F4U-1A Post 20: More fuel cover hijinx, landing gear

We left off last time with fixing the big circular fuel cover in front of the windscreen. Even after everything, it still didn’t look right. So I sanded it back, filled with CA, sanded and primed, and filled, sanded, primed some more until the surface was baby butt smooth to give a properly clean canvas. 

But now it was looking a bit flattened off. Uh oh. Holding up a straightedge showed a flat area about .5mm/.125” deep extending maybe 2.5 cm/1”. So I filled with a couple sheets of .010 styrene, and then shaped that. A few more rounds of priming/sanding, I was ready to scribe the panel and punch rivets. The scribing went okay, but getting the rivets perfectly aligned in the circle was not. 

More filling, sanding, and priming. While I was at it, I also sanded off the side markings, wanting to get better ID numbers and to fix some little things with the insignia.

After trying everything I could think of in terms of jigs and paper guides, it finally occurred to me to try cutting a guide in vinyl with the Silhouette Portrait I recently got for cutting masks (among other things). I really, really wish I had taken a pic. I first scribed the outer circle using a metal template. Then, using the dimension of that circle, I created a template in Illustrator (which I’ve been using for work for 25 years, so it’s really fast for me—you could do this with the Silhouette software, I’m sure) and exported to the Silhouette plug in. 

2 minutes later, I had a perfectly cut guide in semi translucent vinyl, the exact size of the panel. Super easy to align. A few minutes with a beading tool and I had my rivets. Bang! I also used this to cut new masks for the ID numbers and insignia. 

I also filled and re-riveted along the nose, and finally attached the engine and cowling, which required still more filling, sanding and re-scribing. None of this is documented.

I know a lot of people say this is a shake and bake kit. And I believe them. But either I really suck at fundamentals of model construction (entirely possible) or we have really different standards for the level of finish and polish we’re looking for. Probably the former.

(You’d think I’d have taken a pic.)

I added Quickboost exhausts. In retrospect, I could probably have just thinned out the kit exhausts. Live and learn. Mr Surfacer 1500, followed by a thin wash of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown, then various pigments. The exhaust stain will get detailed with oils later, but I started it with Tamiya X-19 Smoke thinned 1:10 with Mr Leveling Thinner built up slowly, and masked just behind the raised panel step approximate 1/3 back from the leading edge of the wings.

And finally, I finally started the landing gear, which is the last major sub-assembly. One detail of note, is that Eduard supplies replacement PE for the scissor mechanism which has the virtue of including lightening holes. However, they have the wrong cross section, which should be quite hefty. My solution was to rough out the lightening holes in the kit struts, and then CA the Eduard pieces over. 

I’ve been trying to get into machining with a Taig micro lathe, so I thought I try milling them out as a learning exercise. This worked, kind of, but I’d have been better off just drilling them in the conventional way. I was hoping I’d have more control with the cross slide, but the area is just so tiny that it doesn’t really make a difference.

You can kind of see the finished result here. These are waiting for a wash and weathering. 

I’m also going to try to replicate the springs that run from the base of the support bracket up to just above where the hydraulic piston meets the strut. I’ve tried a few things as proof of concept, and think I can get close to the right scale diameter and tightness. Will report back on that.

And here’s the gang. Ultracast wheels got masks from the Silhouette. I tried masking the old fashioned way, and after spending 15 minutes trying to get a clean cut in Tamiya tape with a compass cutter, realized that this could be way faster. 3 minutes later, perfect vinyl masks. The tires are Tamiya XF-1 with a drop of XF-80 Light Grey. They’ll get a little XF-57 Buff, and then washes for hubs and diamond tire pattern.

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