F4U Corsair Swappable w/Downloadable Plans

by clough42 | December 1, 2013 | (17) Posted in How To

If you've been waiting for a downloadable F4U Corsair swappable, wait no further.  Download the plans at the end of this article and get building!

The wing is the only part of this model that's challenging to build.  There's a detailed video later in this article to walk you through the process.

The Design

This model of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair is scaled from the original F4U-1A structural schematics.  The profile of the fuselage, and the shape and geometry of the wings and control surfaces are very close to those of the original plane.  The original, of course, had a round nose to accomodate the Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp radial engine.  We, however, are using a small electric motor, so to keep the build simple and to use a standard swappable power pod, the sides of the fuselage in this model are flat.

The wing is mounted with about two degrees of positive incidence, just like the original plane.  This makes it climb with airspeed, and results in scale behavior.  If you don't want this, you can cut the wing opening flat in yours so the wing sits level, and it will behave more like other swappables.  You may also wish to experiment with down-thrust on the motor.  The original plane actually had about 2.5 degrees of down thrust.

The original corsair killed a lot of airmen due to its abrupt stall characteristic.  It would drop the starboard wing abruptly and enter a spin.  If the pilot applied power suddenly in an aborted landing, it would drop the port wing, with similar results.  This model uses David Windestål's undercambered wingtip design from the Spitfire to to overcome these challenges, resulting in a very stable, predictable airframe.

Build the Fuselage

The fuselage of the F4U Corsair goes together in the same way as the Spitfire and other Flite Test swappables.  The bottom of the fuselage is a B-style fold, as usual.  You will probably want to just score the wing openings and leave the foam in place while gluing up the fuselage.  This will make it much easier to get good pressure on the bottom joints.

Instead of being straight, like the Spitfire, the bottom plate of the tail has a couple of creases in it so it follows the curve of the fuselage.  Once you have the box of the front fuselage closed and glued, go ahead and bend the bottom plate up and the sides of the tail in and glue them in place before mounting the tail.

Build and Install the Tail

Before you glue the tail together, reinforce the elevator with a popsicle stick, or use a strip of carbon fiber, as shown in the pictures.

The vertical stabilizer has a tab that fits into the horizontal stabilizer.  Fit the horizontal stabilizer into the slot in the vertical stabilizer/rudder and glue these pieces together.  You will probably need to bend the elevator upward as you slip the horizontal stab into place.  Use a square to align the pieces at right angles while the glue sets.

The front of the vertical stabilizer has a tab that fits into the back turtle deck former.  Go ahead and glue the tab into the slot so the back former, the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer are all a single unit before installing them into the fuselage.

Drop the whole tail assembly into the rear of the fuselage from the top.  The tabs on the top of the fuselage will fit into the horizontal stabilizer.  The bottom of the vertical stabilizer will fit into the notch in the bottom plate and the rear turtle deck former will come to rest between the sides of the tail, with its shoulders sitting on top of the fuselage.  If you cut and glued everything accurately, it will all fit.  If something is a little off, now is the time to trim tabs or slots as needed to get good fit before gluing.


Once you're satisfied with the fit, glue the tail in place, one joint at a time.  Add a bead of glue to one of the joints and hold everything straight while it sets.  Then check to make sure the tail is still square and glue another joint.  Leave the vertical joints at the back of the tail for last.  Set the fuselage on a flat surface and make sure the horizontal stabilizer is level.  If you check and adjust as you go, by the time the last joint is secured, everything will be solid and straight.

Install the Tail Servos

Now would be a great time to install the tail servos.  You will want 12 inch (30cm) extensions on both servos, and you will want to route the wires through the fuselage before you glue on the turtle deck.

Fit the Power Pod

Next, fit the power pod.  Align the tabs with the slots in the top of the fuselage and make sure it fits.  Insert the skewers through the firewall and glue them in place in the fuselage top plate.  Make sure they're left long enough to retain the power pod, but short enough that you can still pull the power pod forward and drop it out once the front cowl former is installed.

Note the use of a plastic spoon as a ram air intake for cooling the ESC.

Install the Cowl and Turtle Deck

Glue the formers in place for the cowl and the turtle deck, as shown in the diagram.  The front cowl former fits between the sides of the fuselage.  It has small triangular tabs to provde extra gluing surface.  The middle and rear cowl formers fit into tabs in the top of the fuselage.  Make sure the larger one is in the rear position.  The front turtle deck former fits between the fuselage sides against the back of the top plate, as shown in the photo.  The rear turtle deck former is already installed as a part of the tail assembly.

Cut the cowl and turtle deck skins out of thin poster board and make sure they fit properly over the formers.  If you have cut and glued everything accurately, they should fit exactly.  If you're not sure, cut them a little oversize.  You can always trim them after they're installed.

NOTE: you may want to leave the turtle deck skin off until the very end of the build.  It's much easier to route the servo wires without it installed.

Build the Wing

The inverted gull wing is the most challenging part of the build, but it's also the most satisfying.  It's the signature feature that makes the F4U Corsair stand out, on the ground and in the air, and it's probably the reason you wanted to build this model.

This video walks through the construction of the wing step-by-step.

Trivia:  The Corsair's inverted gull wing was not, primarily, an aerodynamic feature.  It was designed to provide ground clearance for the massive 13'4" propeller while still allowing the landing struts to be short enough to fully retract into the wing.  One side effect of the wing design was that the wing root joined to the round fuselage at a right angle, minimizing interference drag.

Install the Wing into the Fuselage

The wing fits into the fuselage in the same way as in the Spitfire.  The main difference is that it won't slide in, because it's bent.  You'll need to cut the floor out of the fuselage, fit the wing and glue the piece of fuselage you cut out to the bottom of the wing.  Glue alignment blocks to the top of the wing and mount it with skewers and rubber bands.  You will probably want to build up foam under the skewers to reinforce them and glue popsicle sticks to the bottom of the wing, as shown in the photos.

You can glue the wing in permanently, if you like, but this requires very long servo wire extensions and makes it difficult to route all of the wiring.  I find it easiest to connect the servo wires to the receiver in the power pod, and then slide the pod in, firewall first, through the hole in the bottom of the fuselage.  Once the firewall is hooked on the front and the pod is skewered in place, you can install the wing, attach a battery and fly.

Check the Center of Gravity

The center of gravity should be 25-30% back from the leading edge of the wing.  This is right under the wing spar.  If you're running the recommended 2826 motor and a 3s2200 battery, this should be easy to achieve.  If you have a heavier or lighter power system, you may need to add weight or move components around to get the center of gravity correct.

Notes on Landing

You will want to belly-land the Corsair in grass whenever possible.  Because of the geometry of the wing, it will contact the ground first and bear most of the landing forces.  Cover the protruding edges of the wing with bidirectional fiber tape to prevent damage.

Flaring when landing is important.  If you don't get a good flare and settle into the grass gently, the forward edges of the wing can dig in, stopping the plane abruptly.  If this happens, the weight of the battery will pull the power pod forward, tearing the fuselage where the skewer is holding it in place.  If this happens, you can repair and reinforce the skewer hole with fiber tape, or you can glue on a piece of popsicle stick with a hole drilled through it.  This makes the joint strong enough to endure almost anything but a nosedive into the ground.

Flight Video

Here's a short video of the Corsair in flight.  It is smooth and graceful in the air.

Downloadable Plans

F4U Corsair Plans

Recommended Electronics

Motor: RCTimer BC2826-10 1400KV or Turnigy D2826-10 1400KV

ESC: 30A BlueSeries Brushless Speed Controller

Prop: 8x5 Electric

Servos:  Hextronic HXT900 9g

Battery:  3s2200


Cubarican on January 18, 2014
Awesome!!!! I've been waiting for an F4!!!
Log In to reply
Naloxon3 on January 16, 2014
what about folding wings.... just joking.... :) Wing design perfect...good video. I agree with Adegotardo.. My thought on making it more scale and the fuselage round.. Cut round foam plates... Cut the inner squire. Slide it over the fuselage and cover with poster board. Nice round fuselage. :)
Log In to reply
clough42 on January 21, 2014
I spent some time working on the design for a round fuselage and didn't come up with anything I liked. To make the round fuselage look right, I would have had to move the power pod down to center the motor in the round cowl, and that would have made it difficult to keep the battery inside the fuselage.

I also wanted to have a solid fuselage I could hold firmly, and I thought that a poster board skin over formers would be too soft. I though briefly about using foam with the inside paper peeled off, but decided to just move ahead with a simple build for now. Maybe someday there'll be a version 2.

There was another article about a month ago with plans for a swappable corsair with a round fuselage that looked pretty good. You might check that one out. It doesn't have a removable wing, though, so it wouldn't fit in the trunk of my car. :)
Log In to reply
robert505 on March 15, 2014
do you use dental floss picks as the control surface connector thingys?
Log In to reply
clough42 on March 17, 2014
Yes. The control surface horns are made from floss picks. I built a jig to drill them and then cut the handles off with wire cutters.
Log In to reply
ZombieBlood on January 14, 2014
Amazing! Are you offering a speed build kit? :)
Log In to reply
clough42 on January 15, 2014
I'll make you a deal: you buy me a laser cutter and I'll give you a speed-build kit for free! :)
Log In to reply
LordVader on January 14, 2014
Awesome! And I do mean awesome, great build and vid. Love it, Congrats!

