The name Corsair has been applied to a succession of United States Navy aircraft through many decades, but none has been more effective than the F4U Corsair, a distinctive 'cranked wing' monoplane fighter.
If you’ve never seen a Corsair before, your first glance at the outsized propeller and wings might leave you with the feeling that either this warbird was assembled from parts that didn’t match or it has met with some sort of disaster. But from all these outsized and mismatched parts came one of WWII’s greatest fighter planes. It could outfight, outclimb and outrun any prop driven enemy.
The Corsair's most unique feature was the "bent" wing, the result of a marriage between the most powerful engine ever installed in a piston-engined fighter at that time, and one of the biggest propellers in the world. The inverted gull wing permitted the short, sturdy undercarriage required for carrier operations, gave the pilot better visibility over the wing and lowered the height of the folded wing. An added asset of the gull wing was a planing action during emergency water landings.
Depending on which Air Squadron you were in, the F4U had many nicknames: "Hose Nose", "Bent Wing Bird", "Hog" , "The Sweetheart of Okinawa", "Super Stuka", "U-Bird", "Horseshoe", "Ensign Eliminator", it was in April 1945 the sweetest sound in the world for the soldiers , in the shadow of the F4U they found a brief respite from the danger that threatened them in Okinawa and "Ensign Eliminator" , the latter due to it’s stall and landing characteristics. Under the right circumstances, the wing mounted air intakes caused a pronounced whistling sound that was caused by the wing-root inlets for engine air. Inside of these inlets were placed the oil coolers which ejected hot air through adjustable doors under the wings just ahead of the spar. For that reason, Japanese ground troops called it "Whistling Death".
The US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics had a long tradition of issuing proposals for aircraft which pushed the limits of available technology. This stimulated the manufacturers ability to respond with new technology to meet the challenge. When "BuAer" sent its proposal for a high performance, carrier based fighter to United Aircraft Corporation (parent company of Vought-Sikorsky) on February 1, 1938, it seemed the Navy might have pushed technology to the limit. C. J. McCarthy, who was Vought’s General Manager, called in the company’s chief engineer, Rex Beisel. An elite team was selected for the development of Vought Design #V-166, Frank Albright as project engineer, Paul Baker as aerodynamics engineer, James Shoemaker as propulsion engineer. Each had an assistant. These engineers submitted their work to Beisel who then integrated it all into a final design.
Early on, Shoemaker chose the Pratt-Whitney R-1830 Wasp air-cooled radial engine because of it’s long history of reliability and the V-166-A was designed around this engine. But, in 1940, the BuAer’s quest for speed resulted in a switch to the experimental XR-2800-4 version of the Pratt-Whitney Double Wasp, with a two-stage supercharger for the prototype XF4U-1 Corsair. The R-2800 engine was the most powerful engine in the world in 1940, exceeding 100 hp (74.6 kW) per cylinder for each of its 18 cylinders. The change in engines resulted in the design number being changed to Vought Design #V-166-B. The V-166-A was never built.
With the awesome 2804 cubic inch (46 liter) Double Wasp air-cooled radial engine developing 1850 hp (1380.6 kW), the only way to convert that kind of horsepower efficiently into thrust was with a huge Hamilton Standard Hydromatic, 3 blade prop which measured 13 feet 4 inches (4,06 meters) in diameter. And that created a problem of deck clearance for the prop. It seemed either the main landing gear had to be lengthened, or the prop had to be shortened.
Since the landing gear had to be very strong to withstand the pounding of a carrier deck landing, a short, stout leg was required. Also, there wouldn’t be enough room in the wing to properly stow a longer gear. And, if the prop were shortened, much of the horsepower of the Double Wasp would be wasted. So, Vought engineers came up with the distinctive inverted gull-wing design which forever characterized the F4U Corsair. This "bent wing" design allowed the huge prop to clear the deck while providing for a short, stout landing gear. As a byproduct, the wing also improved the aerodynamics of the intersection where the wing attaches to the fuselage, boosting the top speed.
