Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair


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

  • NZ5612 (c/n2904, Bu88090) is in storage with Ross Jowitt at Ardmore, and intended for eventual static restoration.
  • NZ5648 (c/n3305, Bu92044) is airworthy with the OFMC in Britain. The aircraft was rescued from the Rukuhia scrapyard and restored to taxying condition in the 1960s. Sold to a buyer in the US, the aircraft operated for many years as N55JP in the colours of 'Big Hog'. Sold to the OFMC and moved across the Atlantic, the aircraft has been returned to RNZAF colours. (Illustrated below).
  • 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

    Technical Data

    Data is for F4U-1D


    nose and underside - airshow 1992 side view - airshow 1992 side view - airshow 1995 taxying (front view) - airshow 1995 with Avenger - airshow 1995 taxying (side view) - airshow 1995 taxying (front view) - airshow 1995 taxying (front view) - airshow 1998 taxying (side view) - airshow 1998 shut down - airshow 1998 take off - airshow 1998 fitting the towbar - 1998 folding the wings - 1998 taxying (side view) - airshow 1998 changing pilots - 1998

    The following images, featuring the last airworthy ex-RNZAF Corsair were made at the 'Flying Legends' airshow at Duxford on July 12, 1997.

    starboard front quarter (static) port front quarter (taxying) port side (taxying) port rear quarter (taxying) port side (static) port rear quarter (static)

    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!

    starboard side cockpit -exterior cockpit - general view cockpit -instruments cockpit -instruments cockpit - port consoles cockpit - controls cockpit - floor cockpit -headrest
    cockpit - seat

    Close Up

    Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft!

    nose from above engine engine rear three-quarter cowling off radiator (rear) cooling gills (belly - rear) cooling gills (belly - rear) tail wheel well tail wheel well flaps from rear-port flaps from rear-starboard flap hinge - from front radiator radiator (front) wingtip from above wingroot from above gun ports port wing fold - side port wing fold front quarter starboard wing fold - top stabiliser - port tail section tail section tail section tail cone port wheel well port wheel well port wheel well starboard wheel well exhausts- starboard cockpit -exterior canopy cockpit exterior (closed) starboard cockpit exterior (open) port cockpit - port side
    cockpit interior - seat port wing folded - rear view tail section - port rear quarter undercarriage from front starboard main gear - inner starboard main gear - outer tail wheel - from starboard starboard wheel well

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