This week’s image comes to you from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia — it’s a Vought F4U-1D Corsair:
A few months back, I told you about the Super Corsair — today, it’s the standard model’s turn.
The Vought F4U Corsair is another of the list of aircraft flown in the second World War, but ordered up some years in advance as the clouds of war started to gather. Starting development in 1938, the Corsair first flew in 1940, entered qualification testing in 1942, and entered service with the U.S. Marines in 1943. While initially intended for service on aircraft carriers, a number of handling issues had to be worked out before Corsairs first saw duty on carriers in 1944. Here, they saw significant action in the closing months of the war in the Pacific. While a Japanese Zero could outturn and outclimb a Corsair at low speeds, Corsairs had the advantage in the rest of their flight envelopes — and special tactics were developed to make best use of the design’s strengths. This, combined with the ability to fly after even severe damage, and a huge ammunition load (2,300 rounds), made the Corsair a force to be reckoned with in its day. By the end of WWII, Corsair pilots had racked up an impressive 11:1 kill ratio against enemy aircraft.
Eventually more than 12,500 F4Us were built, in a total of 16 separate variants, flying for 5 different military services during WWII (and countless more after the war). Over two dozen Corsairs are in flight-worthy shape, mostly in the U.S. Countless more are on display in museums world-wide, just like this one.
The F4U-1D (a.k.a., Corsair Mk. IV) was a fighter-bomber variant first introduced in April, 1944. The craft in this picture spent most of its service life on the eastern coast of the U.S. But in 1980 it was restored in the colors and markings of a Corsair named “Sun Setter,” a Marine close-support fighter assigned to the USS Essex in July 1944.