Chance-Vought F4U Corsair 
Wartime colour photograph of Fleet Air Arm Corsair JT96- coded "530"
one of only ten Brewster built Corsairs delivered to the RN in 1944


The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair was one of the most successful fighters of WWII.  In     production longer than any other US fighter in World War II (1942-1952) with 12,571 built, the Corsair had several claims to fame, and some of which remained in service as late as 1965. It was credited with an 11:1 ratio of kills to losses in action against Japanese aircraft and was the last piston-engine fighter in production for the US, Fleet Air Arm or other naval air arms.

The F4U Corsair consisted of a streamlined fuselage of circular cross-section, a unique inverted gull wing structure and piston engine with large driving propellor. The cockpit was   set well back, and the restricted view was a serious problem.The first XF4U-1 prototype flew on 29 May, 1940, and handling problems were found. However, the American Government went ahead with ordering the Corsair and the first production aircraft flew on 25 June, 1942. Early versions of the Corsair tended to 'bounce' upon landing due to their rigid undercarriage. Therefore it was at first restricted to land-based naval units, and after some modifications, it was used also for shipboard operations, but continued to require careful handling. In dive mode the sound of the attacking Corsair led the Japanese to refer to the aircraft as 'Whistling Death.'

12,571 were built. In all Vought built a total of 4102 F4U-1s, Brewster completed 735      F3A-1s and Goodyear manufactured 3808 FG-1s.

                        F4U-1 : the first production version
                        F4U-1A : modified canopy, pilot's seat raised 0.2 m
                        F4U-1B : version for RN
                        F4U-1C : four 20-mm cannons
                        F4U-1D : fighter-bomber version, external fuel tank, entered service in April 1944
                        F4U-2 : night fighter, AN/APS-6 radar in a radome on the right wing
                        XF4U-3 : experimental high-altitude fighter with sequential turbocharger
                        F4U-4 : 2,414-hp engine, four-blade propeller, increased armor, 127-mm rockets added to arsenal
                        F4U-4B : photoreconnaisance version
                        F4U-5N : night fighter
                        F4U-6 : 2,760-hp engine
                        F4U-7 : F4U-4 with 2,760-hp engine
                        F4U-1B : US designation of aircraft supplied to the UK under Lend-Lease
                        F4U-1C : version with four-wing mounted 20-mm cannon
                        F4U-1D : R-2800-8W water-injection engine
                        F4U-1P : photo-reconnaissance variant of the F4U-1
                        F4U-2 : night-fighter version
                        F4U-3 : high-altitude fighter, first prototype flown post-war
                        F4U-4 : version with R-2800-18W or R-2800-42W
                        F4U-4C : variant with four 20-mm cannon in place of standard armament
                        F4U-4E : night-fighter version with APS-4 AI radar
                        F4U-4N : night-fighter version with APS-56 AI radar
                        F4U-4P : photo-reconnaissance variant
                        F4U-5 : R-2800-32W engine
                        F4U-5N : night-fighter version of F4U-5
                        F4U-5P : tactical reconnaissance variant of F4U-5
                        XF4U-6 : low-altitude variant with R-2800-18W
                        F4U-7 : final production version, R-2800-18W
                        Corsair Mk I : Fleet Air Arm designation of F4U-1
                        Corsair Mk II : Fleet Air Arm designation of F4U-1A
                        Corsair Mk III : Fleet Air Arm designation of F3A-1D
                        Corsair Mk IV : Fleet Air Arm designation of FG-1D

Wartime colour photograph of American Corsair F4U-1A

Several marks of Corsair saw service with the Fleet Air Arm both during World War II and during the post-war period. The Royal Navy Corsairs all had 41cm clipped from their wing-tips which enabled below-deck storage on the Royal Navy carriers which were smaller than the American carriers for which the Corsair was originally  designed. The first Corsair provided to the Fleet Air Arm was the Corsair I, or the F4U-1 'Birdcage' Corsair. The subsequent versions were the Corsair II (F4U-1A), then the Corsair IV (FG-1D), and finally the Corsair III (F4U-4).

In all, the Fleet Air Arm received 2, 012 Corsairs from the USA, initially under Lend-Lease, and which equipped 19 squadrons. 370 F4U-1Ds were delivered to New Zealand.


New Zealand FAA Corsair NZ527
200 aircraft were delivered as the F4U-1Cs, with four 20mm M2 cannons replacing the      12.7mm guns. The F4U-1D variant again had thed original guns but have twin wing pylons added to the centre section to allow drop tanks or bombs.

