TESTOR'S KIT #623N 1/72 SCALE F4U-1 CORSAIR REVIEW & BUILD

Last updated: September 7, 2014

The F4U Corsair Aircraft:
The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a US Navy and US Marine fighter and attack aircraft that was developed in the late 1930s and early 1940s and which saw extensive use in World War II, the Korean War, and later conflicts.

The initial prototype aircraft conducted its first flight on May 29, 1940. It became the first single engine US fighter aircraft to sutain over 400 MPH speed fully loaded. U.S. Navy acceptenace trials of the prototype, XF4U-1, began in February 1941. The Navy signed a letter of intent on March 3, 1941, received Vought's production proposal on April 2, 1941, and then awarded Vought a production contract for 584 F4U-1 fighters, which were now named the"Corsair" on June 30,1941. The first production F4U-1 performed its initial flight a year later, on June 24, 1942.

The U.S. Navy received that first production F4U-1 on July 31, 1942, and performed carrier qualification trials on the escort carrier USS Sangamon,beginning Septemebr 25, 1942. Numerous issues caused a delay in induction for carrier operations but the aircraft was immediately cleared for U.S. Marine operations off of land bases, particularly off of islands in the Pacific, and specifically off of Guadalcanal. On February 12, 1942, a dozen USMC F4U-1s of VMF-124 arrived at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, The Corsair operated off of Guadalcanal for the duration of operations there and then later off of other Islands in the Solomon Island chain. Within six months, every Mariner Corps attack squadron was operating F4U-1 Corsairs.

As a result of its performance, demand for the Corsair soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability. As a result, two other companies begain producing the aircraft, Goodyear and Brewster. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, over 12,500 F4U Corsairs were built in sixteen separate models. It was the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter aircraft in U.S. history.

Due to visibility issues from the initial cockpits, and a significant issue with the oleo strut, causing the aircraft to bounce when landing on carrier decks, the US Navy did not accept the aircraft for carrier use to begin with. Although the aircraft did embark on the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex in 1943, it was not until April 1944 that the US Navy accepted the F4U for full, unlimited carrier operations. This occuirred after a new, longer oleo strut was fitted, and tested and shown to eliminate the tendency to bounce, and a new bulbous canapoy had been installed. Once that happened, the aircraft proliferated across the fleet rapidly. The F4u-4 vesrion of the aircraft became recognized as the most capable fighter/attack aircraft available for carrier operations in the world.

In combat, the Japanese came to fear the Corsair. Their nickname for the aircraft was, "The Whistling Death." This was both because of its performance and manueverabbility as a fighter, and because of its attack and ground support capabilities. Due to its speed advantage, and its ability to outclimb and outdive Japanese aircraft, Japanese pilots regarded the Corsair as the most formidable American fighter of World War II. In air to air combat, the F4U Corsair racked up an impressive 11:1 kill ratio over Japanese aircraft, downing 2,140 Japanese Mitsubishi A6Ms, Nakajima Ki-84s, Kawanishi N1K-Js and Mitsubishi J2Ms aircraft. The Corsair also bore the brunt of U.S. fighter-bomber missions, in the Pacific, delivering 15,621 tons of bombs during the war, which was 70% of total bombs dropped by U.S. fighter/attack aircraft in the Pacific. In the ground attack role, the Corsair earned nicknames from the ground troops such as, ""The Sweetheart of the Marianas" and "The Angel of Okinawa."

The United States Marines and Navy, the British, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the French Navy, El Salvador, Honduras, and Argentina, all used Corsairs for their military.. They were in use from the 1940s, through the 1950s, through the 1960s, and into the 1970s.

Corsairs were heavily used by US forces throughout the Korean War, mostly in the close-support role. During that war, F4U-4B, -4C, -4P, -5N and 5-NL aircraft were utilized. Initially, the Corsai faired very well in dogfights against the Soviet-built Yakovlev Yak-9 fighters. However when the Mig-15 jet fighter was introduced, the Corsair found itself, outmacthed. However, not wholly. On Septemnber 10, 1952, a MiG-15 made the mistake of getting into a turning dog fight with a US Marine Corps Corsair piloted by Marine pilot Captain Jesse G. Folmar. Folmar shot down the MiG woth a burst from his four 20 millimetre cannon. However, soon thereafter, four MiG-15s shot down Folmar. Folmar bailed out and was quickly rescued.

F4U-5N and -5NL Corsair night fighters were heavily used to attack enemy supply lines, including convoys, as well as intercepting night attack aircraft like the Polikarpov Po-2 "Bedcheck Charlies", which would attack allied forces at night. In the night time role, the F4Us often operated with the help of C-47 'flare ships' which used 1,000,000 candlepower magnesium flares to illuminate enemy targets. Lieutenant Guy Bordelon of VC-3, off of the USS Princeton (CV-37), become the Navy's only ace in the Korean war. He was also the only ace who exclusivly shot down enemy aircraft with a piston-driven fighter. He was credited with three La-9s and two Yak-18s between Hune 29th and July 18th, 1952.

