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Chance Vought F4U Corsair in British Service

Chance Vought F4U Corsair in British Service

The Royal Navy received 2,012 Corsairs. It was the fleet air arm that first used the Corsair from a carrier. Ironically for an aircraft that made its name in the Pacific, the Corsair’s first carrier action came in the North Sea. On 2 April 1944, Corsairs of No. 1834 squadron, based on H.M.S. Victorious took part in an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, providing fighter cover. Further strikes against the Tirpitz followed in July and August, this time supported by 1842 squadron.

The Royal Navy received 95 F4U-1s (designating them as Corsair Is) and 510 F4U-1As (Corsair II) from Chance Vought production. They also received 430 Brewster produced F3A-1Ds (Corsair III) – just over half of the Brewster company's total production of Corsairs, and 977 Goodyear produced FG-1Ds (Corsair IV). If the war had continued in 1946, F4U-4Bs were allocated for the Fleet Air Arm, but were never delivered.

Despite their early European venture, the British Corsairs spent most of the war in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They entered British service just as the fleet returned to the Indian ocean in strength, and took part in strikes against Japanese targets in Burma and Sumatra, including the oil refineries at Palembang. In 1945 the British fleet carriers moved to the Pacific, to take part in the final attack on Japan. British Corsairs saw action against Kamikaze attacks as the British Pacific Fleet attacked the Sakishima Islands, at the southern tip of Japan, before finishing the war making attacks on the Tokyo area.

Introduction - F4U-1 - F4U-2 - XF4U-3 - F4U-4 - F4U-5 - AU-1 - F4U-7 - American Service - British Service - Statistics

"The Chance Vought F4U Corsair in the ETO?" Topic

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Did the Chance Vought F4U Corsair ever fight/fly in the European Theater? It's a question that a few of us were discussing last night….

Well, the Royal Navy operated their versions of the Corsair in the ETO. They attacked the Tirpitz in Operation Tungsten.

One even fell into German hands.

Exactly as EMCkinney states. The Brits actually solved some of the issues with the corsair. The US navy had come close to giving up on the Corsair due to problems with the pilot's view when landing, the landing gear, and a problem with persistently having leaking oil spray the cockpit. The brits solved all of these problems and made the corsair operationally viable on the carrier deck.

There's a sumary of FAA corsair history at link – not a lot on operation detail – it mentions Tirpitz and a final combat use in 1945, but over 2000 delivered to the Brits and served in over 40 sqn's.

the Brits had perfected a curved approach to carriers with the Seafire, which also ahd a long nose that made direct forward visibility impossible with a nose-up low speed attitude.

Other then the fact that the F4U was used operationally first off a carrier by a US Navy strike on Rabaul on November 11, 1943 this is very accurate.

* The British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) warmed to the Corsair much faster than the US Navy. In November 1943, the FAA received under Lend-Lease the first of 95 Vought F4U-1s, which were given the designation of "Corsair I". The first squadrons were assembled and trained in the US, either at Brunswick, Maine, or Quonset, Rhode Island, and then shipped across the Atlantic. The Royal Navy put the Corsair into carrier operations immediately, well ahead of the US Navy, but wasn't like the British worked miracles with the F4U: they found its landing characteristics just as beastly, suffering a number of fatal crashes, but bit the bullet and did it anyway.

This initial British batch was followed by 510 Vought F4U-1As under the designation of "Corsair II" 430 Brewster F3A-1Ds under the designation of "Corsair III" and finally 977 Goodyear FG-1Ds under the designation of "Corsair IV". It is unclear if the stateside squadron training scheme was retained for all British Corsair squadrons.

All but initial deliveries of FAA Corsairs had 20 centimeters (8 inches) clipped from the wingtips to permit storage in British carrier hangar decks, with the clipped wings also apparently improving the roll rate. Some sources suggest that at least some of the clipped-wing Corsairs supplied to Britain had the US designation of "F4U-1B". Many FAA Corsairs were fitted with rails for launching British 7.62 centimeter (3 inch) unguided "Rocket Projectiles (RPs)". At its peak, the Corsair equipped 19 FAA squadrons.


variant number comments

Corsair I 95 Vought F4U-1s.
Corsair II 510 Vought F4U-1As.
Corsair III 430 Brewster F3A-1Ds.
Corsair IV 977 Goodyear FG-1Ds.


FAA Corsairs originally fought in a camouflage scheme, with a light-green / dark-green disruptive pattern on top and a white belly, but were later painted overall blue. Those operating in the Pacific theater acquired a specialized British insignia -- a modified blue-white roundel with white "bars" to make it look more like a US than a Japanese insignia to prevent friendly-fire incidents.
FAA Corsairs performed their first combat action on 3 April 1944, with Number 1834 Squadron flying from the HMS VICTORIOUS to help provide cover for a strike on the German super-battleship TIRPITZ in a Norwegian fjord. This was apparently the first combat operation of the Corsair off of an aircraft carrier. Further attacks on the TIRPITZ were performed in July and August 1944, with Corsairs from the HMS FORMIDABLE participating. The Corsairs did not encounter aerial opposition on these raids, and in fact the F4U would never have it out with German Luftwaffe aircraft. A confrontation between a Corsair and the tough German Focke-Wulf Fw-190 would have made for an interesting fight.

After the Norwegian operations, British Corsairs switched operations to the Indian Ocean to fight the Japanese, with the first operational sorties on 19 April 1945. Royal Navy carriers would be participants in the final battle for the Japanese home islands. On 9 August 1945, days before the end of the war, Corsairs from HMS FORMIDABLE were attacking Shiogama harbor on the northeast coast of Japan. A Canadian pilot, Lieutenant Robert H. Gray, was hit by flak but pressed home his attack on a Japanese destroyer, sinking it with a 450 kilogram (1,000 pound) bomb but crashing into the sea. He was posthumously awarded the last Victoria Cross of World War II.

At least 424 Corsairs were also provided to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, beginning in late 1943, with a little more than half of them F4U-1As and the rest F4U-1Ds / FG-1Ds. By the time the New Zealanders had worked up to operational Corsair squadrons in 1944 there was little for them to shoot at in the air and they scored no kills, but they kept busy in the attack role, with a fair number of them shot down or lost in accidents. Most of the New Zealander Corsairs were scrapped after the war, as were the British Corsairs."

I owe Ev a … I was the looser on this one…

A good deal of the British carrier aircraft in the Pacific (including the Corsairs) were never actually scrapped. They were just shoved over the side to make room for the POWs being shipped back to blighty on the carriers.

They were mostly shoved over the side to avoid having to pay the US for them under the conditions of lend lease – the equipment had to be returned to the US or paid for – if the US didn't want it back then they had to dispose of it.

Even with the US only asking for 10 cents in the $ for stuff retained at the end of the war, and loaning that balance at 2%, unwanted stuff was easier to dump over the side!

Chiming in a bit late on this, but I just saw 2 photos of FAA Corsairs operating off of Norway in 1944:

Подпишитесь, чтобы загрузить Vought F4U "Corsair"

F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War.

Designed and initially manufactured by Chance Vought, the Corsair was soon in great demand additional production contracts were given to Goodyear, whose Corsairs were designated FG, and Brewster, designated F3A.

The Corsair was designed and operated as a carrier-based aircraft, and entered service in large numbers with the U.S. Navy in late 1944 and early 1945. It quickly became one of the most capable carrier-based fighter-bombers of World War II. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II, and its naval aviators achieved an 11:1 kill ratio. Yet early problems with carrier landings and logistics allowed it to be eclipsed as the dominant carrier-based fighter by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair's first prototype in 1940. Instead, the Corsair's early deployment was to land-based squadrons of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy.

The Corsair served almost exclusively as a fighter-bomber throughout the Korean War and during the French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria. In addition to its use by the U.S. and British, the Corsair was also used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, French Naval Aviation, and other air forces until the 1960s.

From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured in 16 separate models. Its 1942–53 production run was the longest of any U.S. piston-engined fighter.[

It feautures:
-a aircraft engine with 1600 Horsepower
-foldable gullwings
-a flight time of over 2 hours at 130 KNTS

Vought F4U Corsair

Other titles in the CrowooJ Aviation Series Aichi D3A 1/2 Val Airco - The Aircraft Manufacturing Company A vro Lancaster BAC One-Eleven Bell P-39 Airacobra Boeing 747 Boeing 757 anJ 767 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress onsol iJateJ B- 24 Li berator Douglas AD SkyraiJer Engl ish Electric Canberra nglish Electric Lightning Fairchild Republic A-IO Thunderbolt II okker Aircraft of World War One Hawker II unter Hawker Hurricane Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Junkers Ju 88 Lockheed C-130 Hercules LockheeJ F-I04 Starfighter Luftwaffe - A Pictorial History McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle Messerschmitt Bf 110 Messerschmitt Me 262 Nieuport Aircraft of World War One North American B-25 Mitchell North American F-86 Sabre North American T-6 Panavia Tornado hort Sunderland V-Bombers Vickers VC I0

Peter C. Smith Mick Davis Ken Delve Malcolm L. Hill Robert F. DOlT with Jerry c. SCUllS Martin W. Bowman Thomas Becher Martin W. Bowman Martin W. Bowman Peter C. Smith Barry Jones Martin W. Bowman Peter C. Smith Paul Leaman Barry Jones Peter Jacobs Peter C. Smith Ron Mackay Martin W. Bowman Martin W. Bowman Eric Mombeek BraJ ElwarJ Peter E. Davies anJ Tony Thornborough Ron Mackay David Baker Ray Sanger Jerry Scutts Duncan Curtis Peter C. Smith Andy Evans Ken Delve BaITy Jones Lance Cole

First published in 2002 by The Crowood Press Ltd Ramsbury, Marlborough Wiltshire SN8 2HR

Dedication This book is dedicated to the memory of: Colonel J. Hunter Reinburg USMC 5 May 1918-23 June 1997, Roy D. 'Eric' Erickson USNR VBF-10, and to all former Corsair pilots throughout the world.

© Martin W. Bowman 2002 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN I 86126492 5

Acknowledgements Alan Armstrong Mike Bailey Robert Bailey ASAA Fred 'Crash' Blechman City of Norwich Aviation Museum Howard Cook Lee Cook Graham Dinsdale Robert Dorr Owen W. Dykema the late Roy D. 'Eric' Erickson Andy

Height Tony Holmes Philip Jarrett the late Colonel J. Hunter Reinburg USMC Gareth Simons Kelvin Sloper Peter C. Smith Tom Smith Mark Styling Andy Thomas Wallace Bruce Thomson Terry C. Treadwell.

