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


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2 hours ago, TAG said:

red surround

Thomaz!!   What the heck?  Are you sure #17 had red surround stars and bars?   Not that I have done anything yet on stars and bars stenciling, I am just surprised.  Without any other information I was going to go with blue.   I could do red, but I would need a pretty good reason.  


As for the yellow Tamiya tape- I might test out a couple more options, but that option seems to be the most no-fuss-no-muss way to go.  Not sure whether to tape the entire bay or a portion of it...  For what it's worth, website "markstyling.com" has #17 with a full taping, and blue stars/bars outline:




If it is really March 1944, it is just about the end of VF-17's tour. Could be the insignia was red, and later repainted blue.  Note the 9 kills - a score that signifies late in the tour.

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Well, the red surround lasted literally only a couple of months early in the war - something like July to September 1943 - before units were told to paint over the red with insignia blue to cut back on friendly fire incidents.  Even though the photo is black and white, I don’t see any evidence of red around the national insignia in the photos of old number 17.  Personally, I don’t put much stock in the accuracy of aircraft profiles because, having done a boatload of ‘em myself, artistic license always creeps in somewhere, so the one you reference may not be 100% accurate.  So, if you are modeling the airplane as it existed in July and August of 1943, go with red surrounds.  Anything later: blue.

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BTW - just a magnificent photo:




So much detail.  Thanks for that TAG.  The fading we see is just amazing.  And I cannot explain the messy light colored what-ever-it-is around the tape.  Could it be that some sealant was applied?  


1 hour ago, Oldbaldguy said:

So, if you are modeling the airplane as it existed in July and August of 1943, go with red surrounds.  Anything later: blue.


Unless Thomaz has a strong argument to the contrary, I am going to go with the blue surround.  It still is perplexing though.  They started out with the birdcage versions, but converted to -1A's when they deployed to the south Pacific.  There is a picture in Lee Cook's book of -1A's on the flight deck of Bunker Hill passing through the Panama Canal, dated September '43, on their way:  




Pretty sure none of those aircraft have blue surrounds on the national insignias.  MOF one could make a case the wing insignias have no surround at all.  


Also, there is no mention that I know of that Hedrick ever changed out his -1A (Bu no 18005) during the several months that unit was active.  So if that was the case, I would say that early on at least it did NOT have blue surrounds.  It must be then that the red surrounds were replaced - almost all (almost) the photo's in Cook's book suggest blue surrounds - where the surround appears the same shade as the blue background.  I agree with OBG that there is no evidence in the photo's TAG gave us that the surround is red. 


Old black and white photo's - sometimes they offer up more questions than answers.  Even old color photo's can lead us astray, as some colors on the old photos fade.  I got involved in a protracted discussion with folks a few years ago about the stripes (separating the OD paint from NMF on the fuselage) on 55th FG P-51D Miss Velma, where some old color pics of 55th FG Mustangs suggested yellow, yet some clearly showed red stripes.  I became convinced, like some others, that all the stripes were red, and any pics showing yellow were merely faded.  Yet today - the flying example of Miss Velma has yellow stripes.    


Also of note in the profile I included of Hedrick's aircraft is the black hub on the prop.  I do not think that is accurate.  Pretty sure it's silver although plenty of Corsairs had black hubs.  Cook has a picture of Hedrick's plane that clearly shows a light colored hub.  Am going to assume it is silver.  The book also shows a number of other aircraft with dark (black?) hubs.  And to confuse matters even more, Blackburn's book states that different groups within fighting 17 painted their hubs (or at least the spinners) different colors to differentiate between groups.   Dare I ask for opinions on that one?  

Edited by JayW
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In fact, after enlarging the b&w of yer guy sitting on the cockpit sill, it appears that you can see some of the original red surround - not white overspray - peaking out from under the insignia blue where a bit of the blue has worn off!  Your build alone is really expanding the body of knowledge of these airplanes.

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Hey, fellas


Looks like I've opened that old can of worms, eh? :whistle:


So here's my reasoning behind red surrounds on Hedrick's bird. First off, here's that same photo Jay posted in higher resolution where you can actually make out the red surrounds on the stars-and-bars as VF-17's Corsairs crossed the Panama Canal in September 1943, right when the T.O. dictating the end of red-trimmed insignia supposedly came into effect. I can just make out the red on pretty much all the planes, and Tommy Blackburn himself insisted later in life that their planes had red trim in their first deployment to the Pacific, so I'd say red surrounds on the original birds are a definite yes.



