This collectable model Navy F4U-1 Corsair represents one of the pinnacles of piston-engine fighter development, an aircraft that saw service in two wars. Painted as it appeared in Navy service, this model Corsair is painstakingly built from Philippine mahogany by skilled craftsmen using a wealth of detail. This 1/48-scale model F4U-1 Corsair makes a great pilot gift, or a present for any veteran, aviation enthusiast or history buff.
The Corsair was one of the great fighter-bombers of World War II and Korea, and remained in production longer than any other piston-engine fighter in U.S. history. Its distinctive inverted gull-wing profile and long nose made it one of the most distinctive piston aircraft ever built, and able to reach speed approaching 450 mph, one of the fastest.
Development of the Corsair began in 1938, with the first flight of the XF4U-1 on May 29, 1940. It used the largest piston-engine available at the time, the 18-cylinder, 2,000-horsepower Double Wasp radial coupled to a 13-foot diameter propeller. The distinctive wing design came about from the need for long underwing struts to allow clearance for the large prop.
Armed with six .50-caliber machine guns and able to carry rockets or 2,000 pounds of bombs, the Corsair was a formidable weapons system. However, the Corsair faced a number of teething problems that slowed its introduction to the fleet. Its long nose presented visibility problems on landing, and the inverted gull-wing presented problems in spin recovery.
Marine squadrons, not as concerned about carrier suitability, took to the powerful fighter. By 1944, the Corsair had once again been introduced to carrier service. Corsairs were flown by the famous ""Black Sheep"" Squadron (VMF-214, led by Marine Maj. Gregory ""Pappy"" Boyington) in an area of the Solomon Islands called ""The Slot"". Boyington was credited with 22 kills in F4Us (of 28 total, including six in a Flying Tigers P-40 Warhawk).
VF-17, the Jolly Rogers, also flew Corsairs. On Nov. 11, 1943, Lt. Ira Kepford, during a strike at Rabaul, shot down four enemy aircraft, winning a Navy Cross for his exploits. By February 1944, Kepford was the Navys leading ace, with 16 victories. In his five months of combat duty, Kepford earned two Navy Crosses, the Gold Star, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal, Unit Commendation to VF-17, and the American Defense Service Medal.
In Korea, the Corsair served as a fighter-bomber, including as a night fighter. Corsairs served in the air forces of many nations, and flew its last combat sortie in 1969, in the Football War of 1969 between Honduras and El Salvador.