Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The plane of the day today (click photos for larger version) is the famous F4U Corsair. I am not sure which variant this one is. You may remember these from the famous show "Baa Baa Black Sheep".
It was a welcome addition in '43 to the squadrons of Hellcats that our Marines were fighting with in the Pacific campaign. Eventually as our pilots got experience with them they dominated the Zero.
These photos were taken at Fantasy of Flight, just outside of Orlando. I am extremely disappointed with the photo of the plane itself. It is a beautiful Corsair, with wings folded as it would be stowed on an aircraft carrier - I must have had the flash off. My digital camera has the ability to review the photos instantly, however, and I am surprised that I would just leave without taking one more photo. Oh well.
The second photo is one of the many racks of engines that Fantasy of Flight has in their inventory. They trade them for parts or use them to restore an acquired airplane if one fits the bill. On the bottom left you can see that large silver thing with wires sticking out of it - that is an actual Corsair engine. It is approximately ten feet long and six feet tall. Here is a neat photo of a different Corsair getting restored and you can see the engine since the plane has the cowling off.
The Corsair was an immensely powerful machine. I wish I could remember which engine is pictured above. The original, the F4U-1A had a Pratt and Whitney R-2800-8. Here is a great photo of that engine, and here is some more information with a model and here is even more. The F2G, the most powerful Corsair (not many built) had the unbelievable Pratt and Whitney R-4360 28 cylinder engine, called the corncob because of its looks. Here is a great photo of one of these monsters cross sectioned so you can see how extremely complex they are. To give you some perspective, this engine was used on multi engine bombers as well as the Corsair.
Not only was the Corsair fast - it was the first American aircraft to go over 400 mph - but the plane was very complex. It was also heavily armed, sporting six wing mounted .50 cal machine guns in the wings. Later in the war it was fitted with rockets. Very few people today have the mechanical knowledge to fully restore one of these to flying condition.
If you are interested in more information on the Corsair, here is a great source.