One of the classic aircraft of the World War II period, the Corsair was designed in 1938 to meet a USN requirement for a shipboard fighter. The distinctive inverted gull-wing was to provide sufficient ground clearance for the huge propellor attached to the Double Wasp engine. The XF4U-1 was first flown on May 29 1940. On October 1st, 1940, the aircraft became the first to exceed 400mph - achieving 404mph (646kmh). The aircraft entered service in mid-1942, and development continued through to 1952. The aircraft were used in combat as late as the 1968 'Soccer War' in Central America.
The RNZAF operated 424 of these aircraft (NZ5201-5487, 5501-5577, 5601-5660) in the 1944-1948 period. Originally intended for a fighter role, the aircraft were primarily used for ground attack. Thirteen squadrons eventually used the aircraft (although at most, only eight were operational at one time), including 14 SQN which served with the Commonwealth occupation forces at Iwakuni and Bofu in Japan.
Two ex-RNZAF survivors remain - both are FG-1D models
Ross Jowitt is also reported to have the incomplete remains of F4U-1a NZ5503 (c/n5247, Bu50000) and the dismembered remains of F4U-1a NZ5527 (c/n5203, Bu49956). Parts of NZ5644 (c/n2846, Bu88032) are reported to have been exported with NZ5648.
As of 1999, New Zealand is without an airworthy Corsair. Previously in New Zealand (illustrated below) was the AFC operated F4U-1 'Birdcage Corsair' ZK-FUI (c/n4078 ex Bu17995, N90285), based at Wanaka. This aircraft was sold, being shipped to its new home in a museum collection in Brazil on October 19, 1999. More information about this aircraft can be found here.
One other Corsair has been resident in New Zealand. An ex-Honduran F4U-5 (Bu124493) was donated to the RNZAF by Disney, in return for assistance with making a movie. The Air Force Museum decided to use the aircraft as a swap item as the model was quite disimilar to those used by the RNZAF, and the aircraft has now gone to Australia.
Last Update:- 16 November 2001
Data is for F4U-1D
The following images, featuring the last airworthy ex-RNZAF Corsair were made at the 'Flying Legends' airshow at Duxford on July 12, 1997.
On October 8 2001 I made another visit to Duxfordwhile on holiday in the UK. I had made arrangements to visit the OFMC and photograph NZ5648 and NZ3009. My primary objective was to get cockpit photographs of the Corsair and these are shown below. Some of the other photographs are included in the close up section at the bottom. Special thanks to Laura Wetton (Ops Manager) for making the arrangements for access, and thanks to the Engineers who were so helpful on the day!
Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft!
© 1996-2001 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved