The F4U Corsair is considered one of the most-successful aircraft of World War Two.
Developed as a carrier-launched fighter, it was initially diverted to the Marine Corps where it earned high marks for speed, dogfighting capabilities and for delivering a variety of ordnance in support of ground troops.
Its first variant was nicknamed the "birdcage" because of a characteristic canopy, with visibility improved with a raised seat and "bubble top" canopy in later versions.
Its powerful Double Wasp engine made it harder to fly and likely to bounce on carrier decks; in addition, the earlier version tended to stall. But the raised cockpit, the addition of a "stall strip" and pressurizing landing gear struts corrected these problems.
Eventually the Corsair was embraced by both the USMC and the Navy.
Aviation historian Dana Bell
has written a two volume set of books about the Corsair published by Classic Warships Publishing
. Volume One has been reviewed here on Aeroscale
. This review is of Volume Two.
Volume One covered the Corsair's development and early variants, including a wealth of engine, cockpit, and other photos for super-detailers.
Volume Two has fewer such photos, focusing instead on the various roles played by the plane, both under other flags and as a photo-reconnaissance platform, carrier-based plane, fighter-bomber and long-range interceptor fitted with external fuel tanks.
- Pages 2-5: The text portion of the book covers the raised cabin, external stores & pylons, 20mm cannons, export models to Britain and New Zealand, and versions by Brewster and Goodyear.
There is then some discussion about the return of the Corsairs to carrier groups, followed by detailed paragraphs on the plane's equipment, including the engine, radio, fuel tanks and navigational gear.
- pages 5-6 have the various serial number ranges for buffs looking to know about a particular plane.
- Pages 7-13: The photos begin on page 7 and show off the plane's distinctive profile from the raised cabin and "bubble top" canopy.
Fans of British aviation will appreciate the attention to the 2,000 Corsairs built by Vought, Brewster and Goodyear for the Fleet Air Arm.
Each of the features described in the first section is illustrated here, including the 20mm wing cannons, ordnance pylons, and even the thicker Hamilton Standard 6526a-21 prop.
Photos also cover post-war Corsairs, since the plane continued flying through the Korean War and right into the 1960s in foreign service.
- Pages 14-17: While volume 1 has extensive detail photos, volume 2 picks up the changes to the aircraft, including a pressurized ignition system, firewall-mounted oil tank and water injection system.
- Pages 18-27: Photos of crashed Corsairs turn up a lot in both books,I assume because they were intended as incident records, but which now give us a good look at individual aircraft.
This volume is no different in that regard. The section also included close-ups of the "bubble top" canopy (eight pages worth!). Page 28 even has a line drawing of the pilot's seat in the raised cabin configuration.
- Pages 29-31: A lovely color photograph of the cowling removed for service opens up the next section on the cockpit, Super detailers will be happy to see the various dials and levers close up.
Bell has chosen not to repeat the same visuals as volume 1, so I strongly suggest both books be purchased together.
- Pages 32-33: These two pages are color drawings showing the Corsair in FAA service.
- Pages 34-35: More photos of the cockpit.
- Pages 36-37: These two pages have gorgeous color photos of planes on island air strips.
- Pages 38-47: One of the outstanding features of the Corsair was its ability to deliver a variety of ordnance, as well as be equipped with external fuel tanks.
This section of the book includes crisp, clear, detailed photos of these additional components, including the 1,000 pound centerline bomb rack developed by Brewster.
The Corsair was also known for the 3.5" and 5" rockets carried four-per under each wing, and Bell has included spectacular photos of them. Page 47 in particular has close-ups of the pylons that should delight super-detailers.
- Page 48: While definitely martial in temperament, the Corsair was also a recce platform, and there are close-up photos of the cameras and lenses installed.
- Pages 49-50: Goodyear-built planes had a distinctive welded tail wheel extension, so these are highlighted, along with the three separate tail wheel doors.
- Page 51 Documents the 20mm cannons mounted in the wings of some Corsairs, and this is followed by various items, including the stall sensor, folded wing mounting attachment, gun cameras, more rocket pylons and finally the Andover Kent fiberglass wing tips.
- Pages 61-72: The book winds up with more crystal photos of Corsairs, including Lt. Ira C. Kepford's plane with its 16 victory markings.
The late Corsairs seem to have been mostly Sea Blue, and this is apparent from some of the photos, including the U.S.S. Bunker Hill's squadrons of Corsairs parked with wings folded on p. 64.
Finally the book ends with three pages of 1/48th scale line drawings for those who can't get enough information.
I can't imagine building a Corsair in any scale without these two invaluable reference works.
Each book provides a wealth of rare photos, detailed looks at the airplane's components and fascinating variants not normally seen.
The modeler looking to detail a kit or scratchbuild components not otherwise present will be grateful for the help, and anyone interested in this fascinating and legendary aircraft should be sure to pick up the set.
Thanks to Dana Bell
and Classic Warships Publications
for this review copy.
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