It was a very "slick" looking plane using flush riveting and a new technique developed jointly by Vought and the Naval Aircraft Factory called "spot-welding". In order to make the Corsair as aerodynamically clean as possible, there was nothing protruding into the air stream. The intake for the turbo-supercharger intercooler and the oil cooler were located in slots in the inboard leading edges of the wings. Vought designed the fuselage with a circular cross-section which fit snugly over the Pratt-Whitney engine. The F4U was the first Navy craft to have landing gear which retracted flush into the bottom of the wing, though it took some effort. Other craft had retracting gear, but there was always some bulge or part of the wheel exposed. Vought engineers designed the Corsairs wheels to swivel 90º and retract straight back to fit flat inside the bottom of the wing. Two panels then closed over the gear making a perfectly smooth fairing. The idea was to mate the most powerful engine with the smallest, cleanest possible airframe.
Several stumbling blocks developed when carrier trials were held aboard the USS Sangamon and other carriers in late 1941. The biggest problem was the long nose. It stuck out 14 feet (4,27 m) in front of the pilot, and when the Corsair was sitting in take-off position, the nose pointed up at an angle sufficient to block forward vision to about 12º above the horizon. In carrier landings it was practically impossible to see the Landing Signals Officer once the Corsair was lined up with the carrier deck on final approach. Adding to this problem were oil and hydraulic leaks from the engine compartment which seeped past the cowl flaps and smeared the windshield, further restricting visibility.
Landing on a carrier deck required the pilot to have the plane at stall speed just as the tail-hook snagged the deck wire, but this was made very difficult by the wicked stall characteristics of the F4U. Just as stall speed was reached, the left wing tended to drop like a rock. In a deck landing this could cause the landing gear to collapse resulting in injuries to the pilot and severe damage to the aircraft. Assuming luck was with the pilot and he landed intact, the Corsair normally "bottomed out" the shock absorbers as it slammed down on the deck. The resulting recoil caused the plane to bounce high in the air. The tailhook itself sometimes failed to "trap" the plane by engaging an arrestor wire. If this happened on a straight deck carrier it usually meant the aircraft plowed into the planes parked forward. It was said on a straight deck carrier there were only two kinds of landings; a "trap" and a catastrophe!
As the Corsair was thought by the Navy to be unsuitable for carrier duty, it was given to the U.S. Marines for land-based operations where it earned an outstanding combat record. Britain, France, New Zealand, Australia also received the F4U during WWII.
It was the British (?) who finally worked out a method of landing the Corsair on their carriers in spite of the visibility problems caused by the long nose. Instead of the normal downwind-crosswind-final approach method, the British simply turned downwind, then made a slow, continuous curve which aligned the Corsair with the deck only at the last second before the aircraft touched down and trapped. This method allowed the pilot to keep the Landing Signals Officer in view right up to the moment the plane was over the fan-tail where the LSO gave the sign to either "cut" or make another attempt.
There is a misunderstanding on what role the Royal Navy had in carrier training of United States Navy pilots flying the F4U Corsair. It is clear from the accounts of Lieutenant Commander (A) Norman S. Hanson , RNVR that the Royal Navy had not established the preferred landing procedure of the F4U Corsair until December 1943. This was nearly a year, November 1942, after the training of U.S. Navy pilots at NAS San Diego, CA noted a "curving approach" by Boone Guyton and Blackburn. Although the "curving approach" was not specifically mentioned in carrier qualification of squadrons VF-12 and VF-17 it is assumed the "curving approach" was used not only for the F4U Corsair but other aircraft with similar forward visibility issues (* note by Roy T. Lindberg).
To alleviate the problem of oil and hydraulic fluid smearing the windshield, the Brits simply wired shut the cowl flaps across the top of the engine compartment, diverting the oil and hydraulic fluid around the sides of the fuselage. Numerous other simple, effective alterations were devised to alleviate the dreadful stall characteristics, landing bounce and tailhook problems (among others), and these modifications were incorporated into the production line. In 1944 the US Navy decided to again try landing the F4U on carriers, and this time succeeded. It turned out to be an extremely wise decision.
