Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

F4U-1A Corsair

by Jeffrey Oliveira


Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair


Revell's 1/32 scale F4U-1D Corsair is available online from Squadron.com




The history of the Corsair has been told and retold so many times that you will all be familiar with it. Suffice to say this is the F4U-1A version chosen for buildup because I liked the centerline bomb rack and the excellent red bordered US national insignia from Techmod. This style national insignia with the tri-color blue camouflage makes for a very colorful model.




This project is based on the venerable Revell F4U-1 1/32 scale Corsair kit H278 from 1970.

The Revell Corsair has many well known shortcomings. I knew that the basic kit would need a massive overhaul to make something presentable.

With all the justified criticism of the kit, we must remember that at least Revell made 1/32 fighters for us large scale fans, and this is 1960-70s kit technology. Also the general outline is correct so, with work, a very nice display is possible. Modelers should try to build some of these to sharpen their scratchbuilding and conversion skills. This is what I have been doing since the 1960s and this has been a great help, even allowing me to build a completely scratchbuilt 1/192 scale WWII Destroyer Escort on which my father served in the North Atlantic.

The Cockpit:

This is the usual starting point on all kits and I knew the Revell parts were pretty basic and not very accurate. Instead, I used the excellent Eduard 32 021 photoetch kit which has all the cockpit parts you could want and more parts besides. I did use the kit's control stick.

I was very impressed by the control panel which looked great and also by the excellent pilot's seat which when built looks very much to scale thickness and even has photoetched rails to attach it to the aft armored bulkhead. The Eduard kit also has side console panels, plus throttles and quadrant. It also has the foot wells so you built the correct floorless cockpit. Highly recommended.

The cockpit was painted the usual interior green and black. All paints used on the model were Testors Model Master enamels. I am used to using them after all these years and have always gotten excellent results.


I had to build up the leather headrest with Squadron green putty, mix a bit of burnt umber and white paint and paint it. I also added an outline of bolts in the armor plate near the headrest by applying tiny dots of white glue which if applied carefully and uniformly can look very convincing. If you have a mistake simply wipe it off with a damp Q-tip and try again. I built a new glare shield from sheet plastic and modified a likely piece of spare part for the gunsight. Interestingly, I bought the Squadron clear vacuformed canopy but didn't use it. It looked fine, but with mods, the kit canopy wasn't that bad. I did punch out a bit of the vacuform plastic for the gunsight glass.

The canopy was improved with Eduard rear view mirrors, and opening/locking handles made from the old reliable stretched sprue and white glue for knobs. The canopy was also dipped in Future for the glossy look then panted with Testors flat black inside and exterior color outside after the Future was completely dry. The Windscreen was attached with white glue to prevent superglue fogging. I left the kit sliding hood loose attached so I could open and close it as needed for display.

The Wings:

I wanted to drop the flaps for that Corsair "bird of prey about to strike" look. I used my hot knife to cut off the molded on flap areas then received the Oct 2002 issue of Fine Scale Modeler. In it Scott Murphy had an article on his outstanding project of the same kit and noted that Lone Star Models had a flap and wheel well set for this kit. I hadn't been aware of that and had planned to build up my own flaps with Squadron sheet plastic. I got the set and the flaps were great. Only minor sanding and filling of the parts themselves were needed. I built up the flap wells in the wings and the flap hinges with sheet plastic and Evergreen plastic rod.

An interesting problem surfaced with the Lonestar parts. It contained nice wheel wells but I had already mated the wings. What to do? I couldn't fit the wheel well parts in through the still open flap wells so I carefully cut the wells into four pieces and snaked them in, test fit them, sanded and filed them, then did the final assembly and gluing in place.


When building models little things go wrong and sharp eyed rivet counters may notice the inner and outer well walls are switched. When you are gluing parts on an airplane that is upside down for building, the right wing is on your left side and vice versa. I didn't notice until it was too late. This is when you hit yourself in the forehead and yell DUH !!!!. It is very minor and the rework would have been more destructive than was warranted so I left it as is.

The landing gear strut itself is a reworked kit part, the rest were discarded. The retraction mechanism is scratchbuilt form Plastruct I beams and plastic rod. The gear is painted Steel. Tires are TruDetails. Brake lines were added from wire. I lightly sprayed a coat of white and burnt umber to simulate dust over the dark grey tire paint. Rembember, tires are usually dark grey not black. The art of making kits look realistic is to note what colors really look like. Not your intuitive idea of what is correct. This is a lot of the fun of kit painting.

Another part of the wings which needed a lot of attention was the oil cooler inlets. I used a combination of the kit louvers with Eduard round screens but the ramp-in areas need a lot of careful green putty filling and sanding to look right. These are the trouble spots that are tedious to fix but make a big difference in the overall appearance of the model.

I also detailed the wing tip lights. I drilled out the inner area to simulated a light bulb with a tiny drill bit. I sanded the lights to a better fit, then wet sanded them with ultrafine sandpaper. I next polished them with toothpaste (it works!!) then did the old Future dip. I ended by adding a drop of red or green paint as required and got a very nice effect.

