has virtually taken over the 1/32nd scale market with a steady stream of superb kits. Beginning with their Spitfire IXc, the company is now releasing 2-3 propeller-driven aircraft models in the larger scale annually, including the recent F4U-1 ("birdcage") and F4U-1A ("bubble top") Corsair variants. Capping off the set would seem to be the F4U-1D recently released (reliable scuttlebutt is this will be the final Tamiya
large scale Corsair released).
The F4U-1D was the final variant produced during WW2; other Corsairs would fly on into the Korean War for the United States and much longer under other flags. Introduced in April 1944, the 1D featured a new water-injection engine that added an additional 250 hp. The extra power made the already fast Corsair max out at 425 mph (684 km/h). And with the air war against Japan seemingly winding down after a string of catastrophes beginning with the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," the Navy and Marines assumed they would need more ground support platforms than fighter interceptors.
Of course, the kamikaze
had not yet made its presence in the war known.
With the ground support role in mind for landings in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and later the Japanese Mainland, the 1D was fitted for rockets hung from metal under-wings (instead of the earlier fabric-covered wings), bomb pylons that typically carried two 500-pounders, and two drop tanks to help make up for the loss of performance due to drag from the new load-out. Additionally, the previous two-piece canopy was replaced with a one-piece "blown" clear-view canopy. As with earlier Corsairs, additional production was handled by both Goodyear (whose plains were designated FG-1D) and the troubled Brewster Aeronautical Corporation (models designated F3A-1D). In the Fleet Air Arm, there was no distinction between the F4U-1A and F4U-1D models, which were designated Corsair Mk II.
The kit comes in the typical Tamiya
box with a gorgeous color illustration of the plane in Navy markings. Inside you will find:
Over 450 parts in grey styrene
27 clear parts
11 separate styrene parts for two figures
4 pieces in black plastic (mostly for a stand for wheels-up display)
2 frets of PE
Self-adhesive metallic name plate
Self-adhesive masks for clear parts
2 vinyl tires
2 metal rods
Various screws, nuts, screwdriver, poly cap, etc.
2 sheets of decals with markings for 3 aircraft
Instruction book, background pamphlet about the Corsair, and color panting guide
I have already built the F4U-1 "birdcage" Corsair
and found it perhaps the finest model I have ever built. The level of detail is such that you don't really need any After-Market goodies, other than resin tires (the vinyl tires included in the kit are of better quality, but still restrict how much weathering you can do). I'm especially drawn to the Corsair because of its association with USMC aviation. No other plane is so closely-associated with Marine flyers than the Corsair. The "bird cage" version was a flop with the Navy, but USMC pilots loved the speed, climb and durability of the distinctive gull-wing fighter, and it became iconic for Marine Corps aviation in WW2.
F4U-1A "bubble top" continued the line with the plane that corrected some of the issues with the bird cage model. With a higher seat, better canopy visibility, and experience handling the wild torque of the Corsair's Double Wasp engine, the 1A began finding acceptance on flat tops, too. Finally as noted above, the 1D was the close air ground support variant, and Tamiya
has continued the excellence of the first two kits. Most of the sprue trees are identical across the three models. The 1D has several sprues not found in the earlier versions to handle the metal under-wings and the rockets and bombs intended for those wings.
The 1D fighter-bomber version has been eagerly anticipated by modelers of larger scale planes. That's because of all the features crammed into these kits. The flaps can be built in the lowered position for aircraft parked at a hard stand, or closed for take-off. The cockpit is exquisitely-detailed, including a two-piece instrument panel (frame and clear dials that you back up with a decal for the instruments themselves). The wheel wells need nothing additional, other than perhaps some wiring that superdetailers will want to add to the already great texture.
As with the other kits, the plane's wings can be built open or folded, with separate sections in the instructions, and distinct parts to handle either position (the wings can't be folded or unfolded, but must be built in one position or the other). Early Corsairs flew mostly off island bases, and so wings usually weren't folded (I have seen a photo of a folded-wing land-based Corsair, but it was rare). For a time, Goodyear was even producing Corsairs without the mechanism for folding the wings in order to save weight and boost performance.
But if you plan on modeling one of the hundreds of Corsairs that saw their service on both Fleet carriers and Escort or "Jeep" carriers, then the option for folding the wings is important. With the two options requiring different parts and assembly, I recommend reading the appropriate sections of the instruction manual before undertaking the build.
The kit also comes with two figures, one standing and one seated in the cockpit. While not even close to today's highly-detailed resin figures, they are still a welcome addition, given the sparse number of pilot figures available in this scale. There are several makers of 1/32 pilot heads that can improve the accuracy of these two offerings.
The accuracy of the kit is beyond dispute at this point, since it's basically the "Bubble Top" kit with additional sprues and metal wings. Some will find the "Zoukei-Mura Effect" annoying of having details on the interior that won't be visible when the kit is finished, but I enjoy the tour inside the guts of the bird this provides. In addition to resin tires, I'd also spring for some AM seat belts as the PE ones in the kit are a bit off-scale.
decals and painting
The kit comes with two marking versions.
VMF-351 (USMC) flying off the USS Cape Gloucester
(off Okinawa, Early 1945)
Vf-83 (Navy) off the USS Bunker Hill
(Iwo Jima landings, February 1945) with the famous white arrow on the tail)
The decals are generally pretty good for Tamiya, whose offerings are sometimes a bit too thick. But stencils are available for those who want to add their own markings, and after-market decal manufacturers including Fundekals have already announced sheets of other options.
Camouflage for the 1D is pretty basic: overall GSB (gloss sea blue) with white underbelly. One of the features of the Corsair is that the upswept portion of the underwing was always painted one of the blues of the upper fuselage because in silhouette, that portion of the underwing would be contrasted against blue skies.
It is my individual opinion that the [b]Tamiya[/b] Corsairs are not only the finest airplane models I have ever built, but the finest styrene models I have encountered. The perfection of their design and execution is matched only by the ease of assembly. While not entirely perfect-- you will want to tape over the gun ports as was done on carriers and on land, or else purchase .50 caliber barrels to simulate the recessed trio of guns inside each wing-- it's pretty close to perfection. Other than that, you can build this out of the box and never look back.