AvStop Magazine Online
Vought F4U-1 Corsair
The Vought F4U-1 Corsair was one of the greatest combat aircraft in World War II. The prototype was the first US warplane to exceed 400 mph and outperformed all other American aircraft at that time. Some 12,571 Corsairs came off the production line, the last being built in 1952. Action with land based American Marine squadrons began in the Solomons in 1943, and from then on the Corsair swiftly gained air supremacy over the previously unchallenged Japanese. The Corsair entered service with the RNZAF in 1944. By this time the Japanese Navy & Army Air Forces had ceased to exist so the Corsair was modified to the ground attack role, dropping up to two 10001b bombs as well as depth charges. Depth charges exploding over the ground at ground level did not dig a hole before they exploded but rather cleared everything within quite a large radius. The RNZAF operated 424 Corsairs in the Pacific and New Zealand, losing 17 to enemy action and 150 in accidents, not an uncommonly high figure. Of these aircraft, there is only one Kiwi Corsair still flying, in England with the Old Flying Machine Company.
This particular aircraft is an early birdcage model (referring to the canopy type). It is the oldest flying Corsair in the world, spending the whole of it's early life in the USA as a training aircraft (first in San Diego and then in Carolina). After the war it was given to the town of Provo in Utah as a war bonds gift. As the local council and mayor could not decide what to do with it, it languished in a barn and was found derelict in a junk yard in 1965. Purchased by Don Knapp, an American collector, the aircraft was restored back to flying condition by Harry Doan, first flying again in 1982. It crashed into the sea off New Smyrna Beach in Florida in 1983 and was subsequently rebuilt again over a six year period, flying again in 1989. Knapp was unfortunately killed in an aircraft accident, his de-facto subsequently selling the aircraft to the Alpine Fighter Collection. It is painted to represent an RNZAF Corsair (No 5201) operating in the Solomans during 1944. Armament: Six .50 calibre machine guns External bombload: 908 kg (2000 lb) of bombs or eight rockets