Tamiya 1/72 Vought F4U-1D Corsair
Model, Text and Photos by: Fernando Rolandelli
A tale of two Corsairs
After relocating to Nairobi, I found myself rebuilding my modelling life, literally from scratch. These are the first two kits I have completed, just three months after arriving at the Horn of Africa. It has been an enormous effort; I hope the readership like them.
Having decided to explore the Fleet Air Arm theme, I settled down for a couple of Tamiya 1/72s Corsairs, as relatively small, trouble free kits, and limit myself to light superdetailing, in the form of Eduard "Zoom" series PE. I chose two very different examples, a Vought-produced Corsair II and a rare Brewster F3A-1 Corsair III. "JT 427" is a famous machine, the mount of Lt. Col. R.C. Hay, Royal Marines, when he was in command of the 47th Wing (1834th and 1836th Sqns.), on board of H.M.S. Victorious, during the attacks on Palembang, Java. "JT 479" is a rather obscure machine, belonging to 718th Sqn., FAA, in Stateside training duties. It would be a perfectly forgettable machine except for its US Navy tricolour scheme, a rare occurrence in a machine in FAA service.
Both were built in much the same way, only differing from each other in the colour in which they are painted. The British radio panel, just below the throttle, was not modified from the kit, but it is barely visible. The Sutton Hoo harness is, on the other side, very prominent, and was provided by the Eduard prepainted RAF set. The throttle (which is a small piece of art) and the dashboard came from the Eduard Zoom set, but I kept the kits' side consoles, with the addition of several handles and levers. "JT 427" has a conjectural camera control panel just ahead of the throttle, made of a spare PE. Besides, the interior armoured glass windshield was added from clear styrene.
The interior of "JT427", a Vought-produced machine, was painted, according to the present doctrine, in Dark Dull Green, a color best mimicked by Polly Scale "IJN Green". Cowling interior and wheel bays were finished in Light Grey.
The interior of "JT 479", instead, being a Brewster-built machine, received the regulation US Interior Green. There is no certainity regarding this, but I reasoned that, Brewster being a subcontractor and having enough trouble with the Bureau of Aeronautics regarding their own designs, would have done their best to keep up with the regulations (much the same Goodyear did). On the other side, previous Brewster designs (such as the Buffalo) seem to have had interiors finished in Aluminium lacquer, so there was not a "traditional" Brewster interior colour, as was the case with Vought. Xtracolor paint was used. Cowling interior was painted in White, as per the late Vought-built machines in tricolour schemes; wheel bays in undersurface colour.
The British modifications are rampart here. As Paul Fontenoy once said, there is much more to a British Corsair than just clipping the wingtips. I discarded the antennae, rockets, fuselage pylons and the landing light. Then I thinned the propeller blades (more on the Brewster-built machine), added a new landing light on the leading edge, a small blue formation light behind the standard green one and a whip antennae. Unable to acquire a British drop tank, I prepared the mounting points having a Tamiya 1/48 F4U as reference. Two tiny lumps of plastic went in for the radio compartment air intakes (on "JT479" after applying the roundels).
Painting was a joy, using an Aztek 470 "toy" airbrush. "JT427" was finished in US "Substitute" colours: ANA 613 Olive Drab and 603 Neutral Grey (Sea Gray according to Dana Bell) for Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey, with Sky Grey (the American one!) undersurfaces. Paul Fontenoy seems to confirm that the machine actually saw service in this livery. If so, the standard roundels should have been overpainted with normal DSG paint (the work was done at Blackburn in Long Island), while the camera panels, added at the front, would have been painted with whatever colour was available (I chose the standard Sky Type S).
Model Master FS 34086 went in for the Olive Drab, Floquil Military Neutral Grey (the one recommended by Don Archer) was also used, while WEMCC provided the Sky Grey (though, IMHO, any FS 36440 would do fine). The aircraft was very wheatered, with a dark preshade and post-shade in several panels, finished with oleos and pastel powder.
In comparison, "JT479" was quite straightforward, being painted in old Aeromaster Acrylics, with a heavy preshading below the final coat of White. The very dark patches seen in photos and profiles were painted in EDSG, being interpreted as production numbers painted over. This machine was kept in a non-operative environment, so I went light with the weathering, but the White areas just cried for some treatment with oleos and pastels.
I used the Skymodel 72-049 sheet on both. Decals were somewhat stiff, but they adhered well and did not silver at all on a gloss topcoat, except a single serial number over a really awkward door hinge. Register is perfect, and colours are solid, if a little bright. In common with most Skymodel decals, all the designs are just a bit too big, but, due to the nature of these particular decals, only the roundels in "JT479" really show.
If rather expensive for a 1/72 kit of a single engined fighter, the Tamiya Corsair just oozes quality and detail. Lots of very attractive airframes can be modelled from it. Shall we be favoured with a Birdcage version some time? A resin conversion would be so, so simple!
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