Aerial Combat Escapades]. Hunter Reinburg, USMC

The 'Black Sheep' and the 'Jolly Rogers' Big Booty

Corsairs for King and Country

'The Sweetheart of Okinawa'

True Tales of Trial and Terror Fred 'Crash' Blechman War in the Land of Morning Calm Korean Night-Fighter Close Air SUPPOrt]. Hunter Reinburg, USMC War and Peace

Appendix I Appendix II Appendix III Appendix IV Appendix V

US Marine Corps Corsair Squadrons US Navy Corsairs Royal Navy Fleet Air Artn Corsairs World War II: Monthly Acceptances of Corsairs Surviving Corsairs

Typeset by Florence Production Ltd, Stood leigh, Devon Printed and bound in Great Britain by Bookcraft, Midsomer Norton, Nr Bath Origination by Black Cat Graphics Ltd, Bristol, England

A DreaDl is Born I was ncar! I' [cn ycars old on Sunday 4 July 1937 when my parents took me to an 8irshoV at Floyd Bcnnc[[ Field in Ncw York City - a naval

air station at that time. My face was pressed right up against a chain-link fcncc whcn a sm'111 group of far Navy silvcr and ycllow figh[cr biplancs Acw ovcr [hc field in a right echclon, pccled off, landcd, Ulxicd up, and park cd no morc [han fifty fcC[ from mc! I wa[chcd widccycd as [he pilo[s, with [hcir clo[h helmc[s and goggles and flowing white scarves, climbed out of [hc tiny cockpits and clambcrcd down [he sidcs of [heir chunky figh[cr plancs. I saw [hcm ga[hcr [Ogc[hcr, rail and handsomc all, and was [hrilled whcn [hcy amblcd ovcr

[hc fcnce. Onc of [hcm cvcn [alkcd

'Wow,' I thought, 'I wanna bc one of [hosc guys. Whcn I grow up I'm gonna be a Navy fighter pilo[!' A[ [hat rime i[ was just a dream . I rcad Aying books, huil[ solid balsa-wood and s[ickand-papcr Aying models, and dcvourcd cvcrything I could find abour Aying. Throughou[ World War II I followcd [he cxploi[s of [he Aycrs, always planning [hm onc day, whcn I was old cnough, I'd join up

Frcd Blcchman, future Corsair pilo[

Dreams can sometimes come true, especially to those who have vision, ambition and a purpose. Pedigree, too, always tells in the long run. [n the 1930s the stubby little Grumman biplanes, such as the F3Fs that young Blechman saw, dominated the American Navy scene. Boeing was also making a name for itself in the field of military aviation. There seemed little likelihood of a shipboard fighter being conceived in the 1930s that could challenge the 'big two' - but there was a new kid on the block: ultimately the Vought Corsair series would earn its rightful place in the annals of aviation, and in the American hall of fame. Born of a family with maritime leanings, Chauncey Milton Vought married his boyhood interest in all things mechanical to a love of the sea and the air to produce a long series of successful aeroplanes. In fact this was only natural, because the young aviation pioneer loved to race boats throughout his short life, and he devoted a large proportion of it to championing naval aviation in America.

Chauncey Milton Vought (20 February 1888-25 July 1930) at the controls of the Wright B biplane in which he learned to fly. Vought

This young man's dream became reality, although sadly, he would not live to see American aviation dominate the world stage. When he died in [930, Chauncey Vought's influence lived on. Late in 1941, when war came, his gift was an aircraft that would serve his beloved Navy very well indeed, especially in the vast Pacific, then and for many years to come. Chauncey Vought was born on Long Island, New York City on 26 February 1888. His parents, George Washington and Annie E. Vought, owned a successful family business designing and building quality sailing boats. After graduating from elementary school in New York, the young Vought entered the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn but, ever anxious for more specialized knowledge, by 1910 he had moved to New York University, where he put his energies into the study of the internal combustion engine. The American public did not, however, share his zest for engineering, and more especially for aeronautical engine development. But this feeling would change rapidly after the successes of the Wright Brothers between 1903 and 1908, and Americans would become more aviation-minded. In 1910 the first international air meet ever held in the United States took place in New York at the Belmont Park race track on Long [sland. An avid spectator was Chauncey Vought, who had been looking around for better engineering courses, and found them at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly after the race Vought dropped out of university and joined Harold F. McCormick as an engineer in Chicago. McCormick was treasurer of the [nternational Harvester Corporation in Chicago, one of the founders of the Aero Club of Illinois, and a vice-president of the Aero Club of America. McCormick's pet project at this time was an experimental umbrella plane, a craft with a circular wing around the fuselage invented by William S. Romme, which, McCormick believed, would offer a viable alternative to the

In 1936 Vought bought the Northrop XP-948 or Northrop 3A design after the prototype was lost on a test flight over the Pacific on 30 July 1935, and built a new aircraft called the V-141. The smallest type in the 1936 Pursuit Competition (won by Severskyl. it suffered from tail vibrations and was rejected by the Army. The V-143 (picturedl was an export version with a longer fuselage and new tail and was flown on 18 June 1937. It was powered by a 750hp R-1535-SB4G engine. and was armed with a pair of .30 calibre machine guns and could carry up to 300lb (136kgl of bombs. The Japanese Army bought the prototype in 1937. via Philip Jarrett

Wright brothers' more conventional designs. McCormick was backed in this venture by his father-in-law, John D. Rockefeller Jr, and at first all seemed to auger well however, it proved unsuccessful. Vought meanwhile began flying lessons with Max Lillie in a Wright B model biplane. On 14 August 1912, he was granted Aero Club of America flying licence number 156. In 1913, Vought left McCormick to become chief engineer for the Aero Club of Illinois. In the following year he became a leading contributor for Aero and Hydro magazi ne. By th is ti me he had become known by a variety of nameSj but then in February 1914 he signed his name at the end of his monthly column 'Chance M. Vough t' - and it stuck. J n August 1914 he became the editor of Aero and Hydro under this name but by the winter he had joined the Mayo Radiator Works where he was the sole design engineer of the company's first aircraft, the Mayo Type A (Simplex tractor biplane). Vought also worked on a single-scat, pusher-type scout machine, and a three-place flying boat called the Simplex flying boat but neither of these designs ever left the drawing board, and Vought joined the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company as a consulting engineer. Late in 1915 he moved to the famous Wright Company, later Wright-Martin, at Dayton, Ohio, as chief engineer. He continued to design three-

place flying boats, and he gained valuable experience visiting England and France where he studied European designs. Finally, Vought resigned from WrightMartin to create his own aircraft company with Birdseye B. Lewis: on 18 June 1917 this became the Lewis & Vought Company. Their first venture was the Vought VE-7 (Vought Experimental model 7), an advanced two-seat trainer powered by an American-built 150hp Hispano-Suiza Model A. Seven different sub-types of the VE-7 were constructed, including an advanced version, the VE- 7SF, that was fitted with flotation devices. The VE-7SF made its first take-off from the aircraft carrier USS Langley on 17 October 1922. Birdseye Lewis had been killed in a flying accident in France in 1917, and in late 1919 the Lewis & Vought Corporation moved to Long Island City, New York. In May 1922 Vought reorganized the company under the name Chance Vought Corporation and began deliveries of a succession of aircraft to the US Navy, such as the UO-l two-seat observation biplane, and a single-seat fighter version. The first Vought-built Corsair delivered to the Navy was the 02U-l, powered by a 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-88 radial, and capable of speeds of 150mph (240kmph) at sea level. It had a range of just over 600 miles (960km), and success was assured when it notched up some impressive world speed, altitude and endurance records.

Some 132 02U-Is were ordered, the first being delivered in 1927. In service with the US Marine Corps, some Corsairs saw action in Nicaragua in 1928, where they became one of the first aircraft ever used in a dive-bombing attack against fortified positions. In the following year, the Chance Vought Corporation merged with others to become a division of the United Aircraft and Transportation Company. In 1930 the Chance Vought Corporation moved its aircraft production from New York to a huge plant at East Hartford, onnecticut. The new venture promised much, although sadly, Chance M. Vought would not live to oversee the company's finest successes. His health deteriorated rapidly when, after an operation to have some teeth extracted, septicemia set in his untimely death occurred on 25 July at his home in South Hampton, New York. He was only forty-two years old. Chance Vought went on to design and build the 03U Corsair observation biplane, powered by the 550hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-12 radial engine. A 600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1690-42 engine powered the two-place SU-l scout version of the 03U. In 1932 the SBU-l scout bomber was the final Chance Vought biplane design to be ordered by the US Navy: it was powered by a 700hp Pratt & Whitney R-1535-80 radial engine capable of a maximum speed of 205mph

(330kmph) at 8,900ft (2,700m). Vought's first monoplane design was the XSB2U-I, which in Navy service became the SB2U-I Vindicator, the Navy's first ::tllmetal, low-wing, carrier-based scout and dive-bomber. Fifty-four SB2U-Is were ordered on 26 October 1936, and the first example flew on 21 May 1937. The Vindicator was first delivered to Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3) aboatd the USS Saratoga in December 1937. In January 1938 the US Navy ordered fifty-eight SB2U-2 Vindicators, and later followed this with an order for fifty-seven SB2U-3 examples in September 1939. These, and fifty Vindicators ordered by France, were diverted to Great Britain when war broke out in Europe that same month. In British service the type became known as the V-156B Chesapeake. In the meanwhile, Vought's long experience in building scout and observation aircraft for the US Navy led first to the development of the XOSN-I in 1936, and then to the more successful XOS2U in 1937, to meet a new observation-scout specification. The manufacture of the XOS2U-l was the responsibility of a team of engineers led by Rex B. Biesel, and it was devised as a two-scat, all-metal, lowwing monoplane, powered by a modest 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985-4, which was fitted to help the aircraft meet the catapult weight limitations. The prototype flew for the first time on 1 March 1938 as a landplanej it first flew in seaplane form on 19 May that year. A n order for fi ftyfour OS2U-l Kingfishers was placed on 22 May 1939, and deliveries were made during May to November 1940. An order for a further 158 OS2U-2 Kingfishers was placed with Vought on 4 December 1939. Mass production of the Kingfisher series began in July 1941 with the OS2U-3, and eventually some 1,006 examples were built. A further 300 OS2N-1 Kingfishers were constructed by the Naval Aircraft Factory from April to October 1942. This agreement was designed to assist Vought in changing over mass production from Kingfishers to a new, powerful Navy fighter.

On 30 June 1938 the US Navy ordered the Grumman XF5F-1 (picturedl and the Vought XF4U-1. while a third aircraft, the Bell XFl-1. was ordered later. on 8 November. Grumman

The Corsair's main wheels could easily be retracted backwards. as they did on the SB2U-1 Kingfisher scout bomber then in production. and swivelled through 87 degrees flat into the wing (which folded upwards for stowage aboard carriersl. Vought

Enter the F4U Corsair In 1938 the US Navy had decided that the time was long overdue to bring carrierbased aviation up to the same performance level as land-based aircraft. On 30 June

lyman A. Bullard Jr, the chief of flight test at Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft, aloft in the yellow-and-silver-painted XF4U-1 that first flew from the Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Stratford, Connecticut on 29 May 1940. Vought

When this Associated Press photo of an early Corsair was released to British newspapers in 1941 the caption under the heading 'World's fastest Pursuit Plane . As Bomber-Protector for Britain?' read: 'It is possible that before long. planes of this type may be among those supplied by the US to Great Britain. where its remarkable cruising range will make such planes invaluable as escorts to our bombers during their long flights over Germany: via Philip Jarrett

The prototype XF4U-1 showing to good advantage the air intakes for the oil cooler. and the intercooler for the two-stage. two-speed supercharger in the wing roots. Note the early-style squirrel-cage or birdcage cockpit hood and the gun fairing in the engine cowling.

