Designed around the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 2,000HP radial engine, and turning the largest propeller ever attached to a fighter plane, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair became a legend in its own time.
First flown in May 1940, this gull winged wonder was deemed a winner from the outset. The Navy was so confident in the Corsair that rival companies Brewster and Goodyear were made alternate contractors for the initial order of 584 aircraft. With a top speed of 415mph and a rate of climb of 3,120 feet per minute, the Corsair was the fastest plane in the world at the time. Unacceptable aircraft carrier landing performance however, caused the F4U-1 to become a land-based fighter with the U.S. Marine Corps at the beginning of its career.
In November 1941, the U.S. Navy requested Vought to produce a radar-equipped version of the F4U-1; however, they were too occupied with production to accomplish the request. The task was turned over to the Naval Aircraft Factory which produced 32 of the 34 F4U-2 Corsairs made. Obvious changes were adding a radar dome to the outboard .50 caliber machine gun to offset the radar domes weight, plus flame dampeners installed on the six exhaust stacks. These F4U-2 night fighting Corsairs became the pioneers in developing the technology that led to U.S. night fighting tactics employed throughout WWII.
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