Thoughts on Tamiya’s Upcoming 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair

Well, it’s official…ish. Yesterday Hobby Link Japan posted a product page for TAM60324, effectively spilling the beans about Tamiya’s latest addition to it’s formidable line of 1/32 uberkits.

Speculation has been raging about this kit since, well, the announcement of the Mustang two years ago. “What next?” has been a popular topic on forums across the internet, with everything from the Corsair to the Focke Wulf Fw 190, P-38 Lightning, De Havilland Mosquito and really just about any aircraft you can name thrown into the mix.

In recent months, speculation solidified into rumor. The next superkit would be the F4U Corsair. Specifically, as it turns out, the F4U-1 “Birdcage” Corsair, so named for it’s framed canopy.

Birdcage

It’s obviously too soon to speculate about the kit itself. I think we can all guess that it will be amazing, and push the envelope of engineering even further than the Spitfire and Mustang. But exact features? For those we’ll have to wait for the first test shots to make their appearance. Personally, I’m eager to see how they plan to tackle the wing fold.

Instead of speculating about the kit itself, then, I figured I’d put forward some thoughts on what it means and yes, start the speculation of the next big Tamiya release!

1 – NOBODY EXPECTED THE BIRDCAGE

That Tamiya’s next 1/32 release would be a Corsair has been something of an open secret for a month or two now. But I don’t think anybody saw that they would lead off with the birdcage. If I were a betting man, I’d have put my money on the Malcom-hooded F4U-1A, but when you stop and think about it, leading off with the birdcage makes perfect business sense.

The birdcage is, I would argue, the least popular of the F4U-1 variants. Mainly because it’s slightly “off” the iconic shape represented by the F4U-1A and F4U-1D. If Tamiya released all three at once, I promise you the birdcage would be the worst seller of the lot. By releasing it first, however, Tamiya could potentially get two or three kit purchases out of a modeler, where with a different release strategy, they might only get one or two.

2 – YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT THERE WILL BE F4U-1A AND F4U-1D RELEASES

The external differences between the F4U-1 Corsairs are minor in the extreme. A slight repositioning of the cockpit and the Malcolm hood being the prominent features on the -1A, and the frameless Malcolm hood and rocket tabs defining the -1D. It is possible that Tamiya could release a single kit that could be built as either the -1A or -1D, but I would bet on two separate kits. Look for them to follow over the 12-20 months following the July release of the birdcage.

3 – DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP FOR THAT 1/32 P-51B/C MUSTANG

Tamiya has a terrible reputation for offering a variant or two of a subject, then moving on, gaps be damned. In their 1/48 lineup, they completely skipped out on the P-47N Thunderbolt and the F4U-4 and later Corsairs. In 1/32, they could have expanded their Spitfire lineup to encompass the Mk.Vc and Mk.XIV with minor changes and new parts forward of the firewalls, but alas.

A P-51B/C may seem like a no-brainer, but it would take a new fuselage and new wing (or gun fairings at the very least). I’d still hoped, but now that the Corsair is coming, it’s likely that Tamiya has moved on.

4 – TAMIYA CONTINUES TO PURSUE THEIR 1/32 SUBJECT-PICKING STRATEGY

So far as I can tell, Tamiya’s 1/32 subjects are chosen primarily by two factors. First – popularity. Developing kits of this magnitude can’t be cheap, so they need to sell at volume. The Zero, Spitfire, Mustang and Corsair all fit.

Second – an opening. Tamiya doesn’t avoid competition, per se, but they do seem to have an eye for subjects that nobody has nailed. Then they swoop in with the definitive kit. Trumpeter offers 1/32 F4U-1 Corsairs, but they don’t have the greatest reputation, so Tamiya has one hell of an opening.

5 – LET THE SPECULATION BEGIN

I’m going to call it right now. Tamiya’s next 1/32 subject will be the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. And it will be released in the summer of 2015.

Why the Jug? Four reasons.

  • First, with the Corsair, Tamiya will now have an exquisite Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the same engine that powered the Thunderbolt.
  • Second, Tamiya already has a strong foundation to build from in their 1/48 Jugs, which remain the best P-47s in any scale.
  • Third, the P-47 fits the popularity qualification. I’d say it’s as or probably more popular as a subject than the Corsair.
  • Fourth, nobody has nailed the P-47. The Hasegawa kit is spartan and a bit lazy in its engineering. And the Trumpeter kit, while detailed, is an absolute slog to build, with fit tolerances that fall well short of its ambitious engineering. It’s basically the Mustang situation all over again.

