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Dark Blue Killer - Tamiya 1/32 F4U-1D Corsair

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Intro -


I've always had a thing for late WW2 USN aircraft.  Unlike the somewhat ragged team that fought the Japanese at Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal, by the spring / summer of 1945, the US Navy was a true killing machine that was able to deploy a massive carrier task force right off the enemy's coast and (just as importantly), keep it there for sustained operations.  To this day, the USN is still the only navy on the planet that can do this. 


I've been waiting for quite some time for some decent large scale kits of late-war US Navy aircraft.   I'm still waiting for new-tool 32nd scale Hellcat (Tamiya - are you listening?) but at least last year, Tamiya released a 32nd scale F4U-1D Corsair.  


After being subjected to pretty much crap kits on my last few aircraft builds (Kittyhawk, Kinetic and Trumpeter come to mind), I decided to treat myself to the Tamiya Corsair and it's absolutely stunning.   The pictures posted in online reviews don't do the kit justice.   In addition to 400 or so great looking plastic parts, the kit also comes with canopy masks, PE, a color reference booklet on the Corsair and a well laid out instruction manual.   By all accounts from online reviews, the kit is dead on accurate.   It's not perfect, there are couple of very minor issues (more on that later) but nothing that isn't addressed quite easily.  If anyone wants to see how a model should be done, treat yourself to one of the recent Tamiya large scale aircraft (Spitfire, Mustang, Mosquito and Corsair series).  You won't ever want to go back to the other manufacturers again.


In addition to the kit, I'm using the following aftermarket stuff - Barracudacast resin wheels / cockpit placard decal set and Fundekals Whistling Death decal set.   All are highly recommended and I'll provide more info on them shortly.  


That's it for now.  I'll be posting my first build update shortly.



Edited by 11bee
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Looking forward to following your Tamiya 32nd Corsair build. Absolutely agree that once you enter the world of Tamiya large scale, you're spoiled for life. I've enjoyed building quite a few of Papa Tamiya’s 32nd scale kits and they are in a class by themselves; So far over the years I've completed the following kits:

DH Mosquito

F-4U-1 Birdcage Corsair

3 - P-51D Mustangs

2 - Spitfires

and of course, F-16 CJ Viper

Be very careful, it's a highly contagious disease


Edited by Peterpools
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So my subject, as noted, will be a late war, carrier deployed Corsair.   By that point, the fleet was using the later F4U-1D version (with a few of the hot rod -4's starting to make it in theater as well).   The -1D was pretty much the ultimate WW2 version, with just a few modification from the original raised cockpit -1A variant.   These included provisions for 8 rocket projectiles, a 2nd pylon for either drop tanks or bombs, a frameless blown canopy and a few detail changes.  All were finished in the classic USN Gloss Sea Blue.   


What really got me sold on this project was when Fundekals released a very nice decal set of late vintage Corsairs.  In addition to the great looking decals, they provide a 49 page instruction manual that goes into great detail on various aspects of these aircraft.  Worth checking out over a cup of coffee some morning, go here:




At this point, I've narrowed my choices down to an FG-1D (Goodyear built version of the standard Corsair) assigned to VF-85 off the Shangri-La, late May, 1945 or an F4U-1D of VMF-511 off of the USS Block Island, circa July, 1945. Both have interesting carrier ID symbols and a few extra markings for a bit of color.  I still may change my mind, time will tell. 


Anyway, the -1D I'm building will be a later version, which means a few changes to the kit.  They are:

  • No walkways on the wings
  • cockpit flare gun deleted entirely
  • Delete upper wing ID light
  • Delete lower wing landing light
  • Add left side armor plate (installed to protect the pilots throttle arm) 
  • Add under seat armor plate (installed when the Corsair gradually started performing air to ground missions). 
  • Add left side windshield hand grip (anyone have a pic of this?)
  • Add a thin metal bracket on top of seat for seatbelts
  • Fill in cockpit vent in fuselage (this mod was only seen on post-war Corsairs, with maybe a few limited exceptions). 
  • Fill in wing fuel tank fill ports (these tanks were deemed an explosion hazard and were gradually eliminated from later production runs). 

On to the kit.  I'll be honest.  Over the last couple of years, I've kind of lost my modeling mojo.   I still completed a couple of projects but had to force myself to hit the work bench and build.  I'm writing it off to dealing with crappy products from the manufacturers I mentioned above.  I think they kind of sucked the modeling life out of me.  This time around, I'm a lot more enthusiastic.    If you guys need a jump start, get one of these kits.  


