The Vought F4U Corsair was a high performance fighter aircraft, either carrier or land based. The primary mission was the destruction of enemy aircraft and was armed with bomb and rocket ordnance. The low-wing monoplane was known for its inverted gull appearance with great length of fuselage ahead of its cockpit. The XF4U-1 made its first flight in May 1940. When the United States entered World War II, the design and concept of the F4U-1 was well underway. To speed production, Goodyear and Brewster were also given contracts to produce Corsairs, with the designation of FG-1 and F3A-1, respectively.
Initially, Corsairs had problems with landing on aircraft carriers but the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy shore-based squadrons utilized the aircraft. Progression with design and radar allowed the Corsairs to be used by carriers in early 1944. The Royal Navy and the New Zealand Air Force also incorporated the aircraft into their air fleets. Along with further altitude and improved engine modifications, the Corsair became one of the outstanding World War II aircrafts.
With the Korean War, the Corsairs were brought back to the forefront as they operated in the frigid weather and were able to successfully maneuver at night. On such a mission utilizing Corsairs, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, was shot down over Chosin. Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas J. Hudner made a valiant attempt to save Brown's life and later received the Medal of Honor for his actions. After the war, the aircraft were released from operational squadrons, though they continued as support craft for the following years.
An FG-1D Corsair is on display in the "In Harm's Way: Pacific" exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy, Bldg. 76.
Image: 80-G-62032: Vought F4U Corsair, February 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.