F4U-1A Post 17: navigation lights/primer

First up is the navigation lights, which come molded into the wing. On the real thing, they’re clear with a colored bulb, so faking it out won’t really work. Snip, snip.

I first tried taking a length of clear sprue, filing flat on two sides at 90 degrees, drilling a hole, which I filled with Tamiya X-25 or 27 clear. That worked, kind of. Clear sprue looks okay but is so brittle that it’s hard to work with. 

To affix, I tried UV glue. It’s basically like epoxy, drying completely clear, except that it cures from ultraviolet light. It’s strong, but brittle. Every time I tried to clip off the excess sprue, I’d break it off. 

Eventually I got smarter and used shorter bits, but I kept cracking the part as I filed to shape. After two full sessions of this, I got even smarter and remembered that I had .030 clear poly, which is not brittle and turned out to be way easier to work with. The problem was that it was a little thinner than the wing, but UV glue came to the rescue, because you can build it up like gap filling CA, except that it won’t fog the plastic. 

Here we are, filed to shape, It looks miserable now, but hang on a second.

Here it is, polished and nice. It still needs another pass before it’s completely shiny, but you can see where this is headed.

Now we’re ready to prime. I’m giving Mr Surfacer 1500 a try.

Naturally, after working on the navigation lights for four or five hours, I forgot all about masking them, and only remembered when I had to clean up an airbrush “burp.” The only way I could think of to do it was to mask around, then paint on micro mask. 

Then I remembered that I forgot to attach the spoiler. In cleaning it up, it flew off into the alternate universe where small styrene and metal parts go to be free. I took a bit of styrene L bar, and trimmed/filed to shape, getting the interior profile with a round jewelers file. I have references that show these in slightly different places—somewhere between 8 inches to a foot and a half outboard of the guns. I reckon they were probably just unscientifically riveted on wherever in that area.

Finally, and at long last, primed. Mr Surfacer 1500 is really lovely, if a bit unforgiving. But that’s a good trait in a primer. If you can get the finish looking tolerable, it will probably be okay. 

 But this is just the beginning in a way. I’m just about 6 months into a build that seems to take most people a couple of weeks. Part of that is that I don’t get much bench time, and part of that is that I’ll let myself get distracted by things like scratch building barely visible oxygen bottles. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *