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Vought F4U Corsair Navy Fighter

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Corsair: Carrier and Land Based Fighter

Goodyear FG-1D Corsair

lF4U-1D Corsair produced by Goodyear, designated FG-1D.
U.S. Navy photo.

The Vought F4U Corsair with its distinctive gull-wing, played an important roll in the last two years of the Pacific War as both a carrier and land-based fighter.

F4U Development

F4U Corsair landing on aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill

F4U-1 landing on USS Bunker Hill, 1943. U.S. Navy photo.

Initially, the Corsair was deemed unsuitable as a carrier-based aircraft. With the location of the pilot behind the large R-2800 engine, visibility was a problem. The “bird cage” style canopy contributed further to the problem. Deliveries of the Corsair began in October of 1942, with most of the early aircraft going to land-based Marine Corps squadrons where they first saw combat in February of 1943.

Both Great Britain and New Zealand received the Corsair as well. The British, desperate for carrier-based fighters, reduced the visibility problem by allowing their pilots to approach the aircraft carrier in a gentle left turn, allowing the pilot to view the carrier over the dip in the wing until the last few seconds of the approach.

Improved Later Models of the F4U

The later models of the F4U improved pilot visibility with a raised pilot seat, and an improved, bubble canopy. Throughout the war, improvements to the Corsair continued to be made. Interestingly, Charles Lindbergh flew the Corsair in combat missions with the Marines as a technical specialist during the battle for the Marshall Islands, helping to determine the feasibility of increased payloads and range.

Corsair (FG & F3A) Supremacy over the Zero

Armament and Performance

The Corsair was equipped with six 0.50 inch Browning machine guns in the wings, with the F4U-1C having four 20mm cannon. The F4U-1D was powered by the R-2800-18W engine,   equipped with a 160 gallon drop tank, and could carry two 1,000 pound bombs or eight rockets, giving it a fighter-bomber capability. A night fighter version, the F4U-2 Corsair, was also produced.

The F4U Corsair came through WWII with a record of excellent performance and a reputation for sturdiness. It continued service in the Korean War, with production continuing until the end of 1952, making it one of the last piston-engine fighters.


Museum F4U Corsairs on our website

FG1D Corsair- Palm Springs Air Museum
F4U Corsairs - Naval Aviation Centennial
F4U Corsair - War Eagles Air Museum


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* F4U Corsair facts

Category Carrier-capable fighter
Manufacturer Chance Vought
Introduced December 1942
Used in

United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Royal Navy
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Produced 1940-1952
Number built 12,571
Cruising speed 214 mph
Max. speed 446 mph
Altitude 15, 000 feet service ceiling
Range 1,560 miles
* Numbers are approximate

F4U Corsair firing rockets at targets on Okinawa.

Photo shows an F4U Corsair firing rocket projectiles at Japanese targets on Okinawa, June 1945. National Archives photo.

F4U-2 Corsair night fighter

F4U-2 Corsairs equipped with a radome on the underside of the right wing for night flying (1944). U.S. Navy photo.