This is F4U-1D NZ5485 Kohimarama IX of No 5 Servicing unit / No 23 Sqn RNZAF based at Emirau in the St Matthias Islands in August 1945. In the RNZAF the aircraft belonged to servicing units and were loaned to the Sqns for operations.
The Challenge with this one was to try and capture the beaten up/weathered look of these aircraft.
I began this and another Corsair at the same time. The theory being a production lie would mean I would finish two kits quicker this way then doing each on separate. This didn’t pan out as I got sick of the repetitive bits quite fast. I don’t think i’ll bother with this approach in the future.
As usual the work starts with the cockpit and interior. I assembled the main sub-assemblies and sprayed the insides flat black. After waiting about 5 minutes I then sprayed Gunze Interior green trying to keep the airbrush square on to the detail.
I like to use acrylics for this as it means I don’t need a clear coat before a wash. I used a raw umber oil wash followed by some dry brushing with the interior green mixed with various whites, yellows and light greys. Sidewall detail is adequate, especially considering that you won't see much of it when it's together.
Details were picked out with Vallejo acrylics. I like these for brush painting as they have strong pigments and seem to leave no brush marks. I replaced the kit seat with the excellent Ultracast offering.
I utilised the kit decal for the instrument panel. I’ve had a lot of success with this recently. It’s simple, fast and if the panel has decent detail the result is fairly good. On my other Corsair I used an Eduard PE set . The PE instrument panel doesn’t look as good as the decal and the other PE was of limited value.
Pressing on I assembled the wings and the centre section as per the instructions. As these are RNZAF aircraft the wings aren’t going to be folded. This kit is easier made with the wings folded.
A mate who'd built one of these before suggested that to avoid a nasty seam between the outer wings and the centre section, it would be better to assemble the lower wings as one piece and the upper wings as one piece. He also suggested the use of tabs to provide some addition strength. One advantage of the spar from the kit though is that it does help make sure the angle of the wings remains the same on both sides.
Some dry fitting made me feel bit happier as to the fit of the wings. I did add some tabs though. Mainly to try and reduce the chance of steps and provide the extra strength as the joints are effectively butt joints between thin plastic.
The top side lined up pretty good but I still ended up with a little step on one part of the underside on of the wing on each set. Thankfully it was the inner side that was high and it doesn't have much detail. Some careful sanding fixed that.
After a bit of dry fitting I was pretty happy with the end result. The gap in the lower wing closed up quite nicely. Considering the join will have to re-scribed as the tabs will be a good idea. Another tip offered by another mate would be to run a blade on an angle on the edge of each piece. When butted together the theory being that there will a recessed line left.
Looking at photos of RNZAF Corsairs on the ground I didn't see any photos with the flaps down. I also had an Ultracast flaps up set which I’m using on another build.
Instead of taking the easy way out and dropping the flaps on this other kit I figured it wouldn't be that hard to convert Tamiya's dropped flaps to the up position. A bit of sanding and dry fitting and it was done. And to be honest they are a better fit than the Ultracast ones which have some large gaps, 1mm or more, between the control surfaces. The Ultracast flaps were handy for use as a template though.
I also filled the step in the wing. From what I've read these were only present on Goodyear built FG-1's. I should have also got rid of the underwing landing light. But I didn’t know that at the time.
I then replaced the grey plastic wing tip position lights with clear resin. I drilled a no 80 hole in the resin and dropped a bit of red or blue paint into the hole before gluing them. Then I re-shaped them and polished them to fit.
Next was the engine, not accurate as each cylinder should have 2 leads (one at the back and one at the front) and they should go into a ring, but enough to look busy. The ignition wire is just brass from spotlight.
I fitted the window one the underside which had a rather un-Tamiya like gap around its circumference. I filled it with Mr Surfacer, then, after leaving it for 5mins, wiped off the excess with a cotton bud and IPA. This was painted over as it wasn’t fitted to F4U-1D’s.
The kit was then primed with Mr Surfacer, thinned with lacquer thinner shot through my Airbrush to check for imperfections. The only area that needed any work was around the join between the lower fuselage and main fuselage, the lower fuselage was little larger in diameter. A bit of sanding and filler fixed this.
Next thing I discovered was that the armoured windscreen included in the kit isn't appropriate from the F4U-1 and 1, it's the birdcage one. This is an actual armoured windscreen (Photo: Anthony from NZ).
