Today’s aviation photo of the day: The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair!
With its unique folding gull wings, distinctive bubble canopy, long cowling, and intimidating stance, the Corsair is an unmistakable presence on any ramp or at any airshow. Larger than life and elegantly utilitarian, it is eye candy for those of us who love flying machines. The beastly engine under that long cowling is a 2000 horsepower 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine which swings a 13-foot three-bladed prop, driving the Corsair upwards of 400 mph. The folding wings were designed for carrier operations, and the unique gull-shape in the wing is designed to help lift the nose of the aircraft so that massive 13-foot prop doesn’t hit the ground.
During its heyday the Corsair was a fearsome fighter. Initially, she started in the Pacific Theater of WWII as a flop. Quirky flying habits and a slowish climb rate made the Corsair difficult to use in combat. The gull wings, poor forward visibility, and radial engine spraying oil back towards the canopy made the Corsair especially challenging to land on carriers. However, once the Marines and Naval aviators figured out how to maximize the tactical advantages offered by its superior speed, excellent dive performance, and fine maneuverability, the Corsair developed a good air-to-air combat record. After WWII, the Corsair was used successfully for air combat and close air support in Korea.
While like many aviation enthusiasts I would probably choose the P-51 as the ultimate aircraft of World War II (and maybe ever) the F4U is an awesome machine. Watching the F4U perform, hearing and feeling that engine, and seeing it blast through the sky at speed is truly an unforgettable experience. Mastering this machine would take exceptional flying skills. Ground operations must be challenging, the aerodynamics apparently get a bit wonky, and managing those two thousand horses under the cowl would be…well, challenging but awesome. I get a testosterone rush pushing my dinky 180hp Archer forward; firewalling 2,000 horses would make me laugh like a maniac.
Like this photo? I made it my background on the Fly With Ben Facebook page!