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A Corsair for Bob

David Hansen

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Bob Brunson demonstrated a skill for instrument flying while in advanced training, and was eventually assigned to VF(N)-75, under the command of Gus Wilhelm. He was then detached to VF (N)-101 aboard USS ENTERPRISE, after the squadron was split in half, when INTREPID was sidelined after a torpedo hit. Under the command of "Chick" Harmer, VF (N)-101 was present for the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", and its complement was able to complete its combat tour in the F4U-2, achieving 5 kills, and without losing a single pilot.


The same cannot be said about VF (N)-101s planes. The squadron didn't do a whole bunch of night flying to start with (ENTERPRISE was not yet at this time a dedicated night operations carrier), and operational attrition reduced the number of serviceable aircraft to a low number rather quickly. Up against a lot of resistance to round-the-clock operations,  having to write the rules as they went along, and stuck with a temperamental, first-generation Radar, VF (N) 101 managed to "Plow the Road" and make things easier for the up-and-coming F6F-5N squadrons to follow. Bob wrote an excellent article for THE HOOK a few years back, which stimulated my interest in night fighters in general.


Thanks to Aptivaboy, i was able to get in touch with Bob and we had some very good conversations about the early Corsairs. I'd sent him some pics of my 72nd, 48th and 32nd scale Corsairs and he was pretty impressed.


After careful consideration, i decided i'd build an F4U-2 for him. The 32nd scale Tamiya kit made a lot of sense, because its the best Corsair out there, its a fun build, and its large and impressive enough that a lot of detail can be seen without being too hard on the eyesight. I also had one lying around in my stash, and my memory was still fresh from just completing my Goodyear FG-1.


After reviewing some memoranda Bob had sent me and discussing of his experiences, i decided on Bu Aer No. 02710, Modex "10". This was the Corsair Bob crashed in, coming aboard ENTERPRISE at night.


His plane looked a little something like this...



Short version of the story is, one of the position lights on the wings was burned out, giving the LSO an erroneous indication of the planes lateral orientation. When Bob received the "Cut" Signal, Bob was too far to starboard, and in the "dip for the deck", struck the island superstructure, flipping the plane upside down. Bob escaped with only minor scratches, but "Number 10" was deep-sixed.


This subject is sort of controversial. The Navy F4U-2s were not as well-documented as the Marine land-based ones. Over the years disagreements have existed as to the colour of the fuselage sides. After asking Bob about it, i believe the fuselage was re-painted in either one of two ways:


1) The fuselage sides were  over-painted with semigloss sea blue (which is a darker colour than Non Spec Sea Blue) or a fresh batch of Non Spec Sea Blue which had not yet begun to "chalk" due to sun exposure.


2) If the plane was re-painted into the graded 4 tone scheme at the depot level (Like NAS Norfolk, Philadelphia, or San Diego), the Non Spec Sea Blue was extended very low on the fuselage sides with just a minimal amount of Intermediate Blue transition.


As Birdcage Corsairs go, there are several other worthy items of note....


1) The plane appears to have had the upper cowl flap modification installed very late in the game, as it has not yet been painted. Also the common problem of fuel tank leakage is evident, and Squadron engineers felt a few more pieces of tape would be useful, resulting in the Hyper-Dodecahedron-esque tape treatment on the fuel tank cover.


2) Unlike Marine aircraft, these planes were not fitted with the MK XLI bomb racks under each wing.


3) The radio antenna installation was much simplified over antenna installations we're used to seeing on Corsairs. A single antenna wire attached to the leading edge of the right hand horizontal stabilizer, ran up to the rubber tensioner, and then down to the ceramic insulator fitted to the fuselage just behind the canopy. There are Radar Altimeter Antennae fitted to the fuselage keel as well as a transponder antenna (not visible). A single whip antenna on the fuselage spine completes the antenna configuration.


4) If you look closely, you will see that the armored glass has been removed. This was somewhat of a mixed blessing, since it improved visibility at night, but made stern attacks much more dicey in light of tail gunners aboard Japanese G4M "Betty" bombers.


