Tamiya F4U-1A, 1/32. 'KD431'

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    Harvey R. said 4 weeks ago:

    Not to jinx myself but another year has been survived, so as a reward (plus with help from Santa, of course) a new model has landed in my lap. It would be rude to not start it!

    This is Tamiya's 1/32 Corsair. 1/32 is an Alien scale to me and I already feel like I want to run back to the familiarity of 1/48, but I'm sure I can manage. Naturally we have a huge amount of detail along with a huge box, but being a Tamiya kit the fit should be perfect. The kit comes with a lot of sprues so I won't be taking sprue shots, we also get two bits of unpainted PE, a wheels up option (I wish 1/48 had this), two figures included a seated pilot with an oxygen mask (I wish 1/48 had this), as well as some clear pieces for the engine which we will forget about. Rubber wheels too, interesting.

    The Subject - KD431

    Along with this big chunk of plastic I have a book, 'Corsair KD431: A Time Capsule Fighter'. No prizes for guessing what the model will be of, but yes KD431 will be the end goal. Whilst it does admittedly hurt to take such a big kit and not paint it in the US tri-colour, hell to take the kit and paint it in just Sea Blue is a shame, KD431 offers a lot of opportunity for interesting painting.

    A little bit of history, KD431 is one of two Corsairs in Britain and the only Fleet Air Arm of 2,012 received that survives today. It was completed in August 1944, with its first flight being recorded in logbooks as 22 August. It was then shipped over to Renfrew, Scotland before being attached to 1835 Sqn at Eglinton, Northern Ireland in January 1945. During this year RNAS Eglinton was focused on training up squadrons in preparation for the invasion of Japan, and in July 1945 1835 Sqn was instructed to prepare for deployment to the Far East.

    In August 1945, just as the squadron was preparing to leave, the war ended of course. KD431 being on dry land was saved from being one the Corsairs pushed overboard to avoid being part of the bill the government would pay for lend-lease. In September the aircraft was transfered to 768 Sqn, being used to practice deck landings until the end of the year. At some point in early 1946 the aircraft was sent to a holding yard in Scotland awaiting scrapping, but was saved when Cranfield College of Aeronautics with its strong links to the FAA and RAF required a modern aircraft with power-folding wings as a study-aid for students, and thus KD431 cheated the chopping block and was used here until 1963.

    Now here is a story too good to not tell, whilst KD431 was never flown nor was the engine ever run during this time, it did manage to make a short trip when students decided to wheel the aircraft under the cover of night to the local pub as an end-of-term prank. This caused a stur of amusement in the village, and more importantly a certainly unique location for an airplane to visit.

    The aircraft was coated in a thick, shiny, not original paint scheme in 1963 and it was set to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, starting in 2000 a restoration project begun that had a different goal to most aircraft restorations. Rather than make it look good, the aircraft had each layer of paint removed to bring it back to how it would have looked on 1946. Scratches and oddities were retained, showing off the history of the aircraft. To me, this looks like an opportunity to do a very weathered and unique model.

    Now there was previously a bit of debate on what type this Corsair is, but that's been solved by now. Generally the key identifier for a F4U/FG-1D is the twin pylons on the underbelly, as well as rocket mounts on the wings but those aren't present on British Corsairs. The thing is a lot of changes went on with the Corsair over its lifespan, and whilst the -1D had some larger changes there's clearly some stepping stones.

    The overall blue scheme is often incorrectly used to identify the late -D model, but this started being applied in April 1944. September 1944 was when the -1D started to be produced by Goodyear, meaning some -1As were sent in the sea blue. It seems the majority of not all went to the Brits or Kiwis.

    KD431 has the R-2800-8W engine. Previously it was thought this was introduced with the -1D, this engine has a water injection system that the earlier Corsair lacks. Was KD431 a lucky one off? Probably not, it can be assumed the very last -1As produced by Goodyear had this engine as Vought was making -1Ds already, but how many is unknown and hasn't seemed to be mentioned at all..

    The canopy used is the -1A style of canopy with the bars rather than the 'blown' canopy of the -1D. There was a period of time where -1Ds were made using this canopy to deplete remaining stocks, but the majority did not.

    The cockpit itself is a mix-match of -1A and -1D switches, some parts not present on a -1A can be found. Some British stuff is also chucked in too, making things a little strange here.

