Kit: F4U-7 Corsair

Manufacturer:Italeri(No.048)

Scale: 1/72

Markings: Marine Corps(AU-1, VMF-323 Deathrattlers), French(15th Flottille at Suez, 1956)

Price:$8.50 retail

Grades:  Accuracy:A-  Ease of Construction:B+  Overall:A

Reviewed by: Jeff Jay

I have to agree with a previous review on this site that the corsair is THE ultimate propeller driven fighter of the World World II-Korean War era. Think about it -- it was produced from from 1940-1952, much longer than the mustang, thunderbolt or lightning. It served in the naval reserves until 1959. Other countries used it for many more years.

Honduran corsairs shot down Salvadoran mustangs in the South American "Soccer War" of 1969. Its rugged R-2800 radial made it much less vulnerable to ground fire than the ubiquitous mustang. It was really the first american fighter to be used as a true fighter-bomber(with jury-rigged bomb-racks) in early 1943. It went through many variants: F4U-1(birdcage), F4U-1A, F4U-1C(cannon armed), F4U-1D, F4U-2(nightfighter), F4U-4, F4U-4B(cannon armed), F4U-5, F4U-5N(nightfighter), F4U-6(AU-1)(ground attack), F4U-7 --to name a few -- and was built by three manufacturers. It's unique looks only add to the fighter's mystique.

In light of these attributes, it is no wonder the French wanted some of these bent-winged monsters for the rebuilding of the Aeronavale after WWII. The F4U-7 was produced specifically for the French and was the last of the corsair line. 94 were produced from 1952-53(they were finally retired in 1964). As one author notes, these planes were basically F4U-5 bodies mated F4U-4 powerpacks (many R-2800-18W's were in storage from WWII). They looked externally similar to the F4U-4, but incorporated some of the improvements of the F4U-5 series(enlarged canopy, automated controls, new cockpit layout, 20mm cannon armament, etc.)You can also build an AU-1(alternate chin cowling, USMC VMF-323 markings), a ground attack version of the corsair that fought with the marines in Korea(111 produced from 1951-52).

I actually chose to build a "middle path" corsair given the kit's options -- a French AU-1 corsair. The only difference from the -7 is choosing the cowling without the chin scoop(the AU-1 wasn't turbocharged).You can use the generic French markings from the kit to depict a corsair that flew in defense of Dien Bien Phu in the spring and summer of 1954-- pictures of these planes are very rare -- they were transfered on an emergency basis from USMC stocks in Japan in 1954. Thus, the planes often had few markings applied before doing battle except for French national insignias and tail stripes.

To the kit itself. The plastic parts have finely engraved lines and solid, accurate detail(especially for this scale). The cockpit has sufficient detail for my tastes, although there are aftermarket kits available. The engine representation is OK to good, but could use detailing. The kit goes together fairly easily, but sanding and filling will be needed. The areas that will demand filling are those around the cannon installations, between the top of the wings and the fuselage, and at the wing roots near the air intakes. I took a little artistic licensce with the armament as I chose the cannons with the flash suppressers(a reminder of this kit's relative -- Italeri's F4U-5NL).The AU-1 did not have flash suppressers, but hey, they look good and aggressive, so what the hell! Wing pylons are supplied, although they will need some mild sanding to fit nicely. One would be well advised to fill these out with aftermarket 1/72 250lb. and 500lb. bombs(none are provided, rockets are supplied) as the AU-1 was seldom without a payload. A centerline external tank is provided, but AU-1 and F4U-7's rarely carried these. With a few idiosyncracies, assembly is straightforward.

I painted mine Testors "Blue Angels blue" -- the actual color was probably a bit darker than this shade. I like to apply aluminum or steel as undercoat first as to allow the illusion of scraped away or chipped blue paint. The decals are well-printed and thick. They settle down nicely into recessed panel lines with undiluted Solvaset. I then darkened the color of the whole plane a bit with a black wash. A little brown pastel streaking from the exhaust stacks and the corsair looks like a mission weary support aircraft. Any color scheme you chose for the F4U-7/AU-1 will be relatively simple as mono-color schemes were the norm with these variants. The cockpit had been painted as assembly progressed and the results looked good for relatively little effort. There is no instrument panel or seatbelt decals provided. Adding these would be easy.

Total construction time was probably 12-14 hours. Filling and sanding took a bit longer than normal.  I actually have very few complaints about this kit. The main problem is with the obviously inaccurate propeller. The hub has extensions that look nothing like the features of the actual Hamilton Standard 13'2" prop. I'm looking for a replacement as soon as possible. I know some aftermarket kits are available or look to other 1/72 kits (P-47s with Hamilton Standards) to provide replacements. It's an unfortunate defect, because the kit is really such a fine product overall, yet a small discrepancy like an inaccurate prop detracts from the "look" of the kit. Also, the exhaust stacks are not quite right for either the AU or the dash 7, but this is a very minor complaint. Overall, however, the kit is highly recommended, especially for those looking for a somewhat unique variant of the "bent-winged bird." The value for the price(about the cost of a nice set of decals) is also exceptional.

SOME CORSAIR REFERENCES:

F4U Corsair in Action(No.29 Squadron)Out of Print

F4U Corsair in Action(No.145 Squadron)

F4U Corsair in Color(No.6503 Squadron)Out of print

F4U Corsair: Combat, Development, and Racing History of the Corsair, by Nicholas Veronico, Motorbooks

June 1995 Wings --Special Corsair Edition --still available in back issue -- (great photos, cheap reference)

Vought F4U Corsair, Warbird Tech Series, Specialty Press

*I know the "Detail & Scale" series has just come out with a corsair edition--it should prove as learned and complete as the rest of that series.

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