The Fuselage:

The fuselage was built pretty much stock except for the photoetch additions. I added rudder and elevator cranks from the Eduard kit and did more major surgery on the cowling. The kit cowl flaps are poor. The are not correct in number or configuration. I hot knifed the kit parts and added Eduard photoetched cowl flaps. Inside brackets were added as well as the control cable. I also added strip styrene stiffeners inside the cowl and painted it primer (interior) green. I then applied a dirty black wash of thinner and a few drops of black paint to simulate the oil these radial engines liked to throw.

The tail wheel was modified with Eduard parts and the interior of the well was detailed with plastic sheet and rod per Detail and Scale photos.

Interior painted green primer. A salmon brown primer was also used. The tail wheel assemblies were painted grey or steel colors during F4U production. I used light grey on mine.

The Engine:

It is the great Teknics resin R-2800 kit which I bought based on reviews online at Large Scale Planes. The engine is truly a kit in itself and you can take it as far as you want to go in terms of extra detailing. I added push rods to the front of each cylinder, Copper plug wires, and an oil return line was added from stretched sprue on the front lower area. The exhaust pipes on the aft end were not installed as they were almost invisible on the completed model but I did cut out the kit's simple exhaust area on the lower fuselage and added brass hollow tubes for realism.



The engine case is painted light grey FS36270. The cylinders are aluminum and the push rods are flat black. I even painted the Pratt & Whitney logo on the front of the engine. Yes, I had the Optivisor on for that! The engine is far superior to the kit parts (or even just about any kit's engine parts) but be advised, the Teckniks kit will take some time to build. It also has the option of later style nose case and magnetos included. Highly recommended!

The kit prop was pretty accurate so I cleaned up the hub and used it.

Colors are the usual black blades, yellow tips, aluminum hub, and red hub nose.

The Bomb Rack:

This was scratch built form plastic rod and sheet. The bomb was a spare from the Hasegawa 1/32 P-51D kit. I used punched out plastic sheet for the antisway pads and wire for the adjustment screws. It really helps the look of the kit I think. Some underwing items can spoil the lines of an aircraft but on the F4U, it works. The rack is painted Insignia white FS 37875, and weathered with an oil stain wash. The bomb is sprayed Olive Drab with yellow rings hand painted.


Painting and Markings


The aircraft is in the mid war tri color scheme. The lower surfaces are Insignia White FS 37875. The upper surface is Non Specular Sea Blue FS 35042. The mid fuselage is Intermediate Blue FS 35164. I used a 1980s Badger model 350 for the large areas. and a new Badger model 150M for the exhaust stains and detail touchup. The Techmod decal sheet has extensive painting as well as decal placement info. Great job Techmod.

Before decals, I applied and overcoat of Testors Gloss for decaling and then applied the Techmod set 32008 Vought F4U-1A decals for Lt. Ira Kepford in Feb 1944. The decal sheet also includes the all blue US national insignia if you need that and very complete stenciling. The register is outstanding and can be read with a magnifying glass. Even better, the decals are opaque!! I only had a slight bit of trouble getting the large insignia to set down over the fabric ribbed areas on the wings and the rivets on the fuselage. I used Microsol and it worked well enough. I recommend the decal sheet and salute Techmod for making 1/32 scale decals.



There isn't enough selection on the market. It seems everything interesting is 1/48 but we are making some progress. I applied weathering chips with aluminum paint and a fine brush. Remember, don't go crazy with this. Use actual photos for a guide. I then did Hydro fluid leaks in the wheel wells with very thinned red paint with a touch of umber to dull it. Fuel stains on the upper forward fuselage were done the same way with very thinned black/grey paint. They stream from the nice Eduard photoetch fuel tank access panel and cap. I also masked off and sprayed very thin coats of light grey to dull the fabric areas of the camoflage color. It won't change the color a lot, just enough if done right. I also dull coated the decals, especially the national insignia the same way or it would really jump out at your eye as too new relative to a combat used aircraft. Remember, to do this lightly or you may have to do a camouflage color reshoot. After the paints were dry, I sprayed Testors dullcoat over the entire model with my Badger 350.




My main reference was Bert Kinzey's Detail and Scale Vol. 55 F4U Corsair.

All I can say is God bless Bert Kinzey!! His Detail and Scale series is such an outstanding help to any modeler that I hope he realizes what his excellent series means to us!! I have many of his books and all are superbly informative. They are in a way better than going to an air museum since Kinzey points out many easily overlooked details of aircraft configuration. The photos are also clear and useful. I built this kit literally with the book open at all times right beside me.

I also used Fine Scale Modeler's Oct 2002 article on Scott Murphy's Corsair. It was great for inspiration and part availability info. He built his with the late war national insignia and was more complete on the engine buildup than I did. I recommend this back issue to anyone thinking of doing a similar project.

I lastly used several issues of Air Classics for info on part configuration on flyable Corsairs. This helped me on engine part placement but be careful of current Corsairs. Not all paint jobs are per WWII specs and equipment may be changed or modernized. The historical photos are very good also.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2004 by Jeffrey Oliveira
Page Created 09 February, 2004
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

Back to HyperScale Main Page