These two new completions – an AMT SB2C-4 Helldiver and a Hasegawa F4U-4 Corsair – will be significant upgrades from the Matchbox models they replace in the display cabinet. The AMT Helldiver kit is actually older than the Matchbox – it was first released in 1967 (mine is a 1969 boxing) versus 1973, but it’s a better kit, and of the more numerous SB2C-3-5 variants. The Matchbox is of the rare SB2C-1. And the Corsair is a very nice 1981 Hasegawa kit updating a 1972 Matchbox which wasn’t even of a WW II Corsair variant.
But even the new Helldiver and Corsair are midrange kits – I now have in the stash much more advanced on both (a 2016 reboxing of a 2005 Academy/Minicraft SB2C and a 2000 Tamiya F4U).
Why The Upgrade?
I’m working on older kits to (1) clear the stash; and (2) build up some experience and modeling skills. Back when I first started back into the hobby – probably 1990s – I bought any carrier aircraft model I saw just because I knew there were so many subjects I wanted to build. But as time goes by, given how long the models take to build I am being more choosy in my subjects and the kits I build from. And I build “replacement” aircraft regularly as new kits come out – I’ve replaced my original Spitfire, Wildcat, Dauntless, and now Helldiver and Corsair. And am slated to replace another Dauntless, an Avenger, a B-25, a Devastator, and add another Hellcat, two Corsairs and two Dauntlesses.
These kits aren’t the best examples of the aircraft they portray, so I treated them as an opportunity to learn more about the aircraft and modeling techniques, as well as upgrade the versions on the display shelf in the workshop. They got a little light weathering, but knowing there were better versions in the pipeline, I didn’t sweat the details. They were fun builds, and both were completed in six days.
Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver – White 205 – VB-84; USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), February 1945
I made several modifications to the AMT kit, based on Bert Kinzey’s analysis of it in his Detail & Scale publication on the F4U. First, I filled in the inaccurate rocket mounts holes and scratchbuilt new ones. Second, I changed the kit’s bomb bay doors from the longer -5 variant to the shorter one used by the -4, added some fictional detail, and placed the kit’s 1,000 pound bomb. Finally, as with the Matchbox kit I added leading edge wing slats – whenever the landing gear was down the slats would extend.
I used the VB-84 markings from the Academy SB2C kit.
Vought F4U-1D Corsair – 1st. Lt. Dean Caswell – VF-84; USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), February 1945
The Hasegawa Corsair was built out of the box, with the “oil tape” decal deleted and the top of the fuselage in front of the cockpit in Non-Specular Sea Blue instead of glass because photos of the aircraft at the time indicated that was a correct appearance. Not all the aircraft had the tape, and I opted for the cleaner appearance. (I may go back and add it).
The Tokyo Raids
The yellow cowlings and arrows were a mark of the carrier U.S.S. Bunker Hill (CV-17)’s air group for the February 1945 Tokyo Raids. The carrier’s air group’s geometric sign was the arrow, and the yellow cowling was a temporary mark for the raid (obviously not very temporary because they are still wearing it in April off Okinawa). I replaced one VF-84 Corsair (White 110) with another (White 183) and the new Helldiver is from VB-84, which was also part of the raid. My next torpedo bomber will be a VT-84, so I’ll have a complete set. I’m not particularly interested in that ship or raid – it’s just a popular model topic, so I have extra decals for it for these “second-tier” subjects.