Vought F4U Corsair

The Vought F4U Corsair was developed early in 1938, at the request of the U.S. Navy. The idea was to design the smallest body compatible aircraft with the most powerful engine available. When it appeared over the Pacific Ocean waters in 1943, the Corsair was the most powerful naval aviation aircraft. It was the first U.S. single-engine fighter to exceed 400 m.p.h. Remembered for its “W”-shaped wings, it became feared by the Japanese Zero’s pilots – in the Pacific theatre alone, in the course of some 64,000 missions, Corsairs downed 2,140 enemy planes while only 189 Corsairs were lost, a ratio unmatched in the history of air warfare.

world war 2 planes

With six 12.7 mm (.50 cal) machine guns, a powerful engine and a versatile configuration, the Corsair became the symbol of American aviation in the Pacific. Many versions of this great aircraft were built during the war, the latest always being more powerful than the previous version (F4U-4 developed 450 more hp than the F4U-1).

Corsairs remained in service until 1965; total production was 12,681 aircraft.

Type: Single-seat,  carrier-operable fighter-bomber
Powerplant: One 2000 hp  Pratt & Whitney 18-cylinder radial piston engine
Max speed: 446 mph (718 km/h)
Ceiling: 41,500 ft (12,649  m)
Range: 1,005 miles (1,618 km)
Weight (empty): 5,758 lbs (2,612  kg)
Max. T/O: 7,952 lbs (3,607  kg)
Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in  (11.58 m)
Length: 28 ft 9 in (8.76  m)
Height: 9 ft 2 1/2 in  (2.81 m)
Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns

2 thoughts on “Vought F4U Corsair

  1. RB

    I used to rank the Corsair as my favorite fighter of WW 2.
    Then I learned it could be brought down with a 30 Cal rifle bullet to the vulnerable oil system.
    That puts it in P-51 class of vulnerability dispite it’s rugged build. Losses on ground attack missions which were remarkably higher than the F6F, bore this out. It wasn’t till postwar that this achilles heel of the F4U was adressed!
    All that time during the WW 2,,the evidence was ignored at the expense of so many pilots. At least it was better in the Korean war in this respect, if that’s any consolation?

    Besides that, it was still a world-beater of course. It was able to turn a full circle in about what, 26 seconds? It could roll at high speeds better than most. It’s payload was exceptional too.

    The F4U-1C and -4B had 4x20mm cannons for terrific firepower. Too bad they weren’t reliable weapons. The RAF version of the Hispano was much better. That was another unexplicable failing. The US Hispano 20mm was disgracefully never adressed with adequate modifications like the RAF did in WW 2.
    When I read of most Corsairs in a squadron aborting a mission in 1945, I wonder if this was the culprit.

    Nonetheless, the F4U would upstage P-47s and P-51s in mock dogfights.

  2. Wallace Daffner

    The Corsair was named whistling death by the Japanese. The sound was made by the oil coolers in the wings when the plane was in a dive.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *