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Kiwi Corsair in 1/48
Tamiya's F4U-ID

by Peter Mossong


NZ5440 'Lil Audrey' landing at Jaquinot Bay, New Britain.  May 20th, 1945


Tamiya's 1/48 scale F4U-ID Corsair  is available online from Squadron 




The aircraft in the title photo, NZ5440 was an F4U-ID (Bu.No. 50459),  and was flown at this time by 24 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force. It has the distinctive markings of 3 Servicing Unit (SU) who 'owned' it.

It survived the war only to be melted down for scrap in 1948 along with most of its brothers.

As the Corsair is one of my favourite aircraft, I decided that this kit would be a good return to 'active' model making after a non-productive period of several years. 



The picture is I feel, a good example to show the heavy weathering and staining of the Corsairs operated by the RNZAF in the Pacific, and as I prefer to model 'active' service aircraft, would be a good exercise in polishing up my long dormant weathering techniques!

When I began, little did I know how much grief I was going to experience with this build!





Several years ago, I had purchased the Aires Corsair superdetail set (No.4070) and rather than do one fully detailed aircraft, had decided to split it over several kits. All I used for the construction of NZ5440 was the cockpit, and this was to prove the beginnings of my problems with this build! I also used some of the Eduard etch set for the Corsair, and the front half from an 'Engines and Things' R2800-8W as I felt that both the kit and the Aires R2800's were a bit anaemic in their representation of the reduction gearbox.



This set (along with other Aires sets I have) is probably some of the crispest resin I have ever seen, and is very accurate.  I painted and detailed the sections as separate items, before joining together as a 'tub'.  Most of my research had shown that the lower sections of the 'pit' of early production -ID's were Interior Green, and the side consoles and above were Black.  One of the CO2 tanks from the port side was removed, as the -ID (and later -IA's) did not have the leading edge fuel tanks, and this second tank was therefore deleted. I then detailed the consoles and Instrument Panel with brass strip, HSP, Waldron placards, and homemade decals.   

I was not happy about the shape of the Aires rear bulkhead, so detailed the one from the kit by adding the noticeable bolt heads, and built a new seat mounting frame from rod and HSP.

I then offered up the 'tub' to the fuselage to check for fit, and then began to grind away the plastic with my trusty Dremel set at a slow speed.  When these became very translucent, and the tub still wouldn't fit, it became obvious that I was also going to have to attack the resin as well.  After much swearing and cursing, I had both to the point where the fuselage halves would close up, but was still going to be left with a slight gap at the rear of the front upper cowling. 




Wings and Fuselage

After gluing scrap sheet into the inner surfaces of the wing halves to blank off the shell ejector ports, my next problem arose when I joined the wing halves together. Whatever I had done, I couldn't get a good match, and had to resort to Milliput and lots of sanding, polishing and re-scribing.  (Since starting this build, I have seen several build reports suggesting joining the upper halves together, then the lowers before joining the wings). 

I also filled in the depressions Tamiya had moulded into the wing tips, filled in the leading edge wing tank fillers and drains, and cut out the nav lights from the tips.  I then inserted red and green HSP (overpainted with a light coat of Tamiya clear red and blue) into the cut-outs, and built them up with superglue, allowing it to go off normally, then adding another layer until I had built it up slightly larger than the area required.  These were then shaped and polished to match the wing section.




The wheel bays were detailed with strip; HSP and fine solder to duplicate the hydraulic tubes and wiring.  I  then detailed the tailwheel bay with strip and rod, and made up a forward bulkhead from 20 thou card detailed with strip and rod.  This was all painted interior green with a light drybrushing to bring out the detail.  The fuselage halves were then joined, and the seams dealt to with Milliput, cleaned up and polished with various Micro Cloth sheets.  

After much cleaning up and rescribing, the wings were joined to the fuselage, and the lower joint filled and cleaned up.  I cleaned up the flaps, and filled in the step Tamiya have moulded into the starboard inner (-4 and post war only). The flaps were then fitted to the wings in a fully dropped position, and the operating rods added.   

The fuselage was tidied up, and several inspection hatches (one for the oil tank filler, and one for the water injection tank) Tamiya had missed were scribed into the upper cowl.  Tamiya had also added an extra ring of screw heads around the outside of the fuel tank cover plate that do not exist, and these were filled. 

The tailplanes were then added and checked for alignment (something commonly missed that shows up in contests!).  I cut off the moulded trim tab actuating rods, and added new ones from HSP.  

The windscreen was then fitted and faired into the fuselage with Milliput. This was masked with Scotch tape, and the cockpit filled with damp tissue. I then glued the cockpit canopy on with some small dabs of white glue after masking it.


Engine and Nose Cowl  

As mentioned in my introduction, I felt that the kit supplied engine, and the Aires R2800 both have undersized reduction casings. I had a couple of 'Engines and Things' R2800's that I had been sent by Dave Wadman (thanks mate), so I used the front cylinder bank and reduction casing from one of these resin engines mated to the rear half of the kit engine. 

The pushrods were cut off, and replaced with black plastic rod, and the ignition harness was detailed with HSP. The leads were then fitted using tan coloured HSP touched up with copper paint. I then detailed the magneto and distributors, and added some further detailing to the prop governor.  


pm1.jpg pm2.jpg


The crankcase was painted in a medium grey, and the cylinders and heads painted with Floquil's Weathered Black then drybrushed with Testors Gunmetal to pop out the detail.