As the nature of the war changed, the Corsair also changed. There were seven different dash numbers, some built exclusively for foreign countries (the F4U-7 for the French Aeronavale) and one was never built at all (the F4U-6). Some dash numbers had letter suffixes designating different changes in the airframe, weapons or engine. In addition to Vought, the Corsair was built by the Goodyear Aircraft Company, with a lesser production run by Brewster Aeronautical Corporation.
There were also night fighter versions (designated by the suffix letter "N"), and photo versions (with the suffix "P"). The Corsair underwent over 950 major engineering changes over is lifetime though none changed the distinctive profile of the F4U. Most often, production aircraft were simply pulled off the assembly line and used as test beds. Some of these were designated prototypes with the prefix "X" (such as the "XF4U-3"). By the end of Corsair production 1952, there were 16 separate models on the books.
Several varieties of the Pratt-Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine were used in the Corsair. Some used a water-methanol injection to increase the power for short sprints. This was called "War Emergency" power and had a suffix "W" after the dash number of the engine. During the Korean War, there were modifications to cope with the extreme cold encountered in that theater. These were designated with the suffix "L" (for "Low" [temp]).
In production longer than any other U.S. fighter in World War II (1942-1952) with 12582 built, the Vought F4U "Corsair" had several claims to fame. It was credited with an 11:1 ratio of kills to losses in action against Japanese aircraft and was the last piston-engine fighter in production for any of the U.S. services. Built around a powerful 2000 hp, double-bank radial engine, the distinctive feature of the F4U was the inverted gull-wing that provided less drag in flight, allowed for shorter landing gear to accommodate an oversized propeller and enabled the wings to be folded directly over the canopy with room to spare on the hangar deck. The shorter landing gear permitted rearward retraction which in turn allowed for greater wing-fuel capacity.
Due to inadequate cockpit visibility, adverse stall characteristics at slow approach speeds and a tendency for the tail-hook to not engage due to aircraft bounce when it hit the carrier deck, the F4U was restricted from carrier operations until late 1944. In the interim, Marine Corps and some Navy squadrons were actively engaged in Pacific combat operations beginning in early 1943 from land-based island locations. One Marine Corps squadron was credited with downing 135 aircraft over an eighteen month period and produced ten aces. One Marine pilot went so far as to down an enemy aircraft with his propellor.
The famous Marine Corps "Black Sheep" squadron led by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington accumulated ninety-seven aerial victories over a twelve week period with "Pappy" accounting for twenty-two of them including five on one mission. These WW II kills by Boyington were in addition to six others accumulated earlier while serving with the Flying Tigers in China.
One Navy fighter squadron (VF-17) known as the "Jolly Rogers" shot down 154 Japanese aircraft over a seventy-six day period including sixty in one five-day period.
The "Corsair" which was also produced by Goodyear as the FG and Brewster as the F3A-1D ended the war with 2140 enemy aircraft destroyed with a loss of only 538 to enemy fire. The "Corsair" also saw combat service during the Korean War in support operations.
The prototype XF4U-1 first flew with Lyman A. Bullard at the controls and had a speed of 405 m.p.h. During its fifth test flight, on May 20, 1940, the XF4U-1 prototype crashed and flipped over on a golf course in Norwich Connecticut. Had the crash been much more severe or had the Corsair's airframe not been so rugged, this event could have ended the development and production of two of aviation history's most successful fighter designs.
At that time, the U. S. Army Air Corps had decided that all of its future fighters would be powered by inline engines that afforded a more sleek aerodynamic design. It became the first fighter to exceed 400 miles-per-hour in level flight. This could hardly be ignored by the Army.
But as the first production F4U-1's entered service, there were more problems to overcome and success was not immediate. The Corsair had been designed as a carrier-based fighter, but initial carrier qualifications had revealed a number of problems that were severe enough that the Navy restricted the aircraft from carrier operations until they could be solved. The port wing tended to stall before the right when flying a carrier approach, and the stift landing gear caused a bounce that often flipped the plane over the barriers on the flight deck.
