FG-1D Corsair Project at Platinum Fighter Sales

FG-1D Corsair BuNo.92106 sitting in the Vintage Wings of Canada hangar in Gatineau, Quebec. The airframe is complete, albeit damaged. (image via Platinum Fighter Sales)

As many readers may have noticed, Platinum Fighter Sales recently added a significant airframe to the already notable list of warbirds which they presently have on offer, this being Goodyear-built FG-1D Corsair BuNo.92106. This Oshkosh award-winning aircraft, operated for many years by Vintage Wings of Canada from their base in Gatineau, Quebec, is sadly in need of a major rebuild following a ground loop incident at Gatineau Executive Airport in July, 2019.

A picture of the FG-1D in happier days, flying in the colors of Lt.Robert Hampton Gray’s Corsair Mk.IV KD658 at Gatineau. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Goodyear Aircraft completed BuNo.92106 at their factory in Akron, Ohio during the Spring of 1945, with the U.S. Navy formally accepting her on May 17th. According to her movement card, the aircraft did make it out to the Pacific Theatre before the end of WWII, but did not see combat, returning Stateside in early 1946. After coming home, the Corsair joined the pool at NAS Norfolk in Virginia, and then at NAS Jacksonville in Florida before flying with Naval Reserve units in New Orleans, Seattle, Grosse Ile, Dallas, and Spokane. The Navy struck her at NAS Spokane in Washington State on September 9th, 1954 after a 1,437 hour military flying career. Len Berryman acquired the aircraft as surplus in May 1958, and moved it by road to his place in Bridgeport, Washington, putting the old fighter on display at the eponymous Berryman Park (which still features several military aircraft and relics in its war memorial area). Here the Corsair sat until the early 1970s when the legendary David Tallichet worked out a deal for its acquisition. 92106 had not flown in nearly two decades by this point, but the Corsair was cajoled into a flyable condition for the journey down to Tallichet’s base in Chino, California. Given that the ferry pilot didn’t trust the hydraulics, he chose to make the flight to Chino with the Corsair’s landing gear locked down (and tail hook removed)… it must have been quite a daunting journey for him! Once at Chino, Tallichet had the aircraft more formally refurbished, registering it as N6897 with the FAA. By the mid-seventies, 92106 was performing in the role for which she is now famous for, acting the part of a VMF-214 Corsair in the TV show Baa Baa Blacksheep, which depicted the largely fictionalized accounts of Gregory ‘Pappy’ Boyington and his ‘Blacksheep’ as they ‘duked it out’ with the Imperial Japanese Navy in the South Pacific during WWII. 92106 had a starring role in this theatre, flying alongside several other Corsairs and vintage warbirds. After her TV antics, 92106 went through a long period in dormancy, gathering dust at the back of Tallichet’s hangar in Chino, California. Gary Kohs purchased the aircraft from Tallichet in 1989. Well known for his extraordinary company Fine Art Models, which produces exacting miniature replicas of celebrated mechanical objects (including two spectacular 1:15 scale Corsair variants), Gary Kohs commissioned John Lane to restore his FG-1D to factory-fresh condition at Lane’s workshop, Airpower Unlimited, in Jerome, Idaho. Lane worked his magic on the Corsair, which looked magnificent following his team’s efforts, indeed so magnificent that the aircraft won the Experimental Aircraft Association’s prestigious “Grand Champion: World War II” award at Oshkosh in August, 2003. Soon after this, Mike Potter acquired the Corsair for Vintage Wings of Canada, based in Gatineau, Quebec. The aircraft soon became a crowd favorite, now dressed as a Royal Navy Corsair Mk.IV (KD658) which a Canadian, Lt. Robert Hampton Grey, flew with 1841 Squadron aboard HMS Formidable during the closing months of WWII. As most will know, Hampton earned a posthumous Victoria Cross in KD658, sinking the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Amakusa off the Japanese coast in Onagawa Bay on August 9th, 1945.

One of the Corsairs most dramatic displays with Vintage Wings of Canada took place during a nighttime photoshoot on the ramp ouside their hangar at Gatineau Executive Airport in September, 2011. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Vintage Wings of Canada operated the Corsair successfully for nearly two decades, displaying her at many locations in Northeastern North America. She often took part in flyovers for veterans too. Sadly, however, in the workup to attend the great Corsair gathering organized by the Yankee Air Museum in Michigan during the summer of 2019, the Corsair experienced a problem on rollout after a test flight in Gatineau, Quebec. The aircraft departed the runway, ending up in a drainage ditch which caused significant structural damage to the airframe. Thankfully, the well-loved and highly experienced pilot at the aircraft’s controls was not seriously injured, although the incident did leave him with a broken rib and bad bruises. Since the accident, the Corsair has remained in storage while its owner pondered its fate. With much reluctance, they finally chose not to restore the aircraft themselves, and are seeking offers for the Corsair “as-is, where-is”.

So it is left to another enterprising soul to restore this once magnificent aircraft back to its former glory. While the restoration will be a demanding task, especially given the nature of the type’s spot-welded construction, there is a substantial amount of reusable structure to work with – and given how rare and desirable the Corsair is, especially those models produced during WWII, the fully-restored FG-1D will surely justify the resources committed to its achievement. Hopefully someone in Canada can pick up the reigns so that this fighter can continue to serve as a memorial to Canadian and other Royal Navy pilots who flew the Corsair during WWII.

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