Drew Hatch shares his night fighting Korean War F4U-5, along with some of the history of this important aircraft in American aviation history. The aircraft Drew modeled was the mount of LT Guy Bordelon, who earned a Navy Cross. LT Bordelon was the navy’s only ace of the Korean war, it’s only prop ace, and the only night fighter ace.
The F4U had a long illustrious career. After WWII, it was relegated to flying in reserve units. The F4U-5 was the last production corsair for the US Navy and Marines. Following in the steps of the F4U-2 night fighter, the F4U-5 was tasked with the role of night fighter. Carrying a radar pod on the starboard wing and radar scope in the cockpit, it was tasked with defending the night skies above Korea against night intruders. These intruders earned the nickname: “bed check Charlie’s.”
A few years ago Hasagawa released a 48th scale version of this important aircraft. It is by far the most accurate late variant Corsair available.
Upon receiving my kit, I found some glaring omissions in the cockpit. First, the ‘eye brow’ arming switch boxes that sit atop the instrument panel shroud are missing. Also, the gun sight is fine for the day fighter, but is incorrect for night fighters. There was no throttle either. All these things are easily scratchbuilt. Since I was wanting to add a resin seat, the True Details cockpit was an easy choice to fix all the missing and incorrect parts.
Loaded with information on what I wanted to build, I set out construction with the cockpit. I took the resin instrument panel, since it fit better than the kit one, with the kit instrument panel decal. I punched out the individual instruments and applied them accordingly. This is somewhat time consuming, but the results are fabulous. I added some bits and other doo-dads to dress it up a little more.
For a dedicated night fighter, I removed the rocket pylons. That took some modification to the cannon fairings, but in the end, I think it was worth it. Most of the construction was straight forward. Take your time on the landing gear, if it is not aligned correctly, you can’t get it into the gear bays. The double wasp engine is beautiful. It rivals resin engines for what you see.
I chose to paint this one in Model Master enamels. Something I have not done in some time. The old favorites came back to “wow” me right out of the bottle. I used the kit markings VC-3 (fighter composite squadron) that came in the kit. They went down perfectly with only micro-set. There is some confusion to the color of the radar pod itself. Most photos’ show it to be white, or unpainted fiberglass to be accurate. Not being able to find a photo of that particular aircraft (not restored) I chose to follow the kit instructions and paint it black.
This was a fun and quick build. I will be building another, this time as a day fighter/bomber.
Drew Hatch has been an avid modeller since he was a teenager. Taking a modeling hiatus while flying in the Canadian Armed Forces, he picked it up again when he met his wife. They’ve been married ten wonderful years. Drew’s interests are naval and Canadian aviation, with an emphasis on the Pacific War. (Along with the slight detour into N. Africa during WWII.)