Wow. When this came in, I thought about first doing only a sprue review, but elected pass. Several other web sites have sprue shots, but to me, as a modeler, I want to see the build and not unassembled sprues. So I started right off building. A quick look at the kit: 17 sprues with 2 clear. The kit I had is the export version and has a clear cowling. This also includes the standard clear sprue, two sprues of pilots, and a stand. There are two PE frets, decals, and a masking set (not precut). There is also the gigantic instruction book. The kit is as nice as advertised – but enough preview, let’s glue and paint.
Construction starts with the cockpit. The cockpit is faithfully products without a floor. There are about 40 parts, plus some options. Since there are differences between the schemes, you need to select early. One thing to note here: all the research I could find indicated that the early Birdcage corsairs have a dark-colored cockpit, so the primary color was dark green. I picked scheme A, Navy VF-17. Paint schemes were followed, as it looks like the research is excellent. I used Tamiya paint. The first thing you notice, everything fits...everything. The seat belts are photo etch and multipart and look nice. Many panels are separate for their instruments, which makes painting a dream. The parts are all there – the foot troughs, the extinguishers, and even a flare pistol.
The instruments are all done with solid panels, clear lenses, and decals for the back. These were masked with Elmer's glue and painted over, and once done the glue was pulled off and the gloss clear used. For all the black colors in the cockpit, I used Floquil Grimy black, as I wanted to weather the plane. Washes were done in black, the cockpit was dry-brushed with light gray, and a silver pencil was used to chip the paint.
The last thing added to the cockpit was gun sight and front. There are masks for the armored glass and multiple parts for the gun sight itself. This is added to the front of the cockpit. There is also the option for a pilot who is very well done, but I skipped this step.
To finish the interior, I built the sidewalls which are also multiple parts. A really nice touch here is separate parts to create the sills for the canopy. The remainder of the dials, throttle, etc., are all there. The flare gun is even well represented. There is also a photo etch backing to some of the instruments. To finish the back, there are bulkheads representing the area in the tail and the control arm for the horizontal stabilizer, too. One really nice feature is blanks with the correct ribbing which cover the two holes where the molded stabilizer tabs are located. One thing to note – the color of this area is a salmon color. This is a primer color used in early Corsairs and is correct from all I could tell. It does look strange.
Once all this was complete, the tail bulkheads and cockpit were added and the fuselage glued together. Don’t forget part F-8, which will eventually hold the tail wheel. It needs to be sandwiched between the fuselage halves. Tamiya also includes a forward bulkhead and a bar to provide correct spacing and add stiffness. Great engineering.
One everything was glued, I added the cowling cover (note: there is a panel which needs to be filled) and the front firewall. I added the exhausts to that, as well as the hump behind the pilots seat.
So far, there are two things that strike me. First is the fit and engineering. There is almost no filler needed, and what was added was my fault, but most of that is due to the people designing it knowing how to build kits. Second, the detail is superb. I doubt any aftermarket will make the cockpit better.
My thanks to Tamiya USA for the review sample and to IPMS for the chance to build it. Stay tuned for part two which will be the wings and engine builds...I am folding them!