F4U-1A Post 31: Wrapping it up

And all at it once, it’s just about done. Feels like a regular Christmas miracle. (It actually would be done by Christmas, but I’m traveling this week… definitely before New Years.)

The forward mast had snapped off in The Incident, so I fabricated a new one from brass rod, basically following the Budzik protocol. Rigging is via EZ-Line.

The insulator off the rudder is Albion aluminum tube. The procedure was to CA the line to tubing which was inserted into a hole drilled behind the canopy. I then ran it through the insulating tube, CA’d to the rudder mast, then back through the insulator so both the feed and return feed through, and then finally to the forward mast. This was easier than it sounds.

The propeller is bugging me. I somehow and mysteriously lost the kit part, so this is a resin aftermarket Hamilton Standard really intended for F6F, etc. and the blades are a bit short for a Corsair. I didn’t quite place the HS logos quite right  (the one on the bottom blade… yikes) and just noticed. When I got a second copy of the kit after failing to scratch build the control surface detail, a new propeller came with it, so I’m probably going with that. 

Here’s the armored glass peeking out.

Just fixing the propeller and adding the pitot tube, and I’m calling it done. 

But, of course, finishing the darn airplane isn’t the end of the project…

F4U-1A Post 30: Bullet proof

I decided to scratch build the armored glass.

The part that comes with the kit isn’t accurate—it should only cover the top third or half of the windscreen instead of going all the way down—and besides, I dropped it in the cockpit, whereupon it fell through the open floor into the bowels of the fuselage.

This was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. There’s two things to deal with here: 1. the glass itself, and 2. the mount.

For the former, I took a bit of thin clear plastic from a package lid. The hard part here was getting it square. The way I did that was to cut one side, then get a 90 degree angle with a square so I had two edges that were perpendicular. From there, I could measure out my width and height. Getting a precise angle is going to be hard that small, so instead I measured how far in I needed the top to be, and then cut to that.

For the latter, I tried a few things, starting with trying to build up strip on the clear part, or just adding the cross brace perpendicularly to the clear part. This just ended up making a mess. What I finally did, was form two L parts with .020 styrene cut into thin strip. paint that, and then finally glue with Gator Grip. This actually worked pretty well. 

I let that cure over night (well, more like a week, what with work and life) and then used Gator Grip to attach it to the windscreen.

F4U-1A Post 29: Back on the horse

Looks okay. 

If you examine the wing very closely, the join line is a little more apparent on the port wing than the starboard, but it’s pretty close.

I tried a few things, including pinning with a bit of round brass stock, but I was having a hard time getting the holes lined up exactly.

What I finally ended up doing is taking some .040 styrene strip and cemented along the join on the inner side in a kind of tongue and groove situation so the outer wing would have more surface area to grab onto. Before mounting the outer wing, I reinforced the tongues (is that how you say it?) with 5 minute epoxy, to lower the risk that they would fall off.

F4U-1A Post 28: Two steps forward…


Two points: 

  1. The join to the outer wing is under-engineered
  2. I’m a klutz

This isn’t going to be that hard to fix, but it shouldn’t happen under normal handling. Just saying. Of course, someone pointed out that this join needs a bit of reinforcing and I ignored it. Lesson learned.

F4U-1A Post 26: A grab bag of Stuffs

Bench time has been even more sporadic than usual, so less procedure and more marking activities this time.

Re-did the bomb rack support bars with the next size down (.8mm) brass tube. Looks much more the part.

Painted and weathered the bomb, which also got PE fins from the Eduard set. The stencils are DIY decals. Note the mounting lugs.

Odds and ends… identification lights. Punched holes in Tamiya tape with a MicroMark punch set, then sprayed Tamiya transparent red, green, and orange, followed by a few coats of Aqua Gloss to make them feel lensy.

The building jig is a recent acquisition from a guy in the Ukraine who sells laser cut wooden modeling items. It’s weirdly useful. I’ll review it separately.

Landing gear on! Bomb and rack on! It’s looking kind of like an airplane.

Need to dirty up that propeller a bit.

I tried to do the gun port tape with painted decal stock, but couldn’t get it to work. This is Tamiya tape painted a light grey.

I wasn’t that fussy about placement, figuring the crews would kind of slap them on, but I’ll probably go back and them a little neater.

That cockpit is looking a little clean. Need to think about how to address that. Also need to get some better oil/fuel staining around the fuel cover.

The wheel wells are filthy.

Should be landing this pup soon…


Narrator voice: He won’t be.

F4U-1A Post 26: Anniversary Edition

Today marks the year anniversary of starting this build. I’m close, but there’s still a lot yet to do. I was hoping to finish by Labor Day. Then Halloween. Now I’m eyeingThanksgiving. 

At the end I’m going to try to recap, with an eye toward noting lessons learned. 

In the meantime, some gratuitous lathing with a file to contour the bomb to be a little less round in the end. 

F4U-1A Post 25: The Mighty Bomb Rack!

Tamiya molds the Brewster bomb rack as a single part, with big solid chunks that you embed into the bomb. I’m sure it’s very sturdy. 

However, it’s not very representational. The rack should feel spindly and crude. There’s a misconception that these were produced in the field by the ground crew, but that’s not the case—they were designed and built by Brewster, who were not exactly known for elegant design (the F2A Buffalo?).