1938 the US Navy ordered the Grumman XFSF-I and the Vought XF4U-I, while a third aircraft, the Bell XFL-l, was ordered later, on 8 November. The XF5F-l was the first twin-engine, single-scat aircraft to be built for the Navy, while the Bell XFL-1 was a carrier-based version of the P-39 Airacobra. The XFL-I differed in some respects to the P-39, including the installation of a tail wheel in place of the tricycle arrangement. As it turned out, the twin-tailed Grumman machine was delayed by cooling problems to its Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone engi nes, and the prototype did not complete tests until February 1941. After th is setback, more problems were experienced with the aircraft. After just over 200 flights the

XF5F-1 project was abandoned in favour of the XF7F-1, which later became the Tigercat. Equally, the Bell machine, first flown on 13 May 1940, was not proceeded with either. At Vought the F4U-I project came under the wing of C.]. McCarthy, who in March 1940 had been appointed general manager of the Chance Vought Division. Early in 1938 McCarthy, who had worked with the late Chance Vought on the original Corsair, directed Rex B. Beisel and his team, who were already committed to the Vindicator and Kingfisher company projeers, to turn their thoughts to the new carrier-borne fighter project. Beisel's first proposal was the V-166A it incorporated the Pratt & Whitney R-l340 radial

engine, but was not proceeded with. His second proposal was the V-166B: this was designed around the new 1,800hp experimental Pratt & Whitney XR-2800-2 Double Wasp air-cooled radial, with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger it was submitted to the Bureau of Aeronautics on 8 April 1938. At the time, the huge XR2800-2 engine promised to be the most powerful powerplant available. J ts take-off power alone was rated at 1,850hp at 2,600rpm (Navy pursuits of the day were rated at about 840hp to 1,200hp at best), and it could develop 1,500hp at 2,400rpm at 17,500ft (5,300m). The Pratt & Whitney experimental engine had the potential to make the XF4U-I the Navy's first 2,000hp fighter.

Beisel and his team had to design the smallest possible fuselage around the mighty Double Wasp. Everything possible that could be done to limit drag would have to be incorporated in the design, so use of spot welding and flush riveting was made throughout the external surfaces, and a completely faired-in landing gear greatly reduced the drag penalties. Three gear doors - one on the forward strut and two attached to the wing on either side of the wheel well- ensured that not one part of the main landing gear or tail wheel protruded into the slipstream. Then there was the seemingly insurmountable problem posed by the massive 13ft 4in (4m 6cm) diameter three-bladed propeller that had to be used if the XR-2800-4 engine (that would power the prototype) was to enable the Corsair to attain its optimum design speed.

Gulled Wing Design Meanwhile, the US Army Air Corps tried in vain to influence Pratt & Whitney to get them to develop a liquid-cooled inline engine instead of the air-cooled radial. But Beisel and his team were committed to the XR-2800, although they realized that

Using the gull wing instead of a straight wing made possible the use of a shorter. lighter landing gear than would ordinarily have been possible. via Philip Jarrett

unless they came up with a fairly radical design to accommodate the massive engine's 13ft 4in (4m 6cm) diameter, three-bladed propeller, then its arc would give insufficient ground clearance on both

take-off and landing. They could have opted for a much longer landing gear, but that would have been too stilted and too heavy. The solution lay in the XF4U-I wing design, which was gulled downwards,

a feature that would also result in less aerodynamic drag at the juncture of wing and fuselage. The gulled wing was achieved by dropping the stub wings at an angle as they left the fuselage, and then the outer wing panels were canted upwards, again with a dihedral of 8 degrees 30 minutes in the outer sections. The stub wings included open vents in their leading edges to allow the passage of cooling air for the engine oil, and air for the supercharger intercooler equipment. Inverted gull wing design was not new. On [7 September 1935 the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation, New Castle, Delaware had been issued a US patent for an inverted gull wing - and in January 1941 Guiseppe M. Bellanca, chairman of the board of governors of that company, considered that Vought might have infringed their patent. The matter remained unresolved until the United Aircraft Corporation successfully pointed out that there were several British patents to the gull design dating back to the late 1920s. Then, both Bellanca, who were anxious not to be seen rocking the boat in time of war when everyone should be 'pulling together', and the Bureau of Aeronautics, which at the behest of Vought had carried out its own investigation, fully exonerated the company from any patent infringements. Using the gull wing instead of a straight wing made possible the usc of a shorter, lighter landing gear than would ordinarily have been possible. Also, the main wheels could easily be retracted backwards (as they did on the SB2U-I Kingfisher scout-bomber then in production) and swivelled through 87 degrees flat into the wing (that folded upwards for stowage aboard carriers). The wing arc joined to the fuselage at 90-degree angles to allow the air to flow smoothly over the wing root/fuselage joint, eliminating the need for a wing fillet. The wings were of all-metal construction and were built as an integral part of the fuselage centre section. The outer wings were made of metal, forward of the spar, and of fabric-covered plywood to the trailing edges. They folded upwards over the cockpit canopy, folding at the elbow of the gull wing. Fabric-covered plywood flaps spanned the width of the stub wings and one half of the distance of the outer wing panels. A ilerons formed the balance of the outer wing panel's trailing edge.

The stub wings included open vents in their leading edges to allow the passage of cooling air for the engine oil, and air for the supercharger intercooler equipment. via Philip Jarrett

This RN Corsair II demonstrates wing folding for stowage aboard carriers. Early in World War II, Britain was desperately short of modern aircraft types for the RAF and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and so looked to America - 'the arsenal of democracy' - for the supply of many new fighter, bomber and reconnaissance types. When funds quickly ran out, the United States Congress on 11 March 1941 passed the lend-lease Act to enable Britain and the other democracies to acquire American-manufactured aircraft and armaments. One of the naval aircraft types ordered by the British Air Commission was the Corsair, although it was not until mid-1943 that Britain at last began receiving the first models. While the seventy F4U-1 Bs supplied retained their American name, this version became the Corsair I in Fleet Air Arm service. Subsequently, 334 Brewster-built F3A-1s and 535 F4U-1A and F4U-1 D versions became Corsair lis some F3A-ls and all F3A-lDs (ninety-six aircraft in totall became Corsair Ills and 930 Goodyear-built FG-1s and FG-1Ds became Corsair IVs. via Philip Jarrett

The wings featured small bomb cells in the outer wing panels, which in theory would be used to drop twenty 5.2lb (2.4kg) bombs (four in each of five compartments) on formations of enemy bombers, the pilot sighting the bomb-drop through a glass 'teardrop-shaped' panel in the cockpit floor. (This feature was never implemented on production models.) Fuel was carried in four integral tanks located in the wing centre sections and outer panel leading edges, with a total capacity of 273gal 0,24[). The carburettor air, supercharger intercooler, and oil cooler air inlet ducts were situated at the leading edge of the wings to remove the need for a drag-inducing scoop for each. In flight this layout created a curious high-pitched whistling sound as air was sucked into the ducts. Later, its effect would not be lost on the Japanese, who called the Corsair the 'Whistling Death' after the blood-curdling scream emitted during high-speed dives on their positions. To American troops, particularly the USMC 'grunts' fighting in the Pacific Islands campaign, the 'BentWinged Bird' was their saviour, and the Marines finally dubbed the Corsair the 'Sweetheart of Okinawa'. A .30 calibre and a .50 calibre machine gun were mounted above the massi ve engine, firing through the upper propeller arc, and a .50 calibre machine gun outward of each wing-fold mechanism. The upper fuselage guns had 750 rounds of ammunition each, and each wing gun had 300 rounds of ammunition per gun. Provision was made to replace the wing guns with 23mm Madsen cannons if available. (On 28 November 1940, the Navy asked for a production configuration with increased firepower and fuel capacity.) Everything about the new fighter was massive: it weighed 9,3571b (4,244kg) empty, and measured 31ft [1 in (9m 73cm) with a 41ft [1 in 02m 78cm) wing spread - the largest American fighter yet built. On II June 1938 the Bureau of Aeronautics awarded Vought the contract number 6[544 for a single prototype, and the XF4U-l was assigned Bureau Number (BuNo.) [443. (Beginning in January 1939, United Aircraft Corporation moved Chance Vought Aircraft into a plant shared with the Sikorsky Aircraft Division to become the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division, United Aircraft Corporation.) The XF4U-I full-scale engineering mockup that would be used in wind-tunnel tests, was inspected by the Bureau of

Aeronautics during 8-[0 February [939, and shortly afterwards, construction of the prototype was given the go-ahead. New manufacturing techniques such as spot welding of aluminium, developed by the Naval Aircraft Factory, would be employed in the construction. Spot welding speeded up mass production because it enabled a structure of heavy aluminium skin and supportS to be built up to form a very strong fuselage and wing framework. By 1 July of that year the basic XF4U-l design was 95 per cent complete. [t was powered by the XR-2800-4, which was an improvement over the earlier -2.

The XF4U Flies After several hours of taxi tests and days of ground engine runs, on 29 May [940 the yellow-and-silver-painted XF4U-I was ready for its first flight at the Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Stratford, Connecticut. Lyman A. Bullard Jr, the chief of flight rest at Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft, would be at the controls. Bullard took the fledgling fighter up to 10,000ft (300m) while executing some very basic standard manoeuvres such as turns, and he cycled the gear and flaps a few times. He then headed away from the airfield to carry out a couple of stalls and to test the cruise power ability. The flight lasted 38min and went mainly without a hitch, although flutter had briefly attacked the elevators, and the spring trim tabs had shimmied off in flight. This had made the aircraft vibrate badly, though it had not prevented Bullard from returning safely to the airport in full control. These were no more than the usual niggling little problems associated with most new aircraft, and indeed others began to manifest themselves during the twomonth flight-test programme.

The XF4U-1 had sticky brakes, bouncy landing gear, and aileron spin, and the experimental fighter was so sleek aerodynamically that it would accelerate to the edge of compressibility, making recovery from extremely steep dives almost impossible. Spinning such a heavy aircraft made recovery exacting and later, during final acceptance tests, the US Navy eliminated the two-turn spin requirement and required that the Corsair be spun only once. Another main concern was engine cooling. Poor fuel distribution from the carburettor caused hot and cold cylinder head temperatures and became a chief concern for Pratt & Whitney chief test pilot, A. Lewis MacLain who flew the development programme on the experimental versions of the R-2800 engine. After its first flight, a second test pilot at Vought-Sikorsky, Boone T. Guyton, took over the test flying of the XF4U-I. All went well during his first four test flights, but on the fiftfl, while performing a series of low altitude cabin pressurization and high-speed cruise tests, low on fuel, the XF4U-1 crashed on the Norwich golf course far to the north-cast of the airfield at Stratford. Guyton was not helped by the weather, which produced heavy rainfalls in the test area. He attempted a short carriertype landing on the fairway, nose high with full flaps and power on, in order to maintain the slowest possible landing approach speed. All was fine until he chopped the throttle and allowed the XF4U-I to float onto the fairway. The aircraft touched down at the relatively high landing speed of around 80 knots and skidded on the wet grass. The brakes proved ineffective on the sl ippery surface and the smooth tyres were unable to get a firm grip. In desperation, Guyton tried to ground-loop the aircraft to prevent it crashing off the edge of the fairway, hut his efforts were in vain. The

Specification - Vought XF4U-l Engine

Pratt & Whitney XR-2800-4: I ,850hp at take-off, I,460hp at 21 ,500ft (6,553m): fuel capacity 273gal (l,2411)

Length 31ft II in (9m 73cm): span 41 ft (12m 50cm): wing area 314sq ft (29sq m): height 15ft 7in (4m 75cm)