5) The canopy appears to have been retrofitted with additional armor plate (The unmentioned "Part E23" in the Tamiya kit).


6) The inboard right wing root shows an unusual degree of exposed, bare metal. Not at all uncommon to see this, since many access doors were on the upper right hand side of the Corsair fuselage. This is an extreme case.


7) Finally, although its a Birdcage Corsair, the plane has been fitted with the taller tailwheel post, no doubt to improve visibility over the nose. The Corsair went thru a protracted evolution of the tailwheel assembly in an effort to improve visibility over the nose, and reduce the tendency to "swing" on landing due to Gyroscopic Precession.


If you get a chance to build a model of a plane for the guy who actually flew it, take the opportunity while you can. Bob just turned 94 and is sharp as a tack and still in good enough health to appreciate the kind of work we do. But people like Bob are perishing fast. He's one of the few surviving Birdcage Corsair pilots.


Construction of my second 32nd Birdcage has begun. Watch this space.



Edited by David Hansen
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Minor progress report: Painting the fuselage interior and cockpit components. I'm using the Barracudacals F4U Cockpit placard decal set, and based on experience its better to decal many of the components before assembling them to the consoles, since a lot of maneuvering of the decals is called for to get them into position, and some decals need to be cut up into smaller pieces so they align correctly over the underlying details. The framework in the tail was built up as a separate unit and painted salmon before it gets installed.



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Guest Peterpools


Awesome project and I couldn't think of a better reason and driving force for the build. Looking forward to following your progress and hopefully you will be able to present the Corsair to Bob in person.

Keep 'em coming


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Sounds really interesting and I am sure Bob will love it. .


keep it up. .. :clap2:

Keep us posted .I am enjoying it.


Any photos of your build or are you like ME who doesn't know how to post them. :wicked:







Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2.

No pics yet; i thought i'd do the first round when i get the cockpit finished, or the engine, or the propeller. Whichever gets done first.



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  • 2 months later...

Just a minor update.


I started a new job in Carlsbad California and have been busy on the new job as well as looking for a place to live and work on the mighty F4U.


In terms of progress, i have gotten the propeller assembled, painted, and decaled. Next step i think is gonna attempt a few of the cockpit decals to see if i can make any headway in my temporarily reduced living conditions. The painting of the cockpit parts is pretty much done except for a few small switches and the instrument panel.


So- not much progress, but progress nonetheless.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Another very minor update.


I have begun to apply the Barracuda Studios cockpit decals to the interior. If i can offer a piece of advice on using these, Try to work with good lighting and apply as many of the decals as you can to the individual components before assembling them into the cockpit frame.


I also noticed that the Chance Vought manufacturers data plate moves around to different places on the left sidewall, so check its location carefully.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Another progress update, but unfortunately no photos.


I assembled the induction air/ oil cooler inlets. I learned a technique for mounting the circular photoetched oil screens that may be of interest to some of you:


I assembled the oil cooler screen to the oil cooler "can" by spreading a thin layer of Krystal Kleer onto the mating surface of the plastic part. I then placed the photoetched screen in position, which fits perfectly, but as expected the Krystal Kleer "oozes" out thru the fine matrix of oil coller holes.


So, after the screen was in position and pushed home, i took a wet paint brush and slopped it all over the screen, thus liquifying all the KK that oozed thru the holes.


When that was done, i wicked away the thin water solution with the corner of a paper towel.


It dried up and it looks fine. MUCH less risky than using CA or Gorilla Glue (Boy was THAT a dissappointment). I then sprayed the oil cooler can with Tamiya Metallic Gray (which WILL spray if you thin it with Tamiya Lacquier thinner). I painted the screen that goes on the "front" side separately and glued it to the Gray painted front side. Even though the KK oozed thru the holes, thinning it out and washing it away with water still worked just fine.


Anyway, oil cooler assemblies will be glued into place today. All the other wing interior parts are done, so we might glue up the wing center section today.



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  • 6 months later...

