The F4U Corsair is a flying legend, of that there is no doubt. I have always liked the robust design of Vought’s WWII naval fighter which served in all theatres of WWII, but most notably in the Pacific with the US Navy, the Royal Navy and the US Marine Corps.
Such was the rugged, tough endurance of this fighter that it stayed in service after the war and saw action in Korea. It is this chapter of the Corsair’s story that finds us here today.
Last Christmas I was given Hasegwa’s 1/48 F4U-5N Corsair and upon opening the box, I noticed some distinct differences from the Corsair’s that I have built before. The 5N was a ground attack, night fighter. Bigger engine, longer fuselage more war load. What’s not to like?
They also painted some of them in black. Now that really fired my imagination!
The Vought Corsair F4U-5N:
During the Korean War, the Corsair was used mostly in the close-support role. The AU-1 Corsair was developed from the F4U-5 and was a ground-attack version which normally operated at low altitudes: as a consequence the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-83W engine used a single-stage, manually controlled supercharger, rather than the two-stage automatic supercharger of the F4U-5.
The versions of the Corsair used in Korea from 1950 to 1953 were the AU-1, F4U-4B, -4P and -5N and 5-NL. There were dogfights between F4Us and Soviet-built Yakovlev Yak-9 fighters early in the war, but when the enemy introduced the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, the Corsair was outmatched. On 10 September 1952, a MiG-15 made the mistake of getting into a turning contest with a Corsair piloted by Marine pilot Captain Jesse G. Folmar, with Folmar shooting the MiG down with his four 20 mm cannon. In turn, four MiG-15s shot down Folmar minutes later; Folmar bailed out and was quickly rescued with little injury.
F4U-5N and -5NL Corsair night fighters were used to attack enemy supply lines, including truck convoys and trains, as well as interdicting night attack aircraft such as the Polikarpov Po-2 “Bedcheck Charlies”, which were used to harass United Nations forces at night. The F4Us often operated with the help of C-47 ‘flare ships’ which dropped hundreds of 1,000,000 candlepower magnesium flares to illuminate the targets.
For many operations detachments of U.S. Navy F4U-5Ns were posted to shore bases. The leader of one such unit, Lieutenant Guy Bordelon of VC-3 Det D (Detachment D), off USS Princeton, become the Navy’s only ace in the war, in addition to being the only American ace in Korea that used a piston engined aircraft. Bordelon, nicknamed “Lucky Pierre”, was credited with three Lavochkin La-9s or La-11s and two Yakovlev Yak-18s between 29 June and 16/17 July 1952. Navy and Marine Corsairs were credited with a total of 12 enemy aircraft.
More generally, Corsairs performed attacks with cannons, napalm tanks, various iron bombs and unguided rockets. The 5 inch HVAR was a reliable standby; sturdy Soviet-built armor proved resistant to the HVAR’s punch, which led to a new 6.5 in (16.5 cm) shaped charge antitank warhead being developed. The result was called the “Anti-Tank Aircraft Rocket (ATAR).” The 11 inch (29.85 cm) “Tiny Tim” was also used in combat, with two under the belly.
The 5N certainly distinguished itself in combat as a night fighter and in the ground support role. It was one of the last great warbirds to be retired from operational service and I have to say has a place in my heart. With those 20mm cannon’s, bombs and rockets hanging off its wings it was a true Marine Corps mud mover. Big, aggressive and deadly.
This is Hasegawa’s 1/48 F4U-5N. It was a gift from my good friend Frank who absolutely loves Corsair’s, so I had better do a good job here! When I looked at the marking options in the box for this model, I was immediately drawn to the all black night fighter scheme of USNC Squadron VMF(N)-513 based at Kunsan, Korea in 1953.
Here is the progress I have made on the project so far:
Engine: This is the kit engine with some added copper wire to add a little detail. It has been painted in metallics and then treated with AK Interactive Engine wash. The engine manufacturer badge is a decal provided in the kit. A nice touch!
The 5N has a different exhaust system and as such Hasegawa only supplies these parts as solid blocks. These have now been drilled out to add some realism.
The Instrument panel: This is also the kit part detailed with a modified kit decal. In tgis scale it look quite good to my eye.
The seams…..getting te seams to line up was one thing. But I lost a lot of the engraved detail in the process. To put the circle back on I cut out a circle of kabuki tape the same size and made rivet details with a pin. An old brass fuel cap was added to raise teh level of detail.
And here we have the model assembled , cleaned up and ready for paint!
I think you’ll agree this build is really starting to take shape. Next I will be tackling that elusive all black paint scheme and telling you how I did it.
That’s all for now. Take care and Happy Modelling!