F4U-1A Part 4: More cockpit details

A bit more work on the cockpit.

First up is the chair mount. As rendered by Tamiya, it’s made up of solid triangles of chunky plastic, which provides good support for the chair, but isn’t especially accurate. This is probably a bit too deep into rivet counting nerdery for most, but I was interested in the challenge. This turned out to be easier than it looks.

After first measuring the apex of the triangle, that is to say, the point furthest from the bulkhead, I cut .030 styrene rod for the mount using the Chopper II to help keep lengths consistent and also to take advantage of the angle guides. A bit of blu tack holds the parts in place while I dab Tamiya Extra Thin.

After making each triangle structure, I connect them with more rod measured to the width of the chair. (I ended up deciding to go with the Ultracast. While the Eduard has the most character, the Ultracast just looks the most like the real thing.)

Once it was completed, it was time for surgery on the bulkhead. I nibbled the chunky triangles away with sprue cutters, and then filed the remainder. This left gaping holes, with I filled with styrene chunks and CA. You won’t be able to see it once the chair’s in, but it seemed worth it to take a minute to fill. The protruding top bars are anchored in holes carefully drilled into the middle of the molded on bracing. I’ll trim them to the exact length when I mount the chair, but first I’m going to paint everything separately. If I need to, I’ll add additional support at the bottom.

I have a reference that shows a lot of plumbing in the lower front bulkhead made from small gauge electrical wire and .3mm solder. This isn’t really all that accurate, but is more meant to be impressionistic, while also hiding the join with the foot trough assembly. 

Finally, I started painting the console. It needs a little tidying up here and there, but is starting to look okay. The Eduard PE really helps fill in some key details, like the spigot looking knobs on the port side, and much better wing folding and arresting hook controls (towards the back, both port and starboard sides). The cooling flap levers (red/yellow/yellow, lower left) are PE, but with knobs made up from build up thick CA.

I still need to add the document case on the starboard side, and I’m probably going to scratch build the manual bomb release, which goes to the left of the trim tab wheel on the port side. 

One thing that is sort of vexing, is the oxygen bottle. I had a really hard time masking, and then yellow isn’t the easiest color. It’s also not rendered correctly, in that it’s rendered molded into a panel on the console, where it should be strapped to the back bulkhead. I think I’m going to fix all these problems by just cutting it out, trimming the excess, and then adding straps and nozzle detail. 

F4U-1A part 3: cockpit details

Busy work + gnarly cold = slow progress. But I did manage to get some stuff in over the past week or so. 

Uncle Eduard helped fill in a lot of missing or poorly formed detail in the cockpit. 

The elevator tab wheel (at least I think that’s what it is) seems over scale, so I tried scratch building something a little smaller with punched styrene discs and a bit of lead wire. I’m going to try to smooth everything out with Mr Surfacer. 

I really like the detail on the Eduard instrument panel. It’s not super accurate for a Corsair, which had a relatively featureless IP, but I think I’m okay with that.

The base coat is Tamiya XF-69, NATO black, followed by Tamiya X-22 clear. Once that dried a bit, I did black oil wash around the bezels and a medium grey wash to pull out fastener detail. I still need to pick out buttons and add placards, etc.

Sitting on the ‘film’ with the actual instruments. I need to clean it up a little, but this just might work.

F4U-1A part 2: an experiment with soldering

The seat on a real Corsair was basically just a metal bucket. The pilot sat on his parachute for a “cushion.” So it follows that photo etched brass would make the basis for a reasonable facsimile. I have the kit seat, of course, and an Ultracast resin, but let’s see how the seat from the Eduard PE set builds out, while trying a new (to me) technique at the same time.

materials: iron, flux, solder, extra hands, and something to solder.

Continue reading “F4U-1A part 2: an experiment with soldering”

F4U-1A part 1: cowl flaps and control surfaces

“It was a wonderful weapon and we were delighted to get it”

I’ll start with the cowling, like everyone else does*

The kit cowl flaps are fine, but Corsair cowl flaps splay obscenely open, so we should get in up in there. Vector has a lovely resin set which also includes a cowl ring with ribbing detail.

The first thing is to cut the ring from the pour stub, which connects to the front of the ring. I used a Dremel with a cut off wheel for this, then a grinding bit to clear out the middle, sneaking up on the edges. 

Continue reading “F4U-1A part 1: cowl flaps and control surfaces”

F4U-1A preamble

This is the second part of project modeling the aircraft my grandfather flew in WW2. The first part, a 1/48 Tamiya F4F-4 representing his tour at Guadalcanal with VMF-121 and VMF-223 in the Fall of ’42, is documented here: http://cs.finescale.com/fsm/modeling_subjects/f/2/t/172718.aspx 

This time I’m doing the ubiquitous 1/48 Tamiya F4U-1A. Neither the actual airplane nor the kit requires any introduction, so we’ll skip. 

A bit of history

When VMF-121 returned stateside in early 1943, Joe Foss was given command of the newly formed VMF-115. My grandfather, Jacob Stub (pronounced “stoob”), newly married, and now a captain, joined him. 

After a tour at Guadalcanal flying Wildcats, the Corsair was a welcome upgrade. In Eric Bergurud’s definitive history of the air war in the Pacific, “Fire In The Sky”, my grandfather commented on the Corsair (while throwing shade at both the Navy and the Hellcat):

This was taken in Santa Barbara just before they shipped off. That’s Stub standing just to the right of the downward propeller blade. Foss, with the mustache and officer’s cap, is kneeling in the center.

(He’s just a kid. They all are.)

As they trained in California, the air war in the South Pacific was raging, with Greg Boyington’s VMF-214 in particular racking up impressive records and making headlines back home. The young men of 115 were probably expecting a brawl and more victories to with it. After all, at Guadalcanal Foss had bagged 26 planes in just a few months. In a Wildcat. My grandfather, only 4, but most of his first tour he was a wingman, which is a low scoring position. Imagine what they could get done with a serious fighter. 

But by the time they got back in theatre, the mighty Japanese base at Rabaul had collapsed, and the air war had moved on north and east. Professor Bergurud wrote me, “His second tour was on the Island of Emirau where he succeeded Foss as squadron commander. And like Foss, he never saw a Japanese plane during that time.” 

At one point, Charles Lindbergh came to Emirau as part of his famous civilian tour of the theatre to consult on adapting the Corsair to a fighter/bomber role. When I was a kid, his name came up once in front of my grandfather, who snorted and dismissed him as a ‘horse’s ass.’

(He was generally a generous and kind person, but could get a little salty after a few. )

Foss (L), Lindbergh (R)

One last thing. Here’s an excerpt from the VMF-115 war diary, dated 22 August 1944:

That’s the day my mother was born (international date line aside). I imagine him sitting on his parachute in his plane on the way to or from dropping that thousand pounder on the E. Young Plantation on New Ireland, knowing that he was due to become a father any day, while my grandmother was in labor 7500 miles away.

My plan is to try to build a Corsair from VMF-115 at Emirau as it would appear on the afternoon of August 22nd, 1944. To that end, I’ve collected references and a bunch of goodies. 

I understand that  the Tamiya kit can make an excellent build out of the box, but I have a  particular agenda here. I hope you’ll bare with me. Thanks for looking.