Italeri F4U-7 Corsair

Italeri's F4U-7 is the only late model kit in this scale currently available, and it's also quite a nice kit. It features somewhat heavy recessed panel lines, a moderately detailed cockpit which looks good with the addition of some seatbelts, wheel well detail (a bit shallow though), and a full load of fuel tanks and rockets. The kit goes together quite well, with some filling and filing needed at the joint between the front edge of the bottom centre section of the wing and the rear of the cowl. The biggest problem I encountered was the terribly undersized R-2800 engine (moulded as a single piece). Although the part has nice detail, it's small enough the fit through the front opening of the cowl, and just doesn't cut it when it comes to simulating the massive, fire-breathing R-2800. I replaced it with a white metal offering from Aeroclub. I only used the front row of cylinders, as I figured the back row wouldn't show. The kit prop also looks a little underfed to me, but I had nothing reliable to check it against. When this kit first came out, a lot was made of the fact that the forward fuselage was 1/8 inch too short (see May 1995 FineScale Modeler, p10), though I later read that other's measured the kit and found it to scale out quite well. In comparing with photos I can't spot any shortcomings (excuse the pun). The only other problem in assembly came when it was time to install the rockets- the fins are too large and the rockets interfere with one another. To remedy this I filed down the fins to the thicker section. This results in better fitting rockets, but the fins are now massively out of scale in terms of thickness. I also substituted a pair of 500 lb bombs from an Italeri B-57 for the drop tanks provided in the kit, with some scratchbuilt anti-sway braces.

The kit includes markings for a USMC bird and a Suez striped Aeronavale a/c. The decals are translucent, and darken over the dark blue base. I modified the kit decals and added a handpainted squadron insignia (a tiny pirate skull with a scarf) based loosely on a colour profile in an old Tamiya Model Magazine. I later found a photo showing that the aircraft whose serial number I depicted (using the kit decal) actually had a different side number. Oh well, you can't get them all right. Though the French received these aircraft new from the production line, photos of them in action show heavy weathering. I dulled the gloss of the dark sea blue finish with Humbrol Satin Coat, and added lots of chipped metal and exhaust staining. As a final touch I added some thinned blade antennae and a couple whip aerials to the underside.

Update (Mar 17, 1998): I have been recently informed (by Cyril Defever and Nowfel Leulliot) that the F4U-7 was not actually deployed to Indochina until after the end of hostilities. Flotille 14F, the squadron whose aircraft my model depicts, actually deployed without their F4U-7s, and had their aircraft replaced with AU-1s from the USS Saipan. The F4U-7 didn't arrive until April 1955, when Flotille 12F arrived, flying cease-fire monitoring missions. So it appears that my model actually does not depict an actual aircraft!

The best reference on French Corsairs is apparently Rene Bail's L'Aventure Corsair.

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