My Second 1/32 Scale F2G Corsair
By Rodney Williams
I started my research in 1984 on the F2G Corsairs that were only made at Goodyear Aircraft Corporation (G.A.C.), in Akron, Ohio. My Dad was an engineer and worked at GAC, so I got to go to the factory and watch them build Corsair fighter planes from 1943 to late 1945.
We have to remember that there were no home computers, let alone the web to use for any type of research back in the 1980s.
Soon after I joined San Jose Scale Modelers in San Jose, California in January 1984, a fellow modeler (Barry Bower) said that there were no 1/32nd scale F2G kits on the market and I would have to convert one of the present day F4U-1 kits by Revell. Barry gave me a 8”x10” black and white print of the F2G racers that was printed in MODEL AIRPLANE NEWS – APRIL, 1958. The printout showed a 3-view drawing of the F2G Corsair with retrospect to Cook Cleland’s racers #57, 74 & 94.
Additional material came from the book titled: F4U CORSAIR in action, which was published by “SQUADRON/SIGNAL PUBLICATIONS AIRCRAFT NO. 29 by Jim Sullivan and Don Greer - © 1977.
By joining the Society of Air Race Historians, (SARH) in 1984, additional information was provided for my project. Two people stand out concerning this program and they were Jim Butler and Ron Eminger. Their home base was in the Cleveland, Ohio/USA area. Jim was one of the top people in SARH and Ron was a true “master modeler” as he was scratch-building F2Gs and other racing aircraft in 1/24th scale.
We did a lot of letter writing in those days plus many phone calls! They sent me technical data, including a few photos of Cook Cleland’s four F2G racers (No’s 57, 74, 84 & 94), including Ron Puckett’s F2G racer #18. These F2Gs flew in the annual Cleveland National Air Races at the local international airport in Cleveland, Ohio. I was familiar with said airport as I went to all the races from 1946 to 1949.
My first 1/32nd F2G Corsair was built during the mid 1980s and turned out to be the flashy looking red and white racer with number 57 painted on its wings and fuselage. (This model can be viewed on this web site).
Ron and I met up at the 1986 IPMS/USA National Convention that was held in Sacramento, California. He brought his scratch-built 1/24th scale F2G #74 racer to the contest and won the first place award for the model. I met up with Ron at the 1987 IPMS/USA Washington, D.C. National Convention. I took my red and white #57 racer to the show and to my surprise it won a first place award in the “conversion” category. After the show I went back to Akron to see my family. My brother drove me up to Ron’s home in Euclid, which is next door to Cleveland, Ohio.
Ron and I met up with Jim Butler and we three drove out to Walter Soplata’s airplane museum. Lo and behold there sat Cook’s racer #74 out in the open. I took a few photos of Walter’s airplane collection.
Years later with the invention of the home computer and the Internet I was able to scan my photos then post them to a model airplane website.
You can view this story on ARC’s web site, Welcome to Walter Soplata’s Airplane Junkyard.
A Brief History of This Crashed F2G Corsair - BU-14695
GAC’s chief test pilot DON ARMSTRONG was flying No. 14695 and his sidekick Art Chapmam was at the controls of No. 14692, during late afternoon and early twilight hours on December 12, 1945. Both aircraft developed mechanical problems with the airplane’s hydraulics.
Art had one gear down and one up so a “one-gear landing” could mean certain death. Art could not solve the landing gear problem and was ordered to bail-out and let the plane crash somewhere. Art followed orders and turned the F2G upside down and bailed out and he landed safely. I have no record of where the plane crashed. It must have been near the Akron airport as the “airport” was more-or-less out in the country. I have no record as to what happened to the wrecked F2G, so I assume that GAC went out to the crash site and did what ever was necessary.
Don was advised by ground control to do “what’s best’s” so Don choose to try and “belly-in” his F2G as he had lost hydraulics and both gears were still up inside the wings with the access door’s closed. The enclosed photo is from Don’s personal photo collection, which shows that he successfully got the bird on the ground in one piece at the Akron, Ohio airport.
