Special Hobby 1/48 F2G Corsair Build Review
By Boyd Waechter
|Date of Review||July 2008||Manufacturer||Special Hobby|
|Kit Number||48049||Primary Media||Styrene, Resin, Vac|
|Pros||Beautiful R-4360 engine, nice engraved panel lines||Cons||Very little cockpit detail, no wheelwell detail, wrong prop, simplistic landing gear, hard to locate cockpit tub and tailwheel assembly in fuselage|
|Skill Level||Advanced||MSRP (USD)||$42.95|
For a look at this kit in the box, click here.
In the past thirty years there have been a number of 1/48th F2G Corsair conversion kits in one form or another (War Eagle vacuform fuselage, Lone Star Models resin conversion, and Pend Oreille’s resin kit), but it was not until Special Hobby released their model two years ago (produced by MPM Production in the Czech Republic) that we had our first full injection kit. An in box review of this kit has been on this site in the past, but the purpose of my article is to take you through its construction step by step and suggest ways you can improve on an average model to bring it up to much higher standards. When I bought the kit in its racing form, I had been told it was going to be rereleased as one of the ten USN evaluation F2G aircraft, but Special Hobby has yet to take this step. Fortunately, Special Hobby has included all of the parts you need in the Cook Cleland #57 racing aircraft release to build either a F2G-1 or a F2G-2 Corsair.
After spending an evening looking at the parts, I was disappointed to discover that Special Hobby short changed the modeler in a lot of areas. The wheel wells have little to very inaccurate detail, the cockpit consoles lack even the simplest of components, and I was not impressed with the two dimensional instrument panel. It wasn’t until much later into the build that I discovered the main landing struts also lacked several key structural pieces that would have to be added. And, comparing the size of the canopy with photos of the real airplane, it appears to be at least 10% too large. But, one of its best features is the beautiful resin R-4360 engine. On a scale of 1:10, I would judge the kit to be a 5 or 6, but no higher.
To me, a Corsair of any type just does not look good sitting on the ground without its flaps being in the down position. So, I decided this is where I would start upgrading the kit by removing all six flaps, thinning out the inside of the wings to accept new ones, and replacing the flaps with either an aftermarket set (Verlinden) or a set from either the Tamiya F4U-1D or Hobbycraft FG-1D kits. The flaps from the Tamiya kit are the most detailed and the set I ultimately used, though those from the FG-1D model dry fitted a bit better. The lower flap hinges between the kit and Tamiya flaps will not line up, so I cut them all off and made my own using a set of drawings in the AJ Press book on the Corsair as a guide.
The next area that needs some attention are the wheel wells. I added some stringers and hydraulic lines inside the kit supplied wheel well boxes. The resin air intakes are also added at this point and the wings glued together.
I had wanted to articulate the control surfaces, so the rudder and horizontal stabilizer ailerons were removed and the pieces made ready to reattach at a later date.
I also wanted to open the intercooler flap in the bottom of the wing center section, so this panel was removed and a new flap made from small pieces of sheet plastic. Before leaving this area, I took some time to open-up the access to the engine compartment so I could install the lower exhaust pipes towards the end of the build.
The F2G-2 I was modeling had a full set of rocket stubs, so I again went to the Tamiya F4U-1D kit for these and used a set of drawings in the AJ Press book on the Corsair to place them on the bottom wings.
Moving on to the cockpit, I was really disappointed at the lack of detail in this area. I had read one reviewer say he had cut up a True Details F4U-4 resin cockpit and managed to insert it into the fuselage. After trying this myself, found it much too wide and finally decided to use the kit provided tub and just improve upon it. However, I did use the side panels, rudder pedal bulkhead, and instrument panel from the TD F4U-4 set. This instrument panel may not be exactly accurate for the F2G, but it is much better than what is in the kit and is three dimensional. Once all of the interior parts were painted and detailed out, the cockpit tub, instrument panel, and rear decking were all glued in place and the fuselage halves glued together. The fit is pretty good, though I still had a slight gap at the bottom because the kit’s cockpit tub is also a bit too wide. I filled this gap with some styrene and super glue and sanded everything smooth, a 5 minute operation.
As I mentioned above, the resin R-4360 engine is very nice. A core is provided onto which 28 resin cylinders are mounted. There are also additional cylinders molded to a back plate on which the engine assembly is mounted. I painted the overall engine Steel and came back with a heavy black wash. The seven resin magnetos (parts PUR4) need to have their cylindrical bases removed before mounting into the core or the engine will not fit into the cowling. One painted and detailed, this engine really looks nice in the cowling.