I started work on the forward cockpit bulkhead and rudder pedal assembly.  For a reference,  I've been using Dana Bell's Aircraft Pictorial on the Corsair (Vol 2).  This is a fantastic, reasonably priced book.  Dana goes into great detail on all the modifications done to the Corsair 1A and 1D versions and provides a large number of clear, useful photographs to aid the modeler.  It's a critical reference if you are building this model.   Looking at the pics in the book, I did note some details I can add to the Tamiya parts.  


For the rudder pedals, I added what I assume are pedal adjustment levers.  I also drilled out a couple of lightening holes in the base of the bulkhead.   I'll probably add some more detail to the rudder pedals, just trying to get a few more pics.    One note - my philosophy for stuff like this is to scratchbuild only what can be seen.  If it won't be visible in the completed model, I just ignore it.  If it will barely be visible in the completed model, I just approximate it so the cockpit looks sufficiently "busy".   These are a bit rough but from the angle you are viewing them in the completed model, they will look good.  Trust me on this....



The hydraulic lines on the forward bulkhead are a good example.  The won't be seen easily when the cockpit is assembled.  Especially the lines under the instrument panel overhang as shown below.  



Finally, a couple of pics of the sub-assembly dry fitted together. Seems to look nice and busy.  Still have more work to do...





Thanks for looking.. 

Edited by 11bee
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  I'll be joining you on your build. The Corsair is a favorite of mine, although I've only build the Tamiya -1 & -1A in 1/48th scale.  Your theory for detailing only what can be seen, and then the degree depends on it's visibility when the model is finished, certainly parallels mine. 


 Very nice start to the cockpit. I do like how you added the hydraulic lines. They area really looks just busy enough to fools the viewers eye.



Edited by Joel_W
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Major progress (not)....  I scratchbuilt the pilot's left arm armor plating!   This was an field modification to late-war Corsairs (in addition to this, they also added a plate under the pilot's seat and removed a couple of armor plates protecting the oil tank aft of the engine).  I guess Marine pilots were so tough that they only needed one arm to fly their planes home.  Only Army Air Corp wimps need armor to protect their right arm I suppose.   I also drilled out a couple of holes while I was working on this part.   The fit of the seat frame has to be seen to be believed.   It's perfect! 



In retrospect, I'm not sure I'm happy with the way this came out.  I might end up replacing this.   


That's my big update folks.  I'm off to the Granite State for the weekend, i'll try to do some building when I return.  


Thanks for looking! 


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Quick update -


I ended up replacing the left arm armor plate.  My first version didn't fully match the drawing in Dana Bell's book.   I re-did the plate, making it a bit wider at the top. Also had to cut out a notch at the bottom so the side console will fit.   No one will ever see the missing part, so I think I'm covered.   Still not the exact shape shown in the book but given that the plastic fuselage sidewalls are not scale thickness, it's the best I could do.  I also added the locking pins at the top of the seat frame (looking at the pic, I might end up replacing them, not sure).  In real life, the mechanics could quickly remove the pilot's seat, pull those two pins and then rotate the back armor plate 90 degrees to act as a work platform so they could service the radios in the aft fuselage (remember, the Corsair doesn't have a cockpit floor).  I drilled out a few holes in the bulkhead and I then shot the assembly with Model Master Interior Green (I added a few drops of other colors to bring it close to what I think Interior Green looks like).   Note on the pics below, I haven't started any weathering or detail painting yet, the pins and their restraining cables for the armor plate will look much better with some paint on them.     Regardless, I like the way things have come out so far. 



Forward cockpit bulkhead, with the heating duct added. I also drilled out a couple of lightning holes.   I drybrushed a light interior green and silver mixture on the hydraulic lines to make them stand out a bit. Again, weathering is very much a work in progress.  Another thing to note, unlike earlier in the war, these aircraft didn't have many flight hours on them before they deployed on their assigned carriers.   They certainly weren't covered in filth like their land-based brothers so you need to have a minimalist approach to weathering.  



Front bulkhead and the rudder pedal frame dry-fitted together.  Looks suitably "busy", it will be much busier once I start adding other assemblies. 



Next up is the pilot's seat.  One thing that I've always had a problem with is the way that some of the crappier manufacturers mold bucket seats.   Most times, the sides of the seat are a scale 2 inches thick.  Pretty much looks like they were made from battleship armor plate.   If the real aircraft had seats like that, it'd never get off the ground.  Tamiya again demonstrates why they are the best out there.  The sidewalls are a perfect scale thickness (they might look a bit thick in the pics below but note that's simply the top edge flared out, just like the real thing.  No having to sand down the walls for an hour.  To the kit seat, I sanded off the molded on height adjustment lever and built a new one from styrene tubing and sprue.  I also added the underseat armor plate that was retrofitted to these late war Corsairs.  I added a few bolts here and there.  I could go much further but as I mentioned previously, my outlook is to add details where they can be seen once the model is completed.  To be honest, I could have roughed in the armor plate and the end result would have been no different.    I also drilled out the tubing at the top of the seat and added a thin bracket that will be used to retain the shoulder harness (this was another late-war modification to the Corsair).  