So I figured I'd make a replacement, but the problem was finding some suitable clear plastic. I initially was going to use some clear packing (that stuff that encases everything these days) but all the stuff I had was too thin for my liking. Next I tried a slim CD jewel case. The problem with this was it was too thick and not curved.
I finally settled on a medicine cup, the type that comes with many cough mixtures. The advantage of this is that is slightly curved. The disadvantage is that just about any solvent but water (and cough mixture) affects the plastic. After many attempts and much dry fitting I finally got 2 that I was happy with.
So on with the canopy. Just about a perfect fit but I had to ever so slightly prise out the sides of the windscreen. As the windscreen had a large frame I sat it in place and then applied Tamiya extra thin on the join. The pegs held everything in place.
I settled on the nose with the closed cowl flaps for this one, with the open flaps for the F4U-1A build. As I was to find out when I later tackled painting the 1A kit I should have gone with the open on this one due to the simple 1 colour paint scheme.
The next problem, pointed out by a mate was that Tamiya and Ultracast stuffed up the outer flaps. These should be depicted as metal, not fabric. A coat of Mr Surfacer, then sanding. Repeat as required (I did it 2-3 times) and the depressions were filled in. The Plastic ones were easier to fix than the resin Ultracast ones and it’s disappointing that both Tamiya and Ultracast got this detail quite wrong.
As usual I neglected to read all the instructions, including the decal instructions. The F4U-1D was supposed to have the zero length rails fitted under the wings. Of course I didn't drill the holes out before I put the wings together. Thanks to another mate (cheers Darren) I managed to borrow a set of wings he'd drilled but not put together. Clamp them over the top and mark the holes.
This got them close enough so I glued the rocket rails. But as I was find out later it would be good not to fit the outer forward ones until after you’ve decalled .
After masking the wheel wells etc. it was onto painting. Paint is the excellent Mr Color Acrylic Lacquer, Gloss Navy Blue. I wasn’t until I’d painted it that I realised how dark this blue is. Now to weather it.
I started with some random streaks of the Navy blue mixed with light grey, I then added some radome tan to the mix. The light streaks in the curve of the wings are actually reflections from the flash.
I wasn’t happy with the first attempt so I had another go This time I used lots and lots of really thin coats of the blue mixed with grey, tan and various other colours. Also used some intermediate blue and other blues and blacks. For this I used mainly Tamiya and Gunze Acrylics but also some of the Mr Color Lacquers. There was nothing scientific in mixes or where I applied it. I just kept at it until I was happy. After I was happy, I hit it with a 2 coats of Mr Color Super clear from the can. I usually decant this but decided to just go from the can. I was a bit worried the coats were too thick and would flood the recessed detail. Fortunately it didn't. The gloss coat has also hid the weathering to a degree but I can always apply more after decaling.
Onto the decals. These are from the long out of production Aeromaster RNZAF in the Pacific Sheet. The colour of the RNZAF roundel is open to a lot of debate. As such there are quite a lot of variations between decal manufacturers in the colour. From what I read Aeromasters rendition of the colour is considered quite accurate although it is considerably darker than many of the others
These decals were some of the thickest I have ever used. The roundels in particular took an age to settle even with multiple applications of Microsol. After that failed to budge them I used some Gunze Mr Mark Softener. The blue in the roundels are quite a bit lighter in the photos than they are in reality as the flash washes the colour out quite a bit. I didn’t use the Aeromaster decals for the tape around the fuel panel as
it looked way to thin compared to the photos I have of this aircraft. I used the Tamiya kit decals which performed well.
This was when I discovered that the rocket rails get in the road of the roundels. In trying to rescue this I damaged the white a bit. I removed the decal and using a flat blade prised the offending rail off. I damaged the white as can be seen but this was easily touched up with some Vallejo white.
Trying to get the decals to settle I did damage the left roundel on the underside. Thankfully Model master enamels True blue was a reasonable match for the roundel blue. After a few hours of drying I hit with another clear coat of Mr Color Super clear and left it overnight.
The next day I returned to find that the roundels had bubbled quite badly. Not sure what caused it. Maybe to many applications of Mr Softener and Mircosol. Maybe I didn't leave it long enough for the decals to actually dry. Or maybe the clear coat (Mr Hobby Super clear) was to aggressive. Maybe a combination of all the above. But some of the decals ended up with little bubbles all through them.
I tried pricking the bubbles and applying more Microsol but this didn’t make any difference. Noting my earlier discovery of the accceptable match of model master true blue to the roundel colour I decided to take the high points of the decal with some mircomesh and then paint the roundel. Here you can see the worst of the bubbles removed.
