Airfix 1/72 F4U Corsair

KIT #: 02090
PRICE: AUD $10.00
DECALS: One option

Old kit built only for a specific display.


The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War.  Its performance allowed it to dominate all other piston-engined opponents. 

In February 1938 the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics published a request for a single-engined fighter for the Navy.  It requested a fast aircraft with a stalling speed not higher than 110km/70 miles per hour, a range of 1600km/1,000 miles and it had to carry four guns AND be able to carry anti-aircraft bombs.  Powered by an XR-2800-4 prototype of the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp twin-row, 18-cylinder 1346kW/1,805 hp radial engine  that turned a large 4MR/13’-diameter propeller, it became the first single-engine U.S. fighter to fly faster than 640km/400 mph. 

 The Corsair’s inverted gull (ie, W-shaped) wing accommodated the large propeller and shortened the undercarriage legs.  But the large engine condemned it to have a long nose – long enough to hide an aircraft carrier from a pilot on his final approach when landing, and its legs were too bouncy for the US Navy.  So the first Corsairs were allocated to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and the US Marines, both of which loved the Corsair and worked-out ways to circumvent their apparent problems.

 Eventually, the Corsairs received a less-bouncy undercarriage and were accepted by the US Navy.  By evolution, they were reconfigured for a bubble canopy, armed with 4 x 20mm cannon, and could sport external fuel tanks, heavy bombs, rockets and/or a radar pod.  


   I remember building this vintage Airfix kit (moulded in dark blue plastic) when I was about 8 years old.  This one was unchanged, save that it was moulded in light grey plastic and it was one of the ‘WWII Aircraft of the Aces’ Airfix series.  The parts had surprisingly little flash and showed virtually no mould slippage.                   

 When my modelling club sought models for a display that was to feature LOTS of rivets, I asked a modelling forum about Airfix kits with them.  There were lots of answers identifying many old kits – several of which were to be found within my stash.  This one fit the bill because it was small (I didn’t want to do the Sunderland just yet) and it was accessible.  It would be assembled as a no-frills, speed build, between work on more serious projects. 


Reasoning that I could insert the seat later, I trapped the tailhook as I closed fuselage – and it promptly broke off.  Because I was disdaining filler, I elected to have a near-perfect spine at the expense of a less-than-perfect belly seam, but as it’ll be standing on its wheels, the belly seam will be less noticeable.  Only the nose received a little filler (no-frills – fail!!) to fix a small step.  While the tail planes were a great fit, the fit of the one-piece lower wing to the fuselage was poor, so I backed the contact points with large blobs of Milliput inside the fuselage.  Some sanding of the cowling allowed me to fit it snugly in place, then I added the tops of the wings.  Here, the fit was superb – except at the wing roots where the gaps measured up to 1mm.  A flood of Krystal Kleer (then wipe off the excess) sealed the gaps but without strength. 


 After a brief sanding of the wing leading edges, I hit the belly with dead-flat skull white from a Citadel Miniatures spray can.  Next morning, I masked the white zones, then brush-painted her with CM shadow grey in-lieu of Intermediate Blue (I can hear you colour-control-creeps gasping with horror).  There were some inconsistencies with this model.  The box-art showed an all-blue scheme verses the 3-colour scheme of the painting diagram.  And with the 3-colour scheme, I expected some intermediate blue on the sides of the forward fuselage & cowling, but these do not appear in the painting guide.  For simplicity, I stuck to the instructions. 

 Now, I admit that I am fearful of doing a feathered edge to a cam pattern, because I can’t do it well.  In fact, I really suck at it.  So, I resolved to have another crack at it on this display-only model.  And in the afternoon, I masked the grey with tape, then defined the edges of the side wall zones with snakes of Blutack, and decided on a spray sequence.  For the dark blue, I selected Tamiya X-3 Royal blue (I hear more gasping).  My attack plan was to spray upwards from the belly, over the Blutack, then up & over the spine of the model.  This absolutely minimised the amount of spray that I’d be directing downwards towards where the Blutack overhung the sides of the fuselage.  It seemed to work, and this was confirmed when I stripped-off the masks.  It wasn’t perfect – more practice is required.  While the blue was glossy, the grey and the white were flat, so Future was needed as a foundation for the decals.     

 Only the kit decals were used.  They went on between the usual liquid sandwich of Microset & Microsol, and they conformed beautifully.  I especially liked the way that the white stripes over the nose conformed to the panel lines of the kit.  On the real aircraft, the stripes were lengths of tape used to quickly seal the gaps between panels (our panel lines).  The only down side was that one decal had a white line extending from an edge.  Touching-up painting took care of it.  


When I brush-painted the propeller blades black (and the hub IM blue - not chrome steel?), I also painted the engine front.  Some black landed on the Royal blue, but as it was still glossy, I could wipe it off if I acted immediately.  By misting-on a coat of Gunze H 20, I gave her a semi-gloss clear coat, which nicely held the (CM mithril) silver with-which I dry-brushed her in order to highlight all of those rivets, and the engine front.  After attaching a few bits and paint to the seat (OOB – fail!!), I was able to drop it in.  The legs, wheels and doors were all scraped-down to remove the mould seams and to thin-down the overly-thick edges, then they were attached. 

 With a little bit of work, I could improve the appearance of the bombs.  The edges of the fins and the square bomb-ring were scraped back to appear thinner.  And some gloss black was applied to hide the thicker areas.  The bombs yellow nose rings were roughly applied by dipping a drinking straw into yellow paint then touching it to the bomb.  A small + cut from 350-scale PE ships railing detailed the noses of the fuses (another fail!!).        

 At this point, I realised that I’d failed to paint the final bits dark blue when I did the airframe in the first place.  So, after touch-up painting I added the canopy and the antenna mast on the spine.  Another one finished.  Nope – I clipped-off a corner of the wing-tips so that I could add the formation lights using paint and blobs of Krystal Kleer (OOB – another fail).  Even after a dipping in Future, the canopy still ‘aint clear enough to show the seat as more than a vague presence (luckily for me!).  Oh – and I replaced that broken-off tail-hook with a long piece of wire.    


The only things that I didn’t like about this build were the self-inflicted.  I failed to scrap-back the edges of the wheel wells (Rats!!) and there was that painting blooper.  Still, I enjoyed the build because I declined to use filler so as to preserve all of those rivets for the display.  In that aspect, the model was a success.  Working on and off (I have to work full time and I have a young family) I did this in 8 days – Warp 9 for me.  It is funny how I automatically do things – like the seat, the bombs and the lights.   

OK - there are other and better F4Us out there – with better-shaped propellers – for the serious modeller.  But if you discount the poor wing-root fit, then this is still a great little model for a junior or beginner.  And, it’ll keep rivet-counters occupied for ages.

PS – I realise now, that I’ve yet to add a brass wire to replace the fragile kit pitot tube at the wingtip.     

George Oh

June 2013

Thanks to  for the review kit. You can find this one at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.

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