Anyway, that's my update for tonight, thanks for looking. 

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I painted the remaining cockpit assemblies and started putting them together.  Tamiya did a great job of structuring the building process.     I used a semi-gloss black for most of the cockpit consoles.   In a few places, I went with more of a satin finish.   I also used a few drops of white to tone things down.  If you look at color pics of the real thing, you will see that pretty much the only parts of the cockpit and instrument panel that are true black are the faces of the instruments themselves.   A black cockpit is one of the hardest things to pull of accurately IMO.  


I also went with the Barracuda cockpit placard decal set.  Close to 50 microscopic decals provided.   I was actually pretty nervous about doing this but so far, with the progress you'll see in the pics below, it's only taken me a couple of hours.  A good set of needle nosed locking tweezers is absolutely essential.  Just cut each decal with a bit of a "tab" so you can latch on with the tweezers and simply position the paper backing next to where the decal goes and use the tip of a new xacto knife to slide the little mini-decal into place.   I let them dry for a couple of minutes and then hit them with a bit of Microset.  Very little silvering, the decals actual confirmed over switches, etc.   Good stuff, I think it really enhances the cockpit.   


Anyway, here are some pictures of my progress.   I'm not completely done with the decals yet and as always, I have some touchup to do.  I used the hairspray method to replicate the chipped paint on the footrests, I'm pretty happy with the way they came out.   I also drilled out the lightening holes in the footrest support frames.   As noted, the Corsair has a pretty "busy" cockpit.  I've added a few more electrical lines, etc but have many more to do.  








I also added paint chips to the pilot's seat using the hairspray method.   Again, I'm pretty pleased with the way it came out.  Much more effective than simply dry brushing silver over green. 





That's it for now.   As always, thanks for looking. 

Edited by 11bee
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Fantastic work!  The chipping really makes that cockpit pop!  I just read your post asking about hairspray vs MIG chipping fluid and see here you went with the hairspray method.  Did you use enamels with it or did you decide to go with acrylic?

Edited by JesusNut
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Thanks for the compliments guys.   Hey JesusNut, do you have an onlline build of that TBM?  Those pics you posted look great, that AM kit was one of my favorites.  


Anyway... sorry for the crappy pictures guys, I'm heavily dependent on natural light and even then, with my cheap camera, I can't get close-in detail shots as well as I'd like.


Anyway, I mentioned that the F4U has a pretty "busy" cockpit.  There are a lot of ducts, hydraulic tubing and conduit visible, especially compared to other vintage aircraft like the Mustang.  Part of this is due to not having a floor, which makes a lot of otherwise hidden stuff be visible.   I came across this old picture and it's got me motivated to busy things up a bit.  



I do find that there is a wide variation in the layout of Corsair cockpits.   Even this picture has differences from other references shown in Dana Bell's book.   I guess that means I've got some latitude here to do things my way.  One word of caution for modelers - don't depend to heavily on pics of warbirds.  Most of them have been stripped of a lot of operational gear, such as radios, IFF, cockpit heaters, O2 systems, etc.    So anyway, I'm going to get started added a bit of clutter to my 'pit.  Keep in mind my philosophy that if you can't see it, don't make it.   As an example, the prominent heater assembly will be directly under the pilot's seat.  As such, I'll only replicate the duct work leading to it.   Additionally, need to keep in mind the need to clear other kit parts (since the cockpit isn't a perfect scale replica).  Lastly, I don't have the time (or skills) to slavishly reproduce every wire and tube.  I'll just do what I can to add some clutter and call it a day.   

Edited by 11bee
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Quick update.  I added the decals for the two instrument panels.   I decided using the Tamiya clear piece would result in a "tunnel" effect with the instrument face being to far behind the glass.   What I did was use a bit of clear plastic cut from some packaging and shined up using plastic polish.   I cut the piece to the same size as the decal and then applied the decal beind it.   I'm pretty happy with the outcome, still need to do some detail painting on switches and add a few scratches here and there.   If it fogs up in the next few days, I'll toss it and go with the Yahu IP instead.  Thoughts?




