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Tamiya 1:32 F4U1-A1 Corsair Build Thread

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  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Tamiya 1:32 F4U1-A1 Corsair Build Thread
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, October 08, 2018 9:14 AM

Time for a new build. After the Essex I got back to building structures for my model railroad, and finished this scratch-build freelance structure. It is a building featured in a 1957 Model Railroader given to me during that time by a long-deceased uncle. I kept this article for almost 60 years and then decided to build it with a 3D interpretation of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks masterpiece. 

I've been keeping my interest by interspersing railroad structures and scenery projects with really challenging high-end plastic kits. Up till now, I was working off a stash of kits given to me by a parent of the one of the kids in my "Grandpop's Model Building Workshop" which I held for a couple of sessions in 2012. I finally had to buy a kit this weekend when Scale Reproductions, Inc. had their anniversary sale. I've been eyeing several 1:32 planes: The Tamiya Corsair F4U-1A, Tamiya or HK Models Mosquito, Tamiya or SWS P-51, or SWS or Trumpeter A1 Skyraider. I had downloaded instructions of all of them. When wandering the hobby shop and not finding anything in the shelves (And SRI has one of the most complete plastics departments I ever seen), I asked about the Corsair. Lo and behold, it had just come in and hadn't even been priced yet. I got it with the anniversary discount.

One of the reasons for wanting this kit was a book I bought years ago. I had a Topflite Corsair RC kit that a friend wanted me to build for him. It never got built and the kit was sold. I bought the Johannsen book becuase it had some terrific fold-out pics of details not often seen in typical publications. 

Here are some other images from the book. 

Here is the wing fold detail both in color and then with specific call outs. Since I want to add the hydraulic lines to this part (I folding the wings), having this level of detail will be very helpful. For the TBM, I had actual wing-fold pics taken by an owner of an actual TBM. I don't believe I will be as lucky with this build so having these images will be helpful.

The book has several fold-out images much bigger than 1:32 showing actual color rendition and markings, some of the same VF as the Tamiya model.

Lastly, there is a full cut-away drawing showing many things that even the Tamiya kit doesn't include including all the tankage behind the firewall. I am actualy a bit surprised that Tamiya didn't include that section and give you the opportunity to open that section. Say what you will about Trumpeter, but they do like to include more 'hidden' stuff like they did with the TDM.

I'm probably going to build the plane as the "Big Dog" group leader version. I'm annoyed that Tamiya doesn't have the exterior colors (Navy Blue and Medium Blue) in their bottle paint. I don't relish using rattle can paint for the exterior since I use airbrush extensively and don't get the best results with spraying outdoors.

I will commence the build when I finish repairing some of the streets that suffered some water damage on my model railroad. That should only take a couple of days so stay tuned.

  • Member since
    August, 2016
Posted by Keyda81 on Monday, October 08, 2018 9:21 AM

Looking forward to watching this one!  Too bad books like that aren't easy to come by for every build!

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Monday, October 08, 2018 1:20 PM

I too am going to watch this build since I fancy this kit.

I have a number of Watanabe's books that I collected back in the 1980's.  He is one my most admired illustrators.  

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 5:43 PM

I also have Rikyu's Hellcat book so if I ever decide to build a large version of that bird I'll be ready. Went to hobby shop and picked up some Tamiya bottle colors for the paint job. I am partial to Tamiya for lots of reasons, none the which is familiarity using it since the 70s. I bought Intermediate Blue for the mid areas and Royal Blue for the Navy Blue parts. Tamiya makes a Navy Blue in spray, but not in bottle. What Navy Blue looks like to me is a mixture of Tamiya Royal Blue and their Field Blue. I have a little bit of Life Color's Navy Blue that was used for the Essex project. Life Color makes the Navy, but I couldn't find a good intermediate blue. So it might be a mix to do the job. Based on the recommendation by Marty Schwanbau, the head of the shop's terrific plastics department, suggested using Tamiya Retarder to keep it wetter on large spray jobs and prevent striations between passes. So I bought that too. You can't get that from buying stuff on line.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 10:22 PM

I'll certainly follow along. It's my favorite prop fighter and, with your skills, I'll certainly learn something.

