Design, Development & Operational HistoryEdit
The single-engine Chance Vought F4U Corsair was designed in 1938 for a U.S. Navy single-seater carrier-based fighter competition. The prototype showed excellent performance characteristics but was in need of substantial improvement. Even after the completion and launch of the F4U-1, a number of problems were discovered which prevented the aircraft from being used as a carrier-based fighter, and the Navy was forced to use the first F4U-1's for Marine Corps ground-based operations.
In the middle of 1943, the F4U-1A variant made its debut. To improve visibility, which was especially important when landing on an aircraft carrier, the cockpit canopy was modified to a convex shape (known as a Malcolm hood,) and the pilot’s chair was raised 17.8 cm. Dive speed problems were solved with a stall strip just outboard of the gun ports on the starboard wing’s leading edge.
The F4U-1A was produced not only at the Chance Vought factory, where the aircraft was designed, but also at the Brewster and Goodyear factories (with the designations F3A-1A and FG-1A, respectively). The latter model differed in that its wings were not folding. The F4U-1D, the first large-scale variant after the F4U-1A, was produced not only at Chance Vought factory, but also at the Goodyear factory. Planes from the latter became known as FG-1D's. The Brewster plant, which had produced the F4U-1A, did not work on the production of this variant, as its contract was annulled.
The prototype F4U-1C, BuNo50277, appeared in August 1943 and was based on an F4U-1. A total of 200 of this variant were built July–November 1944; all were based on the F4U-1D and were built in parallel with that variant. Intended for ground-attack as well as fighter missions, the F4U-1C was similar to the F4U-1D but its six machine guns were replaced by four 20 millimetre (0.79 in) AN/M2 cannons with 231 rounds of ammunition per gun. The F4U-1C was introduced to combat during 1945, most notably in the Okinawa campaign. Aviators preferred the standard armament of six .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns since they were already more than powerful enough to destroy most Japanese aircraft, and had more ammunition and a higher rate of fire. The weight of the Hispano cannon and their ammunition affected the flight performance, especially its agility, but the aircraft was found to be especially potent in the ground attack role.