Trumpeter 1/32 F4U-4XA

By Frank Mitchell

Surgeon General’s Warning

The following discussion contains several references that may cause severe symptoms and great angst among pickers-of-nits. Those who fit into that category may suffer heartburn, ulcer, and other nasty problems due to, among other things:

You have been warned.

This kit, Trumpeter’s first Corsair in 32nd scale, was acquired at a local Atlanta show a couple of years ago. It contained a boatload of aftermarket stuff, and since I had not built a Corsair for years (the last being a 32nd XF4U-1), I thought it might be interesting to do later version. Unfortunately, within about 6 months, the Tamiya kit was announced, so the Trumpeter kit ended up sitting on an obscure basement shelf.

However, a month or so ago, having nothing better to do, I did a little research and found one photo and a brief paragraph about this particular airplane in the first Squadron publication on the Corsair. What that meant is that, basically, everything on the model was either taken, or deduced from, that one photo and the couple of paragraphs that went with it. Turns out that it was the (or one of the) first prototypes of the F4U-4 and was built from an F4U-1A with the addition of the new, more powerful engine. Obviously, neither the spinner nor the square-shaped prop made it into production. The aircraft went through several incarnations but was, essentially an -1A from the firewall back. It had no armament or much of the other normal F4U equipment. It was simply an engine test bed.

Interestingly, I was able to find one other photo of this particular bird, but it was in a different (earlier?) configuration and had a somewhat different paint scheme.

The construction was pretty much a nightmare. Since this was a very early Trumpeter kit, it left much to be desired; lots of movable parts, overdone details, some rather crude details, lots of poor fits, etc.

Unfortunately, much of the aftermarket stuff included in the kit was for the Revell kit so, only some of it could be used. I was able to incorporate the resin cockpit and engine (if you don’t look too close) along with some wheels, a vac-form canopy, and smaller details, but the real construction pain was caused by the wings. What with getting rid of the overdone (and inaccurate) detail, the moving parts, etc., it came very close to having a brief, first test flight into the trash can, but being stubborn by nature.

The two parts that did interest me were, of course, the prop blades and the spinner. The picture gave a good idea of those shapes, so both were carved and/or turned from wood. Other small changes from a production -4 (such as the exhaust stack configuration, etc.) were also incorporated.

I obviously had to make some guesses on the finish. There was no way to determine what exact patterns were used for the blue paint nor for badges on the fin and cowling, so the latter were simply left off and we can all pretend that this particular configuration was changed the day before the picture was taken.

In summary, this was a strange build; I varied between wanting to put a firecracker in it and considering it to be a challenge. However, while it does give a fair impression of a prototype Corsair that I had never seen before, don’t look for it in a show any time soon.

© Frank Mitchell 2015

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This article was published on Thursday, May 21 2015; Last modified on Thursday, May 21 2015