Profile Photo
Tom Cleaver
922 articles

For those who can’t afford the big Tamiya – try the 21 Century Toys Corsair

August 3, 2013 · in Aviation · · 12 · 2.1K

Here is the -1A , done as Ike Kepford's VF-17 F4U-1A, and another one modified with the Montex conversion set to do an anonymous Marine F4U-1 "birdcage" circa the Rabaul campaign in late 1943.

Originally priced at $10 at Walmart, the 21CT kit can still be found for less than $20 at eBay. Outline wise, the kit is quite accurate (moreso than the Trumpeter kit) and the cockpit gives you what you basically need. The one failure is the landing gear, since it was supposed to be able to be folded. The forward door and the area of the well need re-shaping.

Also, the outer wings do not have sufficient dihedral. However, if you take a piece of plastic sheet about the thickness of a credit card and run it along the lower center wing joint, it will provide the necessary dihedral. Since you'll already be using lots of putty and sanding sticks to smooth over the holes for the screws on both the fuselage and the wing, this extra bit of filling/sanding/re-scribing will be hardly noticeable.

I used the Eduard photoetch interior for the instrument panel and seatbelts, and an out-of-production aftermarket Aeromaster decal sheet for the Kepford Corsair, an Eduard cockpit and Montex conversion for the F4U-1 with decals from the dungeon. I would suggest now that you get the Scale Aircraft Conversions metal landing gear, since it will be correct in its geometry.

Even if you do all this: kit for $20 on eBay, Eduard set for around $25, decals from eBay for around $15, you're only hitting $60 total, which is one-third the price of the big new Tamiya Corsair. The surface detail on the 21CT kits is heavier than what you find on the Tamiya kit, but after looking closely at these two models when I was out a Chino today, I can say that with a good paint job and weathering, the 21CT kit can sit next to the new Tamiya uberkit and give it a run for its money in a contest.

If you want a big Corsair, these kits make up better in looks and accuracy than the Trumpeter or the Revell F4U-1A kits.

BTW - there was a recent extended discussion at the World's Most Wonderfullest Model Site about whether it would be accurate to display the Tamiya Corsair with wings folded and flaps dropped, with a considerable body of opinion that it looked cool to do that but wasn't right. This morning at Chino, the Planes of Fame Corsair was sitting on the tarmac with wings folded and flaps dropped - so it can indeed be done.

Reader reactions:

18 additional images. Click to enlarge.

12 responses

  1. I have to admit I like your approach here. Nicely done Corsairs.

  2. Well Tom, hats off to you! I had never thought of re-making one of the 21st Century Toys models but you've just proved it can be done and with great results. Thanks for sharing. All the best.

  3. Nice to see another 21 century corsair built- need to do mine soon. By the way the flaps discussion- or mine at least was that for F4U-1, 1A and 2 models, flaps would not be dropped on a parked airframe unless hydraulics were disabled. Equally for wings folded. I have one picture of a vf-17 f4u-1 with the tail raised by a deck crane with flaps dropped (osprey corsair aces book) so I will do my tamiya -1 with flaps down.

  4. By the way, the 21c cowl is undersized as on the trumpy kit.

    • Actually, according to several sources, the 21CT cowl is a good replacement for the Trumpeter kit if you're building it.

      • Its a great replacement because the shape

        Is a bit better and the cowl flaps look right. The cowl diameter still doesn't match the diameter of the fuselage-just like the trumpeter kit. I tried enlarging the trumpy -1a/d cowl to the right diameter and it worked, but the cowl lip does not have the right curve in profile to start with. I got it looking okay with cowl flaps I made. I will use the spare clear cowl from the tamiya I was lucky to get as a gift to complete the trumpy kit, and use my remastered trumpy cowl at some point too. Sadly the vector replacement cowl is the same incorrect smaller diameter as the trumpy and 21cent cowls. The revell cowl is the right diameter and shape, but new cowl flaps would need to be made.

  5. Would anyone happen to have a 21CT kit they aren't using, that they could cut loose of the cowling and flaps? I used those from a third kit for the second model, and if I could lay hands on the cowling and flaps, I could turn that last one into an FAA Corsair II.

    Actually if someone has the entire kit they don't want, let me know.

  6. great job on both

  7. "master-builder" Mr. T. Cleaver ..My Dad just saw #576 and said .. "MY GOD .. there it is .. the exact bird I had at Munda in '43 .. of course a different # ! Give Tom a "well done" on that one ! " Thought you would want to know .. GREAT models, ALL !

  8. A little added info .. he flew with VMF 215 !

  9. Nice model Tom.

    Picked up one of these kits after seeing this article. Unfortunately I got two port inner wing sections in the box, rendering my kit unbuildable. Will keep the decal sheet and figure and toss the rest, unless anyone wants some spares?

    • If you have a Trumpeter F4U-1A/D, the engine and cowling of this 21CT kit is better, as is the cockpit. So you can use it as parts that way. The company managed to be their own worst enemy with the later production of these kits.

Leave a Reply