Production of the F4U-1D began in April 1944 being built at Brewster as the F3A-1D, whilst Goodyear built the FG-1D. 430 Brewster-built F3A-1Ds supplied to the UK became Corsair III whilst 977 Goodyear-built FG-1Ds became Corsair IVs. Under the Lend-Lease agreement, the UK took delivery of 95 F4U-1s (designated Corsair

Is) and 510 F4U-1As (as Corsair IIs) which commenced in June 1943, after delivery of the first aircraft in May 1943 to the British Admiralty Delegation at US Floyd Bennet Field, New York, USA (JT102). The first unit to receive the Corsair was 1835 squadron at Quonset Point, USA in August 1943.

Fleet Air Arm Corsair KD345 130/A of 1850 squadron August 1945-December 1945

The majority of the Corsairs were delivered to Royal Navy Establishments in North America and then transported to the UK. Typical of the aircraft transport were the Corsairs allocated to1841 and 1842 squadrons in April 1944 at Brunswick. Thence transported to Norfolk, Virginia, emabrking on HMS Ruler April 1944 where they were transported to Liverpool onwards, or from Brooklyn NY to HMS Ruler in May 1944 for transport to Liverpool June 1944. The pattern of equiping FAA squadrons was gatherig pace, with 1846 sqdn in August 1944, following deck-landing on USS Charger May-August 1944 (eg JS612) and transporting of Corsairs to the UK with aircraft embarking on HMS Puncher for ferrying to the UK August 1944 (eg 1845 sqdn JS834),  or from Norfolk, Va, USA in October 1944 to HMS Ruler and arriving in Greenock November 1944. Thence the aircraft transferred from Lockheed Renfrew to 23 MU December 1944-January 1945.

Aircraft of the first delivery were still serving with 768 sqdn at Ballyhalbert in December 1945, others finally delivered to Renfrew in January 1946 for dumping at sea  (eg JS548). The last of  the wartime delivered aircraft, KD647, served with 721 squadron at Kai Tak until September 1947.

Fleet Air Arm Corsair lining up on the Flight Deck prior to Operations,  with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945.

            Fleet Air Arm history

            Total FAA 1939-1945:          2,012 Corsairs served with the FAA.
            First delivered to RN:            May 1943 to British Admiralty Delegation at US Floyd Bennet Field, New York, USA (JT102)
            First squadron 1939-1945:      August 1943 to 1835 sqdn at Quonset Point, USA
            Operational squadrons:           August 1943 to 1835 sqdn at Quonset Point, USA
            Last served with RN              Aircraft still delivered post-war. The final delivered aircraft were still serving with 721 sqdn at Kai Tak on
                                                      September 1947 (eg KD647)

        420 Chance-Vought F3A-1 Corsair III ordered from Brewster Aeronautical Corporation under Contract no A.(S) 172
        Serial numbers: JS469-JS888

        First to FAA:       In April 1944 to 1842 sqdn at Brunswick, Norfolk, Virgina, USA
        Last:                   794 sqdn at Eglington 1.46 (eg JS482), or JS500 at Henstridge to Belfast
                                  1.46 probably for dumping at sea

        70 Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair I ordered under Contract No A.(S) 198
        Serial numbers: JT100-JT169

        First Deld RN     May 1943 JT102 flown by British Admiralty Delegation at US Floyd
                                Bennet Field, New York, USA 23.11.43

        25 Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair I ordered under Contract no a.(S) 198.
        Serial numbers: JT170-JT194

        First Deld RN:    August 1943 to 1835 sqdn at Quonset Point, USA

        370 Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair II ordered under Contract no A.(S) 198.
        Serial numbers: JT195-JT564

        First Deld RN:    November 1943 to 732 sdn at Brunswick, USA

        140 Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair II ordered under Contract no A.(S) 198.
        Serial numbers: JT565-JT704

        First Deld RN:    October 1944 deld JT566 tested at RNARY Coimbatore

        First Sqdn:          JT566 to 1836 sqdn in November 1944

        10 Chance-Vought F3A-1 Corsair III ordered from Brewster Aeronautical
        Corporation under Contract no A.(S) 172.
        Serial numbers: JT963-JT972

        First deld:             August 1944 to Lockheed, Speke (eg JT963)

        94 Chance-Vought FG-1A Corsair IV ordered under Contract no Noa(S)1871.
        Serial numbers: KD161-KD254

        First deld RN       To 1850 sqdn from 1 August 1944 (eg KD163), to 1851 sqdn from 1
                                  September 1944 (eg KD162)(first major sqdn 1850 sqdn getting aircraft August-September 1944)

