When was the Corsair's first flight?
Today's Doodle story is a fun one! I feel much better on days I knock my Daily Doodle out early... I've "eaten my frog", so they say, and the rest of the day is mine to work or do what I want (mostly) instead of dreading the fact it's 8pm and I don't know what I'm doing for my Doodle. Many times a Daily Doodle will come about because of my interaction with other people, which as of lately has been lacking... Last night I decided to check Facebook, (something I don't do very frequently) and the top post was a friend talking about how they wished they could go back to a time where things were a little more simple. A comment was left about lightening the mood and asked for the poster's favorite color, which is one of my favorite questions to ask, so I followed down the rabbit hole. Long story a little bit shorter, the answer was Corsair Blue (a color I had not heard of before), so I kept following the thread and come to find out it's a special blue for a Corsair plane, and TONS of really incredible information about said planes work in World War 2 and the Korean War, so I figured, "hey this seems like a really cool Daily Doodle, I'm going to research this further..." and guess when the Corsair plane's first flight was?! MAY 29, 1940! So not only was this an organic Daily Doodle topic, but it also is a "this day in history"!! Too perfect, am I right?!
In 1938, Vought designer Rex Beisel proposed the V-166B to the Navy as a new single-seat carrier fighter. The design featured the smallest possible airframe to accommodate Pratt & Whitney's new R-2800 Double Wasp engine. The plane included a unique feature, an inverted gull wing, which allowed for shorter landing gear while maintaining sufficient ground clearance for the large 13-foot propeller.
The prototype, designated XF4U-1, first flew on May 29, 1940, and exceeded 400 mph, breaking the speed record and proving to be faster than any other U.S. fighter currently in commission. In June 1941, the Navy ordered 584 F4U-1s, with deliveries beginning in October 1942.
The production model was modified by moving the cockpit three feet forward to make room for an additional fuel tank, changing to six .50-caliber wing guns, and adding pilot armor and self-sealing fuel tanks.
Unfortunately, carrier ship trials found the F4U-1 wanting in several areas. Moving the cockpit caused visibility problems in carrier landings, soft struts caused the aircraft to bounce, and the Corsair had a tendency to stall during their slow carrier approaches... Not great. So, the land-based Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 124 became recipients of F4U-1s in February 1943, and by August of that year, seven more Marine units were flying Corsairs in the Solomon Islands.
In September, the Navy's Fighting Squadron (VF) 17 became operational in New Georgia. To speed production of the Corsair, Goodyear Aircraft and Brewster produced similar versions of the F4U-1, designated as the FG-1 and F3A, respectively. Various modifications appeared. Some FG-1As had non-folding wings; the F4U-1C incorporated four 20mm cannon in the wings, and still others were adapted to the fighter-bomber role, incorporating a centerline drop tank and provision for carrying bombs on inboard wing stations, along with rockets under the wings.
In order to solve the carrier landing problem, the aircraft were modified with a raised pilot's seat, a semi-bubble canopy, a stall strip on the right wing, stiffened struts, and a raised the tail post for taxi visibility. In April 1944, the Navy approved the Corsair for carrier operations. The airplane went on to distinguish itself in the air, with an 11 to 1 victory ratio during World War II, being dubbed "Whistling Death". It proved itself useful again in Korea as a fighter-bomber. In addition, Marine Captain Jesse Folmar became the first piston-engine pilot to down a MiG-15 jet in air-to-air combat. When Corsair production ended in December 1952, 12,521 Corsairs in 18 different models had been built.