Empty 7,5051b (3,404kg): gross 9,3571b (4,244kg): max. take-off 10,5001b (4,763kg)

Max. speed 405mph (652km/h), lanJing speeJ 73mph (117km/h): range 850 miles (1,370km) normal, 1,070 miles (1,722km) max: climb 2,660ft (810m)/minure: service ceiling 31,000ft (9,450m)

2 X .30 cal machine guns above engine, and 2 X .50 cal machine guns in wings: 40 51b (2kg) bombs

Corsair I JT104 of the FAA in flight. via Philip Jarrett

Vought (F4U-1A) Corsair II JT505 of the FAA in flight. via Philip Jarrett

XF4U-1 crashed into a wood and the prototype was catapulted upwards by trees, it then flipped over onto its hack, and slid along rudder first until it hit a tree stump, before finally coming to rest midway down a shallow ravine. Incredihly, Guyton emerged unhurt and was able to scramble out of the crumpled wreckage. But damage to the aircraft was severe, and it looked for a time as if it might have to be written off: one wing had been sheared off, the empennage had been torn (rom the fuselage, and the propeller was smashed - but the main fuselage, engine and undercarriage were relatively unharmed. Vought worked night and day, and they were able to completely rebuild the Corsair: within two months the XF4U-1 was airworthy once again. On I October 1940, Lyman Bullard demonstrated the XF4U-I for USN officials. He flew from Stratford to Hartford, Connecticut at a speed of 405mph

(652kmph), making the Corsair the first single-engine single-scat Navy fighter to fly over 400mph (644kmph). The effects of the achievement were not lost on the Army Air Corps, especially its chief, Major General Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold, who now re-evaluated his stance on the air-cooled radial powerplant. He gave Pratt & Whitney permission to cease development on liquid-cooled, inline engines and to forge ahead instead with radial engine development. On 24 October 1940 the XF4U-1 was delivered to NAS Anacostia for US Navy evaluations. Final US Navy demonstrations were carried out by Boone Guyton at Anacostia during 24-25 February 1941. Much to the delight of the Navy, who were already pleased with the top speed of the new aircraft, their evaluations revealed that, despite its size and weight, the XF4U-1 had an excellent all-round performance, too. The fitting of a new

Hamilton Standard Hydromatic airscrew increased effiCiency over the previous propeller arrangement, and power was further boosted by using a 'jet thrust' exhaust system. This, and very high ram pressure recovery by the wing leading edge carburettor air intakes, contributed greatly to the excellent overall performance of the aircraft. At a normal fighter weight of 9,3741b (4,252kg), the Corsair's sea-level rate of climb was 2,600ft (800m) per minute, and its service ceiling 35,500ft (10,800m). Take-off distance in calm conditions was 362ft (110m), and with a 25 knot headwind, just 150ft (46m). It had a range of 1,040 miles (l,673km) at 3,500ft (I ,070m) altitude. On 3 March 1941, Vought received a letter of intent from the Bureau of Aeronautics inviting them to propose a production version of the Corsair. On 2 April 1941, Vought submitted Proposal VS-317, which would become the F4U-1. On 14 june the XF4U-I was flown to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) facility at Langley Field, Virginia. Less than a month later, the XF4U-1 returned to Anacostia, only to be transferred to the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) in Philadelphia, on I August 1941. The XF4U-1 returned to Vought later in August where it remained, with periodic postings to Anacostia and to the NAF. Meanwhile, on 30 june the Bureau of Aeronautics awarded Vought Contract 82811 for 584 F4U-1 production aircraft for the Navy, with initial deliveries to begin in February 1942 (the first production model was actually delivered to the USN on 31 july 1942). Mass production of all types of combat aircraft in America became critical after the japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the action that finally forced the USA into the start of a global war. The Corsair became one of the first combat aircraft to have its production programme expanded, and the VGB programmer - consisting of Vought, oodyear and Brewster - was formed to mass produce the F4U-1. The Brewster Aeronautical Corporation was designed as an associate contractor for Corsair production on 1 November 1941. But Brewster's factory at johnsville, Pennsylvania, built only 735 F4U-I s, designated F3A-1 s: these finally began del ivery in April 1943 - and then in july 1944, the US Navy put it out of business. (More than half of Brewster's production was

Corsair II JT274 of the FAA. via Philip Jarrett

delivered to the Royal Navy.) Goodyear Aircraft, a division of the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company, joined the programme in December 1941, ami their Akron, Ohio, facility built 3,941 FG-I versions, 35 per cent of all Corsairs built. The production model would differ from the prototype in several respects, not least in having an 'increased length, to more than 33ft 41in (101m 6cm). At first, two more .50 calibre M-2 machine guns were installed in the wings, while the two machine guns mounted atop the engine cowling were permanently deleted. Later, the four wing guns were increased to six. Each inboard and intermediate .50 machine gun was fed with 400 rounds of ammunition, and the two outboard guns were supplied with 375 rounds apiece. Anti-aircraft bombs and wing-mounted flotation bags were deleted, ami two Mk 41-2 bomb racks and two mounts for 100Ib (45kg) bombs were installed beneath the wings. The increases in wing armament resulted in the leading edge fuel tanks being removed, although the two outer wing panel leading edge fuel tanks, each with a capacity of 63gal (2861), were retained. Experience gained by the Royal Air Force in combat led to the tanks being fitted with a carbon dioxide vapour dilution system. This system inerted the atmosphere above the fuel to preven t

the petrol being ignited by gunfire in combat. F4U-I fuel capacity was replaced with a 237 US-gallon (8961) self-sealing tank (which included a standpipe reserve o( 50gal (2271)) in the fuselage between the engine and the pilot. Mounting this tank ahead of the cockpit and ncar the aircraft's centre of gravity obviated the need for altitude changes as the fuel was used, but the fuselage had to be extended to make room for the fuel tank. The cockpit was therefore moved about three feet (one metre) further back than on the prototype, which in turn made the forward view worse for the pilot, especially during the nose-high landings that were a characteristic of deck landings. Improvements designed to increase pilot visibility over the new 'hose-nose' were rudimentary at best: the number of metal ribs in the jettisonable canopy - nicknamed the 'squirrel cage' or 'birdcage' canopy, so called for the number of reinforcing bars in the sliding cockpit canopy - was reduced, and fuselage cut-outs were introduced behind teardrop-shaped windows as a further aid to vision. After the removal of the wing tanks to make room for the additional guns, new wing fuel cells were installed, which added a (urther 62 US gal (2341) to each wing. Some 15 Sib (70kg) of armour plate was added to the area around the cockpit and oil tank, while the pilot was protected

by the addition o( one half-inch thick, laminnred, bullet-proof glass behind the forward windshield. Identification, Friend or Foe (I FF) radar transponder equipment was installed. The wings still retained the use of fabric-covered panels, but by slightly reducing the span of the landing flaps, it was possible to increase the aileron size over and above that on the prototype. This prompted a (aster rate of roll than had been possible on the XF4U-I. The compl icated deflector plate-type flaps as had been used on the prototype were replaced with NACA slotted flaps: these were lighter, and had fewer moving parts as well as giving a higher maximum lift coefficient. Maximum flap deflection was decreased from 60 to 50 degrees to decrease drag in the landing configuration. Modifications were made to the arrestor hook and tail landing gear systems. All of these changes increased the F4U-I's all-up fighting weight to 12,0611b (5,47Ikg). The up-rated Pratt & Whitney R-28008 Double Wasp, which used a manual Eclipse starter cartridge system, was chosen as the pOlverplant for the production model of the Corsair. The -8 produced 2,000hp at 2,700rpm at sea level, and 1,550hp at 2,550rpm at 22,OOOft (6,706m). This high altitude power would give the Corsair a top speed of 417mph (67Ikmph) at 19,000ft (5,79Im), and 397mph (639kmph) at 23,OOO(t (7,000m). The F4U-I had a sea

level rate of climb of 3,000ft (l,OOOm) per minute, and a service ceiling of 37 ,000ft (l1,300m). Meanwhile, in January 1942 the XF4UI was fitted with the XR-2800-4 engine rated at 1,850hp at 2,600rpm at take-off. Later that month the aircraft was flown to the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for field carrier landing tests on the airfield runways. For five days Navy pilots had the chance to fly the XF4U-1 before the aircraft was returned to the factory. On 12 May 1942 the XF4U-1 left for a twenty-nine day test at NAS Anacostia it was also used to test future mod ifications on the production Corsair models. The XF4U-1 left the Vought factory on 3 December 1942, and by 30 June 1943 had relocated to the new Flight Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The XF4U-1 spent the remainder of its career at the technical training centre at Norman, Oklahoma, before being snuck from the USN's inventory on 22 December 1943. Meanwhile, at the Stratford, Connecticut plant during the early summer of 1942, the production lines began turning out the first of the F4U-1 models. Boone T. Guyton took the maiden flight of F4U-1 Bu No. 02153, the fourth production F4U-1, on 25 June 1942. The new Corsair notched up a maximum speed of 415mph (668kmph), a sea-level rate of climb of 3,120ft (95Im) per minute, and a service ceiling of 37,000ft (l1,300m).

Problems Mount Bu No. 02156, the seventh production Corsair, was the first to be delivered to the US Navy, at NAS New York, on 15 August 1942. This aircraft was flown aboard the escort carrier USS Sangamon (CVE-26) in Chesapeake Bay by Lt Cdr Sam Porter on 25 September 1942 for carrier qualifications. Porter carried out four landings and four take-offs to determine the Corsair's suitability for carrier-borne operations. Unfortunately it became immediately obvious to the Navy observers that there were a series of landing problems, raising serious doubts as to the aircraft's ability to be used as a future shipboard fighter. Firstly, it was quickly apparent that in the three-point landing attitude the pilot's visibility was impaired by the long round-nosed engine installation. Nor was his visibility helped by his location well aft

of the aircraft fuselage, or by oil from the hydraulically actuated upper engine cowlflaps and engine valve push rods, which deposited a fine film of oil to coat the windscreen. (The individual actuators of each cowl-flap, and the early magnesium rockerbox covers, which tended to warp, leaked oil badly. The cowl-flap problem was finally solved by a modification in December 1942, using one actuator and a cable-and-roller mechanism, while the magnesium rockerbox covers were replaced by aluminium ones, many of them borrowed from F4F Wildcats and PB4Y-I Liberators.) Also, during the slow speed approach to the carrier, when the pilot was given the cut over the deck, the Corsair descended almost stalling onto the flight deck in an attempt to grab an arresting wire, and the F4U-1's 'stiff' main landing gear caused it to bounce very badly after landing: this was because on touchdown the landing gear oleos would compress, and then extend quickly back to full travel, bouncing the fighter into the air again. Other serious problems were caused by the Corsair's unhappy stall characteristics. To start wi th, the huge flaps and low-set tail wheel created a directional stability problem (corrected only later on the production line with the use of an inflatable tail wheel and the fitting of a stilted tail-wheel leg). Also, a sharp fall in the F4U-I's lift curve scope near the stall, combined with the high power and torque of the huge propeller, caused the aircraft to stall suddenly and drop its port wing before the right wing, especially during deceleration. The port wing tended to stall first because of the upwash from the propeller. True, a highly skilled pilot could pre-empt this problem, but it would be beyond the capability of most newly trained carrier pilots, and if the inexperienced pilot tried to regain control after bouncing on the first landing, touching down again with the brakes on could put the aircraft over on its back, with disastrous results. Another annoying malfunction was the 'rudder kick', something that had already occurred during testing of the XF4U-1. It was evident to Vought and the Navy that all these problems would have to be solved, and solved fast, if the Corsair was to go to sea. Vought flight-test and engineering departments went to work quickly to try to remedy the situation, and a series of design changes were suggested and later instituted during production. Vought suggested to

