1/48 Hobby Boss F4U-4 Corsair.
For my next build I chose the 1/48 Hobby Boss F4U-4 Corsair. I chose it because, like my previous Hellcat build, Bobby has a step-by-step video build of it, and I thought it would be good for me, as a still novice returnee, to follow a few more builds.
Unfortunately, I made a bit of a boo-boo!
When I chose it, all I did was glance at the video’s thumb-nail on the Genesis site’s menu, quickly browsed Hannant’s catalogue till I spotted the same box art, then ordered it without really paying close enough attention to what I was ordering.
See, the thing is, when I re-joined this hobby, I made the decision to stick exclusively to my first love of aviation, WWII aircraft. However, as soon as I opened the parcel when Mr Postman delivered it, I realised what I had done. The Corsair on the box is clearly a Korean war aircraft, an F4U-4, not the WWII era F4U-1 I had expected.
My first thought was that I could simply find some after-market decals, and get out of jail free. But the -4 has a four-bladed prop, and a different engine cowl. Bugger. Fortunately, research showed that the -4 did see service in the latter months of WWII, and I found this picture taken on Okinawa in April ’45, so this will be the subject of my build.
After-market items I will be using are Eduard photo-etch pack no. 48347, Eduard canopy mask, Microscale decal’s stencils and instruments set, DKDecals Pacific Fighters national insignia pack and Arma Hobby resin wheels.
So, first order of business is working out where all the after-market stuff goes. This time I elected to go for decal instruments, as the photo-etch in the Eduard pack was just brass-coloured and not very inspiring. There was a little confusion to start with, as the kit itself has three instrument panels to chose from, obviously for three different variants, and the Microscale sheet was for either Academy or Revell kits, so didn’t quite match mine.
Minor disaster! Snapped the control column when removing it from the runner. Took some delicate repair work to fix.
Then came the first small fit issue, as also experienced by Bobby. The starboard side cockpit ribbing is located by a pair of small lugs on the fuselage inside. But one of the lugs is very slightly out of line, forcing the ribbing to sit proud from the surface. Following Bobby's advice, I had to grind this lug out in order to fit the ribbing flush.
On dry fitting I was puzzled by the large opening through which the control column would poke through.
It didn’t seem likely that the real aircraft would have such a yawning chasm right by the pilot’s feet, so I had a look at some reference pics, and found the opening was covered by some sort of fabric panel, possibly leather? It’s not easy to see in this shot, but it’s right at the bottom of the pic.
I scratch-built this, using a small square of brown parcel tape, painted with matt varnish, and some after-market flat stock from Slaters Plasticard.
Kit seat Vs photo-etch seat. No-brainer!
After painting with Vallejo interior green, I applied the Microscale instrument decals. Different from the p.e. ones I used on the Hellcat, but quite pleasing result all the same.
The completed cockpit assembly, weathered with Mig Ammo’s dark green pin wash, and Flory’s sand wash and sand pigments.
Not bad for a day’s work!
The tail wheel/arrester hook is one of the most complex pieces of engineering for such a basic need I have seen on any aircraft, and assembling it was damn fiddly.
The instructions don’t exactly help, being somewhat, shall we say, vague.
Once assembled I painted the wheel assembly with Vallejo aluminium, and the arrester hook Vallejo white and the black stripes with Citadel Abbadon black. I then weathered it with AK interactive’s landing gear set, i.e. landing gear wash, shafts and bearings grease and dust effect.
At this point Bobby suggested not gluing the completed assembly into the fuselage just yet, to avoid the possibility of damaging it when doing any sanding and filling. The assembly could be popped in later. But to me the tail wheel/arrester hook seemed very delicate, and is fitted to quite a few location points, and me being a bit ham-fisted, I worried I would do more damage by trying to fit it to a joined-up fuselage assembly. So I elected to follow the instructions and glue it in place now.
Again, the instructions were a bit by-guess-and-by-golly.
As you can see, there’s a lot of potential for mis-alignment! Whether the decision to fit the tail wheel now will come back to bite my bum later remains to be seen.
Next I moved onto the main gear wells, and sprayed them interior green, then added the Eduard P.E. plumbing and wiring. Then I weathered them with Flory grime wash and Florey sand pigment, much the same as the cockpit. The reference photo of the actual plane shows it to be in a very dusty environment, so the Florey sand pigment will no doubt be making further appearances!
The wing centre section presented me with a few fit issues, mostly surrounding the oil cooler intakes. These needed some trimming to fit in their respective sockets.
