I have to admit I've never previously read one of SAM Publications' Modellers Datafiles, but on the evidence of the volume under review, that's definitely my loss. The latest in the series deals with the immortal Vought Corsair, tracing its history from its birth before WW2 through to the final Korean War-era ground pounders.
Written by Rafe Morrissey and Joe Hegedus, the A-4 softcover book has 144 pages and combines a very readable text with hundreds of B&W and colour photos. The photos fall into two groups; wherever possible, the authors have relied on original vintage shots to ensure accuracy and to depict aircraft in true service conditions, only turning to photos of modern restorations to show particular details clearly. The captions are well written and very helpful, particularly in noting incorrect points of museum exhibits.
The format is very much focused on the modeller. That's not to say that historians and aircraft enthusiasts won't find much of value in the book; they will, because each variant is introduced with an interesting overview of the progressive development of the aircraft as its role and capability expanded. But the real beauty for modellers is the way in which the detail changes between the versions are highlighted, giving you all the info you need to get things right on a model.
Each version is treated to a separate chapter as follows:
Development and prototype
Corsair F4U-1 (FG-1)
Corsair F4U-1A (FG-1A & F3A-1A)
Corsair F4U-1D & F4U-1C (FG-1D)
Corsair F4U-4 (FG-4)
Corsair AU-1 & F4U-7
The authors pay good attention to the changing finish of the Corsair, with comprehensive descriptions of the camouflage development and cockpit colours, including the famous "salmon pink" primer. Of course, the cockpit is often the focus of attention for modellers, and what I find particularly useful in this book are the numerous illustrations taken from the original aircraft manuals. These views are often a mix of photos and line drawings, and the combination gives a great idea of the layout for modellers. Among the colour photos is an excellent series showing the "office" of the FAA Museum's FG1-A which is largely unchanged from its service days, giving an almost unique glimpse of the original colours and fit-out.
Following the chapters describing the Corsair variants is a selection of 28 excellent colour profiles by Vincenzo Auletta. These give a good overview of the Corsair in the different schemes it carried through its long career, the only negative point being that the order seems completely random; hence, the profiles zigzag through the versions, beginning with a late AU-1, before moving on to Corsair IIIs, then to F2G "Super Corsairs", then back to F4U-1s and so on, rather than being laid out in a more useful chronological order. In fact, the very last profile is somewhat bizarrely the original XF4U-1 prototype.
Corsairs in foreign service
This section concentrates mostly on FAA Corsairs, following the development of the clipped wing RN version with a very useful section on the use of US manufactured paints as equivalents to British standard colours. Corsairs in Kiwi and Latin American service are also discussed, and there's a good selection of photos illustrating their colour schemes, but the stars of the show must surely be the 5 original colour shots of FAA Corsair 1s. These are really clear, and are great references for some small details that often get missed in the more usual B&W vintage photos.
Modelling the F4U Corsair
This section takes the form of a useful round up of the main Corsair kits available in 1:72, 1:48 and 1:32 scales. It's quite a comprehensive selection, but not exhaustive (a few omissions spring to mind), and gives a good idea of what's available. Each kit is described briefly, listing its good points and, importantly, pointing out any corrections needed. The authors stress their approach is "what", not "how" – so you won't be told how to make particular modifications, but you will be given a clear picture of what areas need attention. Following on as part of the appendices, are handy lists of Corsair kits, accessories and decals.
Rounding everything off is a fold-out sheet of 1:48 plans for the F41-1A, '1C and F4U-1 FAA version.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading SAM Publications' guide to the Corsair. For me the balance between the historical overview and detailed coverage of each variant is just right, and the book will be a prime reference for any Corsair builds I tackle in future. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Detailed coverage of each Corsair variant. Excellent choice of photos and original illustrations from the flight/servicing manuals. High quality colour profiles. Round-up of available kits and accessories.Lows: The profiles are printed in a haphazard order.Verdict: MDF 18 provides an excellent balance between the general history of the Corsair and exactly the type of detailed explanation of the differences between the versions that the modeller needs.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...