A reunion of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, the unique, inverted gullwing fighter perhaps best known for its exploits in the South Pacific during WWII, will be amongst the warbird highlights at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023. The 70th edition of EAA’s fly-in convention is set to take place this year between July 24th and 30th at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“With only about two dozen flying examples of the Corsair remaining in North America, the opportunity to bring together the largest-possible group of these unforgettable aircraft at Oshkosh was one we had to organize,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “This airplane recently marked the 80th anniversary of its introduction to the U.S. military and remains a favorite warbird among many enthusiasts. Our goal is to create a memorable program with several activities that feature the Corsairs on ground display and in the air.”
Corsair owners are encouraged to join this unique reunion by contacting Chris Henry at the EAA Aviation Museum (CHenry@EAA.org) for further details and registration information.
The Corsair received heightened attention at the end of 2022 with the release of the major motion picture Devotion, which recognized the Korean War exploits of Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Hudner and his wingman Jesse Brown, the first Black U.S. naval aviator. A screening of this movie will take place during AirVenture at the event’s Fly-In Theater, with descendants of the Brown and Hudner families invited to participate.
In addition, visitors will have the opportunity during most of the week to visit the newly-opened Corsair display inside the EAA Aviation Museum, which is open to all attendees as part of their AirVenture admission fee. This exhibit honors both Brown and Hudner, and includes a Vought F4U-4 Corsair which Hudner actually flew on a subsequent deployment in the early 1950s, painted with its original VF-32 squadron markings.
The Chance Vought F4U Corsair first flew in May, 1940, with the first examples entering U.S. service on December 28th, 1942. Its unusual, inverted gull-wing design resulted from the initial concept for the fighter to use the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine with the largest diameter propeller practical. Since the landing gear had to be study enough for carrier operations and light enough to permit the fighter’s legendary performance, it had to be short. This resulted in the ‘bent’ wing approach, so that the short undercarriage (mounted at the lowest point of the wing’s bend) would still allow enough ground clearance for the propeller blade during take off and landing. With a top speed of more than 450 mph, powerful armament, rugged construction and ability to carry a significant payload over enormous distances, the aircraft earned a sterling reputation for its combat performance and ability to bring its pilots home.
Notably, Corsairs also served in combat in large numbers with Britain’s Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force during World War Two, and the French Navy afterwards. Famously, Corsairs also saw combat in Latin America as late as 1969, indeed many of today’s surviving airframes (and a majority of those still flying) are veterans of this diverse service.