Book Review
Vought F4U Corsair
Vought F4U Corsair * Air Vanguard 17
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Osprey Publishing launched the series Air Vanguard which focuses in-depth on famous aircraft. Vought F4U Corsair by James D'Angina is the 17th title of the series.
    With over 12,500 produced, the Vought F4U Corsair is one of the icons of mid-20th century military aviation. It was as a Marine Corps aircraft that the Corsair was to become famous, fighting through World War II and Korea. Able to outperform its contemporaries, notably the A6M Zero, the Corsair combined speed, resilience and firepower. It also served in Indochina and Algeria, and in 1969's ‘Soccer War' between Honduras and El Salvador, Corsairs were flown by both sides and fought the last propeller-aircraft dogfights in history. This highly illustrated volume recounts the design and development history of one of the most iconic fighters in military aviation history.

F4U is still one of the most recognizable and beloved aircraft of 20th Century. Few of its peers had the Corsair's "stretch". The Corsair was one of the hottest fighters in the sky when it entered squadron service in 1942, yet it had bad habits that kept it off of America's carriers for years. Like the iconic Cold War F-4 Phantom II, the airframe was an aesthetic paradox of beauty and hideousness and like the F-4, its versatility kept it competitive even when overtaken by newer designs. And like the F-4, F4U may not have been the most maneuverable fighter in a dogfight, yet none of its enemies (and perhaps few allies) could carry its warload off an aircraft carrier as far, as fast, and still give landlubbing fighters the fight of their all-too-often short lives!

Perhaps the finest tribute to the F4U is by a friend's father was a United States Marine who fought on Saipan and Iwo Jima (Where he had his 21st birthday!) who, upon seeing a Corsair, simply stated, "Good airplane!"

Author James D'Angina reveals the "Hose Nose" in remarkable detail. The book is illustrated by Adam Tooby, available in paperback, PDF, and eBook formats, is 64 pages long, with the ISBN 9781782006268. (ISBN is different for other formats.)

Vought F4U Corsair is 64 pages long. Presented in those pages are;

    Design and Development
    * XF3U-1 and SBU Corsair
    * Beisel Designs
    * Request for proposals
    * The Competition
    * The XF4U-1
    * Requirement Changes
    * Corsair Assembly
    * F4U-1 Production Inspection and Carrier Trails
    * Engines
    * Fuselage/Body
    * Wings and Undercarriage
    * Internal Armament

    Technical Specifications
    * Production Models and Operational Conversions

    Operational History
    * Boyington and Blackburn
    * Fighter-Bombers
    * Corsairs and Carriers
    * Okinawa
    * Royal Navy Corsairs
    * Royal New Zealand Air Force
    * Corsairs over Korea
    * French Corsairs
    * Latin American Bent Wing Birds


    Select Bibliography

Typical of Osprey books, those titles are different from what is shown on their website.

Air Vanguard books are not meant to be exhaustive histories of an aircraft nor the squadrons that flew them. They are written to present a more in-depth technical and developmental story of the subject followed by an overview of just how well the aircraft fulfilled what it was envisioned for. Author D'Angina does a good job of providing interesting information while keeping the text readable. Sidebars emphasize information deemed separate by pertinent.

The book recounts the history of Vought and their aircraft, and their response to the Navy proposal that lead to the F4U design. Designing and building the Corsair continues the story, including information about construction facilities and techniques. Building Corsairs was contracted to Brewster and Goodyear and that is discussed. Flight testing is recounted and the subsequent modifications the testing resulted in. I knew that I had read that F4U fuselages used welding and this book includes this. Why part of the wing was built with fabric covering is mentioned but not discussed.

Quantities and serial / Bureau numbers are listed for each production run. The author noted aircraft numbers when discussing specific airframes.

Twenty pages later in Technical Specifications all 23 operational or experimental models of the F4U are presented with technical descriptions. These are reinforced with many tables, charts, and other graphics.

Operational History starts 21 pages later at Guadalcanal. By then F4U was determined as unsuitable for Navy carrier ops and regulated to land bases until fixes were applied to return them to carrier decks. Corsairs were only engaged in sustained air-to-air for about a year over the Solomons, where Navy and Marine units like VF-17 and VMF-214 seared the legend of the Corsair into the Japanese sky. It continues with a few Corsairs returning to the carrier deck as nightfighters and eventually back onto carriers as day fighters. While the story includes that history and also the Corsair as a USMC fighter-bomber, it does not mention a great war record controversy: was the Corsair a superior fighter to the legendary F6F Hellcat, and, if so, why does the Hellcat have so many more kills than the F4U?