It’s taking a certain amount of filling and sanding to look like a good job.
Wary of any further potential fit issues, I decided to complete the two wings individually, doing any filing and sanding necessary before attaching them to the centre section. As it happens this was a prudent decision, as there was indeed some problems, but more of that later.
On Bobby’s step-by-step build, he elected to close the wing gun bays up, which I thought was a shame, as the kit has some very nicely detailed .50 cal Brownings and ammo belts, so I decided to make a bit of a feature of them.
To make spraying the guns a bit easier, I cut away all the surrounding runners, leaving the guns attached just by the tips of the barrels.
Paint was Mr Hobby’s iron metallic, highlighted with Citadel dry Necron.
I then scratch-built the rib through which the guns would poke.
At this point I began to wonder about just how much could be seen if I just went with the kit’s supplied access hatches left off, and realised it wasn’t going to be much. So I thought, can I do better? The reference photo shows that far greater access was available on the real aircraft, but that would entail cutting into the wings myself, with my ham-fisted grasping of the Tamiya P-cutter!
You know what they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and if you don’t try new things you’ll never learn new things. Once I started the cutting, I began to worry that maybe my ambition had outstripped my ability, but I had started, so I was now committed.
The resultant hole…
The problem of which is that, when the cut-out pieces were joined to the kit’s panels, they fell through the gap. Even as thin as the P-cutter is, it still left a grossly over-scale gap.
So I set to, and filed and sanded the lines flat and square, then cut a couple of strips of Slater’s flat stock, and glued them into place, to reduce the gap to a more manageable level. Once dry I sanded everything to fit. Naturally on a kit, any removable panels will still leave a gap that doesn’t match the surface panel lines, but I feel it’s an acceptable trade-off to see the detailing inside.
The difference between the kit’s access and mine.
Remember I said the instructions tended to be somewhat vague at times? Well this is where they checked out of Hotel Reality and took a stroll down ‘work it out for yourself’ street! There is no indication whatsoever of how or where the ammo troughs locate in the lower wing, and there’s no lugs or marks on the lower wing itself.
I had no idea how to fit them, other than to somehow measure as carefully as possible the ammo belts themselves to get some clue. Then I turned the upper wing over, and lo and behold, there’s the locating lugs. You would never have guessed this from the instructions, which left me struggling for some time before I discovered it. Bad Hobby Boss!
Once that drama was settled, the rest of the gun bay went together pretty easy. I added some spare p.e. from the fret I had, then, after painting it interior green, I weathered everything with Flory grime wash and some Flory sand pigment.
Next I sprayed the ammo belts Mr Hobby brass, then masked up and sprayed the business ends My Hobby copper. I then hand-painted the links with Mr Hobby steel.
Taking inspiration from the reference photo, the feed chutes were scratch-built from some wafer-thin plastic card, then painted Mr Hobby steel.
I did briefly consider painting the individual tips with alternating red, white and black, to represent armour-piercing, incendiary and explosive rounds, but then I thought, don’t be so bloody stupid!
Still not feeling up to tackling the fit issues with the wings and wing centre section, I moved on to the engine.
I started by spraying each individual cylinder bank with Mr Hobby iron.
Buffable paint, marvellous stuff. Before and after a good rubbing!
Remembering the debacle of the P.E. wiring loom on my previous Hellcat build, I made sure to attach the loom first, followed by the kit’s own loom harness, then the front crankcase. For the loom and harness I mixed Mr Hobby bronze, copper and aluminium, till I got something that looked a close match to the colour of the ignition looms in some of the reference pictures.
The exhaust manifolds presented something of a challenge, in making sure I knew which piece went where, since they all looked similar. I devised a plan to lay them out on a marker, numbered as the kit pieces. Then, as I cleaned and painted each individual piece, I made certain to return it to its designated station.
Each piece was painted Mr Hobby burnt iron, then dabbed with Flory rust pigment, held in place with pigment fixer.
One quarter of the way around. I may have done more fiddly jobs in my life, but I can’t remember when!
Front case is Vallejo PRU blue.
Finished off with a dry brushing of Citadel dry necron, some AK engine oil and a dabble with Flory sand pigment.
Undercarriage next. First a little scratch-built brake lines, then sprayed with Vallejo aluminium, and weathered with Mig undercarriage grease and oil streaks and more of that Okinawa sand that gets everywhere!
Wheel hubs were also similarly painted and weathered, with the tires rubber black.