The nose cowl interior was detailed with an inner ring, and stiffeners added from plastic card. The rear section was detailed with strip and HSP to add the cowl flap operating cables after thinning down the flaps. I then masked off this area ready for painting.



Painting and Markings


Having found that my local model shop still had a small stash of the Aeromaster Enamels, I purchased most of the colours they had left, and decided to try them out on this project. 

After masking off the fabric areas of the wings, tailplanes and the rudder, I gave the entire airframe a light coat of Floquil Old Silver as a base, and to check for seams and construction marks. It's amazing what the silver will show up! These imperfections were dealt to with Mr Surfacer, and I was ready to start the topcoats. 




I began by painting the lower surfaces and sides of the fuselage with a 50/50 mix of Humbrol Sail White and 22 White, which I feel, is a good match for the wartime Insignia White. 

I then mixed up a batch of 50/50 Humbrol and Aeromaster Intermediate Blue (I felt that the Aeromaster tone was too grey), and this was applied to the outer sections of the underside of the wings, the fuselage sides, and the fin and rudder.  Next was a 50/50 mix of Aeromaster N.s Sea Blue and Glossy Sea Blue to replicate the Semi-Gloss Sea Blue on the upper wings and the tailplanes.  Last applied was straight Aeromaster N.s Sea Blue on the upper fuselage and the wing and tailplane leading edges.  This was all done freehand. 

After leaving the paint do cure for a week. I then brushed on a coat of Johnson’s Klear and left this to cure.



The decals used were a mixed bag. The roundels were from the Aeromaster RNZAF SP48-10 sheet, the serials, fuselage numbers and stencils were made on my ALPS MD1000, and the fin flashes were from an old RooDecals sheet.  These were applied using all manner of decal solvents to get the Aeromaster roundels to 'suck' down. I added (NZ) Roundel Blue borders to the starboard upper and port undersides to match the RNZAF applied roundels, then after cleaning up, the whole aircraft was given another brushed coat of Klear and left to cure. The final coat was misted on Microscale Flat.


Disaster Strikes! 

Imagine my horror when getting the model out to continue several days later, I found that the roundels had all begun to crack and craze!  The paintwork was perfect, with no signs of crazing, but would have to come off! Out with the Zippy oven cleaner, and within ten minutes, I had a bare plastic Corsair again.  The hardest parts to remove were the Aeromaster roundels! $%@@@#@@!!*** 




My next job was to repeat all of the previous section, but I didn't give it the upper overcoat of Klear after decaling.  I instead gave it a lightly sprayed coat of Wattyl Matt Polyurethane varnish, a locally produced paint that dries absolutely dead flat, does not yellow, and is hard as 'the hobs of hell' when cured.  I then left it for several weeks to see if the decals would craze again.  Success! 






Weathering and Finishing

Weathering was carried out using a 90/10 mix of thinners and light grey very lightly misted on.  I then went over the main panel edges with the original colours drybrushed in to post shade it.  Stains and fuel spills were added with ground pastels.

The leading edges of the wings, the walkway areas,  and the sections of the cowl normally subjected to wear, were then rubbed with a piece of a 3M scouring pad until the Old Silver undercoat began to show through in patches.  The cowl was then masked off, and the front cowl ring was sprayed with Aeromaster Glossy Sea Blue mixed with a little clear flat to knock back the shine.



Final Assembly


I built up and detailed the main landing gear and added the brake lines from thin solder and the oleo retraction rods from HSP.  The assemblies were then painted, weathered, and fitted to the wings.  

The underside recognition lights were firstly painted with silver, then when dry, drops of Tamiya’s' Clear Red, Green and Yellow were built up into the holes. A final coat of Klear was added to seal them.  

I detailed the tailwheel assembly with one or two parts from the Eduard etch set, and made up the damper spring from rod with HSP wound around it. This assembly was then securely superglued into the tailwheel bay after painting. Being a land based aircraft, no hook was added.  

Moskits' absolutely fabulous exhaust stubs were superglued into position, and detailed with various Floquil paints.  

With the model now sitting on its own 'feet', I then added the seat from the Aires resin set to which I had fitted seatbelts made from masking tape and Eduard US buckles and catches.  The rear cockpit canopy was detailed with catches and mirrors, and fixed on with PVA glue.  




I added the .50 cal barrels from cut off fine steel tube, and the three auxiliary fuel tanks, which were weathered with pastels and drybrushing, were attached with PVA.

The blue upper wing formation lights and the rear upper fuselage formation light were added using the same technique I used for the recognition lights. 

The camera gun port, and the landing lamp port in the wing leading edges were filled in with clear PVA.  The clear lamp on the tail cone was shaped from some clear sprue held in a pin vice, then fixed on with PVA.  

The aerial leads were added from freshly stretched silver sprue, and the insulators added from carefully applied dabs of PVA which when dry, were painted off-white.

The final act was to paint and detail the prop, the hardest part of which I found to be was masking the cuffs and hub to add the white areas.  








Other than the disaster with the decals, and the problems I had with the wing joins, I eventually enjoyed this build as it has managed to hone up some of the skills I hadn't practiced for some time.




As for the Corsair, this won't be the last I will build!



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images: 





  • N.Z.P.A.F. * R.N.Z.A.F. AIRCRAFT COLOUR SCHEMES  VOL. 3  By Warren Russell.

  • RNZAF The First Decade 1937 - 1946:  By Charles Darby.

  • RNZAF Museum, Wigram.

  • Hyperscale: Various articles and reviews.



Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Peter Mossong
Page Created 22 March, 2004
Last Updated 22 March, 2004

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