Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

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Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair


This was the final major variant of the Corsair to see wartime service. The engine was changed to the R-2800-18W, which could provide 2,100 hp unboosted, or 2,450 hp for five minutes using the water-methanol injection system. This gave the dash four a top speed of 450 mph. Other improvements were made to the cockpit, making it more comfortable, easier to fly and easier to maintain. The six wing mounted machine guns were retained in the just over 2,000 dash four Corsairs that were produced. The model was developed at the end of 1944, and entered service in April 1945, seeing action on Okinawa. Five years later the dash-four would also play a major role in Korea.


This was a proposed version to be delivered to the Royal Navy. It didn’t reach British service during the war. The designation also appears to have been used for a version capable of controlling a Navy BAT radio controlled glider bomb. There is some confusion about both the dash B and dash C versions of the F4U-4.


The dash C (dash B in some sources) saw the internal wing guns changed from six machine guns to four 20mm cannon (as seen in the earlier F4U-1C. It did not see combat during the Second World War, but was in use during the Korean War, where it was an effective ground attack aircraft, partly because of the extra firepower of the cannon.


This was an interim night fighter, equipped with the AN/APS-4 radar system. Neither this nor the -4N entered active service.


This was a second night fighter model, using the AN/APS-5 radar system. The small number built probably never even reached squadron use. The F4U-5N became the standard night fighter version of the Corsair.


Nine photo-reconnaissance aircraft were built with a camera mounted in the rear fuselage.

Introduction - F4U-1 - F4U-2 - XF4U-3 - F4U-4 - F4U-5 - AU-1 - F4U-7 - American Service - British Service - Statistics

Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair - History

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On November 10, 2002, at 1330 Eastern Standard Time, a Chance Vought F4U-4 experimental airplane, N713JT, registered to and operated by the commercial pilot, collided with trees following a loss of engine power in Columbia, South Carolina. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. There was a post crash fire and the airplane was destroyed. The local flight departed Columbia Owens Downtown Airport Columbia, South Carolina, on November 10, 2002 at 1325.

The F4U-4 Corsair was the flight leader of 6 airplanes that were performing fly-bys on runway 13 at approximately 500 to 1000 feet above ground level (AGL). The airplane was participating in a level formation flight in preparation for the Veterans Hospital Fly-By. The FU4-4 Corsair had just passed the approach end of runway 13 when witnesses observed smoke trailing from the airplane. The air traffic controller heard an unidentified transmission "the Corsair has smoke trailing from his aircraft" and "Corsair needs to land".

According to the air traffic controller, the airplane made a right turn for what appeared to be a left downwind to runway 31. The air traffic controller issued the current winds, and cleared the FU4-4 Corsair to land on runway 31. While the airplane was on left base for runway 31 the local controller heard an unidentified transmission, "Your gear is not coming down". The airplane was last observed on left base in a descent and the airplane disappeared beyond a tree line. The airplane collided with trees and caught fire about 3/4 miles from Columbia Owens Downtown Airport Columbia, South Carolina.

A review of the information on file with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman's division Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on October 29,1996 with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument privileges. The pilot held a private pilot airplane multi engine land rating. The records showed the pilot was issued an airframe and powerplant mechanic with inspection authority certificate on October 10, 1997.

Review of the records on file with the FAA aero medical records revealed the pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on February 18, 2002 with no restrictions assigned. According to the pilot's February 18, 2002 medical he had accumulated 4,200 total flight hours. The pilot and airplane logbooks were not recovered for examination.

The Chance Vought FU-4 Corsair is a low wing all metal single engine experimental airplane. The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney R2800-52W 2500 hp double bank radial engine. The wingspan of the FU4-4 Corsair is 41 feet. The FU4-4 Corsair is primarily used as an exhibition airplane.

The on site examination revealed the airplane was damaged by fire and impact forces. The wreckage distribution of the airplane covered an approximate area of 75 feet long and 75 feet wide. The engine was examinined May 19, 2003 at Atlanta Air Recovery in Griffin, Georgia. The examination found the engine's accessory section was fire damaged from the super-charger aft, including the firewall, cockpit and part of the cabin.

1945 Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair

The Chance Vought Corsair was the first fighter to exceed 400 mph and served on both land and sea as a fighter and a bomber.

It helped turn the tide against the Japanese Zero and gave American pilots an advantage in the critical air battles of the South Pacific.

