It’s rare that my modeling ventures much outside of World War II. In my opinion, the years of 1939-1945 are lightning in a bottle in terms of aviation history and the airplane’s use as a weapon of war. The aircraft left standing in 1945 were light years ahead of their pre-war predecessors in every possible way, but they were also the last of their breed. The age of the jet was in the offing, and many pinnacles of piston-engine design – such as the Grumman F8F Bearcat and Goodyear F2G “Super” Corsair- found themselves relegated to footnotes.
A few WWII aircraft soldiered on into the early conflicts of the Cold War, and one of the most prominent was the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. While jets assumed most air-to-air roles over Korea, the Corsair traded on a reputation it earned in the later stages of the Pacific War as a very effective strike fighter, and was employed largely in a ground attack capacity.
The AU-1 was the last variant of the Corsair the U.S. military purchased, and was built as a dedicated strike aircraft for the Marines. The supercharger was revised and optimized toward low-altitude operations, and armor plating was beefed up to make the Corsair even more resilient in the face of ground fire.
One of the things that sets the AU-1 apart from other Corsairs is that it stayed in service long enough to make the transition to the gull gray and white scheme the Navy adopted in 1955.
Next to the steady parade of blue F4Us, the AU-1 sure stands out.
I knew I had to build an AU-1 as soon as I first learned of its existence. The Corsair is one of my favorite aircraft, particularly the later variants (-4 and above), and the AU-1 in hi-viz gray and white offers a very distinct look from pretty much any other Corsair.
After months of scouring eBay, I finally scored one of Hasegawa’s out-of-production 1/48 AU-1 kits last fall.
Lately it’s been popping up in my mind with increasing frequency. Hopefully it’ll be one of the kits I get to this year.