As a result, the Corsair was initially assigned to land based Marine and Navy squadrons, although the British modified landing procedures enough to begin using their Corsairs on carriers right away. The desperate situation in the islands of the southwest Pacific demanded a fighter that could meet the Japanese on better terms.
By early 1943, Corsairs were being received by the eager pilots in squadrons that were being shipped to the Pacific theater. At Guadalcanal and elsewhere, these pilots began to achieve huge successes. VF-17 became the most successtul Navy fighter squadron of all time. In the hands of these Navy and Marine pilots, the Corsair racked up an impressive 11.3 to 1 air-to-air kill ratio. The Corsair excelled in its intended mission as an air-to-air fighter.
But as the war progressed, the Corsair's capabilities as a fighter-bomber were continually improved. With the F4U-1 A, a centerline bomb rack was fitted that could carry a single bomb weighing up to 1,000 pounds. Two additional pylons were added under the center wing section on the F4U-1 C and F4U-1 D. During production of these two variants, the capability to carry eight 5-inch rockets under the outer wing sections was also added.
The change in role trom fighter to fighter-bomber happened tor two reasons. First, there was a need tor more aircraft to attack the enemy on the ground, and the large powerful Corsair had the capability for being a very successful fighter-bomber. Second, as the war continued, there was less and less air opposition from the Japanese. So the tactical situation dictated that the Corsair, as weIl as other fighters, would be increasingly used to attack targets on the ground rather than those in the air. While the Corsair continued to be a very successful air-to-air fighter throughout World War II, a greater percentage of missions were flown against ground targets during the final year of the war .
By the second half of 1944, the problems associated with carrier landings had been solved and Corsairs were being assigned to fleet carriers in ever increasing numbers.
The final Corsair variant to see action in World War II was the F4U-4. It was powered by an R-2800-18W engine, although the R-2800-42W was later instalIed. The F4U-4 also had a completely redesigned cockpit interior which had a floor and tuIl consoles on each side. In today's terminology, the cockpit design was more ergonomic than found in the floorless cockpits of the "dash 1 " Corsairs. Otherwise, the F4U-4 was essentially the same as the F4U-1 D. F4U-4's reached the combat areas during the final months of World War II and they served with both Navy and Marine squadrons.
In September 1945 the war ended and the United States cancelled many military contracts. Those that survived were slashed. Brewster had failed the year before and was no longer involved in the production Corsairs, but Goodyear had just begun producing their equivalent of the F4U-4 which was designated the FG-4. Production was halted and the dozen or so aircraft that had been completed by Goodyear were scrapped. Vought was allowed to proceed with the F4U-4, but the number of aircraft on order was significantly reduced.
In the years immediately following World War II, the development of jet engines continued at a tast pace and this meant that the days of propeller-driven fighters were coming to a close. The Navy realized that for some time to come, aircraft with piston engines would remain very effective tor ground attack work.The capability of the Corsair to serve in ground attack roles is what allowed it to remain in production until 1953 and in service for several years.
The first Corsair variant to be developed and produced in the post-war years was the F4U-5. The changes and improvements on this version we re more radical and significant than between any two successive variants that had come before. A much more powerful engine was instalIed. Machine gun armament was deleted once and for all and four 20-mm cannons became the standard for this and all subsequent Corsair variants. Cowl fiaps, the oil cooler doors and the intercooler dump flap were all automatically controlled. The trim tabs were electrically operated. The fabric covering on the wings was replaced with a metal skin, and this reduced drag. The canopy was changed to a blown design that afforded better visibility, particularly to the rear .
When the "dash 5" series of Corsairs were produced, there was still some belief and intention that they would serve in the conventional air-to-air role to some extent. In fact, most of the Corsairs in the 5- series were F4U-5N and F4U-5NL night fighters, and while they would be used to some degree in this role during the Korean War, even these would actually fly more missions attacking targets on the ground along with standard F4U-4, F4U-4B, and F4U-5 fighter-bombers. F4U-5P photo reconnaissance Corsairs were also produced.