Right then,


I apologize for keeping everyone in the dark on this project up til now. Whats the point if you don't have a camera, anyway? This round of photos not being up to my usual standard, but merely to give everyone a project status update.




Painting of the F4U-2 has begun. I take sort of an unorthodox approach when it comes to the blues because on each model i build, i mix the paints up from scratch. On this model, i started with Tamiya white surface primer straight from the bottle for the underside of the model. It has good coverage and wet sands beautifully.  For the intermediate blue, i started off with Tamiya Intermediate blue and then started dumping in flat white until i got a shade i was happy with. The outer wing panels are in effect, big paint chips which i use to assess the colours.





The areas where the national insignia go were first sprayed with Tamiya White surface primer, and then the insignia were masked off using Montex masks, which are similar to Mal Mayfield's Miracle Masks.



The Semi Gloss Sea Blue (which isn't exactly semi gloss) was mixed up from scratch per a Tamiya mixing formula provided to me by Marty Sanford. Although its not readily visible, there is also a slightly lighter, greener shade of Non Spec Sea Blue (which i call Sanford Sea Blue) on the top of the cowling, at the base of the fin and on the right tailplane (obviously there is more painting to be done on the top of the fuselage). I left the tailplanes off for now in order to paint the areas of the fuselage under the tail, without the tailplanes getting in the way (and getting unwanted over spray on them). I also carefully wet sanded the paint a bit with 8000 grit micro mesh, and i began to run through in some places. The thin nature of acrylics and lacquers make this more of an occupational hazard as compared to using enamels.






The Tamiya colours were thinned with Tamiya lacquer thinner, but then i ran out of thinner  :doh:  . I am going to resume painting using Mr Self Leveling Thinner, which i'm told works even better.


This model is my first big test of using Tamiya acrylics, having used Mr Color Lacquers on my previous FG-1 build. What i am finding so far is that they go on very smoothly, coverage is very thin, and it does take a bit longer to build up sufficient coverage and opacity compared to using an enamel. The advantage however is that drying times are much much faster. The paint has been laid onto Tamiya White and gray surface primers and paint adhesion so far has been pretty good, with a few exceptions where there was some surface contamination. It goes without saying i need to re-visit those areas.




BTW, the propeller and rudder are just a press fit onto the model because it looks better. The vertical fin needs more intermediate blue to match the rudder, too.


Right now i'm in the process of just getting all of the colours onto the model. What will follow is a "tightening up" of the colour separations, masking off of the fabric covered area and painting them a slightly lighter shade, and perhaps a little bit of post shading. The Navy F4U-2s are not as well photographed as the Marine ones and photo interpretation is a bit more difficult.


I've been sending the pictures along to Bob who is following with close interest. Watch this space.....



Edited by David Hansen
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Latest update.

Here in this first series of pics, you can see that i've got the the Sea Blues on the entire model. This is pretty much a check to see that the colours look the way i expected them to.







And then the next step was to mask off and paint the fabric covered areas on the model.





Mask mask mask mask mask mask mask..... paint.






Next step is to fix and reconstruct the insignia on the upper left wing, which when i last left it was sort of a mess. Stay tuned.



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And now, that exciting moment you've all been waiting for. The painting of the walkway lines.

This is one of those rookie mistakes i see on a lot of Corsair builds. A lot of Corsairs you see out there have just the national insignia, hopefully the non skid wing walks, and that's it. To me it makes for an incomplete and visually unbalanced-looking model. For those willing to make the effort, there's a lot that can be done to Corsair wings to add visual interest. There's a fair amount of stenciling on them, but this was largely overlooked until the Tamiya kit came out, because up to that point aftermarket decal manufacturers had been pretty minimal in their offerings of stenciling.


So...... after about an hours worth of masking, and half a roll of Tamiya tape, we get this...




















And there you have it.  I'm not sure if Bobs F4U-2 had the walkway lines over-painted when it was repainted into the graded tone scheme at the depot level, but it goes a long way towards making the Corsair wings look interesting.


Next come the walkways. I'm sure you'll be excited to see those.



Edited by David Hansen
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