The Chance Vought F4U was designed to meet the Navy's requirement for a high-speed, high-altitude fighter. Five years later, the F4U-1 was delivered to the Navy in the summer of 1942.
The F4U was powered by a Pratt & Whitney 18 cylinder radial engine with a displacement of 2,804 cubic inches developing 2,000 horsepower. At this time, this was the most powerful engine ever in a fighter plane. To optimize the engine's power, it was equipped with a Hamilton Standard Hydromatic 3 blade propeller measuring 13 feet 4 inches in diameter. In order for the prop to clear the deck, the F4U was given a gull or bent wing design thereby raising the fuselage. This created a visibility problem when taxiing which required the pilot to zig-zag getting alternate right and left views to see forward. A group of taxiing F4U's gave the appearance of some kind of oddly choreographed tail-wagging ritual dance. While the F4U was indisputably powerful and fast, it could be tricky to handle in crosswinds or, when landing, the left wing would tend to stall.
Early carrier trials proved the F4U landing gear unsatisfactory for landings and it became a land-based fighter for its beginning role in the war. This development made it fine choice for Marine Corps pilots. Later modifications allowed the Navy to adopt the F4U as a carrier-based fighter.
The most notable revision for the F4U-1A was the replacement of the old "birdcage" canopy by a "bubble" canopy which afforded the pilot greater visibility.
July 27, 1943 letter to Mother : "I'm flying the F4U (Corsair) now. That's the baby you know that I've been looking forward to. I had my first hop in it Friday (the 23rd). It's really a sweet job. Plenty powerful and plenty fast. Really a nice fighter."
August 4, 1943 letter to Dad: "Everything is just fine here and even in this terrific heat, I'm feeling fine. I've been pretty busy with this new plane, the F4U, but I've had twenty-five or thirty hours in it and I already feel perfectly at home."
August 16, 1943 letter to Mother: "... Six of us went to San Diego yesterday and brought back six new F4U's. It takes five hours by train - we came back in twenty minutes. Some traveling, huh? I'm still flying about 3-4 hours a day and everything's fine."
"I got 415 mph in a strafing run the other day. That's done about 10 ft. off the ground. At that speed and that altitude plus firing 50 cal. machine guns - there's never a dull moment. It's strictly business, but to me - it's fun, too."
Pratt & Whitney R-2800-8 Double Wasp 18 cylinder radial air-cooled engine with two-stage supercharger
2,000 for take-off, 1,675 up to 5,500 ft
32 ft 9 1/2 in
40 ft 11 3/4 in
1,596 miles at 179 mph
Speed (sea level)
Speed (24,000 ft)
10,000 ft in 5.1 min 20,000 ft in 10.7 min
Six .50-in Colt Browning M-2 machine guns in wings with 391 rounds per gun
Due to the extreme high summer temperatures in El Centro, flight training typically began at 4 AM and ending by noon or was scheduled for after sundown. So intense was the midday heat that the risk of blowing a tire on the landing strip was very great.
Flight training, mostly combat oriented, consisted of instrument training, division and section tactics, high side, low side, and overhead fire, strafing, dogfighting, and thatch weave. Besides occasional shuttle flights from San Diego and El Centro, there were longer range flights between El Centro to Yuma to Blythe to Indio and back (2 hours), and El Centro to Los Angeles to North Island NAS and back (2.3 hours).
By the time the squadron was commissioned to transfer to Hawaii, Guy had accumulated a total of almost 80 hours in the Corsair F4U averaging between 3 to 6 hours daily. Monthly flight time totals for the Corsair alone were: