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


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Posted (edited)

Soooo, in parallel with the fuselage preparations, as you will recall, I had been working on the seat and seat support - this contraption:




Picture complements of Dana Bell volume 8.  


The seat was attached to the already completed seat support via four slider brackets.  Seat belts and shoulder straps were made from some photo-etch parts given to me by Peter C (Airscale), and lead sheet from a wine bottle.  Add some little bits like handle levers, and the bungees, and you get this:






See the bungees back there?  Made from 0.022 inch dia solder.  So it became time to install that bad boy into the airplane - that along with the remaining armor plate (the rectangular one):




Here it is (getting good pics is a bit difficult):






That seat installation, my friends, completes the cockpit.  AGES ago I began the cockpit work, and this post signifies its completion.   Makes me a happy camper - this cockpit was a heckuva challenge in so many ways....


Here are a few shots of the complete cockpit, just to celebrate a bit:








Anybody who has done big cockpit efforts knows that a significant portion of the work becomes basically invisible unless a flashlight is used.  So I guess it's just a labor of love.  


Next is the sliding canopy.  You might recall it had very inaccurate intermediate frame segments, that looked like a halo.  I took this shot about 8 months ago:




I sanded away the offending frame strips and got to work trying to restore the transparency to its former sheen.  We had a bit of discussion on this back then.  So this is what I have so far:





Getting there.  Now this part has various inaccuracies some of which I have addressed, or will address.  Some shape issues I just have to accept, if it is going to fit onto the fuselage with its own inaccuracies.   So it is going to receive two more accurate intermediate frame strips, and already I have increased the width of the forward frame, and filled in the little fastener holes with CA.  Also, it is going to receive various interior knick-knacks - roller trolleys of some kind, mirrors, and possibly hardware associated with emergency release.  That is what you can expect in the next post. 


Take care and stay tuned!  


Edited by JayW
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On 3/31/2023 at 4:03 PM, JayW said:

And with that, the way was cleared, at long last, for fuselage join:







What an absolutely frikkin' GLORIOUS beastie! :wub:


That cockpit is also the dog's danglies, essentially a full-on replica of the 1:1 version.

Congrats, Jay, on reaching such important milestones, you must be over the moon!

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Posted (edited)

Many very kind comments WRT my last couple of posts - thank you all.  


Last post I told you that the next project was to be the sliding cockpit enclosure (the canopy).  And so it is.  Over time I had considered making an all new canopy - making a 3D printed master shape in Rhino, and getting some help making a vac-formed part - something I've never done.  In the end I decided (hopefully a good decision) to  just work with the existing part. 


I had already done three important things for the canopy part: 

1 - sand away the inaccurate intermediate frames and locally restore the transparency.  This took a heckuva lot of time and patience. 

2 - fill in the hundred or so ugly holes that are supposed to represent fastener heads. 

3 - widen the too thin forward frame. 


This is where it started (what the model came with):




This is where I was after accomplishing the above three items:




My plan going forward - 


A - Make new intermediate frame strips from .01 x .08 Evergreen strip that are more accurately shaped, bond same onto canopy transparency.  Very dangerous. 

B - Awl punch new fastener head marks. 

C - Make a robust pair of forward roller trolleys that engage the already made tracks on the tops of the cockpit walls.  This will allow the sliding canopy to actually slide.  A most delicate step, and the trolleys MUST be robust, or they will break off.

D - Make other interior components as realistic as possible (alot of very small scratch built parts including thin fishing line for cables) - three mirrors, and Rube-Golderg complex release mechanisms.

E - Weather using hairspray chipping method, Florey washes, Tamiya Weatherine pastes.

F - Gloss clear layer, decal, flat clear layer.


It is ambitious and I have to be cognizant of the "less is more" axiom.  I have begun a Rhino model for all the little knick-knacks that comprise the roller trolleys, and release mechanisms.  I'll show that when it is more developed.


Meanwhile here is where I am on the canopy (steps A and B and part of E above):




Should have provided a picture before I masked and painted, but forgot to.  I offer a huge thumbnail for ruthless examination of details.  I am basically pleased with the new intermediate frame strips; so will you when this is done and masking comes off, I believe.   Here is what I am NOT pleased with - I used medium viscosity CA to fill in the existing fastener holes, thinking that gave me the best chance of a robust material that might withstand the awl punch.  As opposed to a putty which would for sure locally shatter.  Above you can see several spots where a CA repair coincides with an awl punch mark, and things didn't go well for many of them.  They basically broke apart.  The bad ones (about 8 of them) have received another blob of CA as a start to another repair.  NOT HAPPY.  This was not very visible until the blue coat went on.   Still to come is sanding, a careful retry with the awl punch hoping the repairs hold up, and a repaint. 


