| Continued from above… V-166B was ordered on 30 June 1938, after it had been entered for a Navy design contest for a new carrier-based fighter with performance as good as contemporary land-based fighters. The engine was the Pratt & Whitney XR-2800 Double Wasp, rated at 2,000 hp, and armament comprised two 0.50-in guns in the nose and two more in the wings. |
Designated XF4U-1, the Vought prototype first flew on 29 May 1940, and five months later achieved 404 mph during a test flight - the first US aircraft to exceed 400 mph in level flight
Production of 584 F4U-ls was authorized on 30 June 1941, but reports of air combat in Europe indicated the need for certain changes in the production model, including heavier armament, self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection. Fuel tanks, displaced from the wings to accommodate extra guns, were located in the fuselage, this in turn causing the cockpit to be re-located three feet further aft, with adverse effect on the pilot's visibility.
Demand for the F4u Corsair soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability
The Corsair served with the US Navy, US Marines, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (and later, the French Aeronavale), and quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter/bomber of the war.
Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in additional aircraft being produced by the Goodyear Company (as the FG-1) and the Brewster Company (as the F3A-1). Production ceased in 1952.
The prototype of the Corsair was first flown on 29 May 1940, but due to design revisions, the first production F4U-1 Corsair was not delivered until 31 July 1942. Further landing gear and cockpit modifications resulted in a new variant, the F4U-1A, which was the first version approved for carrier duty.
The first US Navy pilot to achieve five air victories over Korea was Lt Guy Bordelon who, flying a piston-engined Vought F4U Corsair, shot down his fifth victim on 17 July 1953.
The F4U Corsair was a solid design...
Prior to 1943, America utilized the Corsair as a land-based fighter assigned to the Marine Corps. The speed, strength, and firepower of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair enabled it to dominate Japanese opposition, shooting down 2,140 against a loss of 189. Its performance and dependability allowed great flight leaders like John Blackburn, John Smith, Marion Carl, Joe Foss, and Pappy Boyington to create legendary fighter squadrons.
Vought finally terminated production of the F4U-1 on February 2, 1945 when 4,996 aircraft had been built. However, developed versions continued on the line until December 1952 (F4U-7s and AU-1 s), when the last of 12,571 Corsairs of all marks had been delivered after a longer production run, in time scale, than any other American piston-engined fighter.
One of the greatest combat aircraft in history
Designed by Rex Beisel and Igor Sikorsky, the inverted-gull-wing Corsair was planned around the most powerful engine and biggest propeller ever fitted to a fighter.
When the company's chief test pilot, Lyman A. Bullard Jr., took the prototype aloft for the first time on May 29, 1940, the performance potential was apparent. Confirmation came four months later when the XF4U-1 became the first American warplane to clock over 400 mph in level flight.
This was achieved (404 mph) on October 1, 1940, on a measured straight-line run between Stratford (UAC airframe plant) and Hartford (engine plant), Connecticut.
Originally fitted with two fuselage and two wing guns, it was redesigned with six 50 cal. Browning MG 53-2 in the folding outer wings, each with about 390 rounds.
Action with land-based Marine squadrons began in the Solomons in February 1943; from then on the Corsair swiftly gained air supremacy over the previously untroubled Japanese. The -1 C had four 20mm cannon, and the -1 D and most subsequent types carried a 160gal drop tank and two 1,000lb bombs or eight rockets.
The Corsair's outstanding performance led to extensive post-war use, notably in Korea, where they flew 80 per cent of all US Navy and Marine close-support missions in the conflict's first year, 1950. Night-fighter versions were particularly successful during the conflict, and during daytime combats the Corsairs even engaged and destroyed MiG-15s.
F4U Corsair cockpit
| Fact File: |
Chance Vought Corsair
American carrier-borne fighter-bomber
First reported in action in the Solomons in 1943, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair was the first American piston-engined fighter to reach more than 400 mph (690 kph) in straight and level flight. It was an aircraft of unusual and powerful appearance, with its distinctive inverted gull wing and cockpit set well back, and it was a significant weapon for the Allied navies with its firepower of six .50-in (12.7-mm) machine-guns.
Designed by Sikorsky and first flown in 1940, Corsairs were in production by mid-1942 and eventually equipped nineteen Fleet Air Arm squadrons in addition to the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Indeed, although the latter were the first to fly the Corsair operationally, it was the Royal Navy which operated the Corsair from carriers before their American counterparts, and they were first reported in action with the Fleet Air Arm in 1943.
Production of the F4U was carried out by three companies; the parent company built 7,946, the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation 735 and the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation 4,000. Their Corsairs were known as the F4U, F3A and FG 1 and 2 respectively. The power plant which produced this very good turn of speed was one 2,450 hp (1826.8 kw) Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp radial engine. The versions flown by the Fleet Air Arm, known as Corsairs Marks I-IV and corresponding to the above-mentioned American designations, had square-cut wing tips shortened by sixteen inches and all Corsairs were fitted with folding wings as befitted naval airplanes.
Corsairs also served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in some numbers. Variants included the cannon-armed F4UI-C, the F4UI-D fighter-bomber, and a night-fighter version was also built. By the time the war ended Corsairs had shot down more than 2,000 enemy aircraft, mainly in the Central and South Pacific, although they flew in all theatres. A few survived to fight in Korea, but by then they were outclassed, and production finally ended in 1952.
Span: 41' (12.49 m) Length: 33' 4" (10.15 m) Gross weight: 12,399 lbs (5,624.5 kgs) Top speed: 417 mph (664 kph) Service ceiling: 37,000ft (11,277m) Armament: six .50" (12.7-mm) machine-guns, with external racks for bombs or rocket projectiles.