1 Man Army 1/32 F4U-1A Corsair Mask Set Review
|Date of Review||September 2021||Manufacturer||1 Man Army|
|Kit Number||32DET005||Media||Yellow Tape|
|Pros||Excellent instructions, good medium||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||TBA|
1 Man Army is a new company from Belgium that has created in interesting system of masks to replicate airframe stenciling, national markings, and some distinctive markings for a given subject. As you'd expect, these masks are cut from sheets of low-tack 'Kubuki' yellow tape sheets, but several things distinguish these masks from other brands. First, the masks appear to be dye-cut, but with a system that cuts with finer precision than I've seen before. Take a look:
Second, this set comes with a high-quality instruction booklet that provides placement instructions for the stencils; and third, a 'standard' handbook on how to use these masks is included:
In addition to the airframe stencils and national markings, this mask set also provides masks to replicate three specific aircraft: F4U-1A, 19, VF-17 'Jolly Rogers'; F4U-1A, 883, VMF-214 'Black Sheep' (Pappy Boyington's aircraft),; and F4U-1A, 122, VMF-111. Note that there are no instructions for using these additional markings. More on this later.
I've used paint masks in the past and I've had mixed results, but once you get the technique right for using them, you'll find your paint schemes becoming more realistic, as you don't have silvered decals or markings that don't match the surrounding weathering as you have using decals. For my F4U-1A build, I used the markings for 883, Boyington's aircraft. Since the stars and bars (three masks per) need to be moved as one mask in order for the subsequent masks to work, I acquired some medium-tack tranfer paper for the job. To use the transfer paper, cut a piece about the size of the mask being moved and use a burnishing tool to rub the transfer paper onto the part(s) of the mask you'd like to relocate. Carefully lift the transfer paper to ensure you have the right mask parts adhering to the paper.
I started by painting the areas that will use these masks gloss white (Tamiya acrylic white thinned with lacquer thinner). Thinning Tamiya acrylics with lacquer thinner does two things, first of course, it thins the mixture for smoother flow onto the model surface; and second, the lacquer thinner causes the paint to dry/cure much faster, so the wait time is drastically reduced. Verify where you want to apply the mask and carefully lay the transfer paper onto the model's surface. The adhesive on the mask is much stronger than the transfer paper, so the masks go on smoothly. If you make a mistake however, you'll need another mask set as there may not be spares provided for a given mask. When everything was set, I applied the insignia blue.
Now here is where I got into trouble with these masks. I pull the next masks that go over the blue on the transfer paper, but it was difficult aligning the mask to go over the white background mask. The first masks and backgrounds are both insignia blue, and despite all of the lighting on my bench, I couldn't see through the transfer film well enough to align these next masks. This isn't a design flaw with the 1ManArmy masks, it is my inexperience with this type of mask. The next time around, I'll paint the white background, apply the star and bars mask, paint the blue in a much larger area, then using a contrasting colored marker like silver, I'll apply dots on the corners or points on each mask so alignment is much easier to see. With the masks removed, you can see that the wing's national marking didn't look too bad, but I couldn't even align the blue background masks on the fuselage sides. Still, you can see how sharp those markings are in just one color. The 883 side-numbers came out looking great, but the national markings on the wings and fuselage sides will be repainted and decals will be used instead.
The stencil masks provided by 1ManArmy's set which you can see here after airbrushing white through them. To keep overspray off the model, I had cut a rectangle out of a scrap of paper and used it as a mask for each stencil. The instructions caution not to apply too heavy a coat of white through the masks, rather use a few thin coats. I did hit a few of the masks with a heavier coat to see what would happen and while it did distort the stencils, they were still usable.
After my build review was published here, I heard from the owner of 1ManArmy and he clarified his approach to these masks. He intended the modeler to apply the camouflage on the model prior to using these masks. On the other hand, I was taught (way back when Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings) that you apply your paints from light to dark, so on the wings and fuselage, I applied white (as you saw), then insignia blue, and then black (for the walkways and walkway stripes. No masks were included for these, so I used Aizu masking tape. I did apply liquid mask over the multiple masks on the wing national markings to prevent leaks, then applied the camouflage. The national markings you see above are decals from fundekals as the masks for these didn't work out.
I'm happy with the stencil masks, I'm not convinced I can use the national marking masks in my workflow, and I realized too late in the process that there is no research done with the subject matter masks. They simply turn the decal artwork into masks and have you rely on the kit instructions for relevant information on subject-specific markings. Ironically, the fundekals team had done some research on 883 and how the red surrounds of the stars and bars had been covered over with a unique application of the blue camouflage colors. There wasn't an option in these masks to replicate the multicolor surrounds or even the red surrounds that had been on the aircraft a few months prior.
Check their website for subject availability, and they currently only produce 1/32 scale subjects, though they plan to expand into 1/48 scale stencil mask sets starting next year. At present, only a few retailers have them in stock, but that list is growing so check their website for where to shop as well.
My sincere thanks to 1 Man Army for this review sample!