A company crane was used to lift the plane off the ground however one of the crane’s cables broke and the unit came crashing down on the bird. The Navy decided not to rebuild it and the plane was scrapped. I searched the web but never found any photos of the devastation to said bird.
If you can find a copy of Don Armstrong’s book titled: “I FLEW THEM FIRST” Don relates his story concerning his experience flying the F2Gs. Don mentions my name on page six. His book was published by “Champlin Fighter Museum Press” Falcon Field, Mesa, Arizona 85205. Copyright © by Don Armstrong 1994. Doug is no longer in the business, but maybe you can still buy the book at the CAF Museum at Falcon Field, Mesa, AZ. If you find the book, check out pages 112 & 113.
The Building Process
I don’t remember why I chose the “CRASHED-F2G” for my second project but maybe it was for this reason(s). “I can build it faster if I don’t revise the wheel wells and scratch-build the main landing gear struts, tires and rims.”
In the mid 1980s I bought several 1:32 scale Corsair F4U-1 kits made by Revell. The kit number is H-278-380 and is © 1970. I paid a whopping $7.00 for each kit. Somehow Revell got the kit’s I.D. data wrong as these kits are really F4U-1As. On page 6 of Squadron’s book No 29 it shows 10 side-view drawings of Corsairs. The first one is the XF4U-1. Next comes the F4U-1, which has a nickname of "birdcage". The third drawing is none other than the F4U-1A and the Revell kit is identical to said drawing. The 10th side view drawing show’s the F2G-2. The enclosed kit plans identifies that the model is truly a F4U-1A and not the F4U-1 Birdcage version.
BTW/FYI: All F2Gs that came off the assembly line were F2G-2s. There were no “real” F2G-1s. Had GAC’s assembly line got into production, the F2G-1s were to be built for the Marines and did not have folding wings, which would have been locked down in flight position. The F2G-2s were made for the Navy and had hydraulic folding wings. There were “NO-MANUAL” folding wings on the F2Gs. I had 3 GAC engineers relate this data to me, including Cook Cleland who owned 4 F2Gs.
There were no digital still cameras in those days so I used my professional Hasselblad-500EL/70mm still camera system to take some in-progress building photos. Due to the cost of film, developing and printing service from a professional film lab in San Francisco, California I did not expose dozens of negatives. Today, I take hundreds of digital images when building a model. Anyway I will let the photos tell the story and you can surmise what was going on during the building process.
When I built No. 57 racer I made some master patterns as I knew I was going to build a few more 1/32 scale F2Gs using the old Revell F4U-1 kits.
Using my pre-made cockpit patterns I cut out all the parts from some Evergreen card stock. Here are some photos showing the finished cockpit.
My next project was building the tail wheel area, including the tail wheel. You will note that the tail wheel and rim are white, which I carved out of card stock.
With the cockpit and tail wheel area finished I glued the two fuselage halves together as it was time to revise the fin, rudder and add the 11-1/2” tall auxiliary rudder. A few people wrote that the auxiliary rudder was 12” tall. I measured the auxiliary rudder on BU No. 88454 at Doug Champlin’s Fighter Museum in December, 1986. I used my master patterns and had Roy Sutherland cast my parts. I used some small diameter brass rod and built some push rods for my trim tabs. Bill Ferrante, another San Jose, CA modeler got into making cast resin parts so I got him to cast more parts for me.
From experience I knew that you could see two rows of engine cylinders clearly so my engine conformed to this idea. In reality you could make out a third row of cylinder’s if you looked real close inside the new elongated cowling (forget the fourth row of cylinders). Bill cast my engine parts, including the one-piece cowling and a new 14’0” diameter 4 blade propeller with its hub.