I also started adding some additional detail in the cockpit.  I added a line from the emergency hydraulic pump to the accumulator tank (I assume this is hydraulic but maybe it's pneumatic?) located on the left side console.   I also added larger diameter heating duct from under the IP to below the pilot's seat (as noted above since you won't see anything under the seat, I didn't add the heater outlet).   Also took the kit pilot's oxygen hose and ran it from the regulator to behind the map case (I'll be adding a pencil or two to the map case in a bit, along with adding a wash and some detail painting).  Lastly, I added a few more bits including a warning placard on the inner edge of the lower right instrument panel.  


Some additional pics:









Thanks for looking!

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On 9/3/2018 at 9:46 AM, 11bee said:

 Hey JesusNut, do you have an onlline build of that TBM?  Those pics you posted look great, that AM kit was one of my favorites.  


Here is the build thread.  I got to a point and got bogged down trying to mask the clear parts.  Being a cheap-a--, I was trying to do it the hard way and I lost interest quickly.  I have since done some more and need to take some pics and update the thread.  As of right now, the thread does not show any more than my Flickr account has.  



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   The cockpit detailing is simply outstanding, and really kicks up the Tamiya effort to a completely new level.  Your Hair Spray technique for paint chipping really has a realistic look to it.



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Quick update.  I've completed the cockpit decals.   Quite the project but I really feel that they add immensely to the finished look of the cockpit.  Wish Barracuda had these sets for many more aircraft besides just the P-51 (which I just ordered for my upcoming F-51 Mustang build) and the Corsair.  I'm spoiled and from here on, any other cockpit is going to look barren without these.   One thing I really liked about the these decals is that (with a bit of Microsol), they conform over the various switches, knobs, etc present in the cockpit. 


Anyway, just a few pics to show the latest work.  I've still got a few small parts to add to the cockpit, and then I'll start adding all the electrical connectors, etc.   I also just got the Eduard fabric harness set.  Once I get that added, I'll be able to install the seat and button this assembly up.   Note - I still need to complete the weathering of the cockpit.  I'll be adding some washes, etc to make it look a bit more used.

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Thanks LD!


Fulcrum -  you are 100% correct.   Pictures of the kit don't do it justice.   You really have to build one to fully realize how good of a job Tamiya really did.   I mentioned it in an earlier post but for anyone who has kind of lost the modeling mojo due to struggling with poor fitting or poorly detailed / inaccurate parts, getting one of their new large scale kits is a great way to get re-motivated.  

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Thank you Mr. Happy (in name only)!


Had a sick 6 year old daughter, so I was home today keeping an eye on her.  While she was napping, I actually got a bit of weekday modeling time in, which is pretty rare in my world.  


I completed the seatbelts.  I found the kit belts to be well detailed but Tamiya's PE is too thick to really work with.   My preferred option is to go with an aftermarket seat with the belts cast in place.   I find that most other seatbelts, even the new fabric ones still look a bit artificial.  Unfortunately, there aren't any seats for the Corsair out there (Barracudacast, are you reading this?).   I went with Eduard's fabric belts.   They look like PE but once off the fret and you peel away the backing paper, they are (relatively) flexible.  Still nothing close to the real thing but better than PE I suppose.  As a plus, they are pre-painted.   The hardest part was threading the belts through tiny PE buckles.   My eyes still ache from doing this.   A good locking set of tweezers are a must.   If not, I can guarantee you'll end up launching one of the parts and since Eduard doesn't provide spares, you'll then be out $16.  


Once the belts were glued in place (i'm not happy with the positions, I typically try to make one or two belts folded over on itself for a natural pose but the bottom belts seemed a bit too short), I then glued the seat in place to the rear armored bulkhead.  I then painted the control stick and test fit the entire cockpit assembly together.   Looks pretty decent.  


I also added some scratches to the cockpit sides and panels to replicate a somewhat used aircraft.   Again, keep in mind that these late war Corsairs didn't have a lot of hours on the clock so they shouldn't look like the flying dumpsters that the earlier land-based aircraft looked like.   Here are a few pictures:


First off the control stick.   It's notable in that Tamiya was nice enough to include the pilot's relief tube which attached to the front of the control stick.  Even though it may not be seen very clearly, I felt the need to drill out the "receptacle" and add a drainage tube to the bottom.    Can't have our 32nd scale hero wizzing all over his cockpit, can we?  Actually, if I end up with a Marine Corsair, it's redundant, those animals probably wouldn't bother with the tube in the first place (kidding, no offense meant to any of my jarhead brothers). 







The rest of the cockpit, dry fitted together.  I added a few more wires but have more work to do.  Also have a few more kit parts that need to get glued on prior to final assembly.   Don't worry about the missed mounting point on the seatbelts, they won't be visible once the cockpit is buttoned up. 









Thanks for looking!

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