Log In to reply
adergotardo on January 15, 2014
I'm finishing my version of Corsair, I'll put some photos here later, but I'd share my thoughts about the fuselage issues. It have to be more scale style. In my plane, I put the battery inside the plane.
Log In to reply
OCD RC on February 3, 2014
What an incredible looking plane, would love to see some more footage of it in the air.
Log In to reply
Nutrox on February 4, 2014
Really Good design on the wings!
Tho it would be nice to see a buildvideo of the rest of the plane!:)

Just finished building a foamboard Corsair using your wing design,

I made mine with the round shape, just shaping the foamboard to the shape i wanted.
Using half of the ''spitfire'' body, up to the canopy, and then using my own design for the front part:) Got pretty nice!

Images are coming!

Thanks again for a great build video!:)
Log In to reply
olex on June 13, 2014
Thanks for the incredible design! We've built one as a part of our "FPV Warbird Squadron": http://i.imgur.com/hKN1RNz.jpg http://i.imgur.com/uS0O6p3.jpg

So far, it flies much better than either the Spitfire or the Mustang, and is the only one that's already been flown with FPV, including a pan-tilt camera with headtracker. It looks awesome in the air and is rock-stable.
Log In to reply
Jackrabbit28 on July 27, 2014
Any updates or refinements done to the plane since posting?

I'm sure this was an ambitious undertaking. The corsair is my favorite plane and an super stoked that you took the time to make plans and share them. Much appreciated! Mucho de goodo. :)
Log In to reply
lemonc on October 27, 2014
Im a little in the dark about the spars... After rewatching, i see they are made from a 1" strip folded in half, pretty simple. But, and i am sure i will improvise well enough, i just curious if they need to be bevel cut to match the conjoining section? Looking forward to finally finishing mine up! Just need to finish the wing, install my servos, and build a powerpod. I built the duster before but build a monoblock instead of a powerpod... :)
Log In to reply
clough42 on October 28, 2014
If you can bevel cut them, that's ideal, but not necessary. Close is good enough.
Log In to reply
Kammo on January 18, 2015
You are awesome for doing this, do you know how long I have been waiting for this??? I have harassed FT for MONTHs about making one of these. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a video on the rest of the plane. I am adding your youtube channel as soon as I send this.. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
Log In to reply
awesomebilities on March 22, 2015
My favorite plane of all time, thank you for taking the time to do the planning and build.
Log In to reply
clough42 on March 22, 2015
You're welcome. I haven't had mine out in a while. Maybe I'll take it out in the morning. The spring weather is calling my name.
Log In to reply
grumpydre on May 20, 2015
Great plans. The skipper is complete. Awaiting maiden flight...

Log In to reply
clough42 on May 21, 2015
Awesome! Let us know how it flies.
Log In to reply
RedheadBarron on October 15, 2015
This should not take someone searching through the FT Articles to find your build plans and video. This should be available through FT's list of 'Free Build Plans' so everyone stopping by the site will have a chance to see this. Also...You would have my vote for FT to put this one up in the store as a speed build kit and compensate you from profits. This is the most amazing article I've seen to date. You've got my 5 stars and MAJOR respect! I can't wait to get this one in the air. I LOVE IT!! AWESOME JOB!!!
Log In to reply
clough42 on October 18, 2015
Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed designing it. If anyone wants to pursue making it available as a speed build, you know how to contact me.
Log In to reply
Jax6 on November 6, 2015
I don't even know how i haven't come across this article yet - I'd thought I looked high and low through every build, but this is really exceptionally done
Will be getting moved to the top of my build list for sure!
By the way, what did you use to build the computer model?
I've been trying to learn how to do these designs on Solidworks but it's proving to be fairly challenging.
I've heard autocad is better but ive never used that either
Log In to reply
clough42 on November 8, 2015
The designs is all done in SolidWorks, using the sheet metal tools. A and B folds are modeled as bends with a bend allowance and radius equal to the material thickness. Creased bends are modeled with a k factor of 1.
Log In to reply
Nuckledragger on December 12, 2015
I used the wing design from this build but came up with my own round shaped fuselage in 2 pieces roledand tapered behind the wing, very fast always flips on lands, https://youtu.be/YsWtjFhYVVU

Log In to reply
norskfam on September 7, 2015
Would you mind providing some dimensions of your Corsair? Such as the length of the fuselage, tail width, wingspan, etc. I love the plans and want to build the plane, but I am not sure how large to print the plans. Thanks
Log In to reply
clough42 on September 8, 2015
The pages in the PDF are 20x30 inches, exactly the size of one sheet of foam board. The fuselage parts should be almost exactly 30 inches long.
Log In to reply
balsa basher on September 9, 2016
Is there a way to print out the plans in a tiled version?
Log In to reply
clough42 on September 11, 2016
Recent versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader have the option to print large files tiled on a smaller printer.
Log In to reply

You need to log-in to comment on articles.

F4U Corsair Swappable w/Downloadable Plans