the Navy that the top three cowl-flaps be permanently sealed to prevent oil coating the windscreen, and that the individual hydraulic cowl-flap actuators be replaced with a single hydraulic cowl-flap master actuator and mechanical linkage to the remaining cowl-flaps. (Later, pilots would learn to look for rain clouds to give their windscreens a quick wash.) Before agreeing to these modifications, the Navy requested that a test aircraft be flown at military power with the top three cowlflaps opened, and then with them sealed, in order to compare engine-cooling data. As expected, sealing the top three cowl-flaps did not significantly increase cylinder-head temperatures, but it did complicate engine maintenance, in that mechanics had to remove a pair of the mechanical cowl-flap pulleys to gain access to the spark plugs of the top rear cylinder. To cure the stall problems a small, 6in (l5cm) wooden spoiler, or stall strip, was added to the leading edge of the right wing panel just outboard of the machine-gun ports. This refinement effectively spoiled the airflow over the area of the wing immediately behind it, and caused both wings to stall at the same time. Bu No. 02510 became the first F4U-l to be fitted with the 'stall improvement device' and it was delivered to NAS Anacostia and then to the Naval Aircraft Factory for testing. The addition of the spoiler was incorporated continuously from the 943rd Corsair onwards to solve a potentially dangerous flight characteristic. Equally, the 'rudder kick' problem was easily solved, by increasing the length of the tail-wheel strut, which effectively reduced the aircraft's ground clearance angle from 13.5 to 11.5 degrees. This reduced the percent of maximum lift coefficient used for landing, and the down wash angle over the tail. Other problems were not so easily solved. During fl ight testing, a number of F4U-1s were found to have a wing heaviness, which required aileron trim tab deflection of from 8 toW degrees out of the 15 degrees available to achieve level flight at cruising speed. A number of corrective measures were tried until Vought concluded that the problem was the result of manufacturing irregularities in the ailerons that were too small to positively detect. Replacing the ailerons could alleviate wing heaviness, but Vought had to try a number of different pairs before the problem was solved. Beginning with the F4U-4, the company used ailerons fitted with balance

Negotiations and suggestions on the part of the Royal Navy, the US Navy and Vought to turn the 'bent-wing bastard' into a more malevolent carrier aircraft had been an ongoing since the beginning of the year. However, before the flying and operational characteristics could be improved upon, there was a more immediate problem to contend with. Early on the Fleet Air Arm had realized that the Corsair could not be accommodated on the low-ceilinged hangar decks of Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Because of their armoured flight decks, British carriers had only 16ft (4m 87cm) of vertical clearance available on the hangar deck, while the F4U-1 Corsair, with its wings folded, had a height of just over 16ft 2in (4m 93cm). Nevertheless, although the armoured decks of the RN carriers presented something of an immediate problem for the storage of aircraft such as the Corsair, during Japanese kamikaze suicide attacks in the Pacific in 1944-45, it was the American carriers with their largely wooden flight decks that suffered worst. via Philip Jarrett

tahs. In the meantime, Vought engineers corrected the wing heaviness problem by gluing a 1. X 18in (3mm X 46cm) strip of wood to the bottom of the aileron on the wing that rode high. Early on, the Fleet Air Arm had realized that Corsair could not be accommodated on the low-ceilinged hangar decks of Royal Navy aircraft carriers. After discussing the problem with the Royal Navy, on 23 January 1943 the Bureau of Aeronautics instructed Vought to find ways of reducing the F4U-l 's overall height with the wings folded. A month later Rex B. Beisel, then Vought engineering manager, sent the

Bureau then suggested methods of reducing the height of the Corsair so that it could be carried aboard British carriers. Mostly, the suggestions involved retracting the tail wheel, compressing the main gear oleos with the jacking devices, or retracting the tail wheel and deflating the main tyres. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy came up with a much simpler solution of its own: Lt Cdr R. M. Smeeton, RN, of the British Liaison Office, suggested that a reduction of the wingspan, achieved by removing the 8in (20cm) wing-tip panels of the Corsair, be carried out, and the wings faired off with a wooden fillet. Beisel responded by outlin-

ing the design difficulties and the numerous re-drafting of drawings that would result if such a proposal were adopted, but the Royal Navy won the day. Smeeton sought and obtained data from Vought proving that in theory, removing the wing-tips would not greatly affect the Corsair's performance. Actually, although the clipped wing-tips increased take-off distance in a 25-knot head wind by 15ft (4.5m), the change produced a slightly increased stall speed, which gave the pilot more of a warning buffet before stalling and less roll after the stall. They would also improve manoeuvrability at lower altitudes.

FAA Corsairs in a hangar deck aboard a British carrier. via Philip Jarrett

Smeeton's recommendations were approved on 16 July 1943. The revised wing-tip design would be carried out on Bu No.17952 (British serial JT270). Aircraft prior to JT270 would be modified retrospectively by Blackburn Aircraft in England and by Andover Kent Aviation orporation of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Another British improvement was the fitting of small air-scoops to the fuselage sides to help prevent life-threatening carbon monoxide fumes accumulating in the fuselage abaft the cockpit. It was thought that, because the exhaust stubs were flush with the engine cowlings, they were not throwing the expelled gases clear of the forward end of the fuselage. Later, British-type VHF radio equipment was also installed in the Corsair. Altering the Corsair's landing characteristics proved more difficult, and Programme Dog was instituted to modify the landing gear quickly and get the Corsair carrier qualified. The programme ran a whole year before the problem was finally solved. Then it was a case of simply replacing the landing gear oleo's Schrader valve with a Chance Vought valve and increasing the strut's air pressure, something that took just ten days, although it took much longer to implement. This changeover was incorporated on all production line

aircraft, and was performed on Corsairs during major overhauls. A side benefit of this modification was a reduction of 20ft (6m) in the F4U-1 's take-off distance in a 25-knot headwind. Meanwhile, Vought was requested by the Navy to redesign the tail-wheel yoke so that it raised the Corsair's tail 6in (I Scm) and improved pilot visibility on the ground. At the same time, the arresting hook-down angle was changed from 75 to 65 degrees to prevent the Corsair from 'sitting on the hook in a full stall landing'. Bu No. 02557, the 404th F4U-I, became the first Corsair with the extended tail wheel, and it was delivered to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on 8 September 1944. Bu No. 02161, the ninth F4U-I built, was delivered to the NACA fullscale wind tunnel at Langley, Virginia, to find ways of reducing the drag. NACA recommended the installation of smoothsurface wing walkways and smoother wing surfaces, plus smoother, tighter fitting wing access doors and the addition of aileron gap seals and an arrestor hook cut-out fairing. The Navy soon carried out all of NACA's drag-reducing recommendations except for the aileron gap seals. The tail hook was partially faired over with the extension of the tail wheel gear door, enclOSing the hook up to the last six inches.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Aeronautics wanted the pilot's seating position raised to increase visibility this was done, but on 27 February 1943 Vought requested that a different model designation he given to Corsairs with the raised seating modification. This was duly carried out hy the Bureau of Aeronautics, and the new model hecame known as the F4U-IA: it featured a semi-bubble canopy with only two reinforcing bars in the upper surface of the hlown glass structure, replacing the F4U-I's 'squirrel cage' or 'birdcage' canopy. However, there was a war on, and the Bureau of Aeronautics requested that the -I A modifications 'be incorporared in the earliest airplanes in which it can be made without seriously affecting production'. Bu No. 02557, the 689th F4U-I, served as the prototype aircraft, with the seating raised 9in (23cm) and a semibubhle canopy the new scat raised the pilot's line of sight Sin (13cm). Bu No. 17647 was the first F4U-I A production model to have the raised cabin. In all, forty-two significant changes were made on the F4U-IA production run, many of the major ones being to the cockpit. As we have seen, the pilot's scat could be raised and lowered approximately 9in (23cm), and it incorporated an armoured headrest. The control stick was

Brewster Corsair advertisement in 1944. The Corsair became one of the first combat aircraft to have its production programme expanded. and the VGB programmer consisting of Vought. Goodyear and Brewster was formed to mass produce the F4U-1. AIr News


Argentina El Salvador France Honduras New Zealand United Kingdom United States

(List includes former, current, and potential operating nations)

F4U-4 : 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-18W air-cooled radial piston engine driving four-bladed propeller unit at the nose in puller fashion.

(Assuming optimal flying/environmental conditions)

6 x 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) Browning M2 air-cooled Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in wings (three guns to a wing).

4 x 20mm AN/M3 automatic cannons in wings (two guns to a wing).

Up to 4,000lb of conventional drop stores or air-launched weapons.

8 x 5" High Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVARs) under wings. Supported Types:

Chance Vought F4U Corsair in British Service - History

Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft
February 8, 1943

Maximum Speed of F4U-1 Airplane #02234
("Cleaned-Up" Version) on War Emergency Power Ratings

Run #1 Run #2
Indicated Airspeed, knots 261.5264
Vo 1/2 , m.p.h.295298
Pressure Altitude, ft.23825 22840
Engine, r.p.m.2696 2698
Manifold pressure, in. Hg. 51.9 54.0
Throttle SettingFullFull
Atmospheric Temperature, °C -32.5 -30.2
NACA Standard Air Temperature, °C -32.2 -30.2
Carburetor Air Temperature, °C 28 30
B.h.p. (from torquemeter)1715 1740
True Airspeed, m.p.h.431423

Chance Vought Aircraft
Stratford, Connecticut
April 1, 1943
Report No. 6195

Detail Specification
Model F4U-1 Airplane

Bomber Fighter
Fuel (gals.)178178363
Gross Weight (lbs.)11,142 11,399 12,656
High Speed at sea level, mph*311301310
High Speed at 7,400 ft., mph*336324333
High Speed at 8,250 ft., mph*333321330
High Speed at 20,000 ft., mph*378363373
High Speed at 21,100 ft. (mph)*375359370
High Speed at maximum engine rated altitude,
21,500 ft. mph*
High Speed at airplane critical altitude,
24,350 ft. (mph)*
High Speed at airplane critical altitude,
22,900 ft. (mph)**
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
without power, mph
86.4 83.3 87.8
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
with power, mph***
74.1 75.1 79.0
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
less fuel, mph
70.5 71.5 71.9
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
less 1/2 fuel, mph
72.3 73.2 75.5
Initial rate of climb at sea level, ft./min.2890 2760 2400
Time to climb to 10,000 ft., min.3.65 3.87 4.47
Time to climb to 20,000 ft., min.8.06 8.59 9.99
Service ceiling, ft.36,200 35,450 33,350
Endurance at high speed at 21,500 ft., hrs. .86 .861.76
Endurance at 90% high speed at 21,500 ft., hrs. 1.40 1.39 2.98
Endurance at 75% high speed at 21,500 ft., hrs. 2.61 2.60 5.38
Endurance at 60% high speed at 21,500 ft., hrs.3.76 3.71 7.37
Maximum endurance at 5500 ft., hrs.5.05 5.05 10.3
Maximum range at 5500 ft., miles 965900 1850
Average speed for max. range at 5500 ft., mph.191178179.5
Average speed for max. endurance at
5500 ft. (mph)
Take-off distance in calm, ft.482507664
Take-off distance in 15-knot wind, ft.313332447
Take-off distance in 25-knot wind, ft.217232318
* Normal rated power
** Military rated power
*** Approximately 400 bhp (2200 RPM at 17" hg manifold pressure)