BTW, I love the structure you built for your model RR. Eduard Hopper is one of my favorite artists and, being someone who was born and raised in Manhattan, his painting of "Nighthawks" really resonates with me. Although I lived in the upper east side for most of the 29 years I considered New York City my home, when I was first married I did live close to where some say the cafe that inspired the "Nighthawks" was situated .

See here:


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 5:43 PM

That's really neat. I went on Google Earth and street view to see if I could spot the location, but no luck. A lot has probably changed in that neighborhood since 1941.

I spend a lot of time picking up and putting down the wrong sprues especially when building a model with as many parts as the Corsair. I know that Hobby Zone makes a commercial Sprue Rack, but I had enough scrap ply and Masonite floating around the shop that I decided to build my own. I measured the smallest sprues in the kit and based the dimensions on something a little bigger, but not too big so small sprues wouldn't get lost.

I settled on 4" X 6" for the separators. I cut it all out using a saber saw and chop saw and then cleaned up the edges with my 1" belt sander. I held it all together with Aleen's Tacky Glue and some thick CA since I am basically impatient.

I started it yesterday and finished it today. Of course I only cut 15 pieces (that's all I could get out of the piece of awfully warped plywood) and upon attempting to load the Corsairs sprues I find that their numbers go to the letter "T" and I ended at letter "M". I'll make due. Most models don't have that many sprues. If I have to I'll build an extension. After marking the alpha locations, I loaded it up.

And with that, work officially commenced on the Corsair build.

I've watched some videos about this build and notice that folks like to assemble all the little bits and then airbrush the assembly. Then they go back and do all the detail painting with a brush. I decided to go that route. I already lost one part to the Quantum Rift continuing to uphold my theory that small parts do actually leave this dimension and occassionally grace us with their return (but mostly not).

All of the levers and trim tab wheels are separate parts. I'm not sure why, but Tamiya has two of the wheels in clear parts with their based called out as semi-gloss black. I looked at my color rendition and it shows these wheels to be entirely black. But to entertain Tamiya, I liquid masked the clear rotary knob and will paint the bases.

Tamiya calls for their interior green to be a 2:1 mix of Flat Yellow and Flat Green, but I already had some nice zine chromate green from PolyS that I'm going to use. I did want certain parts to show a little wear so I preparinted them silver and used liquid mask that will be removed exposing "bare metal" after the interior green goes down.

I had a little scare. I started assembling the main instrument panel by gluing the clear gauge lens piece to the back of the gray frontal piece, only to see that the instrument decal had a different gauge configuration. What the...? Upon closer inspection of the instructions I see that there is another sprue "T" that has a different instrument facing with the correct gauge design. So where is the clear part? It's on Sprue "Q". "Where the heck is sprue "Q"? I didn't remember seeing another clear sprue. I searched and searched and then called my LHS to find out how to get missing parts. I was instructed to contact Tamiya USA. I did so and was about to take a picture of my sales receipt as instructed to send off an eMail request, when I noticed the other lens piece on the same fret as the first one that I cut out. Oh... sprue "P" and "Q" and on the same tree. The model obviously has parts for several different iterations of Corsairs. I'd better keep my eyes open going forward. In the above image you see both configurations.

I put the decal behind the right one.

The images are brilliant and in perfect register. My plan is too cover the gauge faces with liquid mask and then airbrush the semi-gloss black. Since I had another gauge cluster I decided to see how this scheme works, so I made a test. There's no decal image behind it, but it does work...sort of. I'll probably have to do some micro-touchup after peeling off the mask.

It will work, but I will probably have to make the mask a bit thicker. Next session I'll continue building this beautiful interior. Tamiya has elimated most of the reasons from scratch-building all these little details.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Corpus Christi, Tx
Posted by mustang1989 on Thursday, October 18, 2018 3:16 PM

Given some of the work I've seen you turn out this should be a true joy to watch.


Being really stupid IS "the new smart"!!


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