Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1A Corsair






See Review


Parker Ewing


Kit has 'spinning prop and motor.


    When I first got into modeling about a year ago, I had a solid vision in my head on what I wanted my first diorama to look like. I've always enjoyed the Corsair and the South Pacific theater, so I set out to create them. It worked out fairly well, but as I improved my skills and eye for detail, glaring problems would emerge and bug me. Unwilling to construct another one, I opted to re-work this diorama three times with various improvements. When I finally replaced the Corsair, I felt it was finally complete.


    This is Tamiya's prop-spinning Corsair version. It's the exact model except for the motor included. To mark my one year anniversary in modeling, I decided to try my first kit surgery and ordered the Aires gun bay set, and an Eduard detail set which covered additions to the landing gear and cockpit. It was time to step into the big leagues, or so I thought. While waiting for them to arrive, I took a deep breath and cut out the vertical tail control surfaces. Using a razor blade and a scribing tool, it wasn't as hard as I thought, and I was off and running. Shep Paine had nothing on me.



    Starting with the cockpit, I sprayed everything Polly Scale US interior green. I painted certain consoles and the instrument panel black, and then began to pick out details with dry brushing and a toothpick. The dials were brushed in aluminum. While waiting for that to dry, I decided to try another first and undercoated every exterior piece in Alclad aluminum b/c I really wanted to try and chip the paint later. It smells awful, but man, what a nice finish it gives you. Once dry, I weathered the interior parts with a burnt umber wash and drybrushed a chipped paint look on everything applicable. I flat coated all the pieces and put some gloss drops into the dials. Once done, I finally started putting them all together. The cockpit looked great and I was rolling.

    However, my run at the pro's was about to come to a crashing halt. The motor fit in fine, but when I dry fit the cockpit, the fuselage wouldn't fit right. Something about the cockpit fit was wrong. I spent an hour filing edges, checking, and rechecking to no avail. Although it was close, I simply could not figure why it wouldn't fit. Frustrated, I finally committed an MCS (modelers cardinal sin) by going the I'm-going-to-make-it-fit route. It worked, and there were no gaps! But to my horror, there suddenly appeared a small crack in the side fuselage. After staring in disbelief for a minute, I rallied by figuring I could repair it and then cover with the large national insignia.

    With confidence somewhat shaken, I focused on the Aires gun set. My first opened gun was going to be cool. I busted out the razors, Dremel, and sanding pads, and went to town. But as I started cutting, I noticed the instructions were very vague. The drawing they gave  showing what to cut out didn't completely match the kit and installation procedures were virtually non-existent. I had done a good job of cutting the wing out, but the gun bays were way too thick to make the wing fit. Since the damn instructions were useless, I set out on my own with my trusty Dremel to try and figure it out. The short version is that I got it almost workable, but I was losing confidence and patience in the gun bay set rapidly. My gut said it wasn't going to work and/or look good. I sat back and took it all in.......I had a cracked fuselage, and a cut up wing I didn't like. I began to realize that Shep Paine didn't sweat me.  A peace overcame me.

I knew what needed to be done. The clock said 6:30 pm. I somberly drove to the hobby store down the street, purchased another Corsair kit at full price and walked out before I got emotional. I was home 20 minutes later.......Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. I removed the engine and cockpit from the original fuselage and put it into the new set. Another thing I had done while waiting for my goodies to arrive was to put together, paint, and weather every part I could. Therefore, construction went forth fairly quickly and easily with no problems.



    Now for my favorite part of modeling. I've always been fascinated by South Pacific Corsairs as their paint jobs faded so badly in some cases that they took on a washed out/ bleached look. I've yet to see Corsairs done quite the way many of the reference pictures show and I wasn't about to experiment, but a heavy weathering job I could do. The Alclad aluminum was covered with Gunze 54 (Navy Blue) as the base color. Gunze 56 (Intermediate Blue) was free handed as the medium blue. I've think free handing in this case gives the more softer look that's needed. A word of warning though.....You'll need to lighten this color significantly to achieve the proper contrast. The bottom was Tamiya flat white.

