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Tamiya 1/32 Vought F4U-1A Corsair

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From Plastic to Sun Scorched Metal

To me, it is obvious Tamiya have done their homework and have exhaustively researched the subject to bring you the best F4U in this or any other scale. I would be quite confident in stating that every rivet is present and correct, but since I donít count that sort of thing, Iíll take Tamiyaís word for it. This, coupled with beautifully reproduced panel lines, provides the modeller with the opportunity to create an authentically weathered masterpiece and the Pacific Theatre was just the place!

There are many examples of Corsair kits that have received heavy chipping, but my research also showed a considerable number of actual aircraft where the paint was still largely intact but faded and stained due to a combination of human and natural influences. This was to be my choice Ė scoured and sun-bleached.

During the fading process I employ, something happened that led me to a method of creating a stressed skin look that, until the release of the Airfix 1/24 Typhoon, has been absent for the aircraft modeller. Unless you were prepared to undertake some major surgery, it was a look that was best left alone.

It occurred when I was rubbing back the Navy Blue over the gun bay panels. I had been a little too enthusiastic and the primer began to peek through. Now because I had originally added a few drops of white to the blue base coat, when I touched-up straight from the bottle, I was left with a little oval of darker - and thanks to Gunzeís insistence on making most of their range gloss or semi-gloss - shinier paint. The result was that it took on an almost 3D appearance, as though bulged slightly in the centre of the panel. I promptly repeated this over the entire airframe. Itís a subtle effect, one that often requires the light to be reflected in just the right way, but in my mind, it adds greatly to the realism factor in way that conventional weathering techniques do not. In fact, it caused me to hold back a little on the weathering, so that this effect could be more visible.

The Devil is in the Decals

The painting stage brings me to my second gripe. Itís not aimed at this kit in particular, but every Tamiya kit Ė and it is of course, the decals. In perfect register they may be with accurate colour and tone, itís their thickness that is and has been the bugbear of many a modeller. Where possible, I aim to achieve a realistic finish on the actual surface of the paint itself, not a coat of varnish. At 1/32, this is readily achievable. How your paint reflects light is half the battle in replicating the look of real thing. The kit may be constructed to accurately represent its real word counterpart, but a paint finish will be scaled at 1:1 in that a square inch of the kit will reflect light in the same way as a square inch of the actual aircraft. Imagine then, taking a 32 inch square section of the aircraft and positioning it a relative distance away so that when viewed next to your kit section, it was the same size. You would see that it has a totally different reflective index and it is this that I am trying to replicate on my paint finish.

Unfortunately, it is something that a combination of paint and decal will not allow, hence why I chose to use the Maketar paint mask set for the insignia and serials thus allowing the same reflective quality to be endowed upon them as the surrounding paint. I have also omitted the stencil data as each little decal would have taken on the appearance of a placard rather than a painted-on finish. Most folks donít notice this until you point it out to them.

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    Salt being use for tonal effects.
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    Masking the wings.
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    Painting the stenciled areas.
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    The wing markings.
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    Marked and ready for final touches.
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About the Author

About Gary Bottoms (MakingModelsAgain)


Hi Gary, Fantastic article,such a great kit unfortunately a little to pricey for my tastes I'll stick to Tamiyas 1/72 rendition. Since this was an out of the box build, I won't make mention of the fact it would have looked much better in RNZAF markings.😃😆 Cheers Chris PS really enjoy your videos more please.
JUN 09, 2015 - 01:45 AM
Hi Gary, Would you know if this kit is the -1 kit with -1A upgrades or did Tamiya make any improvements/corrections to their previous kit? Thanks, Steve PS: Great paint job! Realistic without being over done.
JUN 09, 2015 - 05:26 PM
Very nicely done, with a lovely, understated weathering.
JUN 09, 2015 - 06:53 PM
Gary, Just a superb feature article. It's extremely well written in your personal style, offers great insight into the kit, and it's construction, as well as the few issues you found; namely Tamiya's insistence on the thicker the better for decals, and rubber tires. I've yet to read, nor talk to any modeler that likes those rubber tires. Resin is surely the way to go. Your weathering techniques are easy to follow and to understand. I'll be using some of them on my current build. I had to chuckle at your comment that the kit is a great way to venture into 1/32 scale. Naturally I just went the opposite way with the old, limited production run of the Czech F2A-3 Buffalo. Definitely, a baptism under fire. Joel
JUN 10, 2015 - 07:36 PM