Having done all that I had no excuse for avoiding the wing issues. *-sigh-*
The outer wings, the left one at least, had fit issues at the leading edge, which I forgot to photo, and both had gaps at the root end, not very clear in the picture.
But by far the worst problem was where the centre section attached to the fuselage. It just wouldn’t go down right, leaving a mm step from the centre to the lower fuselage on one side or the other.
I managed to improve it a little by hacking great chunks out of the cockpit floor, where it wouldn’t be seen, but I was still left with an ugly step on each side to try and cover up.
There were similar problems at the front, with gaps and steps.
Throughout his step-by-step build, Bobby frequently praised the fit of this kit, so I am at a loss as to why I am having these problems.
Since these gaps and steps were beyond the ability of Mr Surfacer, or the Vallejo filler, I dropped into my local hobby shop and found an old friend from my first tour as a modeller, some Revell plastic putty.
This is going to take some time!
Ironically, the one area where Bobby had some fit issues, joining the outer wings to the centre section, I managed without too much drama. It was a bit stressful, but I took my time, went very slowly and carefully, and I got the top and bottom surfaces to mate up with no ugly gaps or steps.
Just a dab of Vallejo putty, and a swipe with a damp cotton bud finished it off.
Then came another example of me making life more difficult for myself than I really needed. The kit instructs you to attach the flaps in the raised position, but that was just plain boring. Having seen several reference pics with the flaps down, it just seemed to be more… dynamic, to do the kit this way.
It did, however, take a fair bit of trimming and filing to get them to sit just right. The real trick was getting them to all sit at exactly the same angle.
So that’s the bulk of the construction done. All ready for priming in the morning!
My pre-shading was a bit better than my first attempt on the Hellcat. At least so far as I managed to get it where I wanted it most of the time. Also I was more random. Not shading every panel line, and not always shading the whole of a panel line. I tried a different chipping technique too, spraying certain areas with Vallejo aluminium and then mottling it over with zinc chromate yellow.
Top coat next, Vallejo US Navy light grey and blue grey. Unfortunately, most of my pre-shading was lost!
However, by carefully scratching off the top coat with a cocktail stick, my chipping was revealed. I definitely prefer this method to the dry-sponging one. I did the leading edges of the wings this way, too.
The underside showed the pre-shading better. This left me with a problem. If I wanted to show the weathering, and if the pre-shading was lost, this meant I would have to try post-shading, or bleaching. I was extremely reluctant to do this, as I felt sure my airbrushing skills were nowhere near up to it yet. But, in for a penny… and as it happened, it didn’t turn out too bad.
Next came the decaling. Since I was basing my kit on a wartime example, the kit’s decals were of no real use, so I had already ordered a pack of aftermarket ones from DKDecals. Trouble is, there wasn’t enough of the right size ones. Fortunately, the B-25 kit in my stash also came with a large pack of decals, this time from Albatross.
In order to make sure I got the closest match, scale-wise, I laid out the kit on a ruler and measured it.
Then opened up a reference photo on my laptop, and magnified it till it was the same length as the kit.
After that I simply measured the markings, and compared the size to the ones in the decal bank, till I found the correct size.
And so to the decaling!
Had a minor mishap with this one. It wrinkled up as I was applying it, and in trying to straighten it out I cracked it, and also tucked in a top corner. ☹ And yes, I know the one at the top of the thread is 318, but I didn’t have an 8, so I did his wingman instead!
Stencils. A damn tedious job, made all the harder by Microscale not numbering the things, meaning I literally had to read each and every one under a magnifying glass to find which one I needed next. Not easy, with white writing on a shiny background. This took me a day and a half!
I decided I needed a bit more chipping, because the Pacific environment is extremely harsh, and aircraft get the crap knocked out of them. I did it with a Winsor and Newton 00 brush and Mr Hobby aluminium and steel paints. I did worry if I had gone too far, but reasoned it would all be knocked back under the rest of the weathering I had planned.
This weathering started with a coat of W&N’s UV matt varnish, followed by Mig Ammo’s Pacific dust wash, scrubbed all over, then streaked back before it had dried.
Then another coat of matt varnish, then more Pacific dust, but this time pin-washing it, concentrating on the panel lines and rivets.
Airbrushing the exhaust stains still scares me, because I am still wary of my lack of experience, and the potential of cocking it all up at this stage.
Some oil brushing next, with Ableitung oils, for the gun smoke and various oil and grease streaks.
Now we’re nearly there! Undercarriage fitted, and she can stand on her own two feet!
Just the nav lights and aerials to fit.