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United States' Vought F4U Corsair fighter


HMS Khedive Escort Aircraft Carrier with the East Indies Fleet with a Corsair on a outrigger to allow more room on deck:
Great Britain's HMS Khedive Escort Aircraft Carrier with the East Indies Fleet with a Corsair on a outrigger to allow more room on deck
Imperial War Museum A 29037
Vought F4U Corsair fighter:
United States' Vought F4U Corsair fighter
Vought F4U Corsair fighter:
United States' Vought F4U Corsair fighter


The Vought F4U Corsair was to meet a United States Navy specification for a carrier based fighter.3 It was designed by Rex Beisel / Tex B. Beisel4 in 1938.1,2 Vought designed a plane that would contain the most powerful engine at the time.3,4

The F4U was the first United States Navy plane to go 400 mph / 644 kph.3,5


During prototype development the internal configuration was altered which caused the cockpit to be moved back three feet.4 The cockpit was set behind the wing which caused problems with the poor view over the nose.1,3


The nose of the Corsair had the self sealing fuel tank.1,3

The F4U's fuselage was all metal with spot welding which gave a smooth skin.1


The F4U's engine drove a 13' / 13' 3"5 / 4.04 m Hamilton Standard propellar.1 This propeller was one of the largest for a fighter at the time.1,3 This caused the design to have the inverted gull wings so that the propeller to clear the ground with the landing gear.1,2,3,4,5


The United States Navy ordered a prototype, XF4U-1, on June 30, 1938.4,5

The XF4U-1 was first flown on May 29, 1940.1,2,3,4,5 During a flight on October 1, 1940, the prototype was the first American fighter to exceed 400 mph.4,5


An order for 584 / 5855 F4U-1s was placed on June 30, 1941.4 178 of these were delivered by the end of 1942.4

In September 1942 trials were conducted on the USS Sangamon.5 It was decided that the F4U-1 wasn't suited for carrier operations and was to be issued to Marine Corps land based units.5

The first F4U-1 production fighter flew on June 25, 1942.3,5

  • Vought XF4U: 13
  • Vought XF4U-3: 15
    • Manufacturer: Vought5
  • Vought F4U-1: 4,1024, 4,1202
    • Manufacturer: Vought4
  • Vought F4U-1, Vought F4U-1A, Vought F4U-1C, Vought F4U-1D: 4,6993
    • Manufacturer: Vought3
  • Vought F4U-1C: 2005
  • Goodyear FG-1: 3,8082,4
    • Manufacturer: Goodyear2,4,5
    • Export: Britain's Fleet Air Arm - 2,0122, New Zealand - 3702
  • Goodyear FG-1, Goodyear FG-1D: 4,0073
    • Manufacturer: Goodyear3,5
  • Goodyear FG-3: 15
    • Manufacturer: Goodyear5
  • Brewster F3A-1: 7352,4
    • Manufacturer: Brewster2,4,5
  • Brewster F3A-1, Brewster F3A-1D: 7383
    • Manufacturer: Brewster3,5
  • Vought F4U-1 series, Brewster F3A-1 series, Goodyear FG-1 series: 13,3855
  • Vought F4U-4: 1,9125, 2,3573
    • Manufacturer: Vought3,5
  • Goodyear FG-4: 2005
    • Manufacturer: Goodyear5
  • Vought F4U-4B: 2973
    • Manufacturer: Vought3
  • Vought F4U-4N: 13
    • Manufacturer: Vought3
  • Vought F4U-4P: 43
    • Manufacturer: Vought3
  • Vought F4U-5: 2235, 5094
    • Production: Post World War II4
  • Vought F4U-5N/NI: 3155
    • Production: Post World War II5
  • Vought F4U-5P: 305
    • Production: Post World War II5
  • Vought AU-1: 1104, 1115
    • Production: Post World War II4, 1951 - 19525
  • Vought F4U-7: 944,5
    • Production: Post World War II4, ? - December 19525
  • Total: 12,5711,3, 12,6814, 14,3465
    • Manufacturer: Brewster1,2, Goodyear1,2, Vought1,2,3, United Aircraft Company4, Vought Division of United Aircraft Corp.5
    • Manufacturing location: Stratford, Connecticut5
    • Production: 1942 - 19525
  • Vought F2G: 83
    • Manufacturer: Goodyear3


  • Vought V-166B: Designed around XR-2800-4 engine (2,000 HP).5
  • Vought XF4U-1: Prototype.1,4
  • Vought XF4U-2: Night fighter prototype.2
  • Vought XF4U-3, Goodyear FG-3: Design work began in 1942.5 Had turbo chargers installed.5 Prototype not completed until 1946.5
  • Vought XF4U-5: Developed in 1946.5 R-2800-34W engine with two stage supercharger (2,850 HP).5
  • Vought XF4U-6: Prototype close air support for Marine Corps.5 Work started in 1949.5 In 1951 designated the XAU-1.5 Could carry 4,000 lb of ordnance.5 Additional armor protection.5
  • Vought F4U-1, Goodyear FG-1, Brewster F3A-1:
  • Vought F4U-2: Modified F4U-1 with autopilot and radar mounted in the wing.5 32 were converted in 1943.5
  • Vought F4U-3: Turbo charged Pratt & Whitney R-2800.3 Could hold 2,000 HP up to 40,000' / 12,190 m.3
  • Vought F4U-4:
  • Vought F2G: Prototype.3 Had Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major, 28 cylinder radial engine (3,000 HP).3
  • Vought F4U-5: Fighter bomber.3 Post World War II.3,4 Engine was more powerful.4 Armament was increased.4
  • Vought F4U-5N/NI: Night fighter.5
  • Vought F4U-5P: Photo reconnaissance.5
  • Vought F4U-6 / Vought AU-1: Specialized attack aircraft.3,4 Post World War II.3,4
  • Vought F4U-7: Last production model.1,5 Delivered to France in 1953.1,3,4,5


Best Kill:Loss Ratio

The Corsair attained a 11:1 kill:loss ratio in the Pacific during World War II while only losing 1694 planes of their own.2,3 2,140 enemy aircraft were shot down by Corsairs.3,4 Corsairs went on 64,051 missions in the Pacific.4

Land Based Beginnings

Even though the Corsair was designed to be a carrier based fighter it spent the first part of its combat life as a land based fighter.4 Many in the United States Navy felt it was unsuitable for carrier operations.4 In April 1944 the Corsair was finally cleared for carrier operation with the US fleet.4

First Units

In October 1942 the VF-12 was the first to be outfitted with the F4U-1.2

The US Marine Corps VMF-124, at Guadalcanal4, was the first to use the Corsair in combat on February 13, 1943.2,4,5 This combat occurred over Bougainville.3

In September 1943, the VF-17, land based, was United States Navy squadron equipped with the F4U.5

Night Fighters

The XF4U-2 was used by the VFN-75 and VFN-101 as a night fighter late in the war.2

United States

The United States' carriers first used the Corsair regularly in 1944 / January 19455.1

Korean War Success

A Corsair night fighter pilot was the only one to become an ace during the Korean War that didn't fly a F-86 Sabre.1

A Corsair pilot shot down a MiG-15 jet.1

End of Service

The last Corsair to be withdrawn from active service was in 1965.4


  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site