The Corsair’s most recognizable feature is its inverted gull wing. This gave good ground clearance for its huge 13-foot, 2-inch propeller and allowed its short landing gear to retract rearwards into the wing. While the Corsair was originally designed to be a carrier-based aircraft, it was some time before it became carrier qualified. It was a handful for a novice pilot as its long nose gave poor visibility on carrier approaches. Its large propeller caused tremendous torque at slow speeds, and it had a nasty habit of dropping the left wing at stalling speeds. This was solved by a 6-inch “stall” strip, visible on the right wing leading edge that allowed both wings to stall at the same time.

The Corsair was made famous with pilots like Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington, who commanded the legendary Black Sheep Squadron. Corsairs went on to fight in Korea and were used by the Air Force of Honduras as late as the 1970s.

Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair - History

In 1945 the Vought plant cranked out a new F4U-4 every 85 minutes (300 per month). The sleek F4U’s design used compound curvature skins on the fuselage and gull-wing sections and flush rivets on the entire aircraft.

The Corsair’s trademark is the inverted “bent” gull wing. This created a better field of vision, less drag, and more prop clearance.

The Corsair was in production until 1952, longer than any other fighter in WWII and was also the last piston engine fighter produced for the United States.

The Corsair has a kill ratio of 11:1 and was the first Navy warplane to exceed 400 MPH in level flight.

Named “Whistling Death” by the Japanese, the F4U’s outstanding overall performance made it the finest carrier born fighter of the war.

Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington took command of the reorganized VMF-214 in 1943. On their first mission, “Pappy” became the first Corsair “Ace In A Day” and the “Black Sheep” claimed 47 confirmed kills in one month. The Corsair starred in the 1976 television series Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Own United States Restoration
Fighter Steel World War II
1939 – 1945
MFG: Chance Vought
First Produced: 1942
Number Built: 12, 571 total
Armament: (6) .50 caliber machine guns, 200 lbs of bombs or (8) rockets

This F4U-4 is currently under restoration and was obtained by Yanks in 1984.

Jim Tobul’s Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

This aircraft served in the US Navy until it was removed from inventory in 1958. During the Korean War, this aircraft (Bu # 97143) had over 200 combat missions aboard the USS Valley Forge and the USS Boxer. It also saw combat in Honduras during the “Soccer War” between Honduras and El Salvador. This Corsair has been in the family since 1981.


Registration Number Date of Manufacture
N713JT 1945
Aircraft Role Nickname
Carrier based Fighter Corsair
Aircraft Type: Wingspan:
Chance Vought F4U “Corsair” 41 feet
Overall length: Empty weight:
33 feet 4 inches 8980 pounds
Gross weight: Fuel capacity:
15,500 pounds 534
Oil capacity Engine type:
27 Single 2650 hp Pratt & Whitney R2800
Propeller type: Max Speed
Ham. Std. 4 blade 408 knots
Rate of Climb Cruise Speed
210 knots
Service Ceiling Number of Crew
42,000 feet Single Pilot
Armament Bomb Load
Six .50 cal. wing mounted machine guns 500 or 1000 lb bomb
Number Built Number Surviving
12571 28


Restoration Images

Printable QR Codes for: Jim Tobul’s Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair:

The Trail

Warplane development during World War II produced many interesting designs. The Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair with its gull-like wing design proved to be one of America’s best designs. Fighting in the Pacific Theater, in the hands of capable pilots, it outclassed the best the Japanese had to offer, destroying over 2,000 enemy aircraft with an impressive 11 to 1 kill ratio.

The gull-like wing design, created to accommodate the massive four blade propeller, gave the Corsair a low profile and exceptional lift. The Corsair could also absorb an enormous amount of damage — even more so “than the tank-like P-47” as reported by the EAA Airventure website. It had one major drawback, however, in that if an inexperienced pilot gave it too much throttle on take-off, the powerful Pratt-Whitney R2800 engine produced so much torque that it could flip the plane over.

Usually armed with six fifty caliber machine guns, Corsairs fought in World War II and the Korean Conflict, though in Korea it served mostly as a ground attack bomber. In the roll of ground attacker the Corsair had a larger payload than most twin-engine designs. With superb speed, rate of climb and a large payload, Corsairs served their pilots well.

This warplane can be found at the EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair - History

Model Number : F4U-4
Model Name : Corsair
Model Type: Fighter

The gull wing F4U-4 was equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R-2800-18W, a 2100-horsepower engine with a two-stage supercharger and a new Hamilton Standard four-bladed, 13-foot-2 inch diameter propeller, it was rated a 446-mph fighter. It arrived on the battlefront in June of 1945 for the final push against the Japanese mainland.

