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1/18 Scale Blue Box F4U-1A Corsair Modification


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3 hours ago, JayW said:

I am glad that I took the trouble to fab up a couple of "proof of concept" panels.  It paid off.  Lessons learned from that, plus verification that the concept was viable (hybrid panel with magnets), allowed me to produce four virtually error-free engine cowl panels:






Note also the dog-bone shaped splice plates at the joints.


The all important view from the front:




A rear view showing how well (or poorly) the panels lay down on the cowl flap ring:




It'll do!  I tell you - back to back magnets (as I used at the nose cowl) works great.  The panels just snap into place.  Magnets and stainless steel sheet, where the magnets are underneath a thin layer of plastic (I used this at the cowl flap ring), doesn't work nearly as well.  The attraction is a little weak.  I had to do that way.  So I had to fiddle around a whole lot with the panel contours to get them to lay down decently.  


The insides - supposed to be painted either gray or white - I chose gray, and then got them nice and dirty:




You might wonder how I am to properly clock four cowl panels, where there is nothing for any of them to butt up against.  This is how I did it:


First I installed a small "alignment pin" on the bottom of the nose cowl:




That pin engages a slot on the inside of either bottom panel:




Installed it looks like this:




Once one panel is located, then the other three are easily located.


This shot shows that without a doubt, a panel (or all of them) can be removed to show the engine - a goal of mine since I started this build:




Lastly, for the "it's beginning to look like a Corsair" file, this shot:





I have sent off a 3D print order, and the parts will be in my hot hands in a week or two.  Included in that order are corrected cowl flap details, and once I have them I can proceed on the very difficult cowl flaps.   In the mean time - I dunno, I suppose I will finish skinning the wing upper surfaces.....  


Thanks for looking in folks.




A little cropping around the edges and this photo would be a dead ringer for a full scale resto update.  Seriously.

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20 hours ago, Oldbaldguy said:

A little cropping around the edges and this photo would be a dead ringer for a full scale resto update.  Seriously.


OBG - you've been watching this for quite a while now. So glad you are still with me.  And that complement you gave me is the ultimate complement.  

Edited by JayW
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1 hour ago, JayW said:


OBG - you've been watching this for quite a while now. So glad you are still with me.  And that is the ultimate complement.  

You know what they say:  “Those who can, do.  Those who cannot, watch.”

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Two things - and I am accepting comments on both.  The first involves tail hooks and catapult launch hooks: 


Per Lee Cook's book "The Skull & Cross Bones Squadron", on their first tour in the South Pacific, on November 11 1943, VF-17 conducted a mission where 24 of their aircraft flew top cover for a carrier task force (Task Force 50.3) assigned to attack the Japanese base at Rabaul.  On this mission the Jolly Rogers pilots involved were required to take off from their base at Ondongo, fly to the task force at sea, provide top cover as the carrier based aircraft launched for the Rabaul raid, land their aircraft on the US carriers Bunker Hill and Essex to refuel and reload ammunition, and launch to return to provide top cover for the return of the carrier planes.  As anticipated, the US aircraft returning from the raid had in tow a large swarm of Japanese fighters and torpedo bombers, intent on exacting revenge on the task force ships.  A huge dogfight ensued and extended into the night time darkness, where VF-17 Corsairs, and relaunched carrier aircraft (Hellcats?) ultimately successfully protected the task force's ships.  Afterwards, the VF-17 Corsairs returned home to Ondongo or some other land base, very low on fuel.  Something like that.  A BIG deal.


Well prior to this mission, since their unit was shore based, tail hooks and possibly their mechanisms, had been removed from VF-17 aircraft to save weight, and stored haphazardly.  For this mission all that equipment had to be hastily retrieved, re-installed, and tested so their aircraft were again capable of carrier deck operations. 


Hedrick's #17 F4U-1A (the airplane I am modeling), participated in that mission, and I intend to model it as it was configured for that mission.  That means the tail hook and the catapult hooks will be represented.   


Here, I installed the catapult hooks I made months ago, largely carved out of chunks of plastic:




As for the tail hook, that is an item whose hook head would be almost impossible to scratch build, so I Rhino modeled it for 3D print - here is a rendering of the "arresting hook assembly":




That part will be included in the next shipment of 3D print parts I have ordered. 


Most builds of Jolly Rogers Corsairs rightly do not include the arresting hook nor should the Black Sheep Squadron builds, as both units were shore based for quite a while.  Mine will, plus the complicated mechanism that deploys and retracts it.  That will all happen once work commences on the aft fuselage which is on the horizon now.


The second item of interest - the cowl flaps modification.  I will be working cowl flaps soon.  Recall a while back I posted about the "dead flap" panel which replaced the top three cowl flaps, and that I found that this part is not effective on my aircraft (Bu No 18005, line number 1308).  Instead it doesn't show up on Corsairs until much later, on -1D's and subsequent.   Recall also that this configuration change was meant to address oil spatters on the windshield coming out of the engine compartment and through the open cowl flaps.  Recall also that I went through the trouble of Rhino modeling and purchasing the 3D print part of the "dead flap", and now will not be using it.


I recently happened across the field modification drawing VSK-4830 (thanks again Aircorps Library) which replaces cowl flaps 1, 2L, and 2R with a fixed panel, the modification suitable for all aircraft built prior to the in-line production incorporation point of the "dead flap" panel:






Some interesting close-ups:








Compare that last pic to this pic of a typical cowl flap mechanism with its spring-loaded linkage:




The mod drawing shows clearly that the linkage assemblies in several places on top of the aircraft are removed and replaced by "-14 gussets" which are simply fixed supports for the new fixed cowl flap that disallow that flap from moving.


