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Build Report: Tamiya’s 1/48 F4U-1A

I’ve always enjoyed building short-run kits, odd-ball kits, kits that others thought were a bit oddly shaped, or difficult. It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment, but rather I generally like a challenge. Plus, a lot of those oddball, older kits are cheap, so it’s worth a little effort to have some model building fun without spending a lot of money.

Of course, occasionally I like to build a kit that I know will just sort of fall together, without too many challenges. It gives me a sort of breather to do so. Usually, when I do want to build such a kit, I almost always turn to a Tamiya kit. Among all model makers. Tamiya has a reputation for being about as flawless as you can get for most of their models. The fit and detailing, especially given the cost for most of their 1/48 aircraft, is unmatched.

The only way to top all of that is if it’s free. And thank the Lord, this one was, courtesy of my good friend, and brother in Christ,  Tom Winter.

It’s really difficult to write a build report of a Tamiya kit. It gets a bit redundant for the most part.  When everything fits so well, there is not a lot to tell besides “I painted some stuff and glued some stuff and then painted and weathered and decaled.” For most Tamiya builds, that’s about it.

But just so I can call this a build report, I’ll go into a bit more detail.

The cockpit is nice. The fit is perfect. Tamiya’s 1/48 kits do a great job of balancing detail and engineering. There is just the right amount of detail for an out-of-box build, and not too many parts to be fiddly. Paint and dry brushing make for a fine interior. I did add some photoetch belts, but that was it.

The engine is nicely detailed. I tried to jazz it up a bit by adding a few ignition wires, though my efforts were a bit clumsy and created problems down the road. No fault of the kit- purely a problem of my own making. I did not account for the part that is fitted to the front of the cylinders that the prop attaches to adequately when I super glued my ignition wires in. So I had to do some creative cutting of plastic, and it still stands out a bit to  far.

The fuselage halves go together perfectly. With an application of Tamiya Extra Thin cement, all that is needed is a bit of sanding to remove the weld bead from the glue.

The only issue I had was fitting the flaps to the wings. I just wasn’t sure how some of them fitted in relation to each other, and in the end I just sort of guessed, though I did check some photos to try and get angles and alignments correct. I’m not sure if I mis-aligned something with the wings, or what, but it just seemed a bit fiddly. Though keep in mind, saying “a bit fiddly” on a kit that fits like this means it was not 100% apparent…. it took me three or four minutes of test fitting to figure it out. So we’re not talking anything that really amounted to a big deal. And it may have just been my own problem of not following directions carefully.

Painting was simple- Tamiya flat white for the undersides, and Tamiya XF-17 and XF-18 for the uppers. Those two are not the “correct” colors per se, as conventional wisdom says you need to do some mixing to get the right shades. However, I’m not really conventional, and I am a bit lazy, so I figured that after fading, weathering, etc., it would fit the TLAR test. (That Looks About Right.) And oddly enough, I’ve had several folks who I greatly respect as modelers tell me “Hey, those colors are right on!” So I won’t tell if you won’t. 🙂

I did some post shading using shades and tints of the bases colors, both before and after decaling, and then later used some Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan to further weather it. I also applied some paint chipping, oils, and an oil wash of the panel lines before sealing it all up with Vallejo dull coat.

I used the kit decals, and they went on fairly well. If I had any criticism of Tamiya kits, it would be the decals. While they work fine, they always seem to be a bit thick, and given how outstanding the rest of their kits are, it’s always a bit of a downer to not have decals that are every bit as good as the kit quality.

When it’s all said and done though, Tamiya’s Corsair is just about perfect. It looks every bit the part of the Corsair, I think, and is time well spent.

Thanks again, Tom, for the wonderful blessing of this gift! I had a great time building it!