Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1D Corsair

KIT #: 61061
PRICE: $23.95
DECALS: Three options
NOTES: Pend Orielle Hellcat/Corsair Resin Wheels and Squadron/Falcon Vaccuform Canopy for the F4U-1D



The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was one of the best (if not best) naval fighters of the war despite initial issues with poor take off visibility, low speed stalling and bouncing on landing on a carrier deck which scared off the US Navy from using it as a carrier based fighter till 1944.  It served with the British Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (as a carrier based fighter) as well as the RNZAF in the Pacific Theatre.  Thanks to pioneering work done by the Marines and “consultant” Charles Lindbergh, it became a very potent fighter bomber which gave the US Navy flexibility in the composition of their air groups and helped reduce the importance (and numbers) of the SBDs/Helldivers/Avengers within a carrier air group.


It remained in production till 1952 as it served in Korea and Vietnam as a close support fighter bomber for the US Navy/USMC and French Air Forces.  The Corsair’s last combat happened in 1969 during the not as comical as it sounds Football War between Honduras and El Salvador.


The version of the Corsair this model represents is the F4U-1D which was an upgrade of the F4U-1A.  The 1D had a improved Malcolm Hood, a water injected P&W R-2800 Double Wasp engine which had an additional 250hp over the previous version, wing mounted stub air to ground rocket launchers and had the wing fuel cells removed and replaced with two droppable external fuel tanks to reduce vulnerability to ground fire.  It carried the standard armament of 6 .50 caliber machine guns with 400 rounds per gun (350 on the outer gun.)


Roger Hedrick

Roger Hedrick became a naval aviator in 1936 and was a flight instructor at NAS Miami with an Annapolis grad named Tommy Blackburn in 1941.  The two worked closely together and when Blackburn was assigned to command VF-17, he selected Roger Hedrick as his XO.  From there, they helped mold VF-17 into an effective “instrument of war” during the fierce air war of the South Pacific 1943-1944 both as a carrier based squadron on the USS Bunker Hill and as a land based squadron stationed at Ondongo.


Roger scored nine kills as the XO of VF-17 including shooting down a Zero on his first combat flight.  One of the those that escaped his guns was Tom Blackburn, who he nearly shot down in a(n) (un)friendly fire incident in Nov 1943.  True to form Tom Blackburn was more upset that Roger was a poor shot.


The VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” were disestablished in April 1944 and Roger was assigned as squadron commander to the newly established fighter squadron VF-84 “Wolf Gang” along with a cadre of experienced aviators from VF-17 including for a time, ace Ira Kepford.  VF-84 was assigned to the Bunker Hill which was part of Task Force 58 and its offensive operations for the invasion of Iwo Jima and the Japanese Coast.  After the death of the CAG of Air Group 84, Hedrick was made the new CAG and replaced by Lt Commander Raymond Hill as squadron commander.


Roger’s war ended on May 11, 1945 when a kamikaze crashed into the Bunker Hill where VF-84’s ready room was located, killing 22 of VF-84’s aviators.  Roger Hedrick survived with 12 kills/4 damaged and remained in the US Navy to reach the rank of Rear Admiral.  He died on January 10, 2006. 




Tamiya’s F4U-1D kit is a magnificent kit with mid 1990s origins.  It consists of three sprues of light grey plastic and one sprue of clear parts.  The parts are flash free and the detail is excellent.  Quite frankly, I’m surprised that Tamiya stopped at the F4U-1D and did not go on with kits of the Cold War Corsairs such as the F4U-4, etc.


I selected this kit to build because I had finished building several models in a row with lots of aftermarket parts including PE which that required a lot of work (not just because of the aftermarket parts) so I wanted to build a kit that was simple and fun to build and the Tamiya Corsair fits the bill.  The only aftermarket I used in this kit were Pend Orielle resin wheels which I had originally bought for a Hellcat model (they use the same wheels) and a Squadron/Falcon Vaccuform canopy.



The Tamiya parts were removed from the tree and started with the engine first.  The Tamiya engine is reasonably well detailed for an injection plastic piece.  It was painted flat black then dry brushed silver while the push rods were painted gloss black.  The only thing I added to it were cut lengths of 30 gauge wire to represent the ignition harnesses.  I drilled out the spark plug holes and inserted the wire.  The wire was halfway inserted into the cylinder head and inserted end of the wire was wrapped around the top of the cylinder head to represent the harness coming from the other side of the cylinder.  I added a drop of CA glue to keep the wire in place and then I trimmed it to fit.  I did the same for the second row of cylinders.  Only thing I did that might be considered odd was that I did not bother to paint the red wire insulation.  It’s a little bit of work, but I think it makes the engine look better.


Once that was done, I sprayed the hub grey.  I’ve built two of these Tamiya Corsairs and they all seem to have the same problem with the engine hub.  I can’t get it to fit properly and it comes off when I spin the prop (purely for the purpose to insure that the prop can move and not because I played with it.)  I spent some time trying to figure out why it comes off and came up with a possible solution.  I shaved off 1/3 of the polycap and then inserted it in place.  This time, the hub did not come off.