Why 2015? Basically, precedent.

Since 2009, Tamiya has established something of a release pattern, with new 1/32 subjects dropping in odd-numbered years, and new 1/48 subjects in even-numbered years:

  • 2009 – 1/32 Spitfire Mk.IX
  • 2010 – 1/48 Fi 153 Storch
  • 2011 – 1/32 P-51D Mustang
  • 2012 – 1/48 Il-2 Sturmovik
  • 2013 – 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair

The 1/32 follow-ons – the Spitfire VII and XVI and the PTO Mustang – tend to release about a year after the first variant. So I bet we’ll see the F4U-1A and -1D in 2014, along with something new in 1/48 scale. Then the Jug (fingers crossed!) in 2015.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Tamiya’s Upcoming 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair

  1. The realese pattern looks quite intresting. Obviously the jug makes sense as the next 1/32 realese but you never know with tamiya, they might try something totaly unexpected. But whatever they try to pull off I am sure it will be an injection molding masterpiece. However the jug sounds like music to my ears and I am realy excited with the idea and I also can’t wait to see what the 1/48 kit is going to be. Until then though I am happy with the corsair and the rest of the tamiya kits ( currently building the 1/48 F4U-1A and I have enjoyed every second of it). Thanks for sharing the information and keep up the good work

  2. Just tuning in here and I have to disagree already. Damn my contrary temperament! I do agree that Tamiya is staying away from 1/32 subjects that have been done well and recently, and that’s why I don’t think it’ll be the Jug. I really think Hasegawa’s kits are good solid models of the -D and -M P-47s and I don’t think Tamiya will go there. For the same reason (plus Eduard!) I don’t see Bf 109s or Fw 190s in the cards (even though the Germans are the only major air power not covered so far). Where do I believe there are holes? P-38s and Mosquitos. The Trumpeter P-38 is the same vintage as their F4Us and suffers from similar problems. And there is no 1/32 Mosquito, an aircraft with a ton of potential. Given that they’ve now done two American aircraft, I’m going to plunk for the Mosquito. It would sure be ambitious! I’d love to see some great Russian aircraft like a Yak, but just don’t think Tamiya will believe there would be a market.

  3. After meeting Brett Green in California at Brookhurst Hobbies in 2011 and discussing the amazing Tamiya 1/32 Mustang kits I suggested that the 1/32 Corsair might be next. He instead thought that the Me 109 was the logical choice. I said ” Do we really need another Me 109 with only the old Revell or Trumpeter kit of the Corsair in 1/32?” I wish I could play the stock market with that much accuracy….

    • There definitely seems to be a persistent “109 will be next” rumor, but I just don’t know.

      Personally I don’t see Tamiya doing a 1/32 109 any time soon for a simple reason – price. With the Spit, Mustang and now the Corsair they’ve more or less established a market price somewhere between $100-130 depending on where you order and how good you happen to be with your timing.

      I just don’t see any way they could charge that for a 109, even if it were perfect. Cyber-Hobby’s amazing Emils are going for what, $50? I just don’t see Tamiya going for it.

  4. I was so long waiting for a Birdcage in 1/32. I ordered 3 kits at HobbyLinkJapan and can barely wait til the release. I’m much happier with the Cors releas than I would be with B-Stang, because the BStang would be just a variant of a still existing a/c in 1/32.

  5. Greetings fellow modellers,
    I saw the Corsair at the Shizuoka Toy Fair last month and it is indeed a wonderful model. I do not speak Japanese but the Tamiya representative explained to me that the aircraft wings will not fold. The builder will have to choose either a folded wing or a “ready to fly” one. He explained that having a folding wing would have made very difficult to create the detail that is visible on a folded wing. There is a beam in each wing that will keep the folded wing in place. It will not be resting on hinges that could easily break. The beam runs most of the length of the folding wing.
    The airplane is very sturdy and a lot of wonderful details will be hidden once the model is finished.
    I was actually hoping that Tamiya’s latest 1/32 scale release were an F-86 Sabre. I will keep waiting…

  6. Excellent effort by Tamiya, but I will wait for the -A/-D. Also, I’m also going to put my money on a new 1/32nd scale Mossie by either Revell or Zuika-Mura SWS (maybe both like the He-219 Uhu?) and desperately hope that the Mossie comes with options to do a fighter, fighter/bomber, and photo-recon bird. ZM/SWS has largely ignored the RAF subjects and the field is open there… even a new Spitfire Mk1, Hurricane, or Typhoon would be welcome. The Mossie is tops on my list, though.

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