During the Korean war, Corsairs were used far and away in the attack roles. They used their cannons, napalm tanks, various iron bombs and unguided rockets in this role. The 5 inch HVAR rocket was a reliable standby; but Soviet-built armor proved resistant to the HVAR. This led to a new 6.5 in shaped charge antitank warhead being developed. The result was called the "Anti-Tank Aircraft Rocket, or ATAR.

After the Korean War, US use of the corsairs dropped off dramatically and they were quickly taken out of service in favor of the newer jet aircraft being built. Despite this, Corsairs saw combat with other nations (principally the French) in the following conflicts:

  • The 1st French Indochina war. During three months operating over Dien Bien Phu and ViÍt-Nam in 1954, French Corsairs flew 959 combat sorties totaling 1,335 flight hours. They dropped some 700 tons of bombs and fired more than 300 rockets and 70.000 20mm rounds. Six aircraft were damaged and two shot down by Viet Minh.
  • The Sues crisis of 1956. French Corsairs took part in the Anglo-French-Israeli seizure of the Suez Canal in October 1956. On November 3, 1956, F4U-7s attacked airfields in the Delta, with one corsair shot down by anti-aircraft fire. Two more Corsairs were damaged when landing back on the French carriers. The Corsairs dropped a total of 25 tons of bombs, fired more than 500 rockets and 16.000 20mm rounds.
  • The Algerian War of 1955-1958. French F4U-7 Corsairs conducted missions between 1955 and 1962. Towards the end, between February and March 1958, several strikes and CAS missions were launched from the Bois-Belleau, the only carrier involved in the Algeria War.
  • The Tunisian incident of 1961. In 1961 recently independent Tunisia asked France to evacuate its base at Bizerte, Tunisia. France refused. Tunisia imposed a blockade on the base in July, hoping to force its evacuation. This resulted in skirmishes between militiamen and the French military which lasted three days. French paratroopers, were brought in to reiniforce the base and Corsairs launched air strikes on Tunisian troops and vehicles between Jul 19th and 21st, 1961. More than 150 sorties were conducted.. Three Corsairs were damaged by ground fire.
  • The Honduras-El Salvador conflict of 1969. This conflict was famously triggered by a disagreement over a soccer match, and has been known as the "Football War," ever since. The existing tensions between the two countries boiled over with rioting during the second North American qualifying round of the 1970 FIFA World Cup between the two nations. The war began on 14 July 1969, when the Salvadoran military launched an attack against Honduras. During the conflict, Honduran Captain. Fernando Soto, flying and F4U Corsair shot down three aircraft on the 17th of July, 1969. The first was a Cavalier P-51 Mustang. He later shot down two, Goodyear manufactured FG-1 Corsairs. This combat was the last recorded dogfights amongst propeller-driven aircraft in the world. They also made Captain Soto the only oneindividual with three kills in an American continental war. El Salvador did not shoot down any Honduran aircraft. The Organization of American States negotiatied a cease fire on July 18th that took effect on July 20th, ending the fighting.
The last Corsairs were removed from active service by Honduras in 1979. Many of these were F4U-1s which had been manufactured in the early 1940s, and which had seen over 35 years of service when they were finally retired.

Specifications:
Wing span: 41 ft (12.5 m)
Length: 33 ft 8 in (10.3 m)
Height: 16 ft 1 in (4.90 m)
Wing Area: 314 sq ft (29.17 sq m)
Empty: 9,205 lb (4,175.3 kg)
Gross: 12,420 lb (5,633.6 kg)
Maximum Take-Off: 14,670 (6,654.2 kg)
Maximum Speed: 446 mph (717.75 kph) @ 26,200 ft (7,985.8 m)
Cruise Speed: 000 mph (000 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 41,500 ft (12,649.2 m)
Range: 1,560 mi (2,510.5 km)
Armament: 6 x M2 .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, or 4 x 20mm cannons 2 x 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) bombs ,or 8 x 5 in (127 mm) rockets.

The Testor F4U-1 1/72 Scale Model Aircraft:
This model is from Testor's and is a fairly straight forward build. It is a re-box of an earlier kit that has been around for a number of years, first introduced in the 1980s I believe. But none-the-less, a decent kit.

It is molded in grey, and there is a little flash left on the sprues.

All in all, there are 32 parts on 5 sprues, and includes a clear plastic canopy. The panel lines are decent.

it includes a great decal set of about 40 decals that allows you to build one of three aircraft. I chose to build aircraft number 125 from VMF-221 from the USS Bunker Hill. The instructions are straight forward, and include a nice painting scheme of the three different aircraft.

Landing gear can be shown in the up or down position, I chose to show my gear down. The prop can be built to spin. There is a pilot figure (actually only his shoulders up, that can be painted and shown in the cockpit, which I chose to do.

Here are some pictures of the box, the parts, and the decals:

THE BUILD - Painting and building September 6, 2014

This build was very straight forward. Good fit on the parts, though I did use my exacto knife and fingernails to scrape away some of the flash on a few of the parts.

