My F4U-1A is the most popular of the three I built, but the F4U-1 Birdcage that you have is my favorite.
I use Abacus FS Design Studio Pro. I can't say enough good things about it. The only addition I would like to see to the program is a ruler that pops out and whacks you on the knuckles once you start getting carried away with the polygon count.
I hate those lights worse than you do. They drive me crazy, and so does that blasted radio wire that flashes red at times.
Unfortunately, I lost all the source code to my planes a few weeks ago, and can't make those modifications. I've started re-building them all again.
The planes I'm working now will work fine in large numbers during quick combat and multiplayer, unlike the planes I have now.
I'm sure Microsoft will soon be providing some relief for model builders, once their SDK is released, so that our planes can have competitive frame rate performance to theirs when similarly built.