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Calling all F4U Corsair experts.


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I want to build a tribute F4U to a friend I knew in Miami many years ago, Captain James Wilkens, USMC. To put this in context, Jim flew with VMF-225 out of Espiritu Santo and Guam (?) and saw combat beginning in March of ’44. According to his Flight Log his missions were bombing, strafing and CAP. He told me that he never saw a Japanese aircraft in the air. Jim went on to fly VMF-312 F4U-4’s in Korea where he became an unwitting participant in another flyer winning the Medal of Honor.

Story is HERE if you’re interested.

 

Regardless, here's my dilemma. The vast majority of Corsairs he flew were F4U-1’s and I’d rather not build a birdcage.

The other Corsairs along with the serial numbers listed in his log are:

 

F4U-1D #57458, 57427, 57449, 57592, 57427

My question here is, were F4U-1D’s ever painted in the trim-color scheme?

 

FG-1A #14069 and 13370

To the best of my knowledge, FG-1A’s were basically F4U-1A’s built by Goodyear and indistinguishable from those Vought built.... for model building purposes anyway.

 

F4U-? #17440

I can’t tell from my poor photocopy what variant this one is and my list of serial numbers starts with 17647 so this one really has me confused. Any help identifying this one will be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks!

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Hi Woody.  I'm no expert on the F4U but I have Dana Bell's books on the Corsair and he's the closest thing I know to an expert if he's not one.  Using his two volumes on the F4U-1, I'll try and answer your questions.

 

1. Were F4U-1D's ever painted in the tri-color scheme?  Yes, F4U-1D's prior to BuNo. 57084 (Vought), were painted in the tri-color scheme (actually this camo had four tones - see Bell's Corsair Volume 1 for specifics) (Bell, Vol. 2 p. 6).  The first production F4U-1D for the U.S. Navy was BuNo. 50360 (Bell, Vol. 2, p.43).  Apparently there were no FG-1D's built by Goodyear before the change to Gloss Sea Blue paint.

 

2. Corsair BuNo. 17440 was indeed a "Birdcage" F4U-1 (Bell, Vol. 1, p. 5).

 

If Dana peeks his head in here and sees this thread, he may choose to elaborate on the information as he sees necessary.  Lacking that, his two volumes on the Corsair are invaluable references (as is the third book he has on Corsair cockpits) and if you've got a mind to, the links in my references below will bring you to Amazon.com where you can purchase these two volumes...well worth the cost, let me tell you.

 

REFERENCES:

 

Bell, D. (2014). Aircraft pictorial No. 7, F4U-1 Corsair Volume 1, Classic Warships Publishing, AZ (p. 5)

Bell, D. (2015). Aircraft pictorial No. 8, F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2. Classic Warships Publishing, AZ (pp 6, 43)

Edited by Juggernut
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9 hours ago, Juggernut said:

Yes, F4U-1D's prior to BuNo. 57084 (Vought), were painted in the tri-color scheme (actually this camo had four tones

 

Okay, that settles it. Since all the ones in his log were built after 57084 I'm going with one of the FG-1A's.
Now I have to look into this 4-color paint thing. 

Thank you!

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Well, look what I found. 

 

Glancing through another reference book The Vought F4U Corsair, Morrissey and Hegedus, pg 36 I happened across a reference that the tail designation F4U-1A wasn't used during the war, instead it was just F4U-1. So I went digging through the log book and sure enough Jim had listed under Type of Machine, F4U-1 but the Number of Machine was 56396, 56078, 56149, 56218 which according to my interpretation of the serial numbers on page 5 of Dana Bell's book (vol 2) makes these F4U-1A's. Seems Jim looked at the tail designation and entered F4U-1 in his log book.

Is my assumption correct?

 

Forgive me if I'm wandering all over the place with this, but I want to get this right despite my rank amateur attempts.

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Yes, the -1A  suffix was never used officially, they were all -1's, until the -1C and -1D, which were official.  I think Dana explains that as well in his book, someplace but used the -1A to maintain a sense of difference between raised cockpit F4U-1's and what we call "birdcage" F4U-1's.

Edited by Juggernut
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