RNZAF FG-1D Corsair Flies Again

New Zealand's Last Surviving FG-1D Corsair Has Flown Again

Photo: Alex Mitchell, Historical Aviation Film Unit

Via Historical Aviation Film Unit

On September 1st, the ex-RNZAF FG-1D Corsair NZ5648, previously owned and operated by the Old Stick and Rudder Company flew from Hood Aerodrome in Masterton to Omaka Aerodrome near Blenheim. The aircraft has not been seen in the air for a number of years and Kiwi fans of the aircraft feared it may never see the wind beneath its wings again. However, the Corsair is now at Omaka Aerodrome under the attentive care of JEM Aviation, and over the next few weeks will be undergoing a thorough schedule of maintenance to ensure it’s ready for the upcoming New Zealand airshow display season.

Photo: Alex Mitchell, Historical Aviation Film Unit

The Corsair was ferried across the Cook Strait to Omaka by Frank Parker. New owner Mike Jones was able to accompany the delivery, flying escort with Bevan Dewes in Bevan’s Harvard.

The aircraft was constructed as an FG-1D by Goodyear and taken on strength/charge with the United States Navy with BuNo 88391. On August 17, 1945, it was taken on strength/charge by the Royal New Zealand Air Force with s/n NZ5648. ​ A complete history of the airplane can be found HERE, courtesy of Aero Visuals.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Corsair fighter planes flying over Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II. Photographed in 1944 by an unidentified photographer. Photo via National Library of New Zealand

In 1942, the threat of attack seemed real, the city of Darwin was bombed, New Guinea invaded and Japanese reconnaissance aircraft overflew Auckland and Wellington. The New Zealand Government hurriedly formed 488’s battle-experienced pilots into the RNZAF’s first fighter unit, the No. 14 Squadron. As the British Government was unable to supply the aircraft needed and requested by New Zealand in 1942, negotiations between the United States and New Zealand Governments took place, and a Mutual Aid Agreement (Lease/Lend) was signed.  The RNZAF then began to receive supplies of Corsairs. n total there were 237 F4U-1’s and 127 F4U-1D’s used by the RNZAF during the WWII.

This first flight was a sanctioned ferry flight to reposition the aircraft from its previous location in Masterton to an airfield with an appropriate engineering base. According to the Historical Aviation Film Unit, it appears that Auckland businessman Mike Jones has purchased the aircraft and that he has every intention of keeping the aircraft flying in New Zealand.

Mike has told HAFU: “After NZ5648 returned to New Zealand in 2004, the Corsair became my favorite aircraft but I didn’t think I’d ever have the chance to obtain and operate one. With a historic connection to New Zealand’s campaigns in the Pacific during WWII this aircraft is so loved by Kiwi enthusiasts that it seemed that buying it and being the next custodian, at least for the foreseeable future, was the best thing to do. I’ve had some great support from New Zealand’s top warbird operators and organizations, and that’s enabled me to develop a plan to operate the Corsair.”

Already aware of Kiwi enthusiast’s concerns about the aircraft wearing American colors, Mike has said: “We do want to have the aircraft in a more representative RNZAF color scheme, but we’re not sure what form that will take, or how quickly we’ll be able to achieve it. In the first instance, we may simply overpaint the US star ‘n’ bar insignia with RNZAF roundels, just as would have been done in the field in the islands in 1944 when the first ex-US aircraft arrived for the RNZAF. But any changes to the color scheme will come a bit later—our top priority at the moment is to try and get the necessary maintenance done on the aircraft so it can be displayed at the Wings Over Wairarapa Air Festival in November (2023).

​For video and more details on this exciting development, click the video below. Make sure to visit Historical Aviation Film Unit, for more historic aviation videos.


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