    Finally, KD431 very unhelpfully lacks a manufacturer's plate in the cockpit which would identify it, though one plate is stamped with 'FG-1B'. The -1B isn't an 'official' version, but was used to denote the ones going to Britain to aid with factory logistics. Manufacturer plates in the outer folding wings (assembled and painted elsewhere by Briggs Industries) are stamped with FG-1B and 'BRIT', obviously marking the difference here of the wing being clipped.

    So this brings me back to the kit. For KD431 I had to make a choice and I went with the F4U-1A set. The kit comes with parts with an A or D cockpit, but the -1D set only comes with the incorrect 'blown' canopy which would be a big discrepancy if I'm trying to be accurate. However, during the -1A production the landing light was changed from a large lamp under the left wing to a small light in the leading edge and as such the wing is wrong for KD431 being a late production aircraft, but this is certainly the easier fix. It's worth noting that the F4U-1 set comes with some unlisted tiny niche parts to make an F4U-2, despite not including the radome for that version. Maybe this set as some little secret parts hidden on some sprue, who knows?

    As a side, the book is very good and goes into excruciating details about the restorations efforts. That being said it does annoy me how many black and white photos are used, original period photos aren't the issue but rather photos taken after 2000 but printed in black and white to save printing cost. I'd rather have paid more to see exactly what the caption is describing.

    As I was typing this the postie came, we now have some paint masks. Including some stencil masks by 1ManArmy. KD431 has a lot of stencils that are faded or have been put on twice, so decals wouldn't have worked out amazingly. This set does have stars and numbering for 2 of the 3 included kit schemes, and a different VF-17 scheme rather than the 'Big Hog' included in the box.

    Starting the Build

    Unsprisingly, the cockpit comes first.

    Step 1 and 2 simply starts with the side consoles, with step 3 moving onto attaching parts to the forward bulkhead.

    The piece was assembled and painted silver, then interior green. Originally I intended on chipping but then looking closely at photos it can be seen that there isn't much chipping here outside of the pedals, stick, and the foot plates.

    On the right console is a map bag, for whatever reason KD431 has not got this and instead has a flare gun pouch. This is different to normal, the flare gun would be put into a holder pointing down to the floor normally. This may be a modification to all FAA aircraft from the factory, it may be one done to this individual aircraft during or post-war, there just isn't any information about other FAA Corsairs regarding this. This was made using styrene sheets, the pouch was mad by taking the pistol holster for the included figure and removing some details, and some random rods I had will make a budget set of flares.

    The chair was assembled and went under quite an intense regime. The seat will be one of the more noticeable features in the cockpit so I wanted to get it right. This seat is not original to KD431 and the original may not have been present when the aircraft was at Cranfield. Either way, whilst it has the correct seat for some reason it is in black which is not correct to the original.

    First it was sprayed silver, then chipping fluid was brushed on (trying the brush for the first time, no complaints so far). Interior green was then sprayed on and chipped, and finally this was repeated and black was chipped. Quite a bit of work for a chair! PE seatbelts are included with the kit, but the photos don't show this plane having them at the moment so I'll leave them out.

    The rear bulkhead is also put together around this time, but needs some more detailing. Seemingly the oxygen bottle is not present on KD431 either, but this would be attached to this part in a normal build. Obviously this may be different now as the photos in the book seem to be from 2006, but hey.

    The fuselage has become to have some work, I'll go onto this a bit more when I get to it but it was first sprayed with XF-4 which is a Zinc Chromite colour, and then the interior green was applied. Again, I was intending to chip this but the amount of chipping I'd actually need to do is so minimal I might as well brush paint it. Bits and bobs have been assembled to the cockpit side walls but need painting by brush.

    The instrument panel comes in 2 parts, a decal is placed on the rear of the clear piece and then the clear piece goes onto a regular plastic frame. The frame was painted black and dry brushed with a tiny bit of grey and silver for some interest. The consoles also got this treatment, and any buttons were painted the correct colour to KD431 photos in either silver, black or red. A few buttons were chopped off if not present. If I want the bonus points I'll try and make the compass below the instrument panel, possibly an FAA edition, as well as a some of bits here present on the -1D cockpit but not included in the -1A kit.

