History of the Vaught F4U Corsair Plane (cont'd)
Due to the higher horsepower, the fuselage was lengthened by 5 inches (127 mm) and the engine angled down about 2º to provide more stability. Until the dash 5, the outer top wing panels and the control surfaces of the Corsair had been fabric covered. At speed, the fabric tended to deform and slow the aircraft by a few miles per hour. The F4U-5 had all fabric surfaces replaced with sheet duralumin to minimize this problem. Armament was the same as the F4U-4.
A few improvements were made solely for pilot comfort. Cockpit heating was
redesigned, controls were made easier to operate and/or automatic. Armrests were
installed on the seat, which reclined slightly. With the improvements and the
-32W engine, the dash five could operate very comfortably at altitudes
approaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters).
The AU-1 project began life as the F4U-6 but was quickly redesignated by the Navy to reflect its ground attack role. The dash six was never built. The AU-1 was produced solely for the US Marines during the height of the Korean War. Deliveries began in January 1952 and a total of 111 were supplied during the year. The AU-1 was powered by an R-2800-83W Double Wasp with a single stage supercharger, developing 2,300 hp (1,716.4 kW) for take off and 2,800 hp (2,089.6 kW) for War Emergency. Extra armor was added for protection from the small arms fire which would be encountered at the lower altitudes where the AU-1 would be working. It’s ground attack role was underlined by the statistics; max take-off weight was almost 10 tons (9071.9 kg) while the service ceiling was only 19,500 ft (5,943.6 m) and the maximum speed was a mere 238 mph (383 kph)! Ground attack required only enough speed to present a difficult target for ground fire and only enough altitude to properly aim it‘s weapons.
The AU-1 was armed with 10 rockets or 4,000 lbs (1,814.4 kg) of bombs, in addition to four wing mounted 20 mm cannon with 230 rounds per gun. A fully armed AU was an awesome war machine!
The F3A-1 was produced by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation and was identical to the F4U-1. Internal management problems at the corporation caused the Navy to end Brewster production in 1944 after over a year in which only 735 aircraft rolled off the Brewster assembly line.
Goodyear produced a number of Corsair planes models identical to the Vought models. But since it was easier to interrupt Goodyear production than Vought, some experimental models were also constructed. Most notably the F2G series which featured an entirely new engine; the Pratt-Whitney R-4360-4 "Wasp Major". The airframe received significant alterations in order to mount this engine. The Wasp Major could deliver 3,000 hp (2,238.8 kW) for take-off and 2,400 hp (1,791 kW) at 13,500 feet (4,114.8 m). Top speed was 431 at 16,400 ft (4,998.7 m). It was armed with four .50 cal. (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns with 300 rounds per gun, and could carry two 1,600 lb (725.8 kg) bombs on wing pylons. The F2G-1 was the land based version, while the F2G-2 was the carrier model. Although hundreds were on order by August 1945, only 5 examples of each were built due to cancellations at the end of hostilities. All ten of these were sold as surplus, and a few could be found at various air races around the country after the war.
The entire production run of the F4U-7 was tailored specifically for the French Navy (the "Aeronavale"). Ninety-four copies were built and all were sold to the Aeronavale. The dash seven was an upgrade of the AU-1 built specially for ground attack. Production of the dash seven began in June, 1952 and when the last one was delivered to the French in December of that year, the long production run of the Vought F4U Corsair came to an end.
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