Worst of the Best? Or: How i rescued a discarded model from certain destruction (Tamiya F4U-1D, 1/72nd Scale)
When was the last time you saw someone build a Brewster Corsair?
The story of this model begins in failure. I had gotten this model almost ready for the “Fiddly Bits” in 2004 when it suffered a catastrophic structural failure at the wing-fuselage joint. I don’t know exactly why it happened, but the over wing-fuselage interface is the structural weak link in the 72nd scale Tamiya kit.
So the model languished for about 2 years or so while i turned to other projects. I couldn’t quite bring myself to ditching this model, but what to do?
I remembered seeing a left-hand profile shot of a Brewster F3A-1 in the Detail and Scale book, assigned to MCAS El Toro in overall Gloss Sea Blue. I figured if i could get the paint sanded off it might stand a chance of getting finished with a simple, conservative paint scheme. So, i went to work sanding the model back down to bare plastic and prepping it for a re-paint.
I also figured it would be a good opportunity to try working with metals for antenna posts as well as incorporate some new details i had blown off when i originally assembled the model (2001). My very first (pathetic) attempt at a antenna post on the rudder is seen here.
Here is a shot where you can see the socket i made for the forward antenna post. This was a piece of K&S Aluminium tubing i bored out and then crushed into an oval shape. Glued it in with super glue and then took some rather aggressive sanding sticks to it in order to make it flush.
Visible in the next two shots you can see the additional mods i made to the kit; Booster tab actuators, clear wingtip lights, and little windows in the leading edges for the Gun Camera and LSO line up/ angle of attack light.
And with that done it was ready for paint. I started off by priming the model overall with Testors Yellow Zinc Chromate. i was curious to see if the underlying green colour affected the chroma of the overlying Sea Blue Paint (it didn’t). Up to that point i felt that a Sea Blue model looked too dark in 72nd scale and this was the first of many iterations trying to find a GSB i’m happy with.
i built up the gloss sea blue coverage very gradually, allowing the model to dry several days between coats. What i don’t remember is if i used Model Master Gloss Sea Blue, or Non Spec Sea Blue. At any rate you can see how the first coat went on flat.
i stuck the prop, cowling, and landing gear struts on for this pic, because it looked cool.
One of the common problems with decal sheets is the use of an ivory-coloured off white for US National insignias. I was less than impressed with the Tamiya decals, so after the insignias had been applied , bombed with setting solution, glossed over, etc, i carefully masked off the stars and over painted the decals with MM Flat White. Definitely an improvement as you can see here.
in this shot, the decals are on, stars over painted, and a wash has been applied over the model. One advantage of wet sanding the model down is it reduced the prominence of the Tamiya recessed panel lines. They can look overly deep on a gloss blue model.
This F3A was rode hard and put away wet. Another distinctive feature of the F4U Corsair Family was the extensive use of fabric covering on the wings and tail. i wanted to add some visual interest to the model, so i masked off the fabric areas and overpainted them with Future, to which a small amount of Tamiya Flat Base was added. You have to look closely but you can see a subtle difference. Opinions vary as to whether its strictly realistic but it makes an otherwise monotone aeroplane look more interesting.
Here the model is very close to completion. The antenna posts were made from a piece of K&S Brass Rod, filed flat to a (sort of) aerofoil shape. These brass antenna masts are very rugged and not brittle like the ones contained in the kit. The wing walk ways were masked off and spryaed with a very dark gray, and the worn off spot welds were depicted with a (sharp) Prismacolor silver artists pencil, then sealed down with some Future and Tamiya Flat base.
And here you see the finished model. This was one of my first attempts at digital photography as well as editing, and i manipulated the images as best i could to make the model look less black.
The Brewster F3A is the “Forgotten Corsair”. Largely ridiculed and despised by those who chronicled its history and flew it, the “Brewster Battler” played an important, if largely forgotten role in training Naval and Marine Aviators so they’d by ready to perform when they got the Top-of -the-Line Corsairs from Vought and Goodyear.
But thats another story.