Vought F4U Corsair

The American F4U Corsair is widely acknowledged as the outstanding carrier-borne fighter of World War II. Its most distinctive feature was the inverted-gull wing. This was ingeniously designed to allow the undercarriage, fitted at the lowest point of the wing, to be short and sturdy and thus ideal for carrier landing – while still providing adequate ground clearance for the large-diameter propeller. The wing shape had the side-effect of creating a whistling sound in flight – hence the Japanese nickname for the aircraft, “the Whistling Death”.
The Corsair was far from problem-free. The long radial engine in front of the pilot dangerously obscured his view of the deck when coming in to land. The aircrafl was consequently first deployed as a shore-based fighter with the US Marines. Eventually, the cockpit was raised to improve the pilot’s view, but Corsairs did not operate from carriers
until April 1944, almost four years after the prototype’s maiden flight.
The aircraft’s sterling performance more than compensated for the long delay. In air combat in the Pacific, on average 11 Zeros or other Japanese fighter planes were shot down for every Corsair that was lost. The F4U also proved an excellent strike aircraft, armed with bombs or rockets. Of the 12.571 Corsairs built, more than 2,000 served with Britain’s Fleet Air Arm.

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