The first flight of the production F4U-4 was in September 1944.

The F4U-4, with a rate-of-climb of nearly 4,000 feet per minute and a service ceiling of 41,500 feet, was the Navy’s answer to the much improved Japanese fighters that were arriving in the Pacific.

The new airplanes had a gross (combat) weight of 12,420 pounds and, in the cannon version, carried four 20 millimeter cannons, armed with 924 rounds each.

In addition to a new propeller, the F4U-4 had a completely redesigned cockpit, a new canopy for improved bubble effect, new armor-plated bucket seat, and regrouped instruments. Improved access to radio gear was made possible by the folding seat. A change was also made to a downdraft-type carburetor, and intake ducts were switched from the wings to the cowl. Improved fighter-bomber capabilities were made possible by putting rocket stations on the outer wing panels.

Other versions of the F4U-4 produced during the war years were:

  • F4U-4B: This airplane was equipped with four 20-mm cannons instead of 50-caliber machine guns (used in the early F4U-4 production) and eight 5-inch rockets under wings or up to 4,000 pounds on centerline and pylon racks. Vought built 297.
  • F4U-4C: Many F4U-4’s became F4U-4C’s with four 20-mm cannons in the wing instead of six 50-caliber machine guns which were used in the early F4U-4 production.
  • F4U-4N: This was a night version fighter of the F4U-4. Only one was built.
  • F4U-4P: This airplane was equipped cameras installed behind the pilot. Vought built 9.

By the end of 1944, Chance Vought was turning out 300 Corsairs a month, or one complete air[plane every 82 minutes. A total of 5,380 F4U’s were built during the year.

Chance Vought turned out 2,673, Brewster Aeronautical 599, and Goodyear Aircraft 2,108.

Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair - History

The Facts Tell The Whole Story

Since the end of the Second World War, there has raged a continuous debate over which was the best overall fighter aircraft to emerge from the conflict. This debate shows no sign of abating to this day. From the school boys of the mid nineteen forties to the aviation scholars of the 1990’s, P-51 advocates argue their case with Spitfire men and Lightning defenders, and so goes the debate forever.

While these debates certainly do not lack for passion, they frequently lack accurate analysis of the aircraft in question. There is some solid evidence that strongly supports the argument that the Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair was the finest all around fighter of the war. Certainly it qualifies as the best fighter/bomber.

The F4U-4 arrived in combat early in 1945. Therefore, it had only about six months to establish its combat record against the Japanese. However, the big fighter remained in service throughout the Korean War, where along with the F4U-5, it gained a sterling reputation for delivering ordnance with great accuracy. Indeed, the Corsair earned the respect of enemy pilots flying the MiG-15. Vought's Corsair was a fighter that could not be treated lightly. In a turning fight below 350 knots, the MiG pilot could find himself in big trouble very quickly.

Chance Vought's F4U-4 came about as a development of the F4U-4XA, which was first flown in early April 1944. It was fitted with an up-rated Pratt & Whitney R2800-18W or -42W engine. This powerplant developed 2,450 bhp with water injection. It was also fitted with a four blade hydromatic propeller which provided the necessary efficiency to utilize the greater power. The carburetor inlet was moved from the wing root leading edge to a duct located under the engine. The exhaust stacks had to be re-routed as a result. Armament remained the same as the F4U-1, with six .50 caliber Browning MGs. The limited production F4U-4B was armed with four M3 20mm cannon. Under-wing load capability was substantial. Up to three 1,000 lb. bombs along with eight 5 inch rockets could be carried. Reportedly, it was not unusual to rig the F4U-4 with as much as 6,000 lbs of ordnance. Apparently the robust structure of the Corsair could bear these loads without undue wear and tear on the airframe. Almost certainly, such overloaded Corsairs did not operate from carrier decks, but exclusively from shore bases.

Let’s compare the F4U-4 to its earlier sibling, the F4U-1 so that we can clearly see the improvements made.

Maximum speed:
F4U-1: 417 mph @ 19,900 ft.
F4U-4: 446 mph @ 26,200 ft.

The -4 displays a 29 mph speed advantage, but more importantly, does it at a considerably greater altitude. The F4U-4 is actually 10 mph faster than the P-51D at the Mustang’s best altitude.

Rate of climb:
F4U-1: 3,250 ft/min.
F4U-4: 4,170 ft/min.

