Role: Carrier-based fighter-bomber
National Origin: United States
First Flight: 1942
Primary User: US Navy, US Marine Corps, Royal Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Number Built: 12,571
The Vought F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought’s manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and Brewster-built aircraft F3A. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured, in 16 separate models, in the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in U.S. history (1942–53).
The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft, but it came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marines. Due to logistics issues and initial problems with carrier landings, the role of the dominant U.S. carrier based fighter aircraft was thus filled by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair’s first prototype in 1940. The Corsair also served in the U.S. Navy. In addition to its use by the U.S. and British, the Corsair was also used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the French Naval Aviation and other, smaller, air forces until the 1960s. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II, and the U.S. Navy counted an 11:1 kill ratio with the F4U Corsair.
When the Corsair entered service in large numbers with the U.S. Navy in late 1944 and early 1945, it quickly became one of the most capable carrier-based fighter-bombers of World War II. The Corsair served almost exclusively as a fighter-bomber throughout the Korean War and during the French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria.