Hobby Master HA8222 USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Major Greg Boyington, VMF-214 "Black Sheep", Torokina Airfield, Bougainville, January 3rd, 1944 (1:48 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built. Originally thought to be too powerful to fly from a carrier, the Corsair weaved a path of destruction in battle after battle during WWII, totally outclassing the much-feared Zero. The last of the great piston-engine fighters, the Corsair went on to become an important component of the US naval air power during the Korean War. Even while it was being replaced by jet aircraft, pilots flying this tough warbird were credited with downing a few MiG-15 jet fighters.
In part because of its advances in technology and a top speed greater than existing Navy aircraft, numerous technical problems had to be solved before the Corsair entered service. Carrier suitability was a major development issue, prompting changes to the main landing gear, tail wheel, and tail hook. Early F4U-1s had difficulty recovering from developed spins, since the inverted gull wing's shape interfered with elevator authority. It was also found where the Corsair's left wing could stall and drop rapidly and without warning during slow carrier landings. In addition, if the throttle were suddenly advanced (for example, during an aborted landing) the left wing could stall and drop so quickly that the fighter could flip over with the rapid increase in power. These potentially lethal characteristics were later solved through the addition of a small, 6 in (150 mm)-long stall strip to the leading edge of the outer right wing, just outboard of the gun ports. This allowed the right wing to stall at the same time as the left.
Other problems were encountered during early carrier trials. The combination of an aft cockpit and the Corsair's long nose made landings hazardous for newly trained pilots. During landing approaches, it was found that oil from the opened hydraulically-powered cowl flaps could spatter onto the windscreen, severely reducing visibility, and the undercarriage oleo struts had bad rebound characteristics on landing, allowing the aircraft to bounce down the carrier deck. The first problem was solved by locking the top cowl flaps in front of the windscreen down permanently, then replacing them with a fixed panel. The undercarriage bounce took more time to solve, but eventually a "bleed valve" incorporated in the legs allowed the hydraulic pressure to be released gradually as the aircraft landed. The Corsair was not considered fit for carrier use until the wing stall problems and the deck bounce could be solved.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair fighter that was flown by legendary ace Major Greg Boyington then flying his last mission with VMF-214 "Black Sheep"on January 3rd, 1944.
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Release Date: March 2022
Historical Account: "Captive Audience" - On January 3rd, 1944, Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington tied World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker's record of 26 enemy planes destroyed, before he was shot down. On that mission, 48 American fighters, including four planes from the Black Sheep Squadron, were sent on a sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was tactical commander of the flight and arrived over the target at 8:00 AM. He was seen to shoot down his 26th plane, but he then became mixed in the general melee of dogfighting planes and was not seen or heard from during the battle, nor did he return with his squadron. Boyington's wingman, Captain George Ashmun, was killed in action. In later years, Masajiro "Mike" Kawato claimed to have been the pilot who shot down Boyington. He described the combat in two books and numerous public appearances (often with Boyington), but this claim was eventually "disproven," though Kawato repeated his story until his death. Kawato was present during the action in which Boyington was shot down, as one of 70 Japanese fighters which engaged about 30 American fighters.