The combat career of the F4U continues with sections about F4Us over Korea, and with foreign operators.

Several inserts highlight exceptional Corsair pilots:
    Medal of Honor Citation, First Lieutenant Kenneth A. Walsh, USMC

    Medal of Honor Citation, Major Gregory Boyington, USMC

    Medal of Honor Citation, First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson, USMC

    Medal of Honor Citation, Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas J. Hudner Jr, USN

photos, art, graphics
Plenty of high quality photos support the text. Several are color photos.

Artist Adam Tooby created many full color illustrations, including cutaway art:

A. Corsair Profiles
    1. F4U-1 BuNo 02153, Stratford, Connecticut, 15 July 1942
    2. F4U-1A BuNo 17744, of VMF-214, Maj Gregory Boyington, Vella Lavella, 23 December 1943
    3. F4U-1A BuNo 50341, Corsair II, JT537, of 1836 Sqn, Sub Lt Donald J. Sheppard, HMS Victorious, May 1945
    4. FG-1D BuNo 76236, Corsair IV, KD658, of 1841 Sqn, Sub Lt Robert H. Gray, HMS Formidable, 1945
B. Main Corsair Weapons
    1. .50cal machine gun installation
    2. M2 20mm cannon assembly
    3. M3 (T-31) 20mm cannon assembly
    4. General Purpose Bombs. 500lb AN-M64A1 is illustrated, others are listed.
    5. 11.75in. Tiny Tim air-to-ground rocket
    6. 5in. High Velocity Aircraft Rocket (HVAR)
    7. 6.5in. Anti-Tank Aircraft Rocket (ATAR)
C. F4U-4, BuNo 82050, VF-32, Thomas J. Hudner Jr, December 1950: Medal of Honor flight.

D. Corsair Profiles
    1. F4U-4B, BuNo, [sic]97503, of VF-53, USS Valley Forge, CV-45, Korea, July 1950
    2. AU-1, BuNo 129417, of VMF-212, Korea, 1953
    3. F4U-5N, BuNo 124453, of VC-3 Det 1, Lt Guy Pierre Bordelon, Korea, 1953
    4. F4U-5N, FAH-609, of Fuerza Aerea Hondurena, Maj Fernando Soto Henriquez, Toncontin, Honduras, 1969

E. Full page ‘in-action’ scene F4U-1D, BuNo 57584, of VMF-312, Kadena Okwinawa, 10 May 1945: downing a Ki-45 “Nick” at 38,000 feet by ramming.

F. Full page ‘in-action’ scene First Marine Offensive Strike, Korea, F4U-4B (BuNo 60367), VMA-214, USS Sicily (CVE-118) Aug 1950.

G. Two-page cutaway: Vought F4U-7, BuNo 133722, Flotille 15.F.22, Aeronavale, November 1956, keyed with 25 components.


Operational Corsair Powerplants

Corsair X Planes per Designation, Bureau Numbers, Qty, Model Converted, Purpose or Program; for:

F4U-1 Production and Bureau Numbers

FG-1 and F3A-1 Production and
Bureau Numbers

F4U-1D/FG-1D (C Models included) (production) and Bureau Numbers

F4U-1C Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-2 Production and Bureau Numbers

F2G Production and Bureau Numbers

FG-3 Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-4 Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-5 Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-5N Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-5NL Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-5P Production and Bureau Numbers

AU-1 Production and Bureau Numbers

F4U-7 Production and Bureau Numbers

Corsair Production by company and model

Corsair Specifications

Variant Summary and FAA Designations

Land-Based Corsairs over Okinawa per Squadron, Assigned MAG and Original Airfield, Aerial Victories, Corsair Variants

Appendix A, Combat Operational Corsair Squadrons World War II

Appendix B, Top 10 USMC/USN Corsair Aces

Appendix C, USMC/USN Corsair Squadrons in Korea
Corsair Variants by Squadron

Appendix D, Post World War II Aerial Victories

Vought F4U Corsair, Air Vanguard 17, is another good installment in this series. Corsair fans and enthusiasts should find it a beneficial reference source for their study of "The Bent-Wing Bird". The text is concise yet provides a lot of information. Art and photographic support enriches the text.

If there is anything I would criticize about the book, I can't recall it. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: The text is concise yet provides a lot of information. Art and photographic support enriches the text.
Lows: If there is anything I would criticize about the book, I can't recall it.
Verdict: Corsair fans and enthusiasts should find this a beneficial reference source for their study of "The Bent-Wing Bird".
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781782006268
  Suggested Retail: $18.95
  PUBLISHED: Oct 05, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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