All F4U-1 and -1A aircraft would be candidates for this modification.  I don't know if the Navy required it to be accomplished or if it was just a recommended mod.  Here is a picture of Ira Kepford's #29 aircraft taken from page 2 of Lee Cook's book:




Clearly, this aircraft has received that VSK-4830 modification (not the later production "dead flap").  Look at the plate on top, above the functional cowl flaps.  


I have searched Lee Cook's book for pictures of Hedrick's aircraft (there are a few), to see if his aircraft had this modification performed on it, or not.  To no avail - none of the pics show the cowl flaps in a way where i could tell.  There are lots of pics of other aircraft including the famous "Big Hog" airplane #1, which did NOT have that cowl flaps mod at the time the pic was taken.  Others appear to have the mod, so it must have been inconsistently incorporated into that unit.  So I am going to do a bold stroke here, and declare that the mod was accomplished on Hedrick's #17.  Why?  Because I like the look of Corsairs who lack those top three cowl flaps.  My Corsair is going to look like that last pic, with the plate on top, except cowl flaps open.


Hope my followers are OK with these two decisions.  If not, please explain!  







Edited by JayW
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As I wait for 3D print parts to show up, I felt like it was time to finish off the wing skinning.  The upper surfaces are not done yet.  On June 15, I posted this picture:




Leading edge panels done, main wing box panels, fixed TE panels, and flap upper surface panels are yet to be done.  Alot of work, and it's time.


Here is a pic of the work in situ:




That shot is right before I apply the contact cement, and place the panel detail in its final position.  The panel you see has its final trim, and all its little fastener awl punch marks.  It is single curvature, and can be made from heat treated litho (which can only be used for flat or single curvature panels) - my favorite aluminum material for skin panels.  It's awesome.  The panel just outboard of it, already installed and hidden partially by the tape, has compound curvature and must be made from annealed aluminum, not my favorite.  


Here is the LH wing, now fully skinned:




The flaps look pretty good too:




I like how everything turned out, except one thing:  The large compound curved annealed main box panel you see presents a bit of a conundrum.  Punching the fastener marks wants to be done on a flat panel on a very hard surface (I use glass), so the punch marks don't sink too deep.  Also the edges need to be final trimmed since so many fastener marks are close to the edges.  For a compound curved panel, it is formed on the airplane by burnishing it down to the surface, so that when removed for detailing, it is no longer flat.  And should not be flattened.  So the fastener marks are either done on the airplane, or on the bench on a curvy panel.  This gives a slightly overdone fastener mark compared to flat panels.  And you can see that.  I burnished them out as much as possible, sanded the surface too.  I hope it looks OK after paint.  Counting on it.


Once all the wing skins are on, the main fuselage-to-wing attach angle can be fabricated and installed (the leading edge angle in front of it was done quite a while back some may recall):




Hoorah!  I've been waiting a long time to officially finish the wing-to-fuselage join.  Gonna tidy up that angle just a bit more...


Still some work to do on the RH wing to get it at the same point.  A day's work.  Then, the assembly is ready for paint, and some real difficult masking of the gear and gear bays.  First to go on will be the self-etching primer.   Coming soon.


Next post I should have some cool 3D print parts to show off, and maybe that painting.  Stay tuned.








Edited by JayW
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Exceptional work Jay! I think the skinning work is outstanding and if you gave yourself a few days break and came back to it, you would be impressed yourself. I think the (matt?) paint will also greatly soften the effect, as it will kill the reflective highlights. This is looking very, very nice.

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I am really enjoying this current trend of skinning models in sheet metal. The finish achieved is extremely realistic. Once again, your photos could easily be mistaken for images of a full sized restoration. 

There is a fabulous opportunity presenting itself during the painting phase. How weathered do you intend to go?

The surface details that you've created would lend themselves beautifully to some delicate wear and tear. 

Gently abrading the paint layers could possibly show bare metal, primer and top coat superbly.

I'm confident that you'll do a fine job. Good luck. 

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3 hours ago, geedubelyer said:

There is a fabulous opportunity presenting itself during the painting phase. How weathered do you intend to go?

The surface details that you've created would lend themselves beautifully to some delicate wear and tear. 

Gently abrading the paint layers could possibly show bare metal, primer and top coat superbly.


How much weathering?  Alot if I can.  I am not very good at it.


I have thought the same thing.  After all, the actual aircraft had aluminum skins!  To be sure though this Corsair is not 100% aluminum.  The nose cowl for instance is 3D print resin.  And that would be an excellent wear item, but it would have to be done another way.  Same for the wing air intake areas - plastic.  Landing gear doors - 3D print resin.  


To get to the bare aluminum, or ZC primer, or both, any wearing or chipping process must first get through the top coat(s) of either Navy Blue, intermediate blue, or insignia white, then yellow primer, and then the dark green etching primer.  The etching primer unfortunately is a must; without it the paint will not properly adhere to the bare alum surface.  Any wear would not want to expose the green etching primer and I don't know how to do that.  At least on those surfaces where yellow primer was used for real.  Some surfaces, I believe, may have been green ZC, and in that case exposed etching primer might be acceptable.  I might practice some techniques on my mule. 


Would love to find some etching primer that is ZC yellow.


Edited by JayW
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