Also, the painting is distincitve depending on which aircraft you build. VMF-221 was painted in the all blue, with yellow accents on the cowling and the propeller tips. Its decals are the all white decals included in the kit. I pretty much followed the painting scheme provided with the model, but used steel on the engine front shown inside the cowling.

The pilot firgure was decent...however, I found that when I glued the canpoy on, it fogged up a bit on me and so those details are hard to make out.

Here are some pics starting with the instruction sheet, showing the cowling after painting with parts on the sprue in their various colors, and then the aircraft, upside dwon, masked off for the black stripe on either side of the cowling and the canopy having been painted.

THE BUILD - Adding the decals and completion September 7, 2014

The decals really make this aircraft look good. And they are a good set of decals too.

Once they were added it was just a matter of letting them dry and then giving the aircraft a couple of coats of Model MAster dull Coat.

And there she is, the F4U-1 from World War II.


SCHEDULE for Future Activities - Sep 7, 2014

  1. By Oct 15, 2014, Start the US Navy Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Gallery USS Wasp with an LHD, an LPD, a DDG, a SSN and two LCS.
  2. By Dec 01, 2014, Start the PLAN Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Trumpeter Type 071 LPD-999, with a FFG, and three DDGs.
  3. By Jan 15, 2015 Go back and start fleshing out the rest of the DDG and FFG escorts for each CSG and ARG group.

The completion of the PLAN Carrier group was centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition to the other escorts already completed) included Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168. I recently pre-ordered a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, announced by Trumpeter and due out in October, 2013. I will end up adding two of those, propbably LPD-998 Yuzhao and LPD-999, Jinggangshan, add the PLAN- DDG-139, Ningbo, and the PLAN DDG-115, Shenyang, along with the PLAN Weifang, FFG-550 and thus build a PLAN ARG.

The completion of the US Carrier Strike group was centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) included Trumpeter's, USS Freedom, LCS-1, Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) is released from Trumpeter, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whichever Ford Class coms out in 1/350 scale, I will build it as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.

The US ARG will include Tamiya's 1/350 scale, USS Iowa, BB-62 (which I have already completed), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Gallery's 1/350 scale USS Sommerset, LPD-25, Bronco Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Acadamy's 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and another Flight IIA US AEGIS class detroyer based on Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Lassen, DDG-82...all of these models which I already own.

The completion of the UK Group featured the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious, R06 as its centerp[iece until a 1/350 scale Queen Elizabeth carrier is released. When that happens, I will add that carrier to the group as its centerpiece. The Royal Navy CSG will also include two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (one of which is already completed), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (one of which is already completed), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN (which is also already completed) and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Tragalgar SSN. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will use tt to start building a Royal Navy ARG.

The French CSG is centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle, R91. I have purchased the 1/400 scale Heller French De Grasse, D612 DDG, which is an ASW DDG, the French Duquesne, D603 DDG which is an anti-air multi-purpose DDG, and the French Aconit D612 FFG and Gueprattet F714 FFGs, both of which are Lafayette class frigates. These five vessels will round out my French CSG. As soon as a French Robin class nuclear sub, like the French Perale S606 SSN is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will purchase two of them and replace the De Grrasse and Duquesne with them, and then save those two for when a Mistral Class LPD is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale so I can create a French ARG with those vessels.

The completion of the Japanese JMSDF group was centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG and the JMSDF, DDG-174, Kongo class (which I own), Trumpeters's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami and DDG-111 (both of which are Takinami Class DDGs which I own), and by the 1/350 scale SS-503 Hakuryu (which I own), one of Japans new, very modern and capable AIP Diesel Electric submarines. As soon as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale is released, I will add it to this group. Should a 1/350 scale Osumi Class LPD be relased, I will buy two of those vessels and create a JMSDF ARG.

Then, finally it will be a complete Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov which I own) the Russian Kirov Class nuclear battle cruiser (CGN), the Peter the Great, by Trumpeter (which I own), the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udaloy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the new Yasen class Russian SSN (which I own), all in 1/350 scale. Some time in the more distant future when a 1/350 scale Russian version of the French Mistral class comes out (which is building in real life right now), I will add two of those and build a Russian ARG.

Recently I purchased Heller's 1/400 scale Foch, the Clemceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and became the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapaults. I will build the model as the Sao Paulo and thus start a Brazilian group, though the Type 22 DDGs and the FFGs the Brazilians use are not available at present. I have however purchased a set of 1/400 scale A-4 Skyhawks and S-3 Trackers to build a suitable airwing for the Sao Paulo.

Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Carrier Strike Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Carrier Strike Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimatly an Australian Strike Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian Carrier Strike Group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier, the Vikrant, and their Kolkata class DDGs and Shivlak class FFGs would also be nice.

Years more worth of work!

You can see all of these actual carriers, read their histories and specifictions at my site:

WORLD-WIDE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

...and most of their surface escorts at:

AEGIS AND AEGIS-LIKE VESSELS OF THE WORLD


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