F4U-1A Post 21: Odds and ends

The main struts, now with break lines, covers, and a dirty wash (Black Tamiya Panel Line Accent FTW). I also got the masks on the covers, cut with the Silhouette. 

Quickboost resin wheels. The rubber is approx 90% XF-1 to XF-2, followed with a light mist of Buff with a little black added. The treads and hubs then got Dark Brown Tamiya Panel Line Accent.

Starting to detail the panels on the wings: black for active panels (moving panels such as ailerons, or gun access covers) and a mix of dark brown and grey for passive joins. I’m trying to avoid the uniform, all over panel line effect. 

I’m almost ready to get a flat coat down, and then will start in with oils for more fading (esp the insignia, which are a bit hysterical at the moment) and grime. 

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.

F4U-1A Post 19: Remedial reworking/markings mkI

First up, the panel detailing on the forward top of the fuselage. In the process of cleaning up the seam between the two fuselage halves, the fuel tank cover got a bit chewed up. This is an area that is messy in a lot of people’s builds, so I was kind of going to let it slide, but as I get closer to finishing, it was standing out as a real weak spot. I also noticed that it should only have an inner ring of rivets, not both inner and outer as rendered by Tamiya, and was considering how to address that.

I’m using lacquers (MRP) to paint, which are very sand-able, so it’s easy to feather out and then blend back in, which means you always have a lot of control and it’s not a big deal to go back and fix things.

Here I’ve started sanding down and filling with CA. I was originally tried selectively re-scribing the lines and rivets, but it didn’t quite look right, and CA is hard to scribe with any control. I decided to wipe it out and start over. While I was there, I also noticed that the small square panel right behind the cowl isn’t shown on any reference I could find, so I deleted that as well.

My first attempt at a template for the rivets. The thing about this method is that it’s nearly impossible to line up precisely with the panel line. So, I filled again, this time with sprue goo, on the basis that it’s styrene, so it scribes well once it finally sets. 

In search of a more precise method, I got almost Budzikian with a plan to photo etch a template of the cover with rivet holes, which I would temporarily CA in place. My etching skills aren’t really dialed in yet, so that didn’t work. I eventually figured out that if you do the rivets first, it’s easy to line up the guide around them. 

Here’s the cover re-scribed cover. I had let the sprue goo set over night, but should have really given it more time because it was still a bit soft in spots. 

The end result*. I’ve got to go back and touch up a few spots—a bit of goo sitting proud that I didn’t quite catch around the starboard side, and then pocks where the styrene wasn’t quite ready to be worked. Even still, as is it’s way better than it was. 

But in the meantime, it’s time for markings! I do not like decals for insignia if I can help it. Here I’m trying Maketar masks. That ID number is too big. I later removed and used smaller. 

Here I’ve got the white bits masked, and am getting the insignia blue on. You can see the smaller ID number already on, but it’s not still not right—for one, the spacing should be tighter. 

This looks okay, but could look a lot better. I’d like to get closer to references (both shots from VMF-115). I have a plan. 

*not really. I redid this.

F4U-1A Post 18: Camo and chipping

In addition to faded camo, land based Corsairs in the South Pacific were notorious for heavily chipped paint, mostly due to the runways being surfaced with crushed coral, which would literally sandblast the leading edges. 

I wanted to try multilayer hairspray chipping, and also black basing, because why keep it simple when you can overcomplicate it? 

Start off with a layer of Alclad aluminum cover the areas I want to expose. Then decant a bit of Tresemme 3 (some people spray it right out of the can, but that freaks me out) and spray 3-4 light coats.

As soon as that’s dry to the touch, a thin coat of XF-4 for the zinc chromate. This is going to pretty much all be covered or stripped, so don’t get too fussy about it. 

Chips! Rubbing a wet brush on the areas you want to chip soaks through the paint and reactivates the hairspray, loosening chips of paint. If you’re super fussy, getting very specific effects take practice, but here I was just trying to get a general effect. 

That gets sealed with a varnish, in this case MRP matte, and then when that’s dry, another layer of black (for the black basing) under the camo color. I used X-18, semi gloss black because, and then remembered why I avoid it. (What’s wrong with that shade?)

Continue reading “F4U-1A Post 18: Camo and chipping”

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. 

