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F6U-1 Pirate

Collect Aire 1/48 F6U-1 Pirate Build Review

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review March 2016 Manufacturer Collect Aire
Subject Vought F6U-1 Pirate Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4809 Primary Media Resin, Vac, White Metal
Pros Only kit of this subject in this scale Cons Only kit of this subject in this scale
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) Out of production

Build Review

The F6U Pirate is the first jet made by the legendary Vought, the creator of the F4U Corsair and so many other important designs. This was a different kind of bird if you would compare it to the Corsair I for example.  It had a unique balsa/aluminum sandwich and fiberglass/balsa construction and also, in contrast to other carrier based aircraft it had short enough wings that did not need folding. This design first flew in 1946, easily qualifying it for a '46 fantasy WWII continuation computer environment!   If you do not believe me look at all the X-plane websites! Operationally, there was no real story, the plane was not even marginal and not much glory went into this plane's history.  The Pirate did contribute though in arresting gear development. There were only 30 production aircraft in service and basically they were junked brand new and ended up being used in gunnery ranges.

Which brings us to the only 1/48th scale model of the Pirate that I know of. Collect-Aire marketed a full resin kit of this aircraft back in the 90s. This is an original first generation casting style production with monolithic single piece parts, rough panel lines, and less finesse than we have gotten to expect as of late. Having said that, there is still lots of detail to be had.  This old French maker (same one who produced the Buckeye and Banshee) might not have a contemporary style but his designs were quite accurate in overall shape.

The Pirate as you can see comes in a number of parts with a lot of exposed panels that you can pose opened for a nice busy look. Metal parts make up for a large chunk of details and are well cast but will need to have polished surfaces prior to painting. Decals are provided for two machines.  Not too many choices out there considering the limited service life of this aircraft.

F6U-1 Pirate

Model construction project begins with the usual cleaning of the resin in warm water and detergent to remove the abundant mold release agent.  The parts were test fitted and proved that they did not fit well at all.  No surprise here really. This is one of Collect-Aire’s oldest kits and of a very primitive design. The main fuselage parts were sanded flat, then painted and detailed.

F6U-1 Pirate

The metal ejection seat does not fit in the cockpit cavity and will need to be sanded very thin at its lower part.  The harness is made out of the lead cork cover from a fine bottle of wine. The instrument panel works fine and after some cleanup and sanding it was painted and is ready for integration.

F6U-1 Pirate

The front to rear fuselage joint is a disaster with huge steps. Lots of sanding and putty will be needed here.

F6U-1 Pirate

The wings need attention but are manageable.

F6U-1 Pirate

The metal access panel cover parts are pitted and need lots of putty.

F6U-1 Pirate

The large step between the front and rear fuselage was covered with 3M Acryl White and sanded with sanding sticks.  Some of the panel lines were eliminated in the process and that's a good thing!  The majority of the panel lines are uneven in width and depth and were done free-hand in certain areas.  The first coat of primer also showed a lot of poor surface texture, pinholes and gouges.  I applied red putty on top of many panel lines that I was going to re-scribe myself.  The fuselage and the wings were wet sanded and another coat of Mr. Surfacer was applied.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

The Pirate work continued with the attachment of the wings and tail. The fit was nonexistent.  All the locating tabs were removed and the butt joints were sanded and re-contoured. Even so I still needed to use putty and smooth things out.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

After all that looked good I had to decide if I was going to spend days on the fit of the canopy or have a little fun with painting. Painting won so I left the canopy area unpainted and masked off along panels lines so I could get back to it later without having paint steps and gaps. I used standard ModelMaster Sea Blue.  I did a few layers and all looked good.

F6U-1 Pirate

I masked the blue paint after a few days and used Alclad II for the bare metal rear fuselage.  I played with the Alclad II clear exhaust tones as well and I think I will have great fun doing an F-100 one day!

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

I then started working on the most difficult area of this model. The clear canopy area is just awful and clearly not well mastered.  It is one of those examples of the master maker throwing something together to finish the job...  Yes, this was the dark ages of resin models but the same maker did a much better canopy job with the Buckeye and the Banshee.

As I was messing with the canopy fit and was looking at images of the nose area I realized how wrong the nose looks.  I think this area will take me more time to complete and it will still not going to look exactly right.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

The efforts to finish this kit in a respectable way continued with my attempt to reshape the nose. I was trying to figure it out based on various images. Then an email came by one of my favorite Naval aviation guys and very good author, Tommy Thomason! Tommy is an endless source of all US Navy Aviation and he provide excellent info on what little we have on the Pirate canopy and a nice drawing to help with my nose re-contouring efforts. Here is the link for the Pirate info and just in case you are no familiar with Tommy's books that he authored or co-authored: click here.

I sanded down the nose and tried to re-profile it and got it to something more acceptable but it not perfect. After polishing the resin, I worked on the canopy and finally figured out a way to attach it by supergluing it in place and puttying around it and giving it a blended in look. All that was sanded and polished again before a final gloss blue coat was applied.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

The next step will be to zinc-chromate the access panels, paint the guns, attach the canopy and get ready for decaling!

F6U-1 Pirate

The Pirate continued with painting the front fuselage bays in zinc-chromate which will later be detailed with gunmetal and other colors.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

Flaps and landing gear has been installed.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

The final touches took longer than expected with many fiddly bits needing attention.

F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate F6U-1 Pirate

The model looks busy with all of its open bays but I wish the maker had spent more time on getting the shapes right than adding so much detail. Just the same the Pirate fits nicely next to my other blue Navy early jets!

Model courtesy of the way, way back model hundred dollar a piece museum collection by Fotios!

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