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and AVG-83

Part Three - VBF-83 Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair

by Mark Beckwith


VBF-83 Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair


Tamiya's 1/48 scale F4U-1D Corsair is available online from Squadron.com


AVG-83 Aircraft Part Three


VBF-83 Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair

The F4U-1D could be described as a classic case of triumph snatched from the jaws of disaster.  Designed by Beisel and Sikorsky, the F4U is regarded by many as one of the greatest combat aircraft in history, and was in production for a longer period of time than any US fighter other than the F4 Phantom. As conceived it was intended to mount the most powerful engine, and biggest propeller, of any fighter in existence, and the prototype was the first US combat aircraft to exceed 400mph.  This was the reason for the bent wing, to mount the large prop the main undercarriage had to be very long to give adequate ground clearance for the propeller.  However, this meant the 'gear would be too long to fold into the wings.  The solution was to use an inverted gull wing to achieve ground clearance for the prop and keep the main undercarriage legs from having to be too long.

There were still problems though.  The extraordinarily long nose inflicted poor visibility for the pilot when landing and take off.   The undercarriage, though shortened, occasionally broke and the Corsair had a strong tendency to bounce on landing.  All these faults were greatly exaggerated when the aircraft was operating from carriers.  As a result the US Navy at first rejected it for shipboard operation. Nonetheless the F4U was adopted by the Marine Corps and quickly demonstrated its effectiveness.

 The US Navy finally adopted the F4U as a shipboard fighter-bomber in November 1944, and by early 1945 large numbers were operating from the fast carriers of the Pacific Fleet - although the longer-established and very capable Grumman F6F Hellcat remained somewhat more numerous aboard the carriers right up to the war's end.

The F4U-1D is basically a follow on to the very successful F4U-1A version. There are some interesting differences between the two though. For one thing, the -1D was the first type to be used regularly from aircraft carriers. Externally, they can be told apart by the twin racks between the gear legs. These racks could hold either drop tanks or bombs. The -1D was also able to carry underwing rockets that the -1A could not. Most -1Ds had no extra framing in the canopy.

Corsair Data 
Origin: Chance Vought Division of United Aircraft Corporation (also built by Brewster and Goodyear)
Type: Single-seat carrier-based fighter-bomber
Dimensions: Span 41' (12.48 metres) British version 39' 7"
Length 33' 8" - 34' 6" according to version
(F4U-1) 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-8 (B) Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial
(F4U-1A) 2,250 hp R-2800-8 (W) with water injection
Maximum Speed (F4U-1A) 395 mph (F4U-5) 462 mph
Initial Climb (F4U-1A) 2,890 feet per minute
Service Ceiling F4U-1A) 37,000 feet
Range (on internal fuel): 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres)
Armament - Guns
(early versions) 6 x 0.5" Browning MG53-2 machine-guns in outer wings, with 390 rounds per gun
(F4U-1C onwards) 4 x 20mm. cannon in wings
Armament - Bombs/Rockets
(F4U-1D and most subsequent versions) 2 x 1,000 lb bombs or 8 x 5-inch rockets under wings


1/48 Tamiya F4U-1D Corsair




I cannot say why (because I don't know), but this was the least enjoyable build for me.  Construction was straight forward with no real problems, though the wings are awkward to do well if not displayed folded.  I did the cockpit in the usual way, it is very well done and looks quite convincing when complete.  Just for a change, I used the supplied decal for the instrument panel, using lots of Micro Sol to get it to melt down well.  When it was dry, I dropped in a little Future to simulate the glass.  

The only work to do to make this a 1-D is to remove a small air scoop on the forward cowl.  The aircraft I was representing had both ariel posts so the positioning hole was cut for the dorsal one before joining the fuselage halves.  The kit is so well designed that apart from acknowledging the fact, there is very little to say about construction.

For general information that also applies to the other kits, I generally use Tenax R for construction, with occasional use of tube glue for larger pieces and CA for items that need a quick join.  


Paint & Decals

As is the case with Essex's VF-83 Hellcats, the VBF-83 Corsairs were all 1-D's painted in GSB.  Again, I had a particular plane in mind that Scott Taylor had sent me some scans of that had a strange markings on the wings, however more on that later.  After masking the canopy with Tamiya tape, I used MM gloss acrylic for the GSB, the idea being that a gloss coat should require less gloss coat in preparation for decaling.  This theory worked to a large extent, though I did experience some silvering with the smaller stencil decals.  Painting went very well, I used the Badger 200 single action to lay down several light coats to build up an even, solid finish.  I left it to cure for a couple of days before sealing with Metalizer sealer.  I then masked the G-Symbols and painted them.  I sealed the GSB before masking to try and ensure no paint would lift and this seemed to work very well.  I had no lifting at all, and the tape seemed to adhere better to the hard glossy surface of the Metalizer sealer than it would have to bare paint.  After the white was dry I sealed that and left the kit to cure for a day or two.

With the kit fully cured, it was time to start decaling.  I made the code numbers with dry transfers on clear decal sheet and applied them after I'd placed the national insignia in the appropriate locations.  I used the kit deals for these.  As is my usual practice, I only applied the stencil decals sparingly and after the first couple silvered, I used a little Future under the rest and experienced no more problems.

A note of explanation is now required.  The pictures of my subject showed the national insignia on the port wing to have some gaps in it, with what looked like the corresponding "pieces" on the starboard wing.  My guess is that a couple of the maintenance panels had been swapped from one wing to the other which would explain the unusual markings.  I am unsure as to the copyright status of the pictures I have and so am unable to include them in this piece, you'll have to take my word for it that the markings in the picture to the left are a reasonably accurate reproduction!

With all the markings applied, all that was left was the fade coat, applied as described elsewhere and a final seal of Dullcoat.  I brought the finish down to a semi gloss to simulate some degree of sun bleaching as I had for the other models.  The picture to the left shows that in sunlight the sheen appears quite realistic - to me in any case.


Weathering and Conclusion

Onto the final stages.  I added the previously painted flaps, ariel posts, the undercarriage which I had painted with Tamiya flat aluminum acrylic, all without much problem.  I had painted the gear covers while painting the kit, both sides GSB.  Weathering was kept to a minimum as usual, all done with pastel chalks except for a wash of dirty thinner on the undercarriage legs to bring out the detail.  With that done, I used stretched sprue for the ariel wire, which looked quite good until I knocked it off while taking these pictures.  I've redone the wire but didn't redo the pictures.

In my opinion this is a great kit.  As I started of this section by saying, I don't know why I didn't particularly enjoy the build but I'm sure it had something to do with this one being the last to be built of the group and a certain amount of burn out occurring.  I would highly recommend the kit to all but the most inexperienced, and I think even a complete beginner isn't going to have too much trouble with it.




Navigation to Additional Parts


Click the links below to go to the additional Parts of the Reference Feature, "USS ESSEX (CV-9)
and AVG-83"

Part One  - USS Essex History

Part Two - VF-83 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat

Part Three - VBF-83 Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair

Part Four - VT-83 Grumman TBM-3 Avenger

Part Five - VB-83 Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver


Text Copyright 2002 by Mark Beckwith
Images Copyright 2002 by Mark Beckwith and Official Sources as noted
Page Created 06 June, 2002
Last Updated 19 April, 2004

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