Bill talked me into making a master of the following parts: complete engine with 7 cylinders on each of the 4 banks, totaling 28 cylinders and 7 magnetos, exhaust stacks, wheel wells and their doors, hydraulic actuators, main gear strut, including the angle braces, tire and rim, flaps, ailerons and we included the tail wheel assembly. We tossed in both of the leading edge new style air inlets.
It’s time to work on the wing air inlets and close in the wheel-wells, then scribe-in all the panel lines. I handcrafted the clear wing tip lights and the round recognition lights on both wings.
With the fuselage finished, including the addition of all the panel lines, it was inspection time and of course there were a few minor things to fix. The 2 outer wing panels were aligned and glued to the inner wing section, which incorporated the bottom of the fuselage. A few more panel lines were added and some sanding was necessary.
I have on hand a couple of pre-painted pieces of aluminum from one of GAC’s F2G Corsairs, dating back to 1945 so I did my best to match this color using my Tamiya Acrylic paint.
The fuselage and center wing sections were painted this chromate green color and the rest of the plane was paint the regular gloss sea blue. My research says that Vought shipped in the pre-painted outer wing panels, including the tail plane parts. You will note that the extension fin pedestal and auxiliary rudder are painted the same color as the fuselage. GAC fabricated those parts for all the F2Gs.
On final assembly the prop was heated over a burning candle then bent to shape. A pre-made tension spring was attached to the tip of the fin and then I added the ladies black hair for my antenna wire. I built a wooden base and covered it with modeling grass and I used “baking soda” for my snow.
My records show that I started on this F2G project around 1991 and got the model finished sometime in late 1998. It was entered in our club’s annual contest in early 1999 and was awarded a first place trophy.
In mid 2010 I decided to enter the model at the IPMS/USA 2010 Phoenix, Arizona National Convention so I check out the model and discovered a big mistake.
I used green modeling grass on my base and covered it with some baking soda to represent the snow that was in the photo. Hey, I lived in Ohio and there is no green grass to be found in the month of December!
It’s winter time - the grass had to go. I lifted the model off the base and brushed off the baking soda but not all of it came off. To solve that problem, I took my model to the kitchen sink and used some warm water and gently brushed off the rest of the baking soda…WOW! OFF CAME THE PAINT.
I carefully sanded the paint-less areas and repainted the model. This time I used modeling snow and dead “modeling” grass on my base. I assumed that over time the baking soda soaked up some moisture and stuck to the paint.
(I learned a good modeling lesson – don’t use white backing soda for snow).
The model took a third place award at the IPMS/USA 2010 contest. I have written a value price of ten grand on my digital image of this model and the price is two fold. One is for my insurance company and the other one is the sale price. I spent over 2,000 hours building the model. Over the past 25 years I have built several ten grand models for clients (1986 to 2011), so why can’t I sell this model for the same price?
I may convert my #9 F2G that is on LSP and make it into racer #74 in memory of the following people:
- Cook Cleland
- Dick Becker
- Walter Soplata
- Robert Odegaard
If not, then this story is my last photo story for Large Scale Planes as I have no more 1:32 scale models on hand. Due to my shaky hands I have to quit model building.
I have had a good time building models since 1977 and at 83 years old it’s been a darn good ride and I have met lots of fine modelers along the plastic road. I will continue to write manuscripts for the two modeling clubs that I belong to out in California, Silicone Valley Scale Modelers & the Fremont Hornets.
More stories will be drafted up for our bi-monthly “Golden Pylons” newsletter for SARH. If you are an air race fan, join SARH @ www.airrace.com. The annual dues are only USD$20.00 and it’s never increased since I joined in 1984.
Cheers and happy modeling “FAKE SNOW”.
Rodney J. Williams
IPMS/USA #21268 1984-Present
Life Member: Silicon Valley Scale Modelers 1984-Present (www.svsm.org)
Life Member: Fremont Hornets, 1984-Present
Long time member: 1984-Present - Society of Air Race Historians (SARH)
© Rodney Williams 2014
This article was published on Tuesday, September 23 2014; Last modified on Wednesday, September 24 2014