I worked on the landing gear which I think is one of the few areas of this Tamiya kit that could be considered a pain mostly because of the prominent ejector pin marks on the sides of the main struts.  I ended up filling them with CA glue and then sanding/polishing them due to the fact that they are painted in aluminum. Next I worked on the tailwheel/arrester hook which was no effort at all.  I painted all the parts using a combination of Tamiya X-7 Chrome Silver (base coat) and Talon Aluminum for the top coat.


The prop was cleaned up, painted flat black then when the paint was dry the blades were masked at the base and tip so that I could spray the hub silver (same combo of X-7 Chrome Silver and Talon Aluminum) and the tips flat white then yellow.


At the same time I sprayed the tire hubs flat black (with a little bit of dark grey.)  I still had the mask sheet from the Eduard Hellcat and used the leftovers to mask the tires for when I sprayed the hubs Gloss Sea Blue.


It was then that I finally got around to the interior.  The bottom of the cockpit was sprayed XF-4 Yellow Green (Chromate Yellow) and the top half sprayed with Xtracrlyix US Interior Green.  I used a leftover Ultracast resin seat that matched the Corsair seat which I used instead of the kit part (because it had cast seat belts which is much better than the seat belt decal that Tamiya supplies.)  The seat was glued on with CA glue to the plastic frame.  Once things were dry, I added the instrument panel decal as well as hand painted the various bits as per photos and Tamiya instructions.  I dry brushed the pedals and parts of the cockpit silver for wear and then I glued together the fuselage.


The fuselage fit well, but requires some careful sanding filling thanks to both the raised and engraved detail around the top portion of the forward fuselage.  The wings were glued on at the same time and only a little bit of filler was required along the mating join.  I let the model sit for a week and a half before I sanded/filled it to remove the dreaded phantom seams when I use Tamiya Extra Thin glue.  A week to two weeks works fine for me, but YMMV depending on what kind of glue one uses--the hotter the glue, the longer the wait.  No bleating about the “joys” of sanding/filling as it went smoothly.  I left the wing tips off as I intended to build this with folded wings. 


One thing I did add were the fuel tanks and the rocket launcher stubs even though VF-84’s main job was to intercept Kamikazes.  They still performed air to ground missions and had the rocket launcher stubs attached (based on photos of VF-84s F4U-1Ds.)


Finally I glued on the various gear doors as the interior and exterior would all be the same color.



I selected Roger Hedrick’s often modeled famous 167 because the yellow cowling is a touch of variety on an otherwise bland late war all Sea Gloss Blue Corsair.


The first item I painted was the cowling.  The interior was painted XF-80 Royal Light Grey then the exterior was painted Tamiya Flat White and when it was dry a coat of Xtracrlyix RLM04 was sprayed on.  The yellow portion and interior were masked before it was sprayed with two light coats of Xtracrylix Sea Gloss Blue.


I put a piece of foam to mask off the cockpit and the sprayed on the Xtracrylix Gloss Sea Blue on the fuselage and wing parts.  It took several light coats to get an even GSB color.  Once the paint was dry, I sprayed on a light coat of Xtracrylix Satin in preparation for the decals and then rubbed with 3200 grit polishing cloths to smooth the surface out.


I used the Tamiya Decals.  They went okay except a couple of them silvered and the decal that represents the tape that kept the oil from spraying the windscreen ripped into several pieces that I had to carefully rearrange.  I used MicroSet to settle the decals during the initial placement and Solvaset to work on the really stubborn ones.  The only decals I used Solvaset on at the beginning were the prop manufacturer’s decals as I did not use a gloss clear coat on the prop.


Weathering and FInal Coat

The only watercolor wash I did was around the tape areas just before the windscreen.  Oil stains (very faint) and gunfire residue were added using the Tamiya Weathering Kit. 


Finally, a wet rag was used to clean off the decal solution residue and the final coat of Xtracrylix Satin sprayed on to seal everything in.



I cut the Squadron/Falcon Vaccuform canopy using scissors and then carefully sanded down the edges.  It takes some patience to do as one mistake could ruin the canopy.  The pieces were then masked using Tamiya tape, sprayed Xtracrylix interior green and then Gloss Sea Blue (done the same time as the plane itself.)


The folding wing option proved to be more of a pain than I remembered.  I had to tweak the folding wings so that they would line up and look symmetrical unlike the wonky angles I had originally come up with.  I will have to say that this is the only area I got frustrated with.  The holes for the wing fold braces were drilled out and the braces themselves were painted flat red before they were attached to the model.


The landing gear was glued on and the resin wheels were attached using CA glue.


I was going to add rockets, but decided against it at the last minute.  The rest of the tiny parts (painted earlier) were added.  The canopies were glued on with Elmers.


Lastly, I added the prop and I was done a Corsair in two and half weeks which is a speed record for me when it comes to 1/48 aircraft.



I enjoyed building the Tamiya Corsair as it was a fun, easy and reasonably detailed kit to build which is why it is a very popular kit.





Dan Lee

 March 2011

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