CMK 1/48 F4U-4 Conversion






"White 416" of VF-114, USS Philippine Sea, Korea, 1950; "Black 11" of NARU, Olathe, Kansas, 1956


Ray Peterson


For Tamiya 1/48 Corsairs


I will not bore you with a long re-hash of the Corsair’s history, that has been covered many times. I will just give you some highlights on the –4.

The F4U-4 Corsair differed from the F4U-1D in two major ways. First, it used the Pratt & Whitney R2800-18W, later upgraded to the R2800-42W. This engine required more air, creating the need to re-design the nose with the distinctive chin intake. The exhaust system was also re-designed with exhaust outlets both above and below the wings. The other major change was a complete re-design of the cockpit, making it more ergonomic. This included a new cockpit floor, new consoles, re-designed instrument panel, and a simplified seat which consisted of a bucket-type base and a flat armored plate for a back rest. Later in the production run, the canopy was also changed with a flatter, armored windscreen. The first 1000 (and 1050 total, out of 2356) craft had the earlier, rounded windscreen. Approximately 140 cannon armed –4B’s were also produced.

The F4U-4 first saw combat at the battle for Okinawa in 1945. For the most part, the –4’s were given the fighter role while the –1D dropped ordnance on the Japanese. The –4 also saw combat in Korea, relegated to the close-support roll along with the F-51 Mustang, the jets now taking over the fighter duties.

To the men that flew the different variants, the –4 is usually their favorite. It was the fastest, best dogfighter of the series. The Corsair was definitely the longest-lived of the Navy fighters of WWII, its last combat sortie being in 1971 with El Salvador, and the F4U-4 was considered the ‘ultimate’ Corsair.


For quite awhile, the best F4U-4’s available in 1/48th scale have been the Hasegawa and Academy kits. However, each has its problems. The Hasegawa kit is one of their older kits, having raised panel lines, an incorrect engine front and a little scarce in detail in the cockpit and wheel wells. (It is also an old Mania molding, Ed) The Academy kit is basically a copy of the Hasegawa kit with engraved panel lines. Academy also changed the upper fuselage shape towards and around the cockpit. Why, I don’t know as it is totally incorrect, introducing a flat top to the fuselage just in front of the windscreen and causing the canopy and cockpit area to be too wide. In summary, both kits can make nice models, but both need work.

Now there is a new entrant, CMK’s new resin conversion set for Tamiya’s very nice F4U-1D. It is composed of 30 cream-colored resin parts, 17 photo-etched parts and a new set of decals. Also included is a vac-formed flat-type canopy. Combined with the Tamiya kit this allows the builder the choice of building either an early or late –4. Inexplicably, not included is the distinctive cylindrical engine front for the R2800-18W engine. Considering the Tamiya engine has a separate front piece, this would have been an easy addition and in my opinion is a major fault for an otherwise well detailed set and will require the purchase of an after-market engine to rectify.

The detail of the set is very good. Then engraved lines appear to match Tamiya’s fine lines very well. I have found maybe one small bubble. I have no idea how they cast that wheel well detail with all the undercuts, it is really nice. The decals, printed by Propag Team, look very thin. I have never used their decals, and don’t plan on using them on my –4 so I will not be able to comment on their use.

(In Progress)

The largest piece in the set is the lower center wing piece. It is designed to replace the kit part and includes molded on wheel well detail that is beautiful. Also good are the wing leading edge intakes. Since the wheel wells are already included, you must remove all wheel well detail from the Tamiya kit upper wing inner sections. This means scrape, scrape, scrape, test fit, scrape, scrape, scrape, test fit, etc. I have already completed the modifications on the wings and have glued all this together. It fit pretty well, actually near perfect on one side, however the other side has a small step at the under wing joint. This may not be a problem on all copies as my set looks like a small mold defect, such as being slightly short shot, might be there. The resin wing does appear to be a little short, both sides have gaps at the flap area. Fortunately, it will be behind the flaps and with a little filler it should not be noticeable without very close inspection.

The new front fuselage and cowl area will be the most work. As you can see, I have already cut off the areas required on the Tamiya kit, and have dry-fitted everything together with tape. The new cowl section is made up of 4 parts, consisting of the new front fuselage piece, a new cowl with very thin cowl flaps, a bulkhead with exhaust piping detail, and a new nose. I have already attached the new nose to the cowl, fit here is good. The front fuselage section where it connects to the Tamiya fuselage is not too bad, but there are some small steps and gaps that need to be fine-tuned or filled. I had to do some heating and bending already and I will need to do some more. I will also probably add a little styrene shim at the point where the attachment angles back. Still, I am reasonably satisfied with the fit in this area. Since the entire cowl area is hollow cast, I knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect fit with all those curves. I have yet to find any kind of resin conversion, or resin kit for that matter, that didn’t need a little work in areas to make it fit. I have placed the kit engine in the cowling to check for size. It fits pretty well, the set being designed for it, but it might require the mount to be moved slightly to the left as it looks a little off center to me. I will replace the kit engine front later with one cut from an Engine & Things or Hi-Tech late R2800 engine.

I also have shaved off the interior Tamiya cockpit sidewall detail and have dry fitted the cockpit. Here, the fit is perfect and no extra work should be required. The cockpit looks well detailed, the only inaccuracies being the consoles which extend all the way to the front wall of the cockpit and the rudder pedals are only provided as relief on the front wall. In all fairness, I don’t think it will really be visible looking into the small cockpit once completed. The instrument panel is also a little flat, being photo-etch + film, and may need some styrene rod bits to give it a little more relief.

The set also provides new tail control surfaces. They look very nice, although the elevators have a slight warp to them and will need to be heated and bent gently back into shape, I really don’t see too many problems. Fit here to the fuselage is very good. I have not cut off the kit’s rudder yet, that is really an option left to the modeler as the Tamiya rudder looks really nice.


In conclusion, I think this model will come out very nice. The CMK set does a very good job of matching Tamiya’s petite detail and engraving. Much of the detailing, like the wheel well and cockpit detail is really delicate and fine. I definitely would rather see Tamiya do a complete –4 as fitting the resin parts will take a lot more work, but you can get there. My two biggest complaints are the lack of the proper engine front and cost. To do such nice detail work and miss a major recognition point of an F4u-4 is a big goof. Also, at $25 +or-(not including postage from NKR Models) and adding the near $20 for the Tamiya kit, plus a new engine front, makes for an expensive F4u-4. Yet, for those wanting more than what the Hasegawa kit offers and willing to put up the dollars and the effort, the CMK conversion with the Tamiya kit should provide for a very nice model.

Review sample courtesy of the reviewer’s wallet!

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