Chance-Vought F4U "Corsair" - (scan - 1984)

Prototype authorized by Navy Jun 38. Based on marrying most powerful available engine with smallest compatible airframe. Oct 40, became first production fighter to exceed 400 mph (earlier, Jan 39, XP-38 achieved 413 mph). Initially, program delayed because of need to redesign aircraft to increase firepower; resulted in relocation of cockpit 35 in to rear, thus reducing pilot's visibility. This and excessive landing gear bounce resulted in delay in carrier use. A different canopy introduced on subseries 1A; 1D (1944) had more powerful engine and armament. 1D built in greatest numbers--4102 by Vought, 3808 by Goodyear (FG-1), and 735 by Brewster (F3A-1). -4 entered service before war's end and 2536 built through Aug 47. Later, 509 -5s built with more powerful engine and armament and some structural modifications, followed by 110 AU-1s (tactical support versions); and 94 -7s built for French for intended use in Indochina. F-4U remained in service up to 1965. It and F6F considered best carrier-based aircraft of WW II. Many considered F4U the best of all and, in certain aspects, superior to the P- 51. Shot down 2140 enemy aircraft with losses of 189 for kill ratio of 11:1. Acquired unique reputation for longevity and versatility as day and night fighter, dive bomber, and for recce, both as a land- and carrier-based aircraft. First entered service Guadalcanal Feb 43. Maj "Pappy" Boyington became leading Marine ace while flying F4U-1D as commander of "Black Sheep" Squadron. 7 Marine and 28 Navy squadrons also flew F4Us in Korea where it established its reputation as a night fighter. Following WWII, certain models of Corsair (high-performance modified versions of F2G-1 and -2) won Thompson trophy twice and participated in numerous air races.

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