ammo access panels and spent shell ejection chutes, which was done with
Squadron green putty. Once this was done, I scribed in the correct lines
and ejector chutes. Unfortunately, on the right wing, I reversed the
location of the chutes, but since I had had enough trouble already
(filling and rescribing is definitely NOT one of my strong points…), I
left them as they were. Once this was done, I assembled the wings. As with
all of my F4Us, I modified the flaps to the up position by removing the
mounting tabs and part of the wing fold bulkheads, and then, after lots of
test fitting and tweaking, set them aside to be added once the wings were
attached to the fuselage. I think that having the flaps down detracts from
the lines of the Corsair, and it just looks weird for some reason.
After the wings were attached,
the next step was the cannon fairings- These were made from .080 styrene
tube. First I cut them to approximately the right length (which is just a
guess, since I don’t have any dimensions for the real thing.) Then I
taped sandpaper to the leading edge of the wing and sanded the rear of the
fairing to the shape of the wing leading edge. I hollowed out the front
end, and rounded out the front edges. The .50 gun ports were filled in,
and once the fairings were attached, the model was almost ready for paint.
images below to see larger images
The last few details were the
trim tab actuators on the elevators, added from .009 guitar string and
.010 styrene. I reattached the rudder at a slight angle, and also scribed
the control surface hinge lines a little deeper, to add just a little more
realism to the model. I also added blisters to the top of the wing from
bits of styrene. However, I only discovered After I had painted the model
that they were the wrong shape (they should be more rounded, not so
rectangular)! Now, it was finally time for paint.
I painted the model with
AeroMaster’s US Dark Sea Blue, and after an uneventful painting session, I set
the model aside for about a week for the gloss paint to fully cure. Then, I
started decaling. I had originally planned on doing the a/c as #11 from VF-85 on
the USS Shangri-La. However, when I acquired a picture of what I believe
to be #11 (many thanks to Andrew D, The Jolly Rogers Guy… J
), I realized that it was actually a -1D! So, since I had already added the
lightning bolt and number decals, I decided to stay within VF-85 and do one of
the a/c in the background of the photo, which was a -1C. I carefully
removed the # 11 decals, and used decals from my spares box to add the new
numbers- 65. The kit insignia decals were used, since they have the correct
shade of insignia blue.
Once all the decaling was finished,
I started the weathering process. I added some minor paint chipping according to
the photo, and then the model was sealed with Testors Dullcote. The flat finish
was sanded with very fine sandpaper to give it a more semigloss finish, and then
final weathering was added with pastel chalks.
The last details to be added were
the cannon barrels, antennas, formation lights from MV lenses, and some
detailing on the interior of the canopies such as the opening gear and pilot’s
armor glass. And with that the model was finished! This was a fairly easy
conversion, and though a few things could have gone better, I think it ended up
looking pretty good…
Until next time,
images below to see larger images