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
July 28, 1944

Model F4U-1 Airplane - Performance Characteristics of.
F4U-1 No. 02155

Climb characteristics using best climbing speed, minimum cowl flap opening, and military rated power
(1)Rate of climb at sea level 2,890 fpm
(2)Rate of climb at airplane critical altitude in neutral blower (700 ft.) 2,800 fpm
(3)Rate of climb at airplane critical altitude in low blower (15,400 ft.) 2,300 fpm
(4)Rate of climb at airplane critical altitude in high blower (21,200 ft.) 1,800 fpm
(5)Service Ceiling (rate of climb - 100 fpm)38,200

Maximum true airspeed using military rated power
(1)At sea level348 mph
(2)At airplane critical altitude in neutral blower (14,400 ft.)352 mph
(3)At airplane critical altitude in low blower (17,800 ft.)390 mph
(4)At airplane critical altitude in high blower (22,800 ft.)395 mph

U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
April 28, 1944

Model F4U-1 Airplane - Flight Test of Water
Injection Equipment - TED No. PTR 2105
F4U-1 No. 17930

Power War
High blower airplane critical alt. - ft.20,30022,800
Maximum speed at high blower airplane
critical altitude - MPH
431 417
Low blower airplane critical altitude-ft.14,60017,600
Maximum speed at low blower airplane
critical altitude - MPH
416 405
Maximum speed at S. L. - MPH 365 350
High blower climb crti. alt.-ft16,50020,000
Maximum rate of climb at high blower climb
critical alt.-FPM
2540 1940
Low blower climb crit. alt - ft.10,50015,000
Maximum rate of climb at low blower climb
critical alt.-FPM
3010 2350
Maximum rate of climb at S. L. FPM 3210 3040
Take-off speed - MPH 86.5 86.5
Take-off distance - no wind - ft. 715 760
Take-off distance - 25 knot wind-ft 335 360
Flap setting for take-off Full Full

U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
June 27, 1944

Model F4U-1 Airplane - Evaluation of Maximum Practicable Combat Rating
Performance at Carburetor Impact Pressure of 32.8"- TED No. PTR 0415
F4U-1 No. 50030

Combat Power (32.8" Hg. carburetor impact pressure setting)

Blower Low High
RPM 2700 2700
BHP 2176 2030
Airplane crit. alt.-ft.13,20014,800
Maximum speed - MPH 406 421.8
Manifold pressure-inches Hg. 61.5 61.5

Blower Low High
RPM 2700 2700
BHP 2160 2012
Airplane crit. alt.-ft.10,20014,500
Maximum rate of climb-FPM 3300 2890
Manifold pressure-inches Hg. 61.5 61.5

Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down
31 May 1944

Corsair F.Mk.II JT.259
(Double Wasp R2800-8)

Performance trials and position error measurment

Climb Performance at combat power

Max. rate of climb at 2,000 ft. = 2470 ft/min.
" "   " " " 5,000 ft. = 2140
" "   " " " 15,300 ft. = 2140 " F.T. ht. in Aux. Low gear.
" "   " " " 20,600 ft. = 1640 " " " Aux. High gear.
" "   " " " 32,000 ft. = 250 "

Maximum level speed performance :-
Max. level speed at 3,400 ft. = 334 mph TAS. F.T. ht. in Main gear
" "     " " 12,000 ft. = 350   " " Aux. Low gear
" "     " " 17,800 ft. = 373   " " F.T. ht.
" "     " " 22,600 ft. = 382   " " F.T. ht. Aux. High gear
" "     " " 32,000 ft. = 351   " "

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
October 6, 1944

Final Flight Report
Production Inspection Trials
(TED No. BIS 2121)
Model F3A-1 Airplane No. 04691

Performance (As an "overload" fighter less wing tank fuel)
1.Maximum speed (high blower):
Power Normal Military
Brake horsepower15501650
Airplane critical alt-ft24,20023,300
Maximum speed at ACA-MPH393.5390
2.Service ceiling - ft. 38,00038,000
3.Maximum rate of climb at sea level - FPM23803080
4.Minimum speed at sea level:
"Overload" Fighter
Clean condition - power on - MPH99.5
Clean condition - power off - MPH104.5
Landing condition - power on - MPH74.5
Clean condition - power off - MPH86.5
5.Take-off data (full flap):
* Brake Horsepower1986
Take-off speed - MPH86.0
Take-off distance - no wind - ft.725
Take-of distance - 25 knot wind-ft.340

Engine data Airplane Configuration
RPM = 2700Cowl flaps - 2/3 open
MAP = 54"Intercooler - closed
CAT = 25°Oil cooler - full open
OAT - 21°Cockpit hood - full open
* Note: On basis of AEL Power Curves - reference (h)

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
October 31, 1944

Final Flight Report
Production Inspection Trials
(TED No. BIS 2125)
Model F4U-1 Airplane

Performance (Airplane No. 02155 loaded as a "normal" fighter except as noted)
(a)Maximum speed (high blower):
Power Normal Military
Brake horsepower15501650
Airplane critical alt-ft23,80022,800
Maximum speed at ACA-MPH395395
(b)Service ceiling - ft. 38,20038,400
(c)Maximum rate of climb at sea level - FPM24993160
(d)Minimum speed at sea level:
Airplane No.0215802555
Overload Fighter
+ 176 gal.
drop tank
Gross weight - lbs.11,19413,320
Clean condition - power on - MPH97.5103
Clean condition - power off - MPH101.5110
Landing condition - power on - MPH76.579
Clean condition - power off - MPH83.090.5
F4U-1 No. 02155 Performance Characterisitcs: Maximum Speed, Brake Horsepower Available
F4U-1 No. 02155 Performance Characteristics: Climb

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
November 10, 1944

Flight Test of Two Model FG-1 Airplanes
No. 14796 (British Corsair Mk IV KD 365)
and British Corsair Mk IV KD 502
(TED No. PTR 2140)

A summary of the performance data obtained on the model FG-1 No. KD 365 at military power is as follows:
Airplane critical alt. in high blower ft22,600
Maximum speed at airplane crit. altitude in high blower, MPH 389
Take-off speed, MPH 82
Take-off distance - zero wind, ft 675
Take-off distance - 25 knot wind, ft 305
Take-off BHP (Torquemeter) 1,870

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
January 11, 1945

Final Flight Report
Production Inspection Trials
(TED NO. BIS 2122)
Model FG-1A Airplane No. 14575

Performance (As an "overload" fighter less wing tank fuel)
Model FG-1A Airplane No. 14575
1.Maximum speed (high blower):
Power Normal Military Combat
Brake horsepower149516402000
Airplane critical alt-ft23,30022,30018,000
Maximum speed at ACA-MPH390393.0406.0
2.Service ceiling - ft. 37,00037,00037,000
3.Maximum rate of climb at sea level - FPM216031203450
Model FG-1A Airplane No. 14062

4.Minimum speed at sea level:
Clean condition - power on - MPH96.0
Clean condition - power off - MPH98.0
Landing condition - power on - MPH76.0
Landing condition - power off - MPH83.5
5.Take-off data (full flap):
* Brake Horsepower (actual)1940
Take-off speed - MPH83.0
Take-off distance - no wind - ft.720
Take-off distance - 25 knot wind - ft.325

Engine data Airplane Configuration
RPM = 2700Cowl flaps - 3/4 open
MAP = 53.5Intercooler - closed
CAT = 27°Oil cooler - open
OAT - 23°Cockpit hood - open
* Note: On basis of AEL Power Curves - reference (h)

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Chance Vought Aircraft
Stratford, Connecticut
February 15, 1945
Report No. 6756

Detail Specification
Model F4U-1D Airplane

Interceptor Fighter Long R. Bomber
Fuel (gals.)178237407
Gross Weight (lbs.)11,343 12,086 14,311
High Speed at sea level (mph)*318317287
High Speed at 7700 ft. (mph)*345344310
High Speed at 9300 ft. (mph)*344343309
High Speed at 20,100 ft. (mph)*388386344
High Speed at 21,700 ft. (mph)*386384342
High Speed at maximum engine rated altitude,
21,500 ft. (mph)*
High Speed at airplane critical altitude,
24,400 ft. (mph)*
High Speed at airplane critical altitude,
23,000 ft. (mph)**
High Speed at airplane critical altitude,
20,000 ft. (mph)***
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
without power (mph)
86.2 89.0 96.8
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
with power (mph)****
77.0 79.5 86.5
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
less fuel (mph)
76.6 78.6 78.8
Stalling speed at sea level with full load
less 1/2 fuel (mph)
75.2 77.2 82.7
Initial rate of climb at sea level (ft./min)**3250 2990 2200
Initial rate of climb at sea level (ft./min)***3390 3110 2300
Initial rate of climb at sea level (ft./min)*2880 2650 1930
Time to climb to 10,000 ft. (min.)* 3.8 4.3 6.1
Time to climb to 20,000 ft. (min.)* 8.2 9.213.8
Service ceiling (ft.)*38,700 37,100 31,400
Endurance at high speed at 21,500 ft. (hrs.)* .86 1.15 1.97
Endurance at 90% high speed * at 21,500 ft. (hrs.)*1.39 1.83 2.94
Endurance at 75% high speed * at 21,500 ft. (hrs.)*2.64 3.42 5.20
Endurance at 60% high speed * at 21,500 ft. (hrs.)*3.79 4.82 7.02
Maximum endurance at 5500 ft. (hrs.)4.97 6.62 10.41
Maximum range at 5500 ft. (miles) 9731264 1676
Average speed for maximum range at 5500 ft. (mph.)196191173
Average speed for maximum endurance at
5500 ft. (mph)
Take-off distance in calm (ft.)*562652977
Take-off distance in 15-knot wind (ft.)357421654
Take-off distance in 25-knot wind (ft.)243289465
* Normal rated power
** Military rated power
*** War Emergency Power
**** Approximately 400 bhp (2200 rpm at
17" hg manifold pressure)

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Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down
21 April 1945

Corsair F. Mk.IV KD.227
(Double wasp R2800-8W)

Level speed trials with and without water injection

The maximum true airspeeds attained were :-
With water injection400 mph (347 knots) at 18,400 ft.
Without water injection395 mph (343 knots) at 22,500 ft.

The following table gives comparison of the performance of this aircraft with that of Corsair II JT.417 reported in the 12th Part of Report No. A.&.A.E.E. 814,a.