While the -4 has a more powerful engine, it also weighs more than the F4U-1. This marked increase in climb rate can be attributed to the more efficient 4 blade propeller as well as the higher power of the up-rated powerplant. The increase moves the Corsair into stellar company with fighters such as the P-38L and the F7F Tigercat. The F4U-4 climbs at a rate 20% better than the P-51D.

There is little doubt that the Corsair was likely the greatest load carrying fighter of its era. There is little to compare to it except perhaps late-war models of the P-47, which still fall somewhat short in maximum load.

We now get to the more subjective aspects of the -4’s performance. Rating a fighter’s flight characteristics is never without pitfalls. What one pilot feels is too stiff, another might describe as firm or secure. As a result, opinions may vary. However, empirical data is certainly the most valuable in determining a fighter’s overall performance. The tangible things such as cockpit layout and visibility are also important, as are the intangible things such as confidence in the airframe to get the pilot home. I will do my best to present the subjective data in an unbiased manner.

In terms of maneuverability, all models of the Corsair were first rate. The F4U-4 was better than the F4U-1 series. Why? More power and better performance in the vertical regime. Very few fighters, even pure fighters such as the Yak-3 could hang with an -4 maneuvering in the vertical. Its terrific climbing ability combined with very light and sensitive controls made for a hard fighter to beat anytime the fight went vertical.

Ease of flight.The Corsair was much less a handful than the P-51 when flown into an accelerated stall, although it was by no means as forgiving as the F6F Hellcat. Torque roll was no worse than most of its high power contemporaries.

The F4U also rolled well. When rolling in conjunction with powerplant torque, in other words, rolling left, it was among the very fastest rolling fighters of the war. In the inventory of American fighters, only the P-47N rolled faster, and only by 6 degrees/second.

In level flight acceleration the F4U-4 gained speed at about 2.4 mph/sec, the P-51D accelerated at about 2.2 mph/sec. The F4U-1 could not keep up with either, accelerating at only 1.5 mph/sec. The real drag racer of American WWII fighters was the P-38L. It gained speed at 2.8 mph/sec. All acceleration data was compiled at 10-15,000 ft at Mil. power settings.

Turning to dive acceleration, we find the F4U-4 and Mustang in a near dead heat. Both the P-47D and P-38L easily out distance the Corsair and P-51D in a dive. Still, these two accelerate better than the opposition from Japan and Germany. Moreover, both the Corsair and the Mustang have relatively high critical Mach numbers allowing them to attain very high speeds in prolonged dives before running into compressibility difficulty. With the exception of early model P-38’s, it was almost always a mistake to attempt to evade American fighters by trying to dive away. This goes for early war fighters as well, such as the P-40 and F4F Wildcat.

There is one story recorded by a Luftwaffe pilot who, while flying a Bf-109F over North Africa tangled with several FAA Martlets (the British name for the F4F). Finding himself alone with a Martlet on his tail, he elected to half roll into a steep dive to shake off the slow flying carrier fighter. Hurtling down in a screaming dive, the German looked over his shoulder and was stunned to see the Martlet (Wildcat) closing with guns blazing. Pulling back on the stick, under heavy G loading, the German eased into a zoom climb. The F4F was still with him firing bursts. As the speed bled down, the Bf-109 began to pull away in a steady rate climb. Had the Brit been a better shot, the German was certain he would have been shot down. He had underestimated the diving ability of the American fighter. Indeed, many of his comrades would do the same over Europe and not be as fortunate as he.

When we look at the turn rates of WWII fighters we stumble upon several factors that determine how well a fighter can turn. Aside from the technical aspects such as wing area and wing loading, we find that some fighters are far more maneuverable at low speeds than at higher velocities. This was very common with Japanese designs. At speeds above 250 mph, the A6M Zero and the Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar) could not roll worth a nickel. But at 150 mph, they were two of the most dangerous fighters ever to take wing. It did not take long for Allied pilots to learn to avoid low speed turning duels with the Japanese. Once this rule was established, the light weight dogfighters were hopelessly outclassed by the much faster opposition.

Over Europe, things were somewhat different. The Luftwaffe flew fast, heavily armed aircraft that were not especially suited to low speed turning fights. The Allies had in their inventory the Spitfire, which was very adept at turning fights. The Americans had the P-47, P-38 and P-51. All of which were very fast and at least a match for the German fighters in maneuverability. Especially the P-38 which could out-turn anything the Luftwaffe had and could give the Spitfire pilot pause to consider his own mortality. With the exception of these last two, there was nothing in western Europe that could hang with the F4U-4. Even when including the Soviets, only the Yak-3 could hope to survive a one on one with the Corsair. To do so, the Yak would have to expertly flown. Furthermore, the Yak-3 was strictly a low to medium altitude fighter. Above 20,000 ft its power dropped off rapidly, as did its maneuverability. The Yak-3 in question had better be powered by the Klimov M107A engine and not the low output M105. Otherwise, the speed difference is too great to overcome.