Next up, there's this old classic.


Taken in March 1944, this formation of VF-17 F4U's shows Kepford in his replacement kite with the by-then mandated factory applied blue surrounds (also numbered 29, after he crashed the original 29), alongside older Corsairs like Big Jim Streig in the number 3 plane, which clearly still had the red surrounds on its stars-and-bars.


That means at least some of the original VF-17 Corsairs still had their red surrounds well beyond the summer/early fall of 1943, possibly all the way until the end of Fighting 17's first tour, which ended in spring 1944, so it matches with your build's timeline.


That being said, if Hedrick never changed out his original airframe for a replacement over the course of his deployment as Jay explained, it is very much in the realm of possibility that the surrounds on his plane's insignia were indeed red. I made my call based on how similar the hinomaru red of the victory markings looks to the color of the insignia surrounds in those photos of Hedrick in the cockpit. I have never, however, seen any photos of number 17 showing the plane in full so please take everything I say with a large helping of salt. It is also very much possible that Hedrick's plane had the surrounds of its insignia overpainted blue, so ultimately it's your call, Jay.


Re: painted spinner hubs, you can also see in the formation photo above that Kepford's 29 had a painted hub whereas Hal Jackson in the 8 plane did not. Jim Streig in 3 and Wilbert Popp in 28 also had painted hubs. To further corroborate, here's Captain Blackburn with "Big Hog" and its red painted spinner, or at least that's what some claim. It could easily be black, or even blue, but one thing is for certain -- some VF-17 Corsairs had painted spinners whilst others did not.



And finally, here's a gratuitous shot of another super grungy fuel tank area for further inspiration.



Voilà, can't wait for the next installment, Jay!



- Thomaz


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For the Hub color, one of the VF-17 books explains it.  They painted each section with different color hubs.  Blackburn’s 2 4-plane divisions were red. Hendrick’s 2 4-plane division was white (Blackburn T. The Jolly Rogers: The story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17. 1989 Orion Press; page 41).


‘’with regards to the photo from Thomas, I saw that photo In color in the 70s, the markings are red outline (the photo actually looked orange, but we know they were never orange) That said, the red outline was only used for 3-months according to Navy Regis (which someone else mentioned). My understanding is that many units painted blue on the outline. So in photos it can be extremely difficult to see if they are red outline or just another shade of blue.  That said, the book fighting seventeen: A Photographic History of VF-17 in WWII on pages 271 - 279, it breaks down each kill by each pilot.  Hendrix’s last kill was on 18 Feb 1944, so if you use his entire scoreboard, he would have had all blue insignias, unless they did not follow USN regulations for insignia colors

Edited by CShanne
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2 hours ago, gbtr6 said:

I used surgical tape for my 1/32 build of the Revell F4U. It doesn't even approach your detail, but that tape worked well for that area and the X's over the gun ports you sometimes see.


Thank you gbtr6.  Can you elaborate on that tape?  There are different kinds I understand.

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3 hours ago, CShanne said:

They painted each section with different color hubs.  Blackburn’s 2 4-plane divisions were red. Hendrick’s 2 4-plane division was white (Blackburn T. The Jolly Rogers: The story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17. 1989 Orion Press; page 41).


Man you guys and gals!  This is fascinating.  I am getting alot of much needed help.  In Tom Blackburn's book, he also talks of painted hubs, but didn't elaborate as to the color.  White....


Here is the only photo I have seen of old number 17 where the prop spinner is shown: 




This is from Cook page 122.


The hub body looks silver (certainly not black).  And the spinner - it's light colored, but that's about all I could say.   I could definitely paint it white; I'm down with that.  But I would love to get some more verification if possible.  Think I will take a look at other models of #17, just for grins.  People have modelled it.  Incidentally - I have included the #17 on the nose cowl - not all of fighting 17's aircraft had nose cowl stencils.  Please don't tell me it shouldn't be there!  


I am pretty convinced that later in fighting 17's deployment, Hedrick's aircraft had blue surrounds, probably overpainted on the red.  Thing is - I had wanted to depict his aircraft for that one November 11, 1943 mission in their first tour where they landed and took off from the Bunker Hill.  That may have been the only time they actually sported tail hooks during their entire time in the Solomons.  And that mission took place only about two weeks after arriving at Ondongo New Georgia (Solomon Islands), their first base where combat operations took place.  I think, so far as I can tell, that aircraft would have had red surrounds (hard to fathom the blue was painted on that early), around three kill markings (certainly not 9), and maybe the white hub, if they incorporated colored hubs that early.  If not, then silver.