Due to the size of the R-4360 engine, there are 14 exhaust pipes extending out from beneath the cowling flaps on the F2G. The resin exhausts that come in the kit are totally useless and do not come close to looking like the real things is either diameter or shape. I made my own using some small plastic tubing, a process that only took a few minutes to make, paint, and install.
Once the seamwork on the fuselage was done, it only took a day to join the wings and horizontal stabilizers to the fuselage. There is a pretty noticeable gap in the wing root that I filled with some stretch sprue of the correct size and blended it in without a problem. If doing a F2G-2 Corsair, do not add part C25 which fills in the area where the tail hook sits (this part is used for the -1 and racer variants). The -2 variant was fully carrier qualified and had tail hooks. There are also two sets of tail wheel gear doors, so be careful in choosing the correct ones for the F2G-2 (parts C33, C34, C35, and C36).
If you have ever built a Corsair, then you know that it has a very complex main set of struts. Those provided in the kit are quite simplified, so using photos of the real thing, I added some braces and hydraulic lines and painted them overall sea blue. For the wheels, I used a set from Minicraft’s F4U-4 kit I found in my scrap box. These have a distinctive diamond thread pattern that I think just looks good.
The tail wheel gear is pretty good, but again, I added some details and drilled some additional holes in the support braces per photos in the Aero Detail book on the Corsair.
Special Hobby’s provides two sets of vacuform canopies and windscreens. These are very thin and I used one set to remove the windscreen and the other to get the bubble canopy. These parts were cleaned-up and the frames painted first flat black and then gloss sea blue. The photo of the F2G-2 I was modeling showed a single mirror mounted on the forward frame of the canopy and so I added this from a set of 1/48th scale mirrors made by Model Technologies.
The F2G-1/2’s had a much smaller upper fuselage air intake than what Cook Cleland used to race #57. I thought at first I would have to make this piece myself, but tucked away in a corner of one of the trees was the needed intake, along with a nice screen that fits into this intake on the PE fret. As I mentioned above, Special Hobby also includes in this kit the correct tail wheel doors, antenna posts, and a nice tail hook that will be needed to build a F2G-2 USN evaluation aircraft. Including these parts seems to indicate that we may indeed see a rerelease of this kit in USN markings someday.
As far as I know, no one has ever made a set of aftermarket F2G decals. However, War Eagle did produce an excellent decal sheet that was included in their vacuform conversion with markings for five of the ten F2G’s produced by Scalemaster in the late 70’s. Due to the colorful black/yellowed checkered cowling, it was an easy choice on which one I was going to build despite seeing this same airplane done by 2 or 3 different builders on Hyperscale and in 1/72nd scale in Fine Scale Modeler (January 2000 issue). But, being nearly 30 years old, I wasn’t sure how the decals were going to hold up, so I first coated them with Micro’s Liquid Decal Film before being used. The only portion of the sheet needed for F2G-2 88459 was the black/yellow checkered pattern and yellow cowl ring triangles. Prior to painting the model, I masked off and painted this cowl ring flat black.
I have done several USN fifties airplanes and have always had good luck using Model Master’s Dark Sea Blue which dries to a beautiful satin finish that accepts decals very well. This is what I used in this case and I think the results were very good. I decided I would apply the checkerboard pattern first, and in case it broken-up in the water or did not lie down properly, I could change aircraft. Fortunately, the large checkerboard decals (two, one for the left side and one for the right) went down perfectly and after letting them soak in Solvaset for an hour or so they looked great. The small white letters and numbers on the tail came from my scrap box and the four national insignia were taken from an Eagles Strike sheet of WWII insignias. I also used some of the white stencils from the Tamiya F4U-1D decal sheet, but these are pretty thick and didn’t lie down as I had hoped.
After I let the painted and decaled model set for a couple of days, I started adding the subassemblies and getting it up on its gear. The antenna wire is made from “invisible thread” that I found is the right size in scale and easy to work with. There was a very small red light on the spine of the aircraft, so I used a tear dropped shaped light from a set by Premiere Plus (available from Squadron Mail Order) and a clear light on the tip of the rear fuselage. The three navigation lights on the bottom side of the right wing were made by mixing some red/amber/green food coloring in some white glue and applying with a toothpick. Once dry, I gave each of them a couple of coats of Future
Although I was disappointed in the lack of details in this kit, it is the only 1/48th scale F2G on the market (also reboxed by Accurate Miniatures) and far easier to construct than the alternatives. As you have read, I substantially complicated the build by doing what I did, but the end result was worth the effort. I have had several people ask me if the Tamiya wing could be substituted and joined to the Special Hobby fuselage and I think it could, though the front of the center section would have to be removed and swapped with the SH section due to the differences in lower exhaust systems. Regardless of which way you want to go, I do recommend this kit as a good basis for building an impressive and beautiful Corsair for your collection.