So, perhaps now is a good time to summarize the performance of the F4U-4. Let’s compare it to the aircraft generally believed to be the best all-around fighter of World War Two, the North American P-51D Mustang.

Speed: The -4 was about 10 mph faster than the P-51D at the altitude where the Mustang developed it’s highest speed.
Advantage: F4U-4

Climb: The -4 Corsair was a remarkable climber despite its size and weight. It could out-climb the Mustang by nearly 800 fpm.
Advantage: F4U-4

Maneuverability: The F4U-4 was one of the very best. According to Jeffrey Ethell: "Of all World War II fighters, the Corsair was probably the finest in air-to-air combat for a balance of maneuverability and responsiveness. The -4, the last wartime version is considered by many pilots who have flown the entire line to be the best of them all….." Indeed, the F4U-4 had few, if any equals at the business of ACM (air combat maneuvering).
Advantage: F4U-4

Armament: Equipped with either six .50 caliber machine guns or four 20mm cannons, the -4 had more than adequate firepower to destroy any aircraft. It was the premier load carrying single engine fighter of the war. It could get airborne with bomb loads exceeding that of some twin engine medium bombers.
Advantage: F4U-4

Survivability: There was no other single engine fighter flown during the war that could absorb greater battle damage than the Corsair and still get home. Even the USAAF admitted that the F4U was a more rugged airframe than the tank-like P-47 Thunderbolt. That is a remarkable admission. The big Pratt & Whitney radial engine would continue to run and make power despite have one or more cylinders shot off. The P-51D, on the other hand, could be brought down by a single rifle bullet anywhere in the cooling system.
Advantage: F4U-4

Useful range: The F4U-4 had roughly the same radius of action as the Republic P-47D-25-RE, which flew escort missions deep into Germany as far as Berlin (the P-47D-25-RE had 100 gallons of additional internal fuel capacity). Yet, the P-51D still maintained a big edge in endurance.
Advantage: P-51D

Ease of flight: Despite gaining the nickname of "Ensign Eliminator", the F4U series tendency to roll under torque was no more difficult to handle than any other high powered fighter of the era. Some who have flown both the Corsair and the Mustang state without hesitation that the P-51 exhibited a greater propensity to roll on its back than did the F4U. Moreover, the Corsair was a far more forgiving aircraft when entering a stall. Although it would drop its right wing abruptly, the aircraft gave plenty of advanced warning of an impending stall by entering a pronounced buffeting about 6-7 mph before the wing dropped. The P-51, however, gave no warning of an impending stall. When it did stall, it was with a total loss of pilot control, rolling inverted with a severe aileron snatch. Recovery usually used up 500 ft or more of altitude. It was not uncommon for Mustangs to spin out of tight turns during dogfights. The F4U could also be flown at speeds more than 30 mph slower than that at which the Mustang stalled. In other words, the P-51 could not hope to follow a Corsair in a low speed turning fight.
Advantage: F4U-4

Outward Visibility: The Corsair provided for very good visibility from the cockpit. However, few if any WWII fighters offered the pilot a better view than the P-51D. The earlier P-51B was inferior to the F4U. Nonetheless, it was the D model that made up the bulk of Mustang production.
Advantage: P-51D

Finally there is an area in which the P-51 cannot compete at all. The F4U was designed to operate from an aircraft carrier. What this provides for is a utility that is unmatched by the better land based fighters of WWII. The ability to operate at sea or from shore can never be over-valued.
Obvious advantage: F4U-4

In conclusion, it would be hard, no, impossible to dismiss the F4U-4 as the leading candidate for the "best fighter/bomber of WWII". Furthermore, there is strong evidence that it very well may be the best piston engine fighter (to see combat) period. Certainly, everyone can agree on this: The F4U-4 Corsair was at the pinnacle of WWII piston engine technology and performance. When people debate the relative merits of the great fighter aircraft of WWII, they would be remiss in not acknowledging the F4U-4 as one of the very best, and in the educated opinion of many, "the best" fighter aircraft to fly into combat in World War II.

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Watch the video: F4U-4 Corsair 1940 (June 2022).


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