Vought F4U-1D Warbird
The Vought F4U Corsair was arguably the best fighter plane at the close of WWII. Unfortunately it did not get off to a such smooth start with the US NAVY, but it did continue to fly missions well into the Korean War that veterans will remember had pin point accuracy. It's difficult to find someone who is into warbirds that doesn't like the Vought F4U Corsair. The Corsair has always been my favorite. Vought Aircraft is very proud of their history, and they should be with their legacy. At the time of this build Vought was kind enough to share technical drawings, including sectional orthographic views of the corsair for all to see on their website. Not to mention the hundreds of photographs showing these fighters in action.
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
Unfortunately, for me, I could only build an imitation F4U Corsair. Fortunately, my Corsair while much smaller still provided tons of fun. As my readers might have imagined I started out with Google's Sketchup, which again, is provided by them free of charge for all to use. With the use of powerful computers and available information it's awesome to imagine what is possible to those that are allowed to freely do so. I took a lot of time making sure my Corsair was as close to being scale as possible, but decided to take a few liberties, as any artist might, when it came to recreation. Initially I regretted the sharp angle and lack of air scoops in the main wing as I deviated from scale, but this gives me the opportunity to tackle these finer details in future builds, as I am sure as I like flying, I will build another Corsair. It really is only a matter of time.As used inside Sketchup.
Manufacturing, the way of the future.
Prior to this model I had never made a wing from sheets of foam. I decided to change my methods for two reasons. Number one, was that it is greatly cheaper to build a wing from fan fold foam verses carved/hot-wired solid EPS foam blocks. Secondly, I was the happy owner of a brand new Phlatprinter which cuts foam with computer accuracy. And the result should be reproducible. Naturally there was a learning curve!
A hard lesson to learn.
had have much to learn about making airfoils out of sheets of foam. Needless to say there are tricks of the trade that make the whole process easier, but there is only one way to learn such tricks, and that's the hard way. For even if I was to lay out everything I had learned, and a good way to do it, someone else would find their own way with their own tricks. As such are the rules of the game, for everyone is an individual, and these continuous learning loops are what keep this hobby alive making 60 year old aircraft such as this Corsair. This brings up an interesting point. As I am sure with a classic fighter plane such as this, that has been modeled many times, someone along the way surely felt that perhaps they had created the "perfect" scale model Corsair out of balsa. Then suddenly people start making models out of other materials, such as foam. But who is to say that the original perfect Corsair is less perfect then it originally was. Well, someone who hates balsa, that's who! And that is the lesson, your model is specifically your model and that's exactly why we still build and model in our own way. And that's also the reason there are so many different models out there of the same type of aircraft! In the end all this inefficiency adds up to more variety, more supply, cheaper products, and better quality. And finally, the third wing was the winner. -Basically once cut, it's the same as forming the fuselage.
*Sigh* Another Corsair!
It's beginning to feel like old hat assembling these planes. Again, hand rolling the foam hot gluing a good butt joint to form a type of cylinder and then inserting the formers to shape the fuselage. For a more detailed look, please check out the P51-D build. There really is nothing to it once you've tackled one. Lately I've been taking the whole process one step further and peeling off the thin plastic covering that DOW puts on the foam. Once that is peeled off it gets a light sanding, some lightweight vinyl spackel, and then one more light sanding. At this point, the model is ready for fiberglass. For this corsair, as I build it in the dead of winter I didn't want the foul smelling zap epoxy in the house, and it really takes a long time to dry indoors, so I used Water Based Polyurethane (or commonly abbreviated WBPU). The WBPU dries very fast, and actually forms a more rigid lighter structure then the 2 part epoxy. However, I feel the Zap finishing resin leaves a better nice finish when applied correctly. The WBPU also may have induced a slight twist into the fuselage as it dried unevenly, but I can not prove that without further testing.
I love painting!
I love any excuse to get out my airbrush. Especially when it comes to painting models. This stage is my favorite part of the build because it really makes the model look the part. Dark blue however, is a challenging color to paint well. It's easy enough to get the base blue on, but then the tricky part is getting it to look more "alive." In this case I again turned to sketchup and printed out scale sets of images of the wings from the original drawings. Referencing photographs to find out what was metal and what was fabric I planned my approach. Using my hobby knife I cut out most of the lines on the paper templates. I lined up the templates and airbrushed on a basic layout of the panels.
From that point on out it was just a matter of swapping colors and cleaning the airbrush until I felt it looked just as I wanted it. The last step in painting was to get a paper towel and some good acrylic silver. Basically the silver was sponged on to emulate the typical wear on the airfoil. The good thing about working with acrylic is that it can be wiped of with a wet towel if you over do it.
This model looks beautiful in the air. It's light weight and powerful motor makes for a quick airplane that can really be fun to fly. The rudder will not cause this plane to stall out of the air, instead it pulls it into a flat turn. One has to be careful not to put themselves into a spin using this trick as I did when I first started flying it. I had made a graceful low pass and and the plane flew away from me I gradually pulled up, bleeding off speed. However in a slight climb flying away it's hard to judge exactly how much speed has been lost, this is the worst time to hit the rudder! Well I hit the rudder and at stall speed I induced the yaw necessary to begin the spin. I would have lost the model but I throttled up and it hit the soft glass ceiling 10 feet over the ground and simply flew away. Whew! But that shows how much it helps to lean towards an over sized motor when choosing one for your craft.
I've learned a few more things along the way after building this model. At the time of this writing I've experienced a servo failure in the elevator. It took crashing the aircraft to finally rule out all other trouble shooting options, as I originally thought the intermittent problem was receiver related. This repair is going to require me cutting into the tail to retrieve the servo. It's likely I will just replace the entire tail, and if I go that far, I may repaint the whole plane as it needs repairs to the nose anyhow. It's bad practice to mount your hardware in the control surfaces with no way for replacement if necessary. Also if I had to do it over again I would make the wing in a fashion similar to my latest model, the Hawker Typhoon 1B.
More images of this foam warbird are in the gallery.