    And that's about that for so far. Hoping to get the cockpit all glued up later. Some decals do need to be placed around too.

    6 additional images. Click to enlarge.

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    John vd Biggelaar said 4 weeks ago:

    What an excellent Santa gift, Harvey @scalerambush
    KD431 did have a very interesting story, even being a sort of pub guard.
    Those paint masks will definitely be useful for this build.
    You clearly made a good start already on the interior.
    Looking forward to the rest of this build.

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    Erik Gjørup said 4 weeks ago:

    Great start.

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    Stephen W Towle said 4 weeks ago:


    What a great way to educate people in showing that not all aircraft served under one flag. The hardware has a history with other allied nations and pilots. The Brits taught the U.S. Navy how to use the Corsair on carriers. The Navy thought of the Corsair as unsuitable for carrier use, while the Marines took to them like ducks to water on land. The Brits would fly the aircraft onto the deck using a circular landing approach. Chance Vought, did some more mods and the rest is history. Looking forward to following this build.

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 4 weeks ago:

    Amazing start indeed, my friend @scalerambush! What a superb interior!

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    George R Blair Jr said 3 weeks, 6 days ago:

    What a great present from Santa, Harvey (@scalerambush). The interior looks awesome. The extra work on the seat has created a really great effect. I want to try the two applications of the chipping fluid after I find something appropriate for the effect. Looking forward to your use of the masks for the stencils (I was going to say the stencils for the stencils, but that wouldn't make sense). I have seen these and wondered how they worked. Great start to the New Year.

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    Harvey R. said 3 weeks, 5 days ago:

    Thank you all! I have used two part chipping fluid before on some earlier Corsairs, it can be a bit thinnicky to get to work well but can come out nicely with a bit of luck. I'll be doing something similar on the paintjob later, but I'll do it a bit different to the seat to get a smoother end result which is more important on the exterior.

    Interior Construction

    The cockpit was finally put together.

    Again, no seatbelts used because I don't see them in photos nor was the oxygen bottle added. One decal behind the seat was added and sprayed over but unfortunately I sprayed too much so its less visible than I'd like.

    The tailwheel bay is an interesting one, or frustrating one. No one thought to take a photo up into it so I can't see for certain what colour it should be here. Online I've seen a lot of debate between Zinc Chromite/Interior Green/Sea Blue, some go as far to say that Vought would use Interior Green here after the overall Sea Blue was introduced (Zinc Chromite before this), and Goodyear would always just use the underside colour, I've also seen people claim that Goodyear always painted their undercarriage in the underside colour whereas Vought painted them in silver lacquer.

    I think we as modellers, and historians do this too, like to look for the answer. We like to think that 'X' was done a specific way always. There's always opportunities for things to change, and as we'll see later on KD431 has some weird quirks that you'd not expect to see if you assume things were always done one way.

    Eitherway, we can clearly see the undercarriage is Sea Blue. We can see the main gear bays are Sea Blue. We can't see inside the rear, at least I can't find a photo of it, so I'll assume this was Sea Blue. Whether Goodyear always did this as per Internet rumours is a different subject and I very much doubt someone has seen every single Goodyear corsair to verify this, but no matter.

    To make things a bit more interesting I painted the rear in the XF-4, applied some chipping fluid via brush, and then applied MRP Sea Blue. I chipped this slightly, it makes things a little more interesting though let's be honest it won't be visible in the future. The main gear bays show a similar effect to this.

    Next is to finish the cockpit sidewalls. I have jumped ahead a bit and done a few bits with the wings and initial work on the engine, nothing major to report here yet though just the groundwork.

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    John vd Biggelaar said 3 weeks, 5 days ago:

    Beautiful work on the interior, Harvey @scalerambush
    Regarding the tail wheel bay, I think you are absolutely right. Very plausible to state the tail whee bay has the same color as the main whee bays. I think you are safe to go like you did with the Sea Bue.

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 3 weeks, 5 days ago:

    Love your cockpit, my friend @scalerambush! Great approach to color shades!

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    Harvey R. said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Hey all, few more bits done.