If I go with depicting the aircraft toward the end of the last tour, it would have blue surrounds, 9 kill scoreboard, and the white hub.  And no tail hook.


Guess I'd better decide pretty soon.


There are going to be more questions - especially the antenna masts.  Can't wait for that discussion.  Thanks all for the great input!



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Not to bury you with the red outline stuff, but, here is a site for a pacific wreck. https://pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/f4u/17804/1984/f4u-pillsbury-p18.html

it is Pillsbury’s plane, found in  1984, but the star is red outlined. He was lost in November 1943. So, I guess this sort of throws the Navy regulations for insignias out the window.  From what I have read, the red outlined stats and bars were June - Aug 1943.  Of course when you are fighting changing the insignia may not be all that important. Anyway, I thought you would find it an interesting photo. 

it doesn’t help you with Hendrick’s plane, but I thought you might find it interesting. 

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8 hours ago, CShanne said:

it is Pillsbury’s plane, found in  1984, but the star is red outlined. He was lost in November 1943.


This loss is described in Cook starting page 59.  The picture is haunting.  He (Chuck Pillsbury) was apparently brought down by a lucky shot from small arms fire, while strafing down low.  


It is certain that at least some of the fighting 17 Corsairs sported red surrounds in late '43.  The picture proves it.  It is also apparent that at the end of their deployment in spring '44, just about all (if not all) aircraft had blue surrounds.  It must be that the changes were made if/when convenient, and perhaps at the insistence (or not) of the pilot flying the aircraft.  OBG even suggests that surrounds could have been modified during the initial deployment trip at sea, where the entire squadron was aboard the Bunker Hill idle with wings folded for weeks.  Who knows...  Roger Heddrick was described as a real Navy man - unlike the more common "Blackburn's Irregulars" trouble-makers that composed the majority of the squadron's pilots.  Suggests to me he may have stuck closer to reg's than others, and if so he may have insisted his aircraft get the repaint done.


You know, if I chose to depict his aircraft later in the tour (like March '44), these questions will not be there.  I may just do that...    

Edited by JayW
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Enough with the paint questions for a while!


It was on Aug 29 that I began work on the cowl flaps.  They are finished!  So it's been about three pretty intensive OCD weeks, where my wife had that "get a life" look on her face a couple times.  I actually thought it would take longer.  What a project!  Part count is somewhere around 700 parts counting nuts and bolt heads.  Some are 3D printed but the vast majority are home fabricated.  My benchmark was the excellent Vector aftermarket cowl flaps for the 1/32 Tamiya kit (the Tamiya kit has been my benchmark for the entire build so far). 


You have seen two interim reports; here is the final report on this project.  Looking forward:




Side views:








You see all fifteen cowl flap panels (three are gone due to the dead flap field modification), which have the tri-color top coat over a hair spray over silver, for some chipping and scratching.  You see a fully rigged control cable that passes through 16 pulley hanger brackets (one per cowl flap support), plus two more on the dead flap mod structure, plus the pulley tower and its various pulley wheels.  You also see bonding jumpers for each flap, and titanium colored retaining brackets (one per small flap, three per large flap).  And of course you see 16 cowl flap mechanisms, painted YZC.  Lastly you see the gently dry fitted "dead flap" panel from the field modification kit VSK-4830, which takes the place of three uppermost cowl flaps.


All this stuff attaches to the cowl flap ring I made and installed months ago.  


A couple of close-ups:






Note the two turnbuckles, used to set the right length and tension on the cowl flap control cable assembly.  They are made from small diameter brass tubing from Albion (thanks Airscale for turning me onto this indispensible item).


Parting shot from further away:




Note the white dome on the prop hub in the background - CShanne - hope you are right!!  


Cannot tell you how happy I am - one to finish this project, and two, that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do on it. 


Next post I intend to show the fully completed forward engine unit - weathered panels (removable), final finished innards (seen only with panels removed), and the propeller.  The unit will not be installed like I had hoped - I have thought better of it, and will install it after the aft fuselage is done.  Thank you so much for looking in!

Edited by JayW
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