Trumpeter | 02221: 1/32 F4U1-D Corsair

Reviewed by Chris Sherland

A Brief History of the Corsair

In 1938 the US Navy published a requirement for a new ship-born fighter that could match the higher performance land-based fighters of the day. The Vought design team's response was a realization of pure function. The Corsair's fundamental design elements were relative to each other in a way that brings that fact to light.

The Pratt and Whitney R-2800 was chosen for it's power (1800 HP at the time). This engine demanded a stout airframe and that in turn required a huge propeller to adequately harness that power to the airframe. The size of the propeller however demanded an hefty ground clearance. This combined with the fact that ship-born landing gear by design was stronger when length was kept minimal resulted in the gull-wing design. This element allowed the gear to remain shorter by mounting it on the apex of the dip in the wing. With the gear so mounted the enormous 13 ft propeller could spin freely without fear of ground contact when the plane was rotating for flight. All these connected elements gave the Corsair it's look.

Ultimately however the F4U proved to be a hazardous bet for Carrier operations. While deployed successfully on carriers, the Corsair was a challenge to land and take off on the ground, let alone on the pitching deck of a carrier that left very little room for error. Most F4U units during WWII were deployed on land bases.

One of the first US combat fighter designs to reach and exceed 400 MPH, the Corsair was destined to be a powerful and deadly aircraft. With 6 .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the wings, and eventually able to also carry rockets, bombs and extra fuel, the F4U became a staple fighter-bomber in the Pacific Theater during WWII.

Later versions of the Corsair saw action in Korea as ground attack aircraft, and a 20mm equipped F4U-4 flown by Lt. Jesse G. Folmar shot down a MiG-15 to score one of the only Corsair Vs Jet kills in that conflict.

The Kit

Trumpeter has made a large impact on the 1/32 scale market with frequent and bold releases since their legendary A-10 in 2001. With a gradual focus shift to WWII subjects, the F4U Corsair has long been on the wish list since Revell's old offering. Trumpeter's response is not one, but two versions of the Corsair. This review covers the F4U1-D.

355 pieces on 10 sprues make up the kit. Rubber tires, a PE fret for articulation hinges used on the flight surfaces, a detailed flight gauge film, and high-quality decals for 2 ships round out the offering packed in Trumpeter's classic "bunker box." The cowling is molded in clear plastic to allow for viewing of the detailed engine.

Full views of all the sprues as well as a Trumpeter build can be seen at the Trumpeter website

Markings are included for a CAF "restored" bird in VMF 213 colors (some builders may want to leave the "Confederate Air Force" decal in the spares box here to better represent the actual combat aircraft), and a USS Cape Glouchester-based VMF 351 ship. The decal sheet in the review sample was in perfect register and crisply printed.

The R-2800 is really one of the high points of this kit. At 106 pieces, the engine lacks no detail. Some small shape and molding issues make the main gear housing look a little "odd," but with pushrods and wiring harness included here, very little effort will be needed to turn out a stunning radial engine here.

The clear pieces are accurate and well molded, and have Trumpeter's classic textured surface to help guide masking. While not unique to Trumpeter, this technique is quite welcomed by the reviewer, and should allow for an easy ride to getting a nice sharp line between paint and glass.

Shape and Accuracy

A quick comparison to some trusted profiles shows overall accurate shape. And that's all this reviewer cares to spend the time checking...since building and painting a kit take up enough valuable free time.

However it should be noted that three areas of this kit are inaccurate enough to cause an eyesore if stared at too long. These items are located aft of the cowling on the underside of the fuselage and center wing, and on the gear doors. They all exist on the bottom of the aircraft. While I imagine that's better than on the top, they are exposed here for your review.

The Exhaust Fairings Size and Shape

The R-2800 feeds a complex exhaust design on the F4U1-D that brings a total of 6 pipes out of 2 fairings below and behind the engine bay/cowling area. These are quite distinctive and have been mis-shapen in this kit. The fairings in the kit are too large and give the area in question a gape that is visually disturbing. As well the kit offered pipes end up looking quite lonely in the larger openings and lack the tight and tidy look of the real thing.


The exhaust openings looking a bit long and fat on the kit compared to a technical drawing.

The Main Gear Door and Bay Shapes

Another stumble is the shape of the main gear doors and bay openings. These again are quite distinctive on the Corsair as the doors face forward (indeed there are accounts of pilots using them as dive brakes in combat). The Trumpeter design team failed to capture the outline here, and have made a more stark and geometric shape, losing the more subtle lines of the "shoulders" on these doors.

For a complete fix, both the doors and the bay openings will need to be re-shaped.

The Cowling Flaps

As one might guess if you splice a cylinder vertically along it's radius, and perpendicular to it's bottom and top edges, the result will yield rectangular shaped sections. Somehow this basic geometric truth was lost on the Trumpeter design crew. They molded the cowling flaps open (in a "cooling" attitude), and yet designed the piece so that all the cowling flap edges were equidistant when open. This results in cooling flaps that are trapezoidal rather than rectangular, and look like they are wider at their trailing edge than they are at their mounting edge. If Trumpeter's cooling flaps were to close in an altered reality, they would all collide together at their trailing edges and leave gaps at the mounts.

Quite frankly, an astounding error in this reviewer's eyes.

Repairing these items may indeed be a bit of work. Some scratch-building, filling, shaping and sanding will be needed to remedy them, and no doubt dig into the build time. While the kit looks like it will build up well OOB, Corsair fans may not be able to let these three items go unfixed.

In Conclusion

While miles and miles above the old Revell kit, the Trumpeter Corsair falls short in shape and accuracy, and suggests some needless custom work to bring it into line. These errors point to a flaw in Trumpeter's project management in my opinion. And somewhere in their process a check or balance is missing.

That said this will build into a very impressive model, even OOB Look at this image from the Trumpeter site for example:

Here one can see all three errors. Are they really that bad? You decide, after all it'll be on your bench, and then it'll take up some serious room in your display at a 390mm wing span.

An impressive build of the kit can be found here on LSP by Rick Cotton...

Review Sample Compliments of the proverbial "checkbook".

© Chris Sherland 2004

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016