        306 Chance-Vought FG-1D Corsair IV ordered under Contract no Noa(S)1871.
        Serial numbers: KD255-KD560

        First deld RN        October 1944 from Lockheed, Renfrew to 23 MU 10.44
        Last with RN:        KD366 on the Fanara Dump, Egypt April 1947

        10 Chance-Vought FG-1 Corsair IV ordered from Goodyear Aircraft Corporation under Contract no a(S)1871
        Serial numbers: KD561-KD570

        First deld RN:        October 1944 RNASU Floyd Bennett Field, USA to 1849 sdqn (eg KD561)

        297 Chance-Vought FG-1D Corsair IV ordered from Goodyear Aircraft
        Corporation under Contract no Noa(S)1871.
        Serial numbers: KD571-KD867

        First deld RN:        Many shipped embarked from Norfolk, VA to HMS Ruler, 24.10.44arrived at Greenock 18.11.44, thence transported
                                    from Lockheed Renfrew to 23 MU 12.44. Thence many sent to 1843 sqdn Eglington February 1945
        Last  RN:               721 sqdn at Kai Tak on September 1947 (eg KD647)

        125 Chance-Vought FG-1D Corsair IV ordered from Goodyear Aircraft Corporation under Contract no NOa(S)1871.
        Serial numbers: KD868-KD992

        First deld RN:        December 1944 from Lockheed Renfrew to 23 MU (KD869)

        25 Chance-Vought FG-1D Corsair IV ordered from Goodyear Aircraft Corporation under Contract no Noa(S)1871
        Serial numbers: KD993-KE117

        Chance-Vought FG-1D Corsair IV 120 ordered from Goodyear Aircraft Corporation under Contract no Noa(S)1871
        Serial numbers: KE310-KE429. ALL CANCELLED

 Cancelled Corsair MIV order to the RN aircraft BuNos 92146 and 92425 still with RN markings and serials KE340 and KE349,
undergoing flight testing at Akron, OH, USA in July 1945

Aircraft Type:
Chance-Vought F4U Corsair 
Vought F4U-1 & F4U-2 Corsair
F3A-1 Corsair III, F4U-1A Corsair I, F4U-1A Corsair II, FG-1A Corsair IV
Primary Role:
Carrier borne Fighter 
First Flight: 
May 1940
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Entered Service: 1st June 1943
F3A-1 Corsair III - Brewster Aeronautical Corporation
F4U-1A Corsair I - Chance Vought (United Aircraft Corporation division)
FG-1D Corsair IV - Goodyear Aircraft Corporation 
F4U-One 18cyllinder Pratt&Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-8 radial engine 2,000 HP
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area:
Wingspan 41 ft 12.50 m 
Length33.3 ft  10.16 m 
Height16 ft  4.90 m 
Wingarea 314 sq ft  29.17 sq m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight: 4,074 kg
 Maximum Take Off: 6,350 kg



Max. speed 425 mph  (684 km/h) 
Initial climb rate 4,800 ft/min (1,463 m/min)
Six 12.7mm machine gun;
750 lt external tank and two 907 kg bombs or 8 rockets
700, 703,706,715,718,719,721,723,731,732,733,736,738,748,757,759,760,767,
768,771, 778,787,791,794,797,
885, 1830,1831,1833,1834,1835,1836,1837,1838,1841,1842,1843,1845,1846,
1848, 1849,1850,1851,1852,1853
Battle honours:
Norway 1944, Palembang 1945, Japan, 1945
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

The F4U Corsair was one of the most successful fighters of WWII involved in many
campaigns and Theatres, with the FAA involved in attacks in Norway, taking part in the attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz in Operation Mascot led by Fairey Barracuda (July 1944), to the raids on Palembang (January 1945), and Japan itself. Corsair pilots claimed hundreds of enemy aircraft shot down in all theatres it operated. The Corsair ended the war with over 64,051 sorties, 54,470 from land bases. 2,140 enemy aircraft were destroyed by Corsairs flown by allied airmen, with a loss of only 538 to enemy fire, a claimed 11.3 to 1 'kill ratio' in the Pacific alone.

The Corsair served with several squadrons assigned to British Pacific Fleet. Lt RH
'Hammy' Gray DSC (RCNVR) was flying a Corsair IV (coded "115*X") with the BPF when he was killed whilst attacking the Japanese frigate Amakusa, and was subsequently posthumously awarded the second FAA Victoria Cross of WW2. Another Canadian pilot, Lt DJ Sheppard (RCNVR), was also an ace with the BPF. Lt. Sheppard got four of his kills in a Corsair II, coded "T8*H", and the fifth kill came in a Corsair IV, coded "13*6".

Fleet Air Arm Corsair Mk IV KD658 115/X of Lt 'Hammy" Gray DSC VC 1841 squadron on HMS Formidable.

