Vought F4U Corsair

1942

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Vought F4U Corsair

In 1938 -at which time Chance Vought was a division of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) - the US Navy was seeking a new single-seat fighter suitable for operation from aircraft carriers. Details of the requirement were circulated to US manufacturers and Chance Vought's proposal (then bearing the company identification V-166B) was sufficiently interesting to be selected for prototype construction. A single prototype was contracted for on 30 June 1938, making its first flight on 29 May 1940.

Realising that performance, load-carrying capability and range were essential ingredients of a carrier-based fighter, Vought set about designing the smallest possible airframe around the most powerful engine then available. The selection of a four-blade propeller meant that the front fuselage had to be kept well clear of the ground. This dictated a tall, stalky landing gear which would be completely unsuitable for carrier landings. The solution to this problem provided the F4U (as designated by the Navy) with a recognition feature - an inverted gull wing. By mounting the main landing gear at the crank of the wing, it was possible to use compact and robust main struts.

Testing of the XF4U-1 prototype soon demonstrated that the Navy had available a fighter faster than anything else in service with the armed forces. On 30 June 1941 the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division of UAC (as the company was then reformed) received a contract for 584 aircraft under the designation F4U-1. What had by then become an honoured name - Corsair - was to be bestowed on this new aircraft, one which was to prove itself the finest carrier-based fighter of World War II.

F4U-1 began to enter service in October 1942, but in order to provide increased fuel capacity the cockpit had been moved further aft to make room for a fuselage fuel tank. When first tested by the Navy it was believed that this adversely affected the pilot's view, to the extent that the Corsair was considered doubtful for carrier operation. Production aircraft were delivered instead to the US Marine Corps for operation from land bases. It was not until 1944, when Corsairs supplied to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease were being used effectively from carriers, that the US Navy made a serious reappraisal of their suitability for this role. Shortly after, Navy squadrons were given approval to use the Corsair for the task for which it had been designed.

The Corsair was built also by Brewster Aeronautical Corporation and Goodyear Aircraft Corporation to cope with the high production required, under the initial designations of F3A-1 and FG-1 respectively. Both Vought and Goodyear built a number of variants, the last being the F4U-7, of which 90 were built for supply through MAP to the French Aeronavale. By the time that production ended in December 1952 more than 11,000 had been built; of these 2,012 had been supplied to Britain and 370 to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

F4U-4 Corsair

Specification 
 CREW1
 ENGINE1 x P+W R-2800-8, 1470kW
 WEIGHTS
  Take-off weight5757 kg12692 lb
  Empty weight4024 kg8871 lb
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan12.5 m41 ft 0 in
  Length10.1 m33 ft 2 in
  Height3.7 m12 ft 2 in
  Wing area29.2 m2314.31 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
  Max. speed620 km/h385 mph
  Ceiling11300 m37050 ft
  Range2500 km1553 miles
 ARMAMENT6 x 12.7mm machine-guns

Vought F4U Corsair

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80
ron, e-mail, 28.07.2017 00:37

Perhaps at least the Royal Navy version might've had the better RAF cannons.
My belief that the USN or USMC Corsairs had Mk II Hispanos is fading.
This unreliable cannon Corsair was 'wildly unpopular' because of the US 20mm M2 Hispano jamming.

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ron, e-mail, 24.07.2017 01:59

It is less than clear which Hispano cannons were installed in the USN F4U-1C and those for the RNAF and RNZAF ...etc.
I know the Royal Navy had the Mk II Hispano ammo, so it follows that the Hispanos would be Mk II cannons on their Corsairs just like the Seafires...etc. Likewise, for their Hellcats with Hispano cannons added.

I also know that the USN was of the strong opinion that the US 20mm M2 Hispano was a reject compared to the modified British 20mm Mk II cannon.
Thus, I'm leaning more in favor of those sources that say the cannon armed USN F4U-1C and F6F-5N had the superior RAF Hispano, not the USAAF version (in the P-38) that the Navy called unreliable because it misfired and jammed so much.

This cannon Corsair was more than a match for improved armor in late-war Japanese as well (as German) planes.

The firepower was amazing. If it was reliable enough, it was equal to the N1K2 George or better.

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Michael Gallagher, e-mail, 15.02.2017 20:52

Last aerial combat between WWII piston fighters happened in Central America's Soccer Wars. A Corsair downed a Mustang!

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Jon T, e-mail, 11.12.2016 18:59

@Dick Allen

No the F4U was not as sturdy as the F6F, it could not take nearly as much bullet punishment.

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Oldgysgt, e-mail, 12.01.2016 00:22

I see the max speed of the Vought F4U Corsair is listed above as 385mph. Although I am not an expert on the F4U, the book "War Planes of the Second World War" by William Green gives the max speed of the F4U-1 as 425mph and the F4U-4 as 446mph. This set of books was printed in Great Britain by Purnell and Sons Ltd, so they must be somewhat accurate.

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Ron, e-mail, 18.09.2015 01:59

I now appreciate the vulnerable oil system in the F4U during the war. This was a big factor in ground support losses.
This was known early but a fix was considered a complication!
During the Korean war it was fixed. But the -1, to -5 were brought down by rifles like the P-51s were. Too bad.
The mindset of the brass didn't help, even in the face of evidence that the F6F survived due to oil protection and location behind the engine, on the same missions. The -7 and AU had this fixed finally!

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GARY BEDINGER, 01.04.2015 06:57

THE VOUGHT F4U "CORSAIR" IS TRULY ONE OF THE GREATEST MILITARY AIRCRAFT OF THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE THE "CORSAIR" WAS FAST MANUEVERABLE,AND VERY RUGGED.THE "CORSAIR COULD FLY AT 426mph AND COULD CARRY A BOMB LOAD OF 2,000 AND THE LATTER VARIANTS OF THE "CORSAIR" COULD CARRY ROCKETS AS WELL.MY GREAT UNCLE WAS APART OF 214 "BLACK SHEEP" DURING THE KOREAN WAR.THE PILOTS WHO FLEW THE F4U " CORSAIR" FLEW AN AIRPLANE WHICH WAS DESIGNED TO HELP WIN WW2

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ER Hepfner, e-mail, 04.02.2015 20:21

In spring 1952 VMF 225 disembarked from USS Midway,CVB41,at Norfork, to MC ALF Edenton,NC,and turned in our F4U's and received brand new AU's, and became VMA 225, the first attack squadron.

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Dean Woolery, e-mail, 14.07.2014 16:08

In answer to steveg@abki.com: The AU, the last of the Corsair models, did have 4-20mm cannon, which would knock off 10 knots when firing all 4 at once. With HEI ammo, it was a formidable close air support vehicle.

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Ron, e-mail, 03.06.2013 09:25

Say Tom,
Was the Philippine Sea equipped with any Corsairs on Operation High Jump?
Anyone?

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Mike, e-mail, 26.03.2013 22:17

My dad flew Corsairs off the Lexington during the war. Of all the types of aircraft he flew during his 22 year career as a Naval Aviator, his favorite aircraft bar none was the F4U. He said that once you got the F4U to CAP altitude and got her all trimmed, you could fly lazy-eights by leaning from one side of the cockpit to the other. It was also an unforgiving aircraft and had considerable torque. His stateroom-mate came in a little too low on approach one day and fire-walled the throttle when he got the LSO's "power" signal. The torque was so powerful that he lost control of the aircraft, went into a spin, crashed into the fantail and then sank to the bottom of the Pacific. From that day on, Dad always came in high and hot, regardless of how much it aggrivated the LSOs.

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JAMES BROCK, e-mail, 23.02.2013 01:48

MY BROTHER, RAY BROCK, FLEW A CORSAIR FROM THE USS BOXER AND WAS LOST NEAR SIAPAN IN 1944 OR 1945. DID ANYONE KNOW RAY AND WHAT HAPPENED WITH HIS FLIGHT.

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Garland R. Goesch, e-mail, 08.02.2013 05:13

I was with VF-74 at Quonset Point, RI. We had 18 F4U-4s. I was discharged in July 1952 as an AM-3. Loved that Corsair,
and I still do.

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Steb, e-mail, 04.01.2013 00:17

I just finished a 1 /25 scale F4U model made from 22ga brass flat stock. It was interesting to get the correct "Gull" curve but I'm very pleased with the results. I sell my models as weather vanes which means even though they are solid brass, I also paint them with enamel, decals and clear coat for outdoor use. I've always loved the F4-U just a little bit more then the P-51 just because my dad was in the Pacific in WWII.

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Bob Robbins, e-mail, 24.12.2012 03:08

When I got out of Yeoman School in Feb. 1949 I was assigned to VF63
at NAAS Oceans, VA. Our skipper LCDR
Malcolm Cagle had flown the F4U in WWII
in the Pacific and had several kills. Our squadron
had Corsairs. Later on. after the Korean War
started we were transferred to the west coast
and went to Korea aboard the USS Boxer. Before
we left Virginia LCDR Gagle left our squadron. He was
promoted to Commander and went to the Pentagon.
The next time I saw Malcolm Cagle he he was returning from
Korea, as we were. He came aboard our carrier in 1951 at Pearl Harbor.
to use our squadron office to do dictation. He had a yeoman with him and he was writing a history of mine warfare in the Korean War. LCDR
Cagle was at that time a Rear Admiral. He retired as a Vice Admiral.

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Dusty Richards, e-mail, 27.11.2012 08:57

Growing up on the flightline at plant E I learned that the FG 2 was the cadilac of the Corsairs, with it's bigger engine, longer nose, bubble canopy, better rutter, longer tail due location of it's hook and 4 50 cals in each wing. Learned to fly there on the civil side across from the Rubberbowl and Dirby downs in my dads J3 Piper when I was 11, got my ticket on my 12th birthday. Flew the 86 in Korea and the 89 and 102 in Greanland till I came out in 62.

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Chuck, e-mail, 10.11.2012 21:04

My Father flew the F4U from the Aircraft Carrier USS Intrepid CV-11 in 1945. He was on his way to Japan for the planned invasion. He did occupation duty instead. He Joined the Navy in 1940. This was his third Carrier, CV-2 USS Lexington, lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea and CV-18 USS Wasp. He had six Battle stars and was a fighter ace in the F6F-3.

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James Brown, CDR Ret., e-mail, 09.06.2012 19:19

I flew the F4U-1A in 1944 through the F4U-5N off USS Oriskany (VC-3 Team G)1952-53. Great and honest airplane that at 30,000' would outrun a F-80C (Navy version TV-1).

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Frank, e-mail, 25.05.2012 23:32

Hi everyone. I own and operate the whistling death corsairs exhibit which pertains to the preservation and education of the f4u and the workers who built her,( chance vought- Goodyear-Brewster.) if anybody needs information on their family members who were involved please don't hesitate to email me. I have an outstanding collection of artifacts that help to enlighten the younger generations as to what the corsair did for freedom. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you

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James Reed, e-mail, 17.03.2012 22:31

Charles Lindbergh flew Corsairs in combat with the Marines out of New Guinea in mid-1944 (in Col. Joe Foss's outfit, the leading Marine Ace in WWII), and was very complimentary of its performance and handling. Did one mission with a single 5000lb bomb! Combat was against Washington's orders, but the operational troops liked him so much, and were so impressed with his abilities, they helped him bend the rules. His official mission was to find ways to get longer range out of the fighters in the S. Pacific, which he did.
In July '44 working with the Army in P-38s, he shot down a Zero.
Details can be found in Lindbergh's "Wartime Journals", published in 1970.

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