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Bubbles! - a well used "Birdcage" Corsair


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F4U-1 “Bubbles”

 

After grinding away on one particularly difficult short-run model I decided to pull an “easy” kit out of the stash. I selected Tamiya’s 1/72 scale F4U-1 “birdcage” Corsair. Of course, the subject I chose to model ended up being a challenge in itself.

 

“Bubbles” was a particularly well photographed Corsair based at Guadalcanal in 1943. Sources disagree on whether she was assigned to the USMC’s VMF-124 or VMF-213 but I am inclined to believe the later. Regardless, her very well used appearance and distinctive weathering pattern (apparently she was a leaker) drew me to attempt to duplicate her as closely as I dared in a model less than 6 inches long.

 

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Built out of the box with addition of Eduard seatbelts and some scratchbuilt details such as the engine spark plug harness out of fine wire. Antenna wire is EZ-Line. Paints are mostly Vallejo Air Acrylics, with some AK and Tamiya colors here and there. Weathering was a combination of acrylic washes, AK chipping mediums, salt, and Tamiya weathering powders.

Edited by RainierHooker
grammar
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Beautiful paint job on this--so many variations in tone!  You'll need to provide us a lecture on how you got from point A to B on this, because the effect is persuasive.  The only thing that makes the top views NOT look like the real thing is the depth of the panel lines, but that's not on your account.  One thing that surprises me about this version of the Birdcage F4U is the little bump-out up top.  I'd never seen that before.

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Excellent work! I never realised how dirty these things got and going by the original photos you've nailed it.

Edited by Jay Gee
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Wonderful build and amazing weathering. Your skills are infinitely better than mine!

 

I see in the 1st photo that Bubbles was hardly unique in leaking. I expect the mechanics were more interested in keeping aircraft in the air rather than oil-tight.

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No such thing as "oil tight" on a big piston!  The nearest you can get is to slow the rate of leakage, but by design, these big engines become tighter as they heat up.  When they are run up on the ground, they tend to splatter oil, and the prop carries it backward along the external skin.  It's not as obvious on contemporary warbirds, because the owners wipe them down frequently, but you can imagine how it would have been under the circumstances of Guadalcanal, which was a touch-and-go campaign for the U.S.

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Thanks all for the kind words and encouragement.

 

22 hours ago, TheyJammedKenny! said:

Beautiful paint job on this--so many variations in tone!  You'll need to provide us a lecture on how you got from point A to B on this, because the effect is persuasive.  The only thing that makes the top views NOT look like the real thing is the depth of the panel lines, but that's not on your account.  One thing that surprises me about this version of the Birdcage F4U is the little bump-out up top.  I'd never seen that before.

 

I don't know about a lecture, but I can provide a brief rundown...

 

First the aircraft was sprayed with flat black, and then Vallejo "Aluminum" working from the center of individual panels, making a gradient near the edge. Sort of preshading in reverse.

Over this went AK "Worn Effects" which when dry was oversprayed with Vallejo "M-495 Light Grey" in the same manner as before making gradients with tending to be heavier on paint near the centers of panels. Some light chipping was done when this layer was dry.

One light coat of the "Worn Effects" went on over the gray and a few grains of salt were sprinkled here and there once it was mostly dry. A pretty well thinned Vallejo "M-485 Blue Gray" was then likewise sprayed over the gray where appropriate (topsides and the bottoms of the outer wings). Again working on gradients of the amount of paint from panel to panel. Chipping with salt removal and the "Worn Effects" followed.

Gloss coat, decals, and matte coat were done as normal. 

After the matte finish had dried I applied various washes of various brown and gray acrylics thinned with water, this is also when I did the oil staining and streaking, the latter accomplished by putting a dab of thinned acrylic brown and shooting it with an unloaded airbrush.

For the final step I really brought the fading and tonal gradients alive with what is quickly becoming a favorite product in 1/72 scale: Tamiya's Weathering Master powders. I mostly used their "Burnt Blue", "Gray" and "Snow" powders but used various browns here and there. I applied with the provided tool as well as cotton buds and the digits on my hands. For this step especially, I channeled Bob Ross and remembered that there are "only happy accidents". If I got bit too wild with one color, I would tone it down with another, or just lick my finger and smear it around a bit. Or both.

Once I finally finished playing with colored powders, I sprayed on one last matte coat and called it done.

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What the others have said- an incredibly realistic replica! If you had taken b&w photos of your model, you would be hard-pressed to tell it from the period photos of 'Bubbles!'

Mike

 

@TheyJammedKenny!,

The blister on the birdcage F4U-1 canopy  was added to allow the installation of a rear-view mirror; don't think those rear quarter transparencies did much good, especially as the armor plate on the backrest probably prevented much of a view behind for the pilot.

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