AircraftMax. speed without
water injection.
mph (knots)
95% take-off
weight lbs.
Corsair II JT.417393 (341)23,40011,290
Corsair IV KD.227395 (343)22,50011,500

This comparison is intended merely to demonstrate the approximate agreement in level speed performance between the two varients.
Corsair Mk IV KD.227 Level Speed Performance

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U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Maryland
August 2, 1945

Evaluation of Maximum Practicable
Combat Power Rating for the Model F4U-1 Airplane

Model F4U-1 Airplanes No's 55937, 50030
(TED No. PTR 0415)

Maximum Speed
At normal combat power RPM (2700) with No. 25 drill size water jet.
Carburetor Impact Pressure Setting - Ins. Hg.31.532.833.9
Airplane - critical altitude - ft:
High Blower198501880017900
Low Blower143001320012200
Max. Speed at airplane crit. alt. - MPH:
High Blower421422422.5
Low Blower 405.5406406.5
Brake Horsepower Available:
High Blower1950 2030 2100
Low Blower 2095 2175 2250
Manifold Pressure - Ins. Hg:
High Blower 59.8 61.8 63.4
Low Blower 60.2 62.2 63.9
At normal combat power RPM (2700) with No. 18 drill size water jet.
Carb. Impact Press. "Hg.31.532.833.9
Airplane Climb - critical altitude - ft:
High Blower1650015,40014,400
Low Blower10700 9,800 9,000
Max. Rate of Climb - FPM:
High Blower 2940 3080 3200
Low Blower 3400 3570 3700

Chance Vought Aircraft
Stratford, Connecticut
May 21, 1947
Report No. 7289

Detail Specification
Model F4U-4 Airplane

Fighter Long Range
Bomb LoadNoneNone1-1000
Gross Weight (lbs.)12,40513,52914,562
Fuel Quantity (gal.) 234384384
Fuel Weight (lb.)1,4042,3042,304
High Speed @ Sea Level (knots)*281271256
High Speed @ 8,100 ft. (knots)*319298282
High Speed @ 9,600 ft. (knots)*308296280
High Speed @ 23,100 ft. (knots)*364350330
High Speed @ 25,500 ft. (knots)*362347326
High Speed @ Max. Engine Rated Altitude,
25,000 ft. (without ram)(knots)*
High Speed @ Airplane Critical Altitude,
29,900 ft. (knots)*
High Speed @ Sea Level (knots)**310298283
High Speed @ 3,500 ft. (knots)**322310293
High Speed @ 8,000 ft. (knots)**322310293
High Speed @ 23,000 ft. (knots)**375360340
High Speed @ 25,800 ft. (knots)**373358338
High Speed @ Max. Engine Rated Altitude,
21,900 ft. (without ram)(knots)**
High Speed @ Airplane Critical Altitude,
29,200 ft. (knots)**
High Speed @ Sea Level (knots)***328316298
High Speed @ 1,500 ft. (knots)***331319302
High Speed @ 5,000 ft. (knots)***330318301
High Speed @ 20,000 ft. (knots)***378364344
High Speed @ 22,500 ft. (knots)***375360340
High Speed @ Max. Rated Altitude 19,900 ft.
(without ram) (knots)***
High Speed @ Airplane Critical Altitude
26,200 ft. (knots)***
Stalling speed @ Sea Level with Full
Load without Power (knots)
Stalling speed @ Sea Level with Full
Load Less 1/2 Fule without power (knots)
Stalling speed @ Sea Level with Full
Load Less Fuel without Power (knots)
Stalling speed @ Sea Level with Full
Load with Minimum Power for Level Flight (knots)
Initial Rate of Climb at Sea Level (ft./min)*2,5802,2301,900
Initial Rate of Climb at Sea Level (ft./min)**3,5603,1302,740
Initial Rate of Climb at Sea Level (ft./min)***4,3603,9003,470
Time to Climb to 10,000 ft. (min.)*
Time to Climb to 20,000 ft. (min.)*8.09.411.3
Service Ceiling (ft.)*40,85038,35038,550
Endurance at high speed at 25,000 ft. (hr.)
Endurance at 90% high speed at 25,000 ft. (hr.)
Endurance at 75% high speed at 25,000 ft. (hr.)
Endurance at 60% high speed at 21,500 ft. (hr.)
Max. Endurance at 7,000 ft. (hrs.)6.810.48.8
Max. Range at 7,000 ft. (naut. miles)9601,4801,260
Average Speed for Max. Range (knots)160162162
Average Speed for Max. End. (knots)121121121
Take-off Distance in Calm (ft.)****6858441,013
Take-off Distance in 15-knot wind (ft.)****457575701
Take-off distance in 25-knot wind (ft.)****324415514
Combat Radius (naut. miles)88356320
Normal Rated Power *
Military Rated Power **
Combat Power ***
Take-Off Power ****

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U.S. Naval Air Test Center
Patuxent River, Maryland
March 25, 1948

Final Report
Project TED No. BIS 2157

Production Inspection Trials
of the
Model F4U-4 Airplane

Loading configuration - Normal Fighter
Gross Weight - 12500 lbs. C.G. 31.5% MAC (gear up)
1.Normal Rated Power
(a) Maximum speed in level flight - V t
(1)At ACA, high blower (31900') - kts.374
(2)At ACA, low blower (24600') - kts.353
(3)At ACA, neutral blower (8700') - kts.304
(4)At sea level -kts.280
(b) Maximum rate of climb
(1)At ACA, high blower (28000') - ft/min2115
(2)At ACA, low blower (20000') - ft/min2465
(3)At ACA, neutral blower (6500') - ft/min2820
(4)At sea level - ft/min2900
(c) Service ceiling -ft* 39,300
2.Military Rated Power
(a) Maximum speed in level flight - V t
(1)At ACA, high blower (29000') - kts.385
(2)At ACA, low blower (23100') - kts.368
(3)At ACA, neutral blower (4600') - kts.317
(4)At sea level -kts.303
(b) Maximum rate of climb
(1)At ACA, high blower (25500') - ft/min2710
(2)At ACA, low blower (19000') - ft/min3040
(3)At ACA, neutral blower (3000') - ft/min3720
(4)At sea level - ft/min3760
(c) Service ceiling -ft* 39,800
(d) Take-off data - Flap setting: Full down
(1)Take-off speed, V c - kts.72.5
(2)Distance in zero wind - ft.645.0
(3)Distance in 25 knot wind - ft.295.0
3.Calibrated Airspeed at Stall
(a) Clean condition, power on - kts.84.5
(b) Clean condition, power of - kts.89.4
(c) Landing condition, power on - kts.64.2
(d) Landing condition, power on - kts.77.7
* Extrapolated values.
F4U-4 No. 80765 Level Flight Performance Characteristics
F4U-4 No. 80765 Climb Performance Characteristics

Chance Vought Aircraft
Stratford, Connecticut
December 15, 1948
Report No. 6645

Connecticut State Aircraft: F4U Corsair

History of the F4U Corsair

Early History

On February 1, 1938, the United States Navy issued a request for proposals for a new carrier-based fighter aircraft. One proposal submitted was that of Vought-Sikorsky (later Chance Vought ) Division of United Aircraft Corporation of Stratford, Connecticut. A design team, headed by Chief Engineer Rex Beisel , developed a radical new design built around the most powerful aircraft engine available at that time - the Pratt and Whitney R2800 "Double Wasp" 18-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial engine. In addition, this new design incorporated low-mounted "inverted gull wings" or "bent wings."

The first prototype was ordered in June, 1938 and was designated the XF4U-1. The first flight was on May 29, 1940, with test pilot Lyman A. Bullard Jr..

The initial production order for 584 F4U-1 aircraft was placed on June 30, 1941. The aircraft was given the name Corsair, a name which had been used on other Vought-Sikorsky aircraft.

The first F4U-1 aircraft were received by the U.S. Navy on August 31, 1942. The first recorded combat mission was flown on February 14, 1943.

The F4U Corsair was also used in large numbers by the British Royal Navy. They had more than 2000 of the planes. Many hundreds of Corsairs were also flown by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Later Development

Originally designed as a carrier-based fighter, the F4U was also used from land bases. One of the most famous squadron was the VMF-214 "Black Sheep" Squadron which flew out of Henderson Field, located on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands.

Many versions of the F4U were created, depending on its intended use. These included the following.

  • F4U-2 - equipped with radar and fitted with a radome on the right wing for night action.
  • F4U-4 - incorporated a more powerful version of the engine, improved armament, and a 4-bladed propeller.
  • F4U-5 - included versions designed to be use in low temperatures for the Korean War.
  • F4U Corsairs were also manufactured by Goodyear Corporation (4007 planes) under the designation of F2G, and by Brewster Aeronautical (735 planes) under the designation F3G.

Service History

F4U Corsairs were used in World War II, the Korean War and in regional conflicts up to 1969. They were purchased by other countries including France and Argentina. The last Corsairs were produced in 1952, with 12,571 total production over the twelve years since 1942.


The F4U was considered by many pilots to the one of the best fighter aircraft of World War II. It was the first single engine fighter aircraft to exceed 400 miles per hour flight speed with full armament. Fast and highly maneuverable, the F4U also incorporated extensive protection for its pilots.

Basic Information

Specifications for the F4U-4

Connecticut Law

The law designating the F4U Corsair as the official Connecticut state aircraft is found in the Connecticut General Statutes, Title 3, Chapter 32, Section 3-110n.

SECTION 3-110n. State aircraft.

[1.4] F4U-2 / F4U-3 / F4U-4 / F2G

* When the US Navy came up in November 1941 with an urgent requirement for a night-fighter based on the F4U-1, the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia took 32 (some sources claim 12) stock F4U-1s and converted them to a night-fighter configuration with the designation "F4U-2".

The F4U-2 was equipped with AN/APS-4 centimetric radar, fitted in a radome on the right wing. One of the three machine guns in the right wing was deleted to balance the radar. Although the radar pod apparently did not greatly interfere in the Corsair's maneuverability, the radar set was relatively fragile, and Corsair night fighter pilots were disinclined to jink their aircraft around unless absolutely necessary -- not that there were many wild dogfights in the dead of night. The exhausts on the bottom of the cowling were extended to prevent the glow of the exhaust from being seen by potential victims, giving the F4U-2 something of a scruffy "beard" just before the leading edge of the wing. A number of F4U-2s saw combat in the South Pacific. Apparently, there were two field conversions of F4U-1s to F4U-2 standard as well.

* Three F4U-1As were converted to use the P&W XR-2800-16C Double Wasp, which featured a two-stage turbocharger for high-altitude performance. A four-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller was fitted to take advantage of the increased power. The engine installation featured a distinctive belly inlet, just behind the cowling. These three aircraft were designated "XF4U-3", "XF4U-3A", and "XF4U-3B", but the installation didn't work out well. The F4U-3 and its Goodyear equivalent, the "FG-3", did not enter production.

* The last major wartime production variant of the Corsair was the "F4U-4", which featured a P&W R-2800-18W Double Wasp with 1,567 kW (2,100 HP) take-off power and water-methanol injection. The only visible differences from the F4U-1D were an inlet fitted in the lower lip of the cowling, giving the aircraft's nose a slightly different profile, and a four-bladed propeller. All following Corsair variants would retain the four-bladed propeller. The F4U-4's engine and propeller gave it a top speed of 718 KPH (446 MPH), about 48 KPH (30 MPH) faster than the F4U-1D. Armament was the same as for the F4U-1D, with six Brownings, stub pylons for eight HVARs, and the ability to carry two 450-kilogram (1,000-pound) bombs and a centerline drop tank.

Five F4U-1s were modified as "XF4U-4" prototypes, with the first performing its initial flight on 19 April 1944. One of the prototypes was fitted with a prop spinner, but this item was not adopted for production. Initial flight of a production F4U-4 was in September 1944, with initial service deliveries in October. A dozen (some sources claim only two) F4U-4s were built by Goodyear with the designation of "FG-4", but the end of the war led to cancellation of further Corsair orders from Goodyear. However, the Navy was still appreciative enough of the F4U-4 to obtain about 400 more from Vought after the war up to 1947.

2,037 standard F4U-4s were built in all. Several subvariants of the F4U-4 were built as well:

    297 F4U-4s were fitted with four M2 20-millimeter cannon instead of the six Brownings. Sources disagree on whether these machines were given the designation of "F4U-4B" or "F4U-4C" "F4U-4B" is used in this document.

An F4U-4 was experimentally fitted with wingtip fuel tanks and another was used for trials of a six-bladed contra-rotating propeller, but neither of these items was ever incorporated into Corsair production.

* One of the more interesting wartime Corsair variants, even if it didn't go into production, was the Goodyear "F2G", which was to be designed around the monster P&W R-4360-4 air-cooled radial engine, with 2,238 kW (3,000 HP) take-off power. In contrast to the R-2800 Double Wasp, which featured two rows of nine cylinders for a total of 18 cylinders, the R-4360 featured four rows of seven cylinders for a total of 28 cylinders it was called a "corncob" because of the cylinder arrangement. The engine would see operational service on the big Convair B-36 Peacemaker heavy bomber and other aircraft after the war.

The F2G had a distinctive supercharger / oil system cooler intake on top of the lengthened nose, as well as a bubble-type canopy, a taller tailfin, and other changes. A bubble canopy had been fitted earlier to a Goodyear FG-1A on a trials basis. Armament was six 12.7-millimeter Brownings, plus the external stores arrangement of the F4U-1D.

An old F4U-1 with the birdcage canopy was fitted with the Wasp Major and a four-bladed prop in early 1944 to evaluate the fit. Goodyear received a production contract for the F2G in March 1944, with some of the batch for use from ground bases, featuring manually folding wings and designated "F2G-1" and others for carrier operations, with hydraulically folding wings and an arresting hook, designated of "F2G-2". Development, particularly of the engine, proved troublesome, and by the time the first F2G was rolled out in May 1945, the need for the type was evaporating.

Production contracts for the variant were canceled at the end of the war, with only five production F2G-1s and five F2G-2s built. They had been preceded by a number of "XF2G" prototypes, the precise count being unclear, with most or all of these development machines apparently being conversions. At least one F2G flew in air races after the war.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair in British Service - History

The Chance Vought F4U Corsair

F4U-1 Corsair. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Chance Vought F4U Corsair proved to be the most capable carrier based fighter of the Second World War. This big, fast, and manuverable Navy and Marine fighter was designed around the Pratt and Whitney XR-2800 Double Wasp engine, which promised to be the most powerful aircraft engine in the world at that time. This very successful twin row 18 cylinder radial engine initially produced about 1850 HP, and ultimately produced about 2,450 HP with water injection by the end of the war.

In February 1938 the U.S. Navy requested proposals for new carrier based fighter. A Vought design team led by Rex Beisel was assembled to create the Vought proposal that ultimately became the Corsair. Beisel's basic idea for the new fighter was a fairly simple concept: he wanted the smallest airframe that would allow use of the proposed 1,850 HP Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp radial engine. The Navy preferred air-cooled radial engines due to their greater reliability and ability to absorb battle damage and still function (compared to liquid-cooled engines).

The most distinctive feature of the new Vought fighter was its "cranked" or inverted gull wing. It gave the V-166B (as it was known inside the company) a unique look among WW II fighters, a look that is still popular today. I was recently told by a model airplane retailer that the P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair are by far the most popular WW II fighter models.

The inverted gull wing was designed to raise the nose of the airplane farther from the ground without unduly lengthening the undercarriage. The reason was to allow the use of the largest possible diameter propeller in order to make most efficient use of the engine's high power. It also allowed the wing's hinge point to be a little closer to the ground, and the tips consequently a little lower when folded, giving a little more hanger deck roof clearance on board aircraft carriers. The wings, by the way, were power folded by the pilot, unlike most earlier carrier planes whose wings had to be folded manually by the deck crew. The propeller selected was a three-bladed Hamilton-Standard Hydromatic constant speed model.

The Navy ordered a prototype of the proposed Vought fighter in June 1938, which first flew in May 1940. In October the XF4U-1, as the Navy called it, achieved a speed of 404 MPH in level flight, the first U.S. made aircraft to do so. Armament was a mix of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the wings and cowl.

The XF4U-1 also became the first Navy fighter to encounter shock stall. This insidious problem affected the first generation of U.S. fighters to achieve high mach numbers in a dive and was due to their lack of laminar flow wings. In other words, the F4U, P-38 and P-47 all had wings that were thick in cross section, which provided high lift, but caused the early formation of shock waves as the air flow over them reached supersonic speeds in high altitude, high speed dives. These standing shock waves degraded the lift normally provided by the wings, resulting in an increasingly steeper and faster dive from which the pilot could not pull out until the plane reached the thicker air of lower altitudes, where drag increased enough to slow the plumeting aircraft and gradually return control to the pilot. Such uncontrolled dives were terrifying and could be fatal if they happened over mountainous terrain where the pilot might run out of altitude before enough speed bled away to permit recovery.

A series of revisions were implemented as problems were identified. These included a more powerful 2,000 HP R-2800-8 engine and a revised fuel system, which required moving the cockpit 3 feet back to maintain a correct center of gravity. This had the unfortunate side effect of reducing the pilot's forward visibility in nose high attitudes, as when landing. The armament was revised and became 6-.50 caliber wing mounted machine guns (3 per wing). The improved Corsair F4U-1 was ordered into production in the Autumn of 1941.

The first production F4U-1's were delivered in June 1942. By September 1942 Marine Squadron VMF 124 had been equipped with the new fighter, which was declared combat ready that December.

F4U-1's reached the Marines fighting desperately to hold Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, in February of 1943. Just in the nick of time, as the saying goes, as the outcome of that crucial turning-point battle was balanced on a razor's edge.

The famous "Black Sheep" squadron of book and TV series fame immortalized the Corsair in the blue South Pacific skies. The Marines found that the new fighter at last gave them superiority over the Zero, as long as they did not try to turn with the lighter Japanese plane. The Corsair was much faster than the Zero, had a better roll rate and could dive away to safety when necessary. Corsair pilots established a very satisfactory kill ratio against Japanese fighters and helped turn the tide in the Solomons (and later battles). The F4U-1 had a top speed of 393 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft. Later water injection was added to the radial engine, raising the top speed to 415 m.p.h.

Although U.S. Navy and Marine pilots operated the Corsair from a multitude of airfields hewn from Pacific atolls, it wasn't until April 1944 that the Navy cleared the powerful fighter for shipboard use. This delay was primarily due to the Corsair's high (for the time) landing speed and the pilot's limited forward visibility over the big radial engine when landing. By that time the British Royal Navy had been operating Corsair fighters from aircraft carrier decks for nine months.

The Corsair was continuously modified and improved throughout the war. By 1945 over 3000 minor and major improvements had been made, including a four-blade propeller.

The F4U-2 was a night fighter variant adapted from some dozen F4U-1's. An A1 airborn radar was fitted to the right wing and two guns deleted to compensate for the increased weight. An autopilot was also added. Two specialized night fighter units were formed. Six of the F4U-2's were sent to Munda Island and the other six assigned to the famous aircraft carrier Enterprise, thus becoming the first specialized night fighter unit to operate at sea.

The XF4U-3 was a high altitude version of the Corsair based on the F4U-1 airframe fitted wth a two stage supercharged engine that could deliver 2,000 HP up to 40,000 feet. Only a few were completed. The project was never fully implemented due to the press of other affairs.

The definitive Corsair was the F4U-4. Major improvements evident in the F4U-4 included a four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller, a new cockpit layout, a clear view sliding hood, a two stage supercharged engine and under wing attachment points for 8-5 inch rockets or bombs. The new engine pumped out 2,450 HP with water injection and that, plus the four-bladed propeller, improved both speed and climb rate. Most F4U-4's retained the standard armament of six .50 caliber wing mounted machine guns, but some 297 F4U-4B's were produced with 4-20mm cannons in place of machine guns. Specifications for the F4U-4 follow.

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The famous gull-wing design of the F4U Corsair makes the plane one of the most distinctive fighters of World War II. Designed and built by Chance-Vought, the Corsair prototype first flew on May 29, 1940. It was the world's first single-engine fighter capable of speeds over 400 mph in level flight. Though first rejected by the U.S Navy, the F4U proved to be one of the best all-around fighters of World War II and was the only American piston engined World War II fighter produced in large numbers after 1945.

During World War II the Corsair proved more than a match for the Japanese Zero and other advanced Japanese fighters. The Corsair achieved an impressive eleven-to-one victory ratio against Japanese aircraft. Corsairs also excelled in the ground attack role and were heavily employed as close air support aircraft during the Pacific island hopping campaign.

As a testament to the plane's effectiveness, Japanese ground troops nicknamed the Corsair “the Whistling Death” (the plane's distinctive whistling was caused by airflow over the F4U's leading edge oil coolers). Later during the Korean War, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps used the plane almost exclusively in the attack role, carrying high explosive bombs, napalm and high-velocity aircraft rockets. Corsairs were instrumental in the Marine's famous “advance in a different direction” from the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950.

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s Corsair, is one of 120 Corsair IVs ordered from Goodyear Aircraft Corp. for the British Royal Navy. With the end of the war near, the order was cancelled and the aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Navy. It was accepted July 3, 1945 at Norfolk VA. After reconditioning to US Navy FG-1D specifications, it was assigned to VF-1 at Naval Air Auxiliary Field (NAAS) Cecil Field, Jacksonville FL and served from 10/5/46-6/23/47. The remainder of its assignments are as follows: Norfolk VA, Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) 6/24//47-11/25/47 Overhaul at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville FL VMF-451 at NAS Willow Grove PA, 5/2/48-4/5/49 Storage at NAS Jacksonville FL NARTU at NAS New Orleans LA, 12/10/49-8/6/51 Overhaul at NAS Jacksonville FL NARTU at NAS Grosse Isle MI, 1/8/52-3/20/52 Airframe overhaul to Marine specifications at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point NC Marine Air Squadron 31 at MCAS Miami FL, 5/14/52-12/17/52 NARTU at NAS Willow Grove PA, 12/18/52-8/18/53 Storage at NAS Jacksonville FL until stricken from Navy records January 1957.

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s Corsair is finished in the armament arrangement of an F4U-1C, having 4, wing mounted 20MM cannons. The paint scheme is that of Major Archie Donahue’s Corsair when he served with VMF-112 at Guadalcanal. On May 13, 1943, Maj. Donahue destroyed five Zero aircraft in a single engagement, thus becoming an “Ace-in-a-day”. Maj. Donahue is one of only 7 Marine pilots to accomplish this feat. He repeated this accomplishment by destroying another 5 enemy aircraft over Okinawa in 1945 while serving with VMF-451. He is credited with a total of 14 aerial victories and his decorations include the Navy Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals.

Watch the video: F4U Corsair: Pt1 Black Sheep of the RN (November 2021).