Bob Smith Industries 900x250 v2

Detailing the Top Flite Giant Scale F4U Corsair ARF

Detailing the Top Flite Giant Scale F4U Corsair ARF

As I mentioned previously, besides applying custom markings and decals, another great way to improve the looks of your ARF warbird is to add simple details and weathering. You can do this very easily with marking pens and various decals available commercially. Here’s how I applied my make-over to this impressive giant scale bent-wing warbird.

The first thing you go to do is find some documentation sources so you can see what the real deal looked like. I have a pretty big scale aircraft library of books and 3-view drawings I have collected over the years so, for the Corsair, I was all set. Before weathering be sure to apply all your markings and aircraft lettering. For the best appearance you want to detail and weather directly over the markings so it looks like it too has been weathered.

An excellent guide for typical wear and weathering patterns are the detailed colored “profiles” featured in many Aircraft books. This is the one I am using.

Published 3-view drawings are extremely helpful for placement of the panel lines. For the Corsair, I found that dark blue lines looked better than black. I am using a Ultra-Fine Tip Sharpie pen for the panel lines. This is great because if you mess something up, you can use some solvent and wipe the ink away, yet, the pen makes a line that stands up well to gasoline engine residue.

I start applying details to the tail surfaces to get into the mood. Also, the silver “paint” tipped Sparpie SILVER pen makes excellent rivets. At least I think so. Often the paint on top of the rivets would chip off leaving aluminum rivet heads exposed.

Here’s the vertical fin and rudder. I drew right over the White Tail Letters and it looks pretty good. The circles represent inspection covers and they are all over the tail surfaces of the Corsair. Remember, this is a sport airplane, and not intended for competition. Fun scale maybe. I just wanted to add more interesting eye candy to the plane.

Here is the Wing Radiator treatment straight out of the box.

Here’s the radiator opening painted and weathered. I masked them off and painted the inner surfaces flat black, then added bits of silver with the Sharpie pen and then did a little smudging with some silver colored Rub-n-Buff.

Here’s a close-up of the tail from the Profile drawing. Notice the wearing at the leading edge.

The front deck forward of the cockpit is very distintive and requires making that big circular panel with the fuel filler cap. I will still be adding screw heads around inner edge.

Bits of silver and blue lining helps define the cooling flaps.

I only picked up to highlights of the major panel lines to just give the appearance of metal work.

You can see from this photo of a museum kept Corsair that silver is a good choice for rivet and screw detail. Check out the wear around the canopy!

Below, you can see from an actual color photo from the Korean war, that the rivets and screw heads show through with chipped and worn blue paint.

I will be adding more photos as the process continues. The idea here is “less is more” as you don’t want to over-do it with the weathering. Less is always better because we don’t want the plane to look like it crashed! We want it to look USED!

As you can see, Corsairs flying in modern day airshows, have little or no obvious wearing or weathering… Do they look realistic??? interesting thought for scale modelers.

These very cool scale rub-on screw head and rivet decal graphics from Cal-Grafx Art are a great way to apply consistently spaced fasteners over a long length like the side of the fuselage or along the wings. watch for a detailed post coming soon.


Updated: July 8, 2015 — 5:21 PM


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  1. Keep up the good report Gerry.Did you know the weird white marking on the nose are apparently tape to contain oil spills from the oilfiller,just in front of the windscreen.The Mustang has the oil filler in the same spot and a slow roll will soon show you that the oil cap has been left off. regards george holding

  2. Thanks Gerry, I’ve been trying to follow your build on this massive project.. Looks so good. Thanks again for sharing.
    Terry Bolin, Neosho, MO

  3. Terry. No worries man! I had a great time putting this plane together and I am having even more fun at the flightline with it! I have about 10 flights on it at present and it just keeps getting better and better. It goes where you point it and it is one of the nicest landing giant scale warbirds I’ve flown!

  4. @ George. Thanks for leaving your comments. Yes I did know the white lines forward of the windshield on many Corsairs was sealing tape for the fuel tank! It’s just another feature that makes the Corsair so distinctive!

  5. Perfect timing! I have a bent wing in the box sitting on my workbench right now!

    Thanks a lot,

  6. Gerry,
    I congratulate you for his excellent work with the corsair continue putting more buildings of the same … God Bless

    Mario B

  7. I served with VMF 232 in Floyd Bennet Naval Air Station and at the EL TORRO Marine Air Station as a plane captain for the 1st Marine Air Wing. Sgt. Al Quiles

  8. Great series, did you ever install the gear doors?

  9. Hi I’m looking for panel drawing and riveting for my corsair f4u from top flights giant scale.

  10. Hi I’m looking for panel line documandation for corsair f4u from top flight giant scale

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