In 1945, the attention of the military aviation community turned to the turbo-jet-powered aircraft. The U.S. Navy, however, had decided they would keep the Corsair as their first-line fighter until the jet had been satisfactorily developed for carrier operations. On February 6, 1946, the Navy gave Chance Vought a letter-of-intent on the company’s proposal to build the F4U-5.
The F4U-5 was the first post-war model it was basically similar to the F4U-4. During F4U-4 production, 3 F4U-4 were modified as prototypes for the F4U-5 model and were designated XF4U-5.The first XF4U-5 flew on 4 April 1946.The first production F4U-5 day fighter flew for the first time on May 12, 1947. The majority were completed as night fighters, with a total of 315 being produced. The night fighters were divided into two sub-variants including 214 F4U-5N and 101 F4U-5NL. When the North Koreans invaded South Korea in June of 1950, the F4U-5 Corsair went back into combat. They were assigned the task of flying low-level attack and ground support missions. In the late 1950s the US delivered a small number of F4U-5 to Argentine and Honduras. Production continued until October 1951.
Interest in night and all-weather fighters had grown to such an extent that the Navy ordered a large number of airplanes in the first group converted to night fighters (F4U-5NL). This version is easily distinguished by its two-foot diameter radar dome in the leading edge of the right wing. While the F4U-5NL Corsairs did fly missions in their intended night fighter role, they also flew hundreds of ground attack sorties against targets. By the end of the decade, almost all fighters were radar equipped allowing to operate in all weather conditions and as effectively at night as during the day. The distinction between day fighter and night fighter gradually disappeared.
The F4U-5NL was a winterized version of the F4U-5N airplane. It was the same as the F4U-5 airplane except that it included provisions for both night-fighter and cold weather operations. The winterization facilities are identified by the installation of de-ice boots on the wings and empennage, and de-ice shoes on the propeller blades.
For night fighter gunnery training, a special light was used. One of these was mounted on top of each wing near the trailing edge of the tip, and one was located on each side of the tail cone. During training exercises at night, the pilot would press his gun trigger, and instead of the cannons firing, the light would shine a beam at the target. If the pilot's shooting was on target, the light would reflect from all of the trihedral prisms. The gun camera can take record of the results of the attack.
The night fighter equipment found on the F4U- 5N included an ANIAPS- 19(A) radar set, ANIARC-28-VHF and ANIAPX-2 IFF equipment. The night fighters had an ANIAPN- 1 radio altimeter and a Mk 20 gun sight. To protect the pilots vision at night, T-20 flash hiders were added to the cannon barrels, flame hiders were mounted on each side of the fuselage, and exhaust collector flame dampeners were added. The throttle ranging grip, found in the standard F4U-5, was replaced with a conventional throttle grip and microphone switch in the night fighters. The scope for the radar was mounted in the center of the main instrument panel.
Pilot comfort was emphasized to a high degree in a completely modernized cockpit. The combat power system was automatic. Its combat would be nearly all low-level, where the tremendous payload was useful. When necessary, over 5000 pounds of ordnance could be carried on the twin underwing pylons and the centerline rack. A new centerline pylon was added, and a bomb up to 2,000 pounds in weight could be carried on this station. Internal armament was four M-3 20-mm cannon with 924 rounds of ammunition.
Although it may have looked much like the previous F4U-4 at first glance, it was a different aircraft in many ways. Equipped with a new Pratt and Whitney engine and a side wheel supercharger, it was a high-altitude fighter, designed to fight at 45,000 feet.
The air required for the R-2800-32W also resulted in another change to the design of the cowling , the air scoop under the engine cowling was removed, and replaced by two small scoops incorporated in the lower side of the cowling. The F4U-5 was the first Corsair variant to delete fabric covering on the outer wing panels , they were now fully covered with metal ,this resulted in a reduction in drag operation , these cooling flaps was fully automatic. The armament consisted of four 20mm cannon, as in the F4U-4B. Perhaps the most noticeable difference was in the forward fuselage. The engine was the R-2800-32W, with a variable-speed two-stage supercharger , this necessitated the lengthening of the nose section by approximately ten inches. The R-2800-32W engine, developing approximately 2,300 horsepower which was 200 horsepower more than the engine used in the F4U-4. The engine also maintained greater power to a higher critical altitude than did its predecessor. Maximum speed was listed at 469 miles per hour at 26,800 feet, rate-of-climb was 3,780 feet/min at sea level. The engine installation introduced a lowering of the thrustline by 2.75 degrees, which improved stability and forward view and improved the longitudinal stability of the aircraft.
Entry to the cockpit was changed. The cut out step in the inboard right flap was deleted, a retract able boarding step on the right side of the fuselage re placed it. d. The canopy was enlarged to a blown design, and it was higher than that used on the F4U-4.
Changes were also made inside the cockpit, one of these was the elimination of the lower part of the instrument panel that was located between the rudder pedals. Pilot comfort was emphasized, and a new heater, located in the lower fuselage, provided both cockpit heating and windshield defrosting. Spring tabs for use on the elevator and rudder controls reduced pilot effort as much as 40 percent. Guns tubes were electrically heated.