Tamiya’s 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair - by Ron O'Neal

Tamiya’s 1/32 Birdcage Corsair is superbly engineered and detailed – a real joy to build. I tried a few new techniques that I picked up from both armor and aircraft modeling forums, and from the excellent How To Build Tamiya’s 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair by Marcus Nicholls. Roy’s Rants blog provided interesting insight into weathering characteristics of these land based Corsairs. These particular planes operated in one of the harshest climates an aircraft could be exposed to, offering unique opportunities to experiment with weathering techniques.

The chipping effect on the wing roots, and on the cockpit seat, was done with the hairspray technique. For the wing root, I sprayed Tamiya Silver decanted from the spray can, followed by a coat of hairspray, also decanted to the airbrush. Hairspray is interesting stuff – it sprays just like an acrylic clear, and dries smooth and hard. Tamiya acrylic yellow Zinc chromate was next, followed by hairspray. Once the hairspray was dry, I applied the blue topcoat. You can tape over the surfaces and the paint won’t lift. And – the hairspray has no effect on the look of the surface, so if you decided not to chip, you could leave as is. When it was time to start chipping, I took a fairly stiff, worn brush, wet with water, and gently rubbed the paint. The water softens the hairspray, and the more you scrub, the more paint comes up.

I added a good bit of extra detail to the cockpit, most of which is visible on the finished model. To adjust for a scale effect, I mixed up a lighter ‘interpretational’ shade of dull dark green for the cockpit color. The lighter shade balances out in the dark recesses in the cockpit. I did away with the dark wash, and instead used a light dusty oil wash. It’s opposite of what’s normally done, but provides an interesting “counter shade” effect. Roy’s superb cockpit decals were used throughout, and delivered a heightened sense of realism difficult to achieve with just a brush.

The Barracuda engine detail set and wheels were essential additions. Both were outstanding – a study of the layered detail in the wheel hubs highlights the incredible quality of Roy’s products.

I started with a thin coat of Tamiya lacquer primer as a basecoat, and then applied very thin, almost translucent layers of paint, building color slowly. I used progressively lighter, washed out shades of blue and grey to break up the finish. The lighter shades were squiggled randomly over the surface, and used as accents along panel lines. As soon as the paint was dry, I applied the decals right over the paint, without a clear gloss undercoat. Once the decals were settled in and dry, I spritzed them with semi flat lacquer. There are no clear coats on the model, except for on top of the decals. The “no clear coat” technique has transformed the way my models look. The finish looks “in scale”, allowing subtle weathering effects to show through. I learned this technique from a superb modeler at the 2012 Nationals.

Weathering was done mostly with oils. I spattered various light grey and dust shades, and blended them in. Heavier oil staining was done around the engine, using black oils. Fuel streaking and oily grunge were done with a mix of brown and black oils. Panel washes were done in specific areas, primarily to emphasize access panels. Heavier applications were done on panel lines where oil would collect.

The odd looking sea blue on the upper wing surfaces and along the flying surface leading edges was based on reference photos and Roy’s discussion blog. To resolve leaking wing fuel tanks, the tanks were removed and repaired in the field, and reinstalled. Ground crews re-sprayed the repaired area with available sea blue, and also touched up the leading edges of the wings and stabs.

And yes, that’s bird poop on the propeller blade.

Barracuda Studios products used:
BC32129 F4U-1 Corsair Cockpit Stencils and Placards
BR32119 Corsair Hellcat Wheels
BR32126 F4U-1 Corsair Early Engine Upgrade Set
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