5 Things You Never Knew About the F4U Corsair

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The F4U Corsair was an iconic fighter of the Pacific that protected American ships and went against the best of the Japanese aircraft. 

Here are the five relatively unknown facts about this legendary warbird: 

5. It received the nickname Ensign Eliminator

The airplane has two critical problems. With the plane’s big, long nose, pilots could easily lose sight of the carrier, and the landing zone. The second problem is when the plane slows down into the final landing phase, one of the wings would stall before the other. 

Due to the airplane’s relatively ‘deadly’ traits, the plane was instantly recognized to be deadly for inexperienced aviators. 

4. The first combat and kill of the F4U Corsair would take place on February 14, 1943- in a mission that could be known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

The Japanese would take down eight US aircraft in this engagement. Only one Japanese Zero was lost in this dogfight when an F4U Corsair piloted by Gordon Lyon Jr would collide with a Zero, destroying both aircraft and killing both pilots in action. 

3. The Corsair of the Royal Navy and its unique story

In addition to an enhanced landing approach, the Royal Navy would make physical changes to the plane that enhanced performance. 

All of their Corsairs had clipped wings to enhance stall characteristics on approach, allowing a safer plane for pilots. Other changes include raising the pilot seat and altering the canopy both for enhanced visibility. 

2. Fighting with former friendlies

The first would take place during the Korean War when the corsair found itself to be in a dogfight with the Soviet Yak-9. This was the first battle between the former friendlies. The Yak-9 was previously an allied fighter on the side of the Americans in WWII. 

Another time was during an obscure conflict known as the Soccer War, between El Salvador and Honduras. The Honduran Air Force would send F4U Corsairs. From the El Salvadoran side, one of the aircraft that would be used as the P-51 Mustang. 

For four days, two of the most iconic American aircraft of WWII would be pitted against each other. 

1. The Germans Capture a Corsair

On July 18, 1944, a British Corsair flown by Lt. Mathaly experience problems, forcing him to make an emergency landing at a German airfield where he was taken custody and his aircraft was seized. 

However, Mathaly refused to tell the interrogators how to fold the wings, making the transport difficult. When it was finally transported, it joined the captured aircraft group of the German military aviation test facility and was studied by the Luftwaffe. This was the only Corsair to be taken into German hands.