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F4U-1

Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1A Corsair Build Review

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review April 2005 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject F4U-1A Corsair Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61070 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons Canopy cannot be positioned open
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $27.00

Background

Who among us can not identify a Corsair at first glance. Many of us can tell the type and subtype of this aircraft in less than 5 seconds. So to go into the history of such a famous plane that so many books have been published on would just be folly on my part.

The Kit

The 1/48 scale Tamiya F4U-1A Corsair in is a real gem. It does have a few rough spots but is the top of the heap for the F4U-1 series of fighters in 1/48 scale. If you are reading this, I am going to assume (and you know what they say about assuming!) that you already possess some modeling skill and are looking to advance your model building to the next level. This kit will put you there. I will not go over step by step assembly. The directions are more than adequate for that.

Construction

F4U-1A The cockpit makes into a great little cradle to install. I did not put the seat in yet. I waited to final detail. That way I could put some photo-etched seatbelts in without worrying about knocking them out or getting grit from sanding into and under the seatbelts. Try to protect the delicate decal instrument panel. A good clear coat might help.

Your next decision should be if you want the cowl flaps to be open or closed. For some reason, the corsair looks much better with them open I think. But this exposes the back side of the engine firewall so make sure and paint that area. The open cowl rings have no detail on the backside. They need small cuts put in them to replicate the sheet metal petals. Or you could just choose the closed flap option and not have to worry about any of the above.

F4U-1A I built up the center wing area but I left off the window till the end. You could if you wish glue in the window then mask over the window right before you paint the bottom of the fuselage but if you glue it in early, it will get scratched up and coated with grit from sanding. At first, I didn’t like the way the oil cooler intakes in the wing root area were done. On closer inspection, it was probably the best way to mold it. They really didn’t match up too well with the leading edge and needed to be sanded smooth. I used a Flexi-grit file with different grits of sandpaper until the area was polished smooth. This really helps in the final result if you take your time here and get the area smooth.

While you are working on the wings, watch for the small tab of plastic at the front edge of the wing. It seems to get hooked on everything. If you drop the model at any time you can bet that it will fall right on these tabs.

F4U-1A The fuselage is made to be produced for Tamiya’s F4U-1 “Birdcage” Or an F4U-1A. So there is a large area right behind the headrest that you put a plug in to change the make of your kit. I glued the plug halves to the fuselage halves first then glued the fuselage halves together. This helps on the alignment of the plug and makes that are look as if it was molded as one piece.

After gluing the fuselage halves together, I sanded the seams smooth. When I mocked up the front cowling, I notice that I had sanded off the sharp edge of the area that mounts up to the cowling making for a strange looking gap. I had to build up this area to restore the sharp edge between the two areas.

F4U-1A The version I was building did not have the large aerial mast on the right side of the fuselage in front of the windscreen so I had to fill this area up with some scrap and sand it smooth. Check your sources of the plane you want to build to see if you need to do this step.

I had to fill in the area where the fuselage meets the wing on the underside. You would not see this area if the flaps were molded in the up position but because the flaps are build to be put in the down position and look much cooler, this area needs some work smoothing it out. A little filler sanded and primed did the trick.

F4U-1A Now for a biggie that is small but very visible. The right side inboard flap has a rectangle hole cut in it for a foot hold. This should not be on the F4U-1A. You should fill it. You should cut out some plastic stock in about the same size and fill the hole with that. If you just try to put putty in the hole, it takes a long time to dry. Many types of filler shrink and crack when you use a large plug of putty. By filling it with scrap plastic then puttying it up afterwards, you give the putty something to bond to.

This is the voice of experience talking on this one. I used Tamiya’s filler and then a coat of Mr. Sufacer 1000 and still had a sink mark so I redid the Tamiya filler and another coat of primer. I could still see an indention in that area.

The tail wheel covers should have the shark fin fillet cut off them for the F-4U1A. Just take a sharp blade and hack it off! A couple of passes with a sanding stick and you would never know it was there.

F4U-1A I don’t think I can remember a better fitting wing that was designed to be in the up position but glues perfectly in the down position. The fit is just fantastic and is a tribute to Tamiya’s engineering staff. Wither you decide to display your plane with the wings up or down is a personal taste. Sometimes dictated by the area you have to display your kits in. Much like the flight deck of a jeep carrier!

All you have to do is follow the directions in this area and you will not have a problem. If you do want the wings down, there are two small rods you will have to break off or as I did, drill a hole in the wing mounting points and use the post as extra bracing. (As the instructions show where to drill the holes, you will see what I am talking about).

Painting & Decals

F4U-1A Painting, weathering and decals are all a personal taste just waiting your attention. Some like the Tri-color. Some like the two tone paint scheme. There are so many companies producing great decals for the Corsair it is truly hard to decide what one to do. I decided to use Sky Models decal sheet 48-042 and more specifically F4U-1A BuNo. 18005, VF-17, Lt Cdr RR Heddrick of Bougainville, March 1944.

I tried to keep the weathering down a bit but still give the plane some use. It is a hard balance to get. I might have gone over the top just a bit but weathering is up to you. You can go hog wild or factory fresh and it will still look like a Corsair.

Conclusions

F4U-1A Despite these small things, this kit is wonderful. It looks great and I had a super time building it. I was worried about the flaps being symmetric but they were easy to install and look great.

I really don’t think it needs a resin interior but if you are adventurous go for it. If you see a few of these kits on sale, buy them. I guarantee you will build many different versions of this kit once you tackled this first one. I have a F4U-1D waiting on my desk right now.

F4U-1A
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