When the Korean War began, the Corsair was the most numerous fighter-bomber in the Navy, Naval Reserve and Marine inventories. Within a few days after the commu nists invaded, Corsairs were flying missions from aircraft carriers flying off the Korean coast. Corsairs operated from Japan were also deployed to bases in Korean. They would continue to serve in combat until the hostilities ceased in July 1953.
Lt. Guy Bordelon became the Navy's only ace during the Korean War, and he did so flying F4U-5Ns at night. Marine Captain Jesse Folmar shot down a MiG-15 while flying an F4U-4B.
LTJG Thomas Hudner, also flying an F4U, was awarded the Medal of Honor for landing under hostile fire, in enemy terrain, to attempt a valiant but unsuccessful effort to rescue the pilot who could not be extricated from his damaged cockpit following a forced landing.
The overwhelming majority of missions were flown against ground targets. The days when the Corsair would rack up impressive kill ratios over enemy aircraft were now only a part of history, its service in another role was just as significant and valuable in a different war in a different place at a later time.
The final variant produced for U.S. forces exemplifies the end of the progression from air superiority fighter to attack aircraft that the Corsar experienced over its operational service. Originally called the XF4U-6, the designation was changed to AU-1 to indicate the dedicated ground attack role for the aircraft. Fitted with additional armor plating to protect its undersides from ground fire, and equipped with an engine optimized for low level operations, there was no longer any pretense that this Corsair was a fighter in the contemporary sense of the word. Extra hardpoints were added under its wings so that every ounce of ordnance the aircraft was capable of lifting could be delivered to the enemy.
The final ninety-four Corsairs to roll off the assembly line were produced exclusively for the French Navy (Aeronavale). These were supplied under the Military Assistance Program (MAP), and deliveries were made in the second half of 1952 and early 1953. On January 31, 1953, F4U- 7, BuNo. 133832, became the last Corsair to be completed, thus ending production almost thirteen years after the crash of the XF4U-1 prototype which almost ended the program before it began.
After being phased out of service with the U. S. Navy and Marines, F4U- 7 and a few AU-1 remained operational with the French until 1964. Several F4U-4 , F4U- 5N, and F4U-5NL were acquired by Honduras, and Argentina received F4U-5, F4U-5N, and F4U- 5NL Corsairs. In 1969, Corsairs flown by EI Salvador and Honduras engaged each other in aerial combat, and the last aerial victory scored by a Corsair was against another Corsair. This marked an interesting end to the military service of the aircraft. EI Salvador flew the last known Corsair mission by a foreign nation in 1971.
For many vears after their military service, Corsairs were among the most popular racing plane. Some were little changed from their military configurations except for the often colorful paint schemes that were applied to them. Others received physical modifications to lessen weight, enhance streamlining, and improve speed and performance in unlimited air racing. Most popular of these were the F2Gs.
Today, a few Corsairs still exist. A few are not much more than hulks that are being rebuilt. Some are very accurately restored in museums, and still others are privately owned and flown at air shows and demonstrations. While the majority of remaining Corsairs are later aircraft that were built af ter World War II, aviation enthusiasts can rejoice in the knowledge that a few World War II Corsairs still exist and are being preserved for future generations.
STORY OF CORSAIR OPERATIONS
Designed in 1938 and flown in 1940, Corsairs first tasted combat at Guadalcanal. It was at the “Canal” that Corsairs definitely established their aerial superiority over the vaunted Japanese Zero a highly maneuverable aircraft that had previously outperformed all U.S. fighters. The Corsairs were the first American fighters to top 400 miles per hour, and the first to house a 2000 horsepower engine, making the gull-wing Corsairs the toughest foe faced by enemy pilots. Interrogation of high Japanese brass at the end of the war disclosed the fact that they considered the Corsair the top fighter in use by any service in the Pacific.After spending most of 1944 in clean-up actions in the South and Central Pacific (during which time the Corsair came into its own as a dive bomber, attack plane and night fighter), the F4U’s now were with Task Force 38, and destined to become the world’s No. 1 carrier-based fighter.
On March 4, 1944, the Corsair performed its first mission as a dive bomber in an attack on Mille island, Mille Atoll, in the Marshall Islands.
During the 7 weeks following this baptism as a fighter-bomber, Corsairs dumped more than 200000 pounds of bombs on Japanese installations in the Marshalls.
British pilots used their Corsairs as bombers in the attacks on Java in April 1944. Scarcity of enemy air operation was the main reason for the F4U’s use as a bomber in 1944.
On May 16, 1944, a Navy evaluation board, after a series of comprehensive comparisons between the F6F-3 Hellcat and F4U-1D, opined: “It is the opinion of the board that generally the F4U is a better fighter, a better bomber and equally suitable carrier airplane as compared with the F6F and it is strongly recommended that the carrier fighter and/or bomber complements be shifted to the F4U type.”
The Corsairs closed out 1944 by going aboard the fast carriers with both Navy and Marine pilots assigned to fly them. Assignment to shipboard duty was the year’s supreme accomplishment for the F4U’s. It came none too soon as the Japanese were threatening the entire U.S. Fleet with kamikaze attacks, and their fighters were getting better and faster.
As a result of the growing kamikaze tide, VMF-124, the first Marine squadron to take Corsairs into combat, also became the first to operate from a carrier.
The Pacific Fleet high command, in a conference at Pearl Harbor on November 24-26, 1944, expressed much alarm at the kamikaze peril. A decision was made to increase the number of fighters aboard carriers to meet the menace. To accomplish this as an interim measure, the Navy called upon the Marines and their Corsairs. The final year of the war, 1945, was to see shipboard Corsairs venture into the China Sea, performing combat sorties over Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines, Formosa, and Tokyo.
From Guadalcanal, spearheading the drive toward Tokyo, Corsairs took part in nearly every major campaign in the Pacific. Operating from island bases and Navy flattops, Corsairs in the Pacific fought in the skies over the Solomons, Rabaul, the Carolines, Peleliu, the Marshalls, Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan.
Known to the Japanese as “whistling death”, and to its Marine pilots as the “Sweetheart of Okinawa,” the Corsair also made aerial history in areas other than the Pacific, among them, the Indian Ocean and North Sea.
Corsairs were flown in combat by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Royal Navy and New Zealand Air Force.
The name “Corsair” became synonymous with the names of Marine and Navy aces including Lt. Col. Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, Lt. Ken Walsh, Lt. Bob Hansen, CDR. Tommy Blackburn, Lt. Ira (Ike) Kepford, and a host of others.
The most famous pilot to take the Corsair into action was Col. Charles A. Lindbergh. In one attack on Wotje Atoll, he took off in a Corsair with a bomb load of 4000 pounds, the heaviest load ever carried up to that time by a single-engine fighter.
In the course of shooting down 2140 enemy aircraft, only 189 Corsairs were lost in combat, a ratio of better than 11 to one.
From February 13, 1942, when a handful of Corsairs first engaged the Japanese at Guadalcanal, until V-J Day, Corsairs carried out a total of 64,051 action sorties. Of this total, 54470 were flown from land bases and 9,581 from the decks of aircraft carriers.
Marine Pilots led the Corsair onslaught. Operating from island airstrips, they shot down 1400 enemy planes. Of that number, 1100 were fighters and 300 bombers. Marine air losses were 141 Corsairs shot down.
A small number of U.S. Navy Corsairs accounted for 162 enemy planes with a loss of 14 of their own, giving a final tally of 1562 enemy planes destroyed by land-based Corsairs.
Later, after being assigned to aircraft carriers, Corsairs shot down 578 enemy planes with a loss of only 34 F4U’s in air combat. Although the first landing of a Corsair aboard a carrier took place September 25, 1942, the Navy did not begin carrier operations with the planes until late 1944. The first Marine Air Group, MASG-48, was assigned its first carrier, USS Block Island on February 4, 1945. A Marine Squadron, VMF 124, however, began operating from the USS Essex December 28, 1944.
One Corsair was the only airplane ever to receive an official citation. Corsair 122, operating with the Marine Devildogs squadron, was cited as follows , by the end of the Okinawa campaign, nearly every carrier the Navy had was equipped with Corsairs, and the way was indicated for the years that lay ahead.