    Assembling the Fuselage, Starting the Wings

    With the cockpit and wheel bay done the fuselage was assembled, the time consuming part of this was scraping down all the bulkheads and such to get a clean glue bond. Generally the fuselage went together okay but I was having trouble with the tail, after squeezing it for a while a large click was heard and everything was set in place properly, there's a lot going on in that tail so whilst it looked fine clearly something wasn't right. I tied it all up with tape, put a clip on the tail, and put tamiya extra thin down the seam line. Generally it doesn't seem too bad now I've sanded it but I'll probably give it a bit of filler just in case.

    Next up was the wings, this starts off with the oil and water coolers which consist of 3 plastic parts and 3 photo etch pieces. There's nothing really interesting going on here in photos, no weathering of note but I've sprayed them sea blue now so I don't have to worry about getting deep in the corners once everything is assembled.

    Then the time came to decide whether I was going for wing folded or not. I was tempted to do the one wing folded seen in photos but I wasn't a huge fan of how lobsided it makes it look, either way I wasn't paying enough attention to the instructions which flip the piece so when I glued on the piece that looks like it's for the left wing (which would have been unfolded either way) it was actually the right wing, which solves that issue really.

    I've seen some folks make delicate art in this part, but really painting it early just causes pain when gluing. Either way for the wheel wells I've gone for the zinc chromite interior which will be chipped through sea blue, which I can see in a few pictures. As for the radiators and such, we can see sea blue here. The cockpit will be interior green which I need to paint in of course.

    For a bit of test fitting I put it all together, it fits nicely without issue. I've seen this model be done with the wings and fuselage painted seperately, which definitely would be nice and handy to do it that way. Unfortunately there is one seam that'll need to be filled in right by the flaps when joining these pieces, everything else is along panel lines.

    Next up is to get the sea blue and chipping on the wheel wells, once that's done it can be put together.

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Superb progress and equally superb details, my friend @scalerambush!

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    John vd Biggelaar said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Great progress, Harvey @scalerambush
    Looks like she is going to be a big girl.

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    Harvey R. said 3 weeks ago:

    A little bit more work done to the model, finishing off that section of the wing.

    The Wing

    First step was to get some colour on those wheel bays whilst it was easy now, so using the same method as the rear wheel bay this was painted in XF-4 Zinc Chromite, then chipped fluid was applied with a brush, and then the MRP Sea Blue was added. Of course MRP being a lacquer makes it quite hard to chip but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, though when it comes to the exterior I'll have to do the paintjob in sections in order to make it manageable.

    Compared to the reference image it is a bit more weathered, but not too much to be an unreasonable attempt. The book notes that due to layers of oil and grime in the wheel well that the original paintjob is in a decent condition comparatively.

    The cockpit section was painted interior green. Being the F4U-1A model the instructions state to put the clear glass panel in the floor, but as I've mentioned in previous threads this was not popular/useful so was often either overpainted or replaced with metal in the field. By the time we get to 1944, F4U-1A production had replaced the glass with metal for a long while so KD431 unsprisingly lacks it. Thankfully this part in plastic (which is very slightly different due to rivet details, not enough to be really noticeable) is among those which are on the sprue so by checking the F4U-1D instructions on scalemates.com I could easily find the right part. Furthermore a brace that is inside the cockpit is not used when the glass panel isn't there. Eitherway seeing the cockpit floor is very difficult even without a pilot which is why I admittedly got lazy and didn't remove the ejector-pin marks, though the 9 circles on the metal plate where the glass would go are correct.

    Unsurprisingly with all the options in this kit you can have flaps up or down, this changes some internal pieces in the wing relating to those little aerodynamic flaps that move to create a smooth airflow under the wing when the flaps are up, and then raise into the wing out of the way when the flaps are down.

    Also of note is this plane can be built wheels up, which my inner 1/48 builder is exceedingly jealous of. This is done with replacement parts that as you can see fit very well, and these will be blue-tac'd in place while painting the exterior to prevent overspray and the such. Right now they do fit very snug and won't fall out without a lot of force.

    Next is working on the folding wings, some problems arise here with various holes and such being drilled, but I'll come onto that later.

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    Tom Cleaver said 3 weeks ago:

    This is looking like a very interesting project, @scalerambush. You'll definitely have a very out-of-the-ordinary result!

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    John vd Biggelaar said 3 weeks ago:

    Excellent work in progress, Harvey @scalerambush.
    Some great research as well.

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