The next 2 images show the results of further light sanding and then a spray with model master true blue. I was pretty happy with his save. Also of note these images better represent the colour of the Aeromaster decals. One final coat of clear, this time my usual Tamiya clear thinned heavily with Mr color leveling thinners to protect the decals and it was onto the wash.
My usual wash is the promodeller range of sludge washes. This is dark dirt. These are water based with clay particles. They are simplify applied over a gloss surface. Left to dry (Can be sped up with the wife's hair dryer) and then removed by wiping a slightly dampened handy towel in the direction of the airflow. I just touch my tongue on the handy towel as I find this is all the dampness it requires.
Once the clear coat has dried I like to post shade with enamel paints heavily thinned with enamel thinners. I did random streaks and spots using a lighter blue, a dark grey and some spots with black. The beauty of this technique is if you overdo it, or you don't like what you've done, you can remove it straight away with some paper towel or a cotton bud moistened with some weak thinners (I use Mig thinners). The result is subtle variation in tones. It's kind of like a filter that the armour guys use. But the important
thing is to have a good tough gloss coat (I use Tamiya clear thinned with Gunze leveling thinner). If you do have the good gloss coat then you can remove anything you don't like very easily. I re worked several places multiple times without any adverse effects. Finally a couple of coats Testors Dullcoate was applied to tie everything together.
I then proceeded do some paint chipping with a silver pencil along with various normal HB/2B, 2H and B pencils.
Once this was done I use various pastel chalks, blues, greys, yellows, browns and various mixtures applied by brush to add some more shading, dark spots and to tone down the paint ships. Again this technique is pretty reversible if you don’t like the effects. The can be removed with a damp rag or cotton bud. In between I applied a couple of dark spots with the original gloss sea blue. Just to try and add some real contrast.
I painted the underside lights silver then clear orange, red and green and fitted the underside.
Once I was happy it was onto applying the little bits and pieces. I find this seems to take as long as the build itself. I did forget to drill out the little antenna mast hole behind the cockpit and, as it has a rectangular mounting, carving this out did cause me some angst. Thankfully this went relatively smoothly.
Landing gear was painted with Gunze Mr Metal aluminium and protected with Tamiya Clear then a wash of black oil paint was applied. The fitted without to much difficulty although I did forget to wire the legs.
I also removed the little fairing on the tail wheel doors (behind the cut-out as these were only added to really late F4U-1D’s.
Antennas wire was Ezy line. I made a loop by twisting it then super gluing the twist. The super glued twist actually looks like an insulator, which is appropriate. I then attached each end (one on the mast the other in the hole on the right side) with super glue. Once this set I just slipped the loop over the little mast on the tail and drop a drop of super glue.
Finally everything was sealed with another coat of dullcoate.
The final step was to remove the masks from the Clear parts. I had used a set of montex masks and whilst they are good being vinyl they can something ride up on the complex curved surfaces. Again they was no real issues. A bit of overspray was removed with a bit of CRC (NZ version of WD 40) on a cotton bud. This also makes the clear pieces shine. The canopy was attached with couple of drops of PVA wood glue and she was done.
I photographed the model using my Canon EOS 400 DSLR fitted with a Sigma 18-200 lens on a tripod. I also use a remote timer (these are about $10 from eBay). I use manual mode and shoot Raw images as this gives more room to move in post processing.
For light I used 5 23 W cool daylight fluorescent lights and always set a custom white balance on the camera.
I set the largest aperture I can (in my case F22) then adjust the shutter speed (usually to 1/4 to 1/5 second hence the tripod and remote) and take 2 or 3 test shots (sometimes I’ll alter the shutter speed during this process).
Once these look ok on the camera screen I transfer these to the computer and make sure they are looking OK. If not try a few more test shots. If good I chuck the card in and take the shots (lots of shots).
For post processing . I use Corel Paintshop Pro X13 and it has a great tool called unsharp mask (Photoshop has the same). I use this on every photo and it's usually the first thing I do unless the light levels are really screwed up and need adjusting. But if you’ve done your test shots this shouldn’t be the case. I then crop do some minor light adjustments as required.
If you got through that thanks for reading . Here are the pictures:
For more information on the build and more images go to Calum's Anzac Modeller Forum:
Build - Anzac modeller 'On the Bench'
Images - Anzac Modeller 'The Cabinet'