    Then I got to my favorite part....panel fading. No other step brings the model to life like this one. Lightening up the base color about 50%, I sprayed lightly in a circular motion inside panels. I also hit the middle of all the flap recesses. Since the top of the aircraft would be exposed heavily, I hit that as well. I finished this step by misting a quick coat over the entire model. The last thing was to run a quick mist of the original base color in order to smooth it all out. The final effect is wonderful. It gives the model a used and textured look. More importantly, no part of the surface looks monolithic. Things were coming confidence was soaring. After the Gunze gloss coat was applied, I applied a burnt umber wash that brought out the panel lines on the top and bottom. Using Q-tips, I wiped away the excess in the airflow direction. The bottom of the model received an especially liberal dose of wash as I wanted it to be really dirty.

    The chipping had mixed results. Pulling tape didn't work at all, and chipping with a razor and/or toothpick didn't look right so I ended up using light sandpaper and lightly scrubbing areas. Some areas it worked, others it rubbed off the undercoat. I'd love for someone to tell me how best to do this. I had ordered Aeromaster's ‘Island Hopping Corsairs' and ended up using a mix of the it and the kit decals to re-create Ira Kepford's rig. Micro-Sol snuggled them right down. Weathered a few more areas like gun and engine residue with Tamiya Smoke and Gunze Soot and finished everything with the best flat coat in the world......PollyScale. Lastly, the wingtip lights were painted silver, then coated with clear gloss colors. The only thing left was my traditional playing of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus' and parading the finished model in front of my unamused wife.

    Now for the cool part....firing up the engine. I checked all my wiring and broke out a brand new AA battery. Everything was ready and I brought in my lovely wife to flick the propeller for good luck. She would be impressed. She flicked it.........Nothing. Again.......nothing. I was in shock. That turned to anger as she exited the room with that smirk on her face. After breaking down the battery assembly numerous times, consulting an electrician that works for me, and even a trip to Radio Shack, I couldn't get it to work. Something was wrong with the motor itself which of course was buried deep into my beautifully finished plane. In a sober and humbling moment, I finally cut the wires out of the Corsair. Lesson learned: test the motor before installing. When Tamiya issues that $250 Zero of theirs with motor and lights........I'll be wiser and ready.



    The palm trees were the resin/PE combo from Verlinden, and although they were about $14 a piece, they were worth it. They're what draws the eye first and they have a perfect lean to them. I had to cut them down to scale a little bit, so I took the extra pieces and created stumps so as not to waste them. The ground work is Celluclay with a combination of sand and RR ballast mixed in for texture. I sprayed white glue over the top to seal everything and prevent the sand from falling away. This had to be done a few times and was a really messy procedure, but was accelerated by using little pressurized air cans from office supply stores. The foliage is plain old sawdust sprayed varying shades of green.

    My first surgery was relatively minor and involved improving the groundwork  But my second was a dozy. I've seen a few pictures of the PSP plating and always thought they brought so much life to a scene. Verlinden's set was unbelievably expensive, so I started looking around.  DJ Parkins out of England makes a wonderful line of accessories in 48th scale and they carried the PSP. I got two large sheets covering over a square foot of photo etched PSP for like 20 bucks. The Verlinden set would've cost over $100 in the same size. DJ Parkins rules. I had to cut and sand half my groundwork out in order to set this stuff properly, but once it was painted in burnt iron and weathered, it looked the part and I was beside myself with modeler's joy. The pilot figures are from the kit and the crew is actually Verlinden's Luftwaffe summer crew. The rest of the stuff are random accessories from Academy and Tarmac.


    A lot of fun to build. All mistakes were mine. Tamiya's Corsair is a jewel and deserves all it's accolades. After one year in modeling, I've learned one unassailable rule. Every mistake I've ever made, without exception, has occurred though impatience. But I am learning. I appreciate all the stuff you guys put on the web, and everyone I write to with questions has been just super. If I can ever return the favor, please feel free to write.....just don't mention the motor.


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