In the final year of the war, 3575 Corsairs were produced, 2046 by Chance Vought Aircraft, 1529 by Goodyear.
After the war, F4U Corsairs continued flying with several air forces, and became the final piston engine fighters built in the United States . When the Korean War started in 1950, Corsairs were again used by the US Marines for ground attack. April 1954 : The LAST active F4U "Corsair", leaves the Miami Opa-locka Marine Corps base. Col. Richard A. Beard Jr., Commanding Officer of Marine Air Group 31, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and other officers turned out to see pilot Lieutenant David Teichmann depart.
The last of the Marine Corps active Corsairs was flown from Miami to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, for service in a reserve squadron. The Navy Department announced in January, 1953, that it was accepting delivery of the last of the propeller-driven fighters, and the old planes now have been replaced by jets.
Other F4U were supplied to the French Navy, in Indochina , remained in service until 1964. F4U continued to serve in Honduras , El Salvador and Argentina . Not until the mid-seventies did the last South American country finally withdraw the type from service.
For 13 years (1940 through 1952), F4U Corsairs were produced for the U.S. Navy. The last of the Corsairs (the F4U-7) was delivered to the French Navy early in 1952, making it the last piston-engined fighter to be built in the United States. When the last Corsair rolled off the production line it had the number 12571. Never before had a fighter enjoyed such a long production life. Nor was the Corsair’s glory all of battle origin. Commander Cook Cleland, USNR, flying the Vought-designed airplane as a civilian, captured the Thompson Trophy event in 1947 and again in 1949 with average speeds of 396 and 397 miles an hour over closed courses.The Corsair thus completed the cycle: from fighter to dive-bomber, to fighter-bomber, to attack plane, and back to fighter.
French Corsairs F4U - History
THE KOREAN WAR :
The 25 Juin 1950 began the Korean war . At 4 o'clock in the morning, the north-Korean infantry, supported by tanks of Soviet origin, crossed the 38 parallel to invade the Republic of Korea . The Security Council of the O.N.U. invited all the nations members at once to link itself to push back the attack, men of all nationalities were committed in a hard combat on the Korean ground.
The Corsair was put again at contribution and more particularly employed in missions of support. It constituted an excellent gun platform and its capacities of carrying were very significant. It is during this conflict that appeared the corsair version AU-1 (ex F4U-6) specialized in the attack on the ground. Armed with four guns of 20 mm Hispano m2, the AU-1 could carry bombs, 127 mm or 298mm "Tiny Tim" rockets or napalm.
During the first ten months of the Korean conflict, Corsairs ensured 82% of the missions of support. Their role decreased with the appearance of new types of materials. However, they remained incomparable for the night hunting until the appearance of the "Tigercat" and the "Skynight".
The air operations engaged by US Navy in Korea at the time of this major conflict concerned eleven assault carriers : U.S.S. " Valley Forges ", " Lake Champlain ", " Philippine Sea ", " Oriskaky ", " Leyte ", " Kearsage ", " Boxer ", " Antietam ", " Princeton ", " Essex ", " Good Richard man ", three escort carriers : U.S.S. " Sicily ", " Bairoko " and " Badoeng Strait ", and a light aircraft carrier : U.S.S. " Bataan ".
The United Kingdom had sent aircraft carriers HMS " Glory ", (sistership of the " Colossus " acquired by the National Navy in 1946 and renamed " Arromanches ") and HMS" Triumph "(which was the first and only in Korean water as of June 1950)," Theseus "and" Ocean "accompanied by Unicorn (workshop and transport of aviation)
Australia had sent the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. " Sydney "..
France, in war in Indo-China, had engaged one building in the armada of UNO from July to December 1950: the escort ship " Grandière ", a colonial sloop of 2.900 tons, which took part in the fleet of the UNO with the decisive operation decided by the Douglas General Mc Arthur in Inchon , then in Wonsan.
Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy - History
ARGENTINE Naval Aviation
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