Vought F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair (Tamiya 1:48 #61046)


A very quick build for my IPMS NSW 2019 Group Build entry. I was impressed that the quality of the Tamiya kits still holds up today and even if you go against the grain and model this kit with wings extended, gear up and flaps retracted (each of which adds considerable work) you end up with a fantastic model of the venerable F4U.

The kit was built out-of-the-box (to comply with the GB rules) and the markings are from an old Aeromaster sheet (wish I had taken the extra time to mask and paint the markings though). One thing I did spend extra time on was the painting and weathering. If ever there was an ideal subject for "hard love" it would have to be a pacific theater Corsair.

The main paints were MRP with lots of pre and post shading applied. Oil dots and oil washes were used to further dirty things up. Some salt masking and pigments were used on the heavily stained wingroots.
I normally like to find period photos of actual aircraft to draw inspiration and ideas for painting and weathering from. As I planned to display my Corsair in flight I was able to find photos of heavily faded and dirty Birdcage Corsairs operating in the PTO.
One of the stipulations of the Group Build was the kit had to be finished 'out-of-the-box' and this suited me fine as I only had a few weeks to complete it. The kit pilot and instrument decals were more than equal to the task, especially given I planned to close the canopy.
I had read that the interior of many early F4U's were painted with Bronze Green rather than the more common Interior Green. I had a bottle of MRP-132 Bronze Green and this was applied over a black base coat. The pilot was finished with Vallejo acrylics by hand. A quick wash and dry brush and they interior was done.
Having already decided to build this model 'wheels up' I started work on closing the gear doors and extending the wings. I used plenty of 15 thou plasticard to help align the gear doors (which were clearly not desgned to be closed) and rathet than join the wings later I used card strips to strengthen this butt join as well.
Despit my best efforts to obtain a strong and blemish free join for the wingfold I did still need to use super glue as a filler and rescibe the join to arrive at an acceptable result. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a 1996 tooling, even if it was Tamiya.
Real color photos of WW2 aircraft are rare and whilst colorisation has gained in popularity lately (as can be seen by this photo) you need to take the colors shown with a grain of salt. In this case I felt the colors were a reasonable representation, especially the staining and severe fading on the cowling and wiing roots.
I had a clear picture in my mind of what I wanted the finished model to look like and found some examples of an alternative style of pre-shading that I thought may be useful. The areas that I have masked with Tamiya tape are the fabric covered panels and I wanted these to stay white as in real life they faded first. I felt my way with the preshading making it up as I went, treating each panel separately. I specifically wanted to avoid just tracing over the panel lines with black as I am not a fan of results of this technique.
The main upper color (MRP-136 INTERMEDIATE BLUE ANA 608/FS35164) was applied in light coats, building up the coverage slowly so as not to overpower the pre-shading entirely. I did follow up the initial colors with lightened (with white) versions to further push the contrast between the top and bottom of panels (as seen on the fuselage sides). I also sprayed and masked off the wing walkways first. Along the wing roots you can see some salt grains which are acting as a mask for the zinc chromate yellow underneath.