Photograph believed to be the aircraft shot down attacking a sinking Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Wan,
Japan 9.8.45. Lt RH Gray DSC posthumously awarded the VC

Pacific Campaign 1945. Victoria Cross winner Lt Gray VC in his aircraft solving a minor problem before flight.
The ship is HMS Formidable (painting by C McHugh)

Surviving aircraft and relics
Since the Corsair served with the allied naval air arms until relitively recently many have survived tio the present day. Perhaps the single only complete FAA Corsair to survive, Corsair FG-1D KD431, was flown by the Fleet Air Arm in the war by 768 squadron at Easthaven, 1945. It subsequently remained with the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield from November 1946 until June 1962. It is currently extant at the Fleet Air Arm Museum as of from 1964.

A wreck of another FAA Corsair exists. This is Corsair JT693 of 1843 squadron which force-landed on mud flats near Ballykelly on 9 October 1944. The pilot, Sub Lt CH Schwenger RCN was rescued unhurt. The wrecked remains of the aircraft were found 1994.

                                    NOW 2001                                                                                              THEN 1945
        Fleet Air Arm Museum (UK) Corsair MkIV ex14862 KD431 E2-M                The same Corsair KD431 E2-M photographed in 1945
                                                                                                                                   in 768s qdn at Easthaven

The Fighter Collection Duxford (UK) Corsair Mk FG-1D KD345 [130] (G-FGID) flown by 1850 Squadron flying from HMS Vengence in British Pacific Fleet colours between 1945 and 1946. The fuselage 'roundel will be as per the British Pacific Fleet spec - almost like a blue and white Australian roundel but with the kind of bars associated with the Americans fuselage markings during the War.

Preserved and airworthy Corsair in the markings of New Zealand wartime aircraft.

US Navy markings           French FAA markings

Preserved Corsairs in the markings of the allies

Preserved Corsair BuAer:92436 in Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (ON) Canada
painted in the markings of Corsair 115/X as flown by Lt Gray RCN

Above is a photograph of a Corsair preserved in Canada in honour of Lt 'Hammy' Gray VC and painted in his honour in the markings of the aircraft in which he was flying when lost whilst attacking a Japanese ship in August 1945.

Associations and reunions
No information
Corsairs in the British Navy during WW II by Norman  McKinstry  Corsairs in the British Navy during WW II - Contributed by Norman McKinstry, former Royal Navy FAA Corsair pilot with 1849 & 1850 Sqdn's during WW II.
Corsair "special Feature' and "product overview" information in website of Vought aircraft industries Vought details and history of the Corsair
Aviation History Online Museum and the Corsair Full Text and Specifications on The Vought F4U Corsair 
"Whistling Death" the Vought, Goodyear and Brewster Corsair website  Detailed and extensive website by Wade S. Grant USMC Ret. with all aspects of the Corsair from history, variants, stats, engines, foreign service including FAA and Commonwealth, aces including RN, gallery, hogboard, sources and links.
Olivier warbirds, Le site sur l'aviation de la Seconde guerre mondiale The corsair and preserved aircraft photos [in french]
Corsair technical details by FAA SIG  Corsair in detail - FAA Museum example
"Whistling Death" the Corsair
[see alternate web address 2001]
History, variants, engines, aces, gallery, flight sim, scale models, logbook, links, sources.
Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, MiD, RCNVR Biography by the Naval Museum of Alberta 
Lt. Robert "Hammy" Hampton Gray written by Randy Lutz
By Knut Erik Hagen in Norsk Flyhistorisk Tidsskrift (NFT) 
Details of Lt. Inge Holck Storheill (Royal Norwegian Navy) of 1841 Corsair Sqdn [in Norwegian]{in FAA SIG in english}
Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair Aces Ronnie Hay RM and DJ Shephard RCNVR Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair Aces
the Royal Marine Ronnie Hay and the Canadian RCN pilot DJ Shephard
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS, including VOUGHT CORSAIR Mk. IV, Commander Flying, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Colossus, Late 1945.
Warbird Alley Warbird Alley, an online reference source for information about privately-owned, ex-military aircraft. Includes details and specs and a summary total of airworthy aircraft including the Corsair
A Formidable Hero  by Stuart E. Soward A Formidable Hero - Biography of VC winner Hammy Gray of 1841 sqdn Corsairs
Corsair Aces of World War 2 
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces Series
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Commonwealth profiles of Corsairs  The profiles were created by Nigel Eastmond.
Two multimedia film clips of corsairs by the Whistling death website. Click on the photos to connect to the website.
        Last Modified: 3-4-2001

Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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