F4U-1A Post 16: Flaps

One of the things that the Tamiya kit gets wrong, but in the ‘right’ way, is how they handled the flaps.  Dropping the flaps does lend a nice sense of animation to the F4U, and the way they engineered the details looks really good. The only problem is that land based Corsairs didn’t really ever seem to be parked with the flaps down in the South Pacific, probably to keep sand out of the works. 

Check out the weathering on the rudder!

Even the shot Tamiya based the box art for both the 1/48 and 1/32 F4U-1a has the flaps up. Ultracast makes a resin drop in replacement, but it isn’t really that hard to modify the kit flaps.

Here they are as they come. Note I’ve filled in the hole on the starboard inboard flap, as that wasn’t added until the dash 4. I just cut .040 styrene strip to size and then cemented in place. Later I’ll fill in any gaps with Mr Surfacer 500.

The first operation is to trim off the locating pegs. (What are they actually called?) Sprue cutters are super useful for nibbling.

File and sand down. You also have to trim off a panel from the smallest flap, and a hinge in the wing itself.

I worked my way in from the outbound most flap on the logic that fit issues would be more noticeable out on the wing than in the root. I did need to close a gap between the middle and inboard flaps. I cemented a bit of .010 styrene to the end, then trimmed and filed to shape.

Once all the flaps were installed and aligned, I daubed some 5 minute epoxy in the cavity for additional strength, since there weren’t any engineering features, such as the trimmed off locating pegs, left to reinforce them.

Finally, I cut strips of .005 styrene to represent the panels that cover the gaping openings between the leading edge of the flap and the trailing edge of the wing itself on the actual plane. I’m not really sure how these work, perhaps they slide into the wing prior to the flaps actually dropping?

Note the smear on the inboard port wing. That’s the remains of a sloppy glue fingerprint. On the inboard starboard wing, the hole got a lavish application of Mr Surfacer 500, which was allowed to dry overnight, and then sanded. 

I’m so close, yet still so far, from getting some paint on this. 

F4U-1A Post 15: remedial wheel wells, etc

In my excitement over detailing the business end of the wheel wells, I completely overlooked the other end. Holy smoke, that chasm is awful. The illusion of scale is at least as much about the worst bits as the best, and something like that will instantly kill any sense of veritas. 

Paul Budzick has almost completely scared me out of normal putties, so I first tried sliding in stock styrene, but that didn’t work. A much simpler method ended up being stuffing in some Milliput and smoothing out a little with my pinkie. I was later able to sand, and now it’s all smooth. I don’t have a pic of the end result handy, but it looks like it will be plenty convincing when it gets a coat of paint.

I’m a glutton for punishment, and so decided to drop the elevators. To separate them with that 90 degree angle in near each end, I first cut the long ends with a JLC razor saw, which is capable of extremely fine cuts (super handy! Via UMM), and then scored the short end and snapped. The elevators will get their leading edges built back up with .040 styrene strip, and then be filed and sanded to shape. More on that later.

One issue I have with the engineering of the whole turtle deck scheme is that it means there’s inevitably an awful gap between the bulkhead and the fuselage. To fill, I first used gap filling CA. But naturally, didn’t sand it all the way down quickly enough, so in the process of smoothing/flattening/feathering, I ended up gouging the bulkhead. To repair, first I tried vigorous filing and sanding. And then I slathered on Mr Surfacer 1000, and gently sanded and buffed, which helped. It looks miserable here, but in the end, it cleaned up okay. 

And here we are. Some Mr Surfacer 1500 for checking seams gives it a slightly charred look, but it’s starting to look a bit like an airplane. 

F4U-1A Post 14: The airframe

With the engine wrapped up, it’s time to finally turn my attention to the airframe. I got the fuselage buttoned up, which feels momentous. Huzzah! I had been holding off on that until completing the engine in case I had to do something surgical to mount it. As mentioned above, all that needed to happen was cutting off the flange on which the kit exhaust manifold part mounts and then filling in with styrene.

I’m not sure this is all that important, but to give more surface area to the connection point of the engine, I cemented .040 styrene sheet across the inside, and then .040 and .010 discs laminated together on top, so that it’s flush in front.

To fill in the void left by cutting off the rudder (way back in October!) I roughly cemented styrene sheet, and then filled in with Milliput. It’s going to take a bit of back and forth to get the rudder to fit in snug with the vertical stabilizer. 

I also got the some of the details picked out in the wheel wells to get the wing root subassembly ready. This looks pretty good from a distance, but the detail is a bit mushy up close from insufficiently controlled application of CA. I’ll probably try a wash and maybe a little chipping here and there to at least give the illusion of crisper detail. 

