Editor’s Note: The Aviation History in KSP articles will feature historically significant aircraft with pictures and articles (and eventually videos) showcased from aircraft made by us in Kerbal Space Program. Please check out Kerbal Space program, if you like aviation and rocketry you’ll love KSP.
When people think about the Pacific Theatre during World War II, one of the first aircraft that comes to mind is the iconic Corsair. Chance-Vought designed the Corsair in order to compete for aircraft requests from the Navy made in 1938.¹ After testing and development the Navy found a serious issue with the Corsair, its propeller was so large that when landing on aircraft carriers it would hit the deck, which was detrimental not only to the prop but also the wooden decks that aircraft carriers still used at that time. With a thirteen foot diameter propeller, there was not much that Chance-Vought could do, but what if they made the landing gear stick down farther? How could they do that, if they made the gear any longer they would likely be weaker and snap when landing. Finally they came up with the solution, make the wing into an upside down gull design. With this design the landing gear could pick up the front of the aircraft far enough to allow prop to clear the deck.
Unfortunately this flaw put the delivery of Corsairs back several years, at which time the Navy had adopted the F-6 Hellcat. The majority of Corsairs went to the United States Marine Corps, which desperately needed better aircraft to go up against the Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero.” Before Marine Corps squadrons received the Corsair they were using outdated equipment that were almost no match for the Japanese aces. The Marine’s aircraft roster included the Brewster Buffalo as well as the underpowered F4 Wildcat, and the Corsair was the fix they needed.
With their new aircraft they could once again tame the skies above the Pacific. The Corsair saw extensive use from the Marine’s bases that popped up on many islands throughout the war, and performed quite well against the under-armored Zero. Thanks to Chance-Vought, America was able to win the war in the skies, pushing the Pacific Front closer to mainland Japan, bringing the end of the war nearer.
The most notable media the Corsair received was from the iconic series Baa Baa Black Sheep. VMF-214, both in real life and on the screen ruled the skies above the Marine’s island hopping campaigns. Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington led the Black Sheep to an overwhelming aerial dominance thanks to the F-4U’s durability and superior armament. The United States ended WWII with a nearly 11:1 “kill” ratio, meaning that for every American aircraft lost eleven enemy planes were shot down.
Make sure to check in as we look back at other iconic aircraft throughout the year. Fly safe, and tighten up you “meatheads.”²
¹ Facts about the Navy’s requests and other info used in this article check out http://www.f4ucorsair.com/history.html
² Pappy was always remembered for pushing his men to perform better, and showed the world what it really meant to be an ace and what America (and the Corsair) could do.
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