Hawk 1/72 F4U Corsair


623 (et al)


Currently $6.99




Steve Mesner




Ever see a kit that’s a real heartbreaker because about 75% of it is beautiful, but the other 25% really bites? This is one of those kits.

The Testor F4U-1 is, of course, a reissue of the old Hawk kit, which dates back to the 1950s. It’s been available in various boxes through the years. In one of the more interesting issues, Hawk tried to pass it off as an AU-1 with decals and markings
instructions for a Gull Gray/White scheme! Another cool Hawk boxing had it in a two-kit “Marine Attack Set” (or some such name) with their F4D Skyray. The current Testor boxing has decals for VF-84, and about two years ago I bought one (at a warehouse liquidator place) in another two-kit boxing with the old Hawk SBD Dauntless--two kits, decent decals, and even some acrylic paint for something like $5.50. Never thought I’d say this, but at today’s prices, that’s not a bad deal. The single kit of the Testor Corsair is currently priced at a breathtaking $6.99 at a local arts-n-crafts store. (I remember when it
was 50 cents!)

Whatever the age, brand, or boxing, the kit is the same. The fuselage from the cowling back, and the wings, are nicely done, with detailing in very fine engraved lines--quite an accomplishment for the 1950s! The shape looks good and the fit isn’t bad. The tricky Corsair dihedral is correctly molded right into the sturdy two-piece wing, so there’s not much to screw up there.

From there on, however, it’s all downhill. The separate cowling piece has flaps represented all around it, and is shallowly engraved on its front face with some scratching that I suppose is intended to represent a radial engine. The propeller is incorrectly shaped, being reverse-tapered. The entire landing gear setup, including the doors, is very crudely represented, and the wheels are featureless. The oil coolers in the wing root leading edges are represented only by flat spots in the wings.

There is no cockpit whatsoever--the “pit” is simply covered over in plastic. The F4U-1A type canopy’s framing is molded into the fuselage halves. The glass snaps down into place onto the assembled fuselage. It’s nicely shaped and fits well, though.

For “goodies,” the kit comes with the large centerline belly tank, four too-short, inaccurately-mounted 5” HVARs for under the wings, and a pair of small bombs that are supposed to go on a pair of outer-wing pylons unlike anything I’ve ever seen on any real Corsair. All garbage.

Seeing how nice the basic airframe is--and how bad all the peripheral parts are--almost makes you want to cry. The basic shape is there, and assembly is easy enough that this would make a great first kit for a kid. It goes almost without saying that it’s a terrific "nostalgia” build if you had one back during the Kennedy administration, but if you’re old enough to get nostalgic over this thing, you’re probably going to be very unsatisfied with the results you get straight out of the box.


With much better kits available at reasonable prices, this one isn’t worth time or money  trying to bring up it to standards for a common, garden-variety F4U-1. So what can you do with this relic that can make use of the good parts? Here are some ideas:

1. If you just happen to have the cowling, engine, prop, landing gear, etc., of almost any other 1/72 Corsair laying around unused, bolt ‘em on. By bashing parts from the Testor/Hawk and either an Airfix or Revell Corsair, you might be able to come up with one good model that’s better than either kit could make on its own.

2. The Italeri F4U-4B kit has come in for criticism for shape and accuracy problems. Bash the whole front fuselage (and cowling, engine, prop) of that kit from the wing spar line forward onto the Testor/Hawk, use the Testor/Hawk wings, and add the Italeri oil coolers, landing gear, etc. The Italeri cockpit isn’t right for an F4U-1A, but go ahead and cheat and use it. Now you’ve got a nifty early F4U-4 with accurate fuselage shape, round windscreen, and fabric-covered 6x.50-cal wings (the Italeri kit has the metal-covered ones, which are wrong for a -4). Add a Squadron vac canopy and a True Details F4U-1 cockpit and you’d have a real show-winner! (Save the Italeri wings for a future folded-wing Corsair project, put remaining ordnance in the spares box, and dump everything else left over from both kits in the trash!)

3. Been wanting to do an R4360-powered F2G or Wasp Major conversion? The Testor/Hawk kit’s nice airframe is a natural starting point, whether you’re scratchbuilding or using a commercially available conversion (I don’t know of any offhand, but I’m sure there’s been at least one made somewhere sometime by somebody). You still need a cockpit, and better landing gear and wheels, but watch the jaws drop at the local club when you tell ‘em the basis of your sharp F2G is the ancient Hawk kit! 

4. Or, if you’re lazy, do what I did: Smack it together gear-up and put it on a desktop stand. The model shown here is actually a rebuild project I did from an old original Hawk kit that had lost its landing gear somewhere down through the years. Rather than try to fit the kit gear doors (some of which might have even been missing; I don’t remember) into the up position, I cheated and simply covered the entire gear wells with common Scotch tape, then trimmed the tape to just outside the gear well borders. After a general cleanup of the airframe with files, sandpaper, and some putty where needed, the whole mess got a good squirt of Glossy Sea Blue, which seems to have done a nice job of sealing the edges of the Scotch tape (it hasn’t lifted nearly four years later!) The “cockpit,” prop, and “engine” got hand-brushed Flat black. After applying some generic SuperScale starts-and-bars, I cut a slot in the bottom of the fuselage to fit a flying stand from an old Matchbox kit.

The finished rebuild looks great on my desk at work, and if someone knocks it off--or even steals it altogether--I haven’t lost much. I had fun reworking the thing, and isn’t that what the hobby is supposed to be about?


If you want a nice -1 Corsair model in 1/72, give the Testor reissue of the Hawk F4U-1 a pass. For what you get, and considering what else is available, I’d consider this kit to be overpriced at $5, much less $6.99. Its problems are likely to be a stumbling block to even the “nostalgia modeler.” Still, sometimes you need to buy a gift for a youngster that costs, oh, say, about $6.99. And if you happen to find one of these old crocks hiding in a dark forgotten corner of your modeling closet, there ARE ways to have a bit of fun with it.

Model on!

Steve Mesner

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