F4U-1A Post 13: Still more engineering

After checking the size of the Quickboost R-2800, the parts count for this build has ballooned a bit. Vector to the rescue!

Compared to the Tamiya engine, there’s just no comparison. 

Mr Surfacer 1500 prepares the surface while also temporarily giving the machine a fearsome Steampunk-Vader vibe.

The ignition ring gets a pass of Alclad Aluminum.

While we’re at it, the cylinders get a gloss treatment, courtesy of Tamiya X-22 clear gloss over the black, and then once that had a bit to settle in, Alclad Aluminum.

To prep for losing it’s all black bad-assery, I carefully masked the ignition ring with small bits of Tamiya tape. Now it looks a bit like an Elizabethan nobleman.

Mr Paint Neutral Grey, MRP-141, gives a pretty good gear reduction housing finish. I built up the color slowly in thin layers to hopefully give some depth and dimension to the finish.

The exhaust pipes get a light treatment of XF-64, Red Brown, allowing the black to sneak in here and there, and then a brushing of reddish oxide and umber pigment. These won’t be visible at all from the front, but hopefully there will be tantalizing glimpses through the open cooling flaps on the cowl. I’m not going to detail the back of the engine beyond this, since there will be literally no way to see it. 

Even this was probably overkill, but I used it as an opportunity to do a proof of concept for a potential future build I’m considering.

Assembled, posing with the Tamiya engine (top left) and Quickboost (right). I’m pretty happy with where we’re headed. There’s really no comparison at all with the kit engine, and while the Quickboost is really nice if small, the Vector is just that much nicer.

A note about assembly: I added the front row of cylinders first, placing and then gluing with a tiny dab of thin CA on the backside, where you won’t see any errant globs. 

The back row is a bit trickier because of the exhaust manifold. What I figured out is that it’s better to alternate cylinder/exhaust pipe and work your way around so you can make sure everything is aligned correctly before committing. The push rod procedure is the same as with the Quickboost (back in November).

Finally, with the harness on and a black wash. The harness is 0.010″ copper wire, annealed and then CA’d in place. This is fussy and time consuming, but not actually all that hard. The harness clips are wine bottle foil, trimmed into super thin strips, which get folded over the wires. I’m pretty happy with this.

F4U-1A Post 12: Wheel wells

The Tamiya kit offers rudimentary detailing, with the hydraulic cylinders and a simplified junction box. We could just weave in wiring around them, maybe drill out the cylinders to add the piston rods, but what would the fun be with that?

Instead, I scraped out the detailing, including the ribbing, with a Mission Models Micro Chisel (super useful tool) and a file.

I added back the ribbing with .020 x .010” styrene strip. For the junction, I took 0.020” rod and carefully glued it in an arrangement roughly approximating the prototype, with two bars, a spacer, and then a third bar.

I also scraped out four ribs on the interior sidewall and CA’d on a bit of wine bottle foil for the canvas access hatch. You can’t really tell in this pic, but I embossed dots around the ring to simulate buttons.

At this point, I added the outside sidewalls. [EDIT: this turned out to be not super thought through.] These don’t normally get added until you add the outer wings, but as far as I can tell, you can add at this point. The alignment is critical to getting the seam between the outer sidewall and the top, so I wanted to do when I had the most control and the fewest moving parts.

To make sense of the somewhat chaotic wiring, I color coded the lines in a shot of a restored F4U-1A. Apparently the wheel wells didn’t change much at all between the F4U-1 and the F4U-5, at least, so almost any reference you can find of almost any version will be generally accurate.

Starting to add wires. Looks pretty silly at this point, but the night is still young.

For the hydraulic cylinders, I used nested Albion aluminum tubing with thin strips of furnace tape (basically thick foil with adhesive backing—it comes in a roll like duct tape that will last a modeler literally forever) and then wire for the piston.

Final cockpittery!

I also finally assembled the cockpit—this felt a bit momentous to me. Before buttoning it up, I did fix the registration of the instruments in the panel. To affix the panel face back on on the instrument film, instead of using PVA glue this time, I painted the front of the film with Future. 

Reverse view, showing off the ‘famous’ belts.

I might actually start thinking about getting the fuselage together, though it might make more sense to wait until the engine is built, in case there’s any heavy modification required to get the engine installed. Speaking of, the Vector R-2800 is a project all on it’s own, but that’s for another day. At least its close to scale.