It's going to get there I suppose, but this modeler is on edge again, which runs counter to the enjoyment modelers are supposed to experience.  It seems that the more time passes (been about 4 years now), the more invested I am in this grand Corsair project, and the more nervous I get that I will ruin it somehow.   That canopy has to be good - it dominates the overall appearance of the model.  Wish me luck!  







Edited by JayW
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, airscale said:

why don’t you just skin the frame?


Hi Peter!  


Oh I thought long and hard about that.  For exactly the reasons you are thinking.  On the real Corsair, the plexiglass window details have rabbeted edges, such that when combined with the canopy framework, the outer surface of the frame is the same as the outer surface of the glass (e.g. no step).  My part already has about a 0.01 step, and I have attempted to sand it down a bit, at least the sharp edges, to minimize that inaccuracy.  I thought about sanding all the framing down to eliminate the step altogether.  Then skin it like you suggest.  But with all that sanding I felt like I would ruin the part, so I didn't go that far.  Sanding away the intermediate frame was tough enough!  Would have been fun; oh well.  So I have to accept that 0.01 inch step, knowing that probably meant no skinning.  I actually made a litho part to see how it would look, and I didn't like it (too much step).  


This is also the case on the windshield (flush frame and glass).  My windshield has a .01 inch step (frame-to-glass) and it is noticeable.  So, in the end I elected not to have the even larger 0.015 inch step on the canopy, hoping the repairs I make to the fastener holes could handle the awl punch marks.....    

Edited by JayW
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It wouldn't have surprised me if you'd created a rebated frame and skinned it Jay. 

Sorry to see your CA woes though. Hope the next round holds up better. 

With the work you've described this is going to be amazing when you're done. 

Bon chance mon brave.




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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

It is with great pleasure that I can present to you the sliding enclosure for this big Corsair - all finished.  


Remember here is what it started out as:




This is a list of what I did to it to make it better:


  • Grind away the intermediate frames (the halo) and replace with accurate frame segments
  • Widen the forward frame
  • Add internal framing
  • Add release mechanism including the external release "button" RH side
  • Add forward roller trolleys that engage previously installed sill tracks on fuselage
  • Add emergency release mechanism (which blows the canopy for bail-out)
  • Add three mirrors

Here we go:














A couple of things - you can see the single roller above.  The actual canopy has a pivoting double roller trolley at each of the four corners.  With two rollers per trolley, since the forward and aft tracks are not parallel, those trolleys must pivot a few degrees back and forth as the canopy travels.  That was way beyond what I could do, hence the single rollers at the forward locations only.  That was hard enough!  And they do engage the tracks on the sills.  You can see I retained the aft posts that engage the aft track slots (no rollers).  The twin red handles are part of the emergency release mechanism.  This mechanism far as I can tell, when clips are disengaged and the handles are pushed (pulled?) hard, will disengage the canopy frame from all four trolleys, allowing the canopy to depart the aircraft (leaving the trolleys behind).  The single yellow handle (made from a ball-headed pin) is for normal opening and closing of the canopy.   Note also the external red button which protrudes from a round hole in the RH canopy glass - that is also part of the normal release mechanism and does the same thing as the yellow handle.  All this stuff relies on adjustable length cables and dogs and cable pulley brackets and iddy-biddy cranks to work.  I used 0.009 inch dia fishing line, thin brass tube, and various chunks of plastic.  Very complicated, and very difficult and maddening to make just because of the small size and part count.  Note the three mirrors - I used litho aluminum sheet polished as best I could, bonded to a piece of plastic with little (real little) mounting brackets.












Yup- it slides.  I believe in true life it slides back a bit more than this one does.  If I let mine go aft any more than it does, the top mirror fouls the fuselage, and the canopy frame begins to cover the aerial antenna insulator bump on the RH side too much.   You might notice I added some slot filler blocks at the aft end of the track slots - kinda like the real thing - to limit aft movement.  When closed, it matches up with that scratch-built windshield far better than I thought it would - hoorah!  I am going to declare victory on this project.  So much had to be done, and all of it putting the transparency at risk of scratches or a glue smear or an errant paint brush stroke.  It's not future'd, but the glass is OK for me.  The new intermediate frames are so much more accurate.


I do believe the wings are next.  I am trying to decide to just jump on them now and install the cowling, exhaust stacks and prop later.  Or vice versa.   I'll think a bit more on that and post something soon.


Take care, enjoy the spring. 




Edited by JayW
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