May 29, 1940 - The Chance Vought F4U Corsair (right) flies for the first time. Entering service at the end of 1942, the Corsair became one of the most feared American fighters of World War II. Designed by Rex Beisel and Igor Sikorsky, the F4U Corsair was created in response to the US Navy's 1938 request for a new carrier-based fighter. Centered on the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, the Corsair first flew on May 29, 1940. Featuring distinctive inverted gull wings, the Corsair suffered from numerous problems during development and several changes needed to made to the main landing gear, tail wheel and tailhook to allow for carrier landings. While the aircraft was being modified for safe carrier use, it entered service with the US Marines. Arriving in the South Pacific in late 1942, it quickly became popular with pilots due to its high speed, heavy armament, and ability to outperform the Japanese A6M Zero. Once the F4U's carrier issues were resolved, it became one of the US Navy's principal fighters along with the F6F Hellcat. Retained after World War II, the Corsair later saw service during the Korean War.
World War II - US Navy Aircraft:
- Grumman F4F Wildcat
- Douglas SBD Dauntless
- Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
- Douglas TBD Devastator
- Grumman TBM/TBF Avenger
Photograph Courtesy of the US Navy