I’m going to cut away the bomb holding chunks and replace with brass tubing.

We need to get a 1mm tube to bend tightly without crimping too much. The first step is to anneal by heating and gradually allowing to cool. 

Next, we need something inside the tube (this is called a mandrel in tube bending circles). 0.7mm lead wire will do, plus it’s easy to drill out after the bend.  Rolling with the  flat end of tweezers gets it nice and straight. (Hey look! Someone got a new cutting mat…)

The moment of truth. In the argot of pipe bending, a nail in a piece of scrap 2×4 is our bend die. A pair of 123 blocks are our compression die. You can see the lead wire mandril sticking out of the bent end.

The 123 (1” x 2” x 3”) are nice because they’re heavy and perfectly straight (more or less). I got them for my experiments in machining, but they come in handy for all kinds of things.

To cut, roll on a smooth surface with a sharp knife. Because it’s an odd shape, I have it hanging off the end of my bench.

I’m attempting the mounting holes seen in the reference pic. After locating the spot with a pin, drilled out in a drill press with carbide bits. You could probably do it with a hand tool, but this was quick and somewhat precise.

And the bars mounted. These are a lot better than the stock rack, but looking at it here, they’re definitely over-scale. Bother. Not sure if I’m going to redo with a slightly smaller diameter tube, though now I have the procedure down, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

I also added a few details to the main mounting part, including the fuse looking thing and rivets. These were done with Archer resin rivets. After getting a coat of primer on, the carrier film was a bit bunched here and there, so I scraped off and re-did with a beading tool.

F4U-1A Post 24: Weathering, mostly

Okay, so that was not a fruitful rabbit hole, and the worms in the can were rubbish. I’ll spare you the shenanigans, but I finally decided life is short and I kind of want to finish this build before I hit it’s year anniversary in mid-October. I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately, which makes bench time even more sporadic, so I’ll have to master the fine art of scratch building fabric control surfaces another time. 

I got another copy of the kit and started over with the rudder and elevators. Now that I had more clarity around how to approach this, cleaning these up was pretty painless. Reworking the tab actuators was also straightforward. For the small ones (left top and right bottom) I used PE from the Eduard set. For the large ones (rudder, top right and left bottom) I used thin copper wire with CA to build up the ‘elbow’ and section of the arm that goes into the tab. 

Oil paint weathering.  I need to get the cockpit a little filthier.

Windsor and Newton artist color titanium white with a little mineral spirits to further fade. A little grey and burnt ochre for grime and dirt. Filbert brushes FTW (will discuss in more detail another time).

The exhaust stains are interesting. The cooling panel directly aft of the exhausts folds out, creating a little ridge that blocks most of the fuselage, cutting the stain sharply.

The above reference has a lot of grime accumulating on the underside fuselage aft of the window. I may build up a bit more there. I did build up some general filth and spatters. The shell casing ports got a bit of diffuse darkening, which better matches what examples I’ve been able to find than clear streaks. The actual gun ports are going to get ‘taped’ over.

The only real construction project on this left is the bomb and rack. Will be working on that next.

F4U-1A Post 23: A can of worms in the rabbit hole

Rudder on with trim tab, PE actuator (via Eduard), scratch built fairing from .020″ rod, and rescribed panel. Also added copper wire for the long trim tab actuators on the elevators, which I had to cut when I removed from the horizontal stablizers. 

Looks okay. But after staring at reference photos for hours, neither the rudders nor elevators look quite right.

It’s hard to see with the black primer, but the ribs look a lot like the molded kit ribs, but not so much like a real Corsair, where they’re super thin:

I’m thinking the ribs might be better represented with bits of wire faired in with CA.

(The problem with references is you can’t unsee this stuff.)

Also, the elevators don’t quite line up. It’s not noticable except from below, but as long as I’m messing with them, the molded actuators are bugging me. On the prototype, they have a really distinctive angle shape:

I reckon fixing the rudder (again) and elevators will make for a fun weekend activity…

F4U-1A Post 22: Into the rabbit hole!

Before we move on, it’s a quick trip back into the rabbit hole! 

Somehow the rudder antenna mast broke off. Rather than craft a new one from styrene, I decided to machine one from brass (I’m learning how to use a micro lathe, so am always looking for opportunities to play). 

First I turned to the diameter, then filed to shape. (I’m not yet very proficient with the lathe, so this took a few tries.)

I drilled a hole and CA’d in. Black rubber infused CA from Bob Smith to fair over. 

But after all this messing about with the rudder, I’ve lost pretty much all the ribbing detail, and the trim tab actuator is a bit mushy.

Silhouette to the rescue! Kind of. I traced a blue print of the rudder in Illustrator. 

I didn’t want to blow through too much styrene messing about, so cut .015 evergreen sheet bit shallow, but then was able to use the Silhouette cut lines as a guide to cut out with a knife. 

I filed the rudder part smooth, and then glued on the ribbing with Tamiya Extra Thin. Here we are starting to shape the new detail. This got further refined, along with fixing some of the soft lines in the profile (under the lip in front, above the trim tab, and there’s a flat spot behind the arial. 

That’s alls I got. I’m really looking forward to moving on to proper weathering, so hopefully will not let myself get too distracted with these tangents. (There is that bomb rack…)