Kenneth Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1933 at the age of 17. He was trained as a Naval Aviator in 1937, earning his pilot’s wings while still a private. By February 1943 Walsh was a 1LT, serving with VMF-124 on Guadalcanal. He opened his account on 01APR43 with a triple, scoring another three on 13MAY43 which made him the first pilot to make ace on the Corsair. He continued to add to his score, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for 20 victories. He returned to combat in 1945, serving in the Philippines and scoring his last victory off Okinawa on 22JUN45. Walsh flew transports with VMR-152 during the Korean War, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1958.
The model represents the F4U-1 Corsair of Lt. Kenneth Walsh USMC, VMF-124, as it appeared while operating from Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 1943.
A Corsair from VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” noses over after encountering the barrier aboard the USS Bunker Hill CV-17 in early 1943. The deck planking shows evidence of earlier repairs, suggesting this is not the only such incident to have occurred.
A hard landing aboard HMS Smiter has mangled the landing gear leg of this Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair II. The wear pattern on the forward portion of the wing at the root is caused by mechanics servicing the engine and was commonly seen on Corsairs. (Imperial War Museum)
The end of the road for this F4U-4 of VA-74, which is missing the outboard section of its port wing. The carrier is the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) in 1949.
The Landing Signals Officer looks on as this F4U-4 of VMF-322 goes over the side of the USS Sicily (CVE-118) on 14OCT49. (NNAM.1996.253.7157.063)
This F4U-1D was involved in a mid-air collision, but was able to recover aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). However, the jolt of engaging the arresting wire has separated the tail section, leaving the rest of the aircraft to continue on down the deck …
… where it eventually slid into the ship’s island. Deck crews have already strapped a dolly under the fuselage. Note the stripped-down jeep, which were used on several carriers as towing vehicles.
Most Navy aircraft types were capable of remaining afloat for at least a few minutes, giving time for the crew to escape. The US Navy routinely positioned a destroyer directly behind an aircraft carrier to quickly rescue aircrew, designating the station as “plane guard”.
Firefighting crews go to work on a Fleet Air Arm Corsair aboard HMS Illustrious. Fire aboard ship is a serious threat, even with the armored flight decks of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers.
A similar scene aboard USS Bennington (CV-20) on 14FEB45. The hose team is using a spray applicator to knock the flames down. Note that they have approached the fire from up-wind and are using the wing of the aircraft to protect themselves from the flames.
A crane is used to right this F4U-1 on Torokina, Bougainville in 1943, the aircraft is from VMF-214 “Black Sheep”. This Corsair is somewhat rare in that it carries nose art, this is Ed Olander’s “Marine’s Dream”, BuNo 02576.
Part I here:
A factory-fresh F4U showing details of the landing gear. A total of 12,571 Corsairs were produced. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A study in paint wear. This F4U-1A is seen at Munda Point during the last months of 1943. It was assigned to VMF-214, a Marine squadron.
A view of the underside of a birdcage Corsair in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme. The folding portion of the wings were painted Blue Gray so they would better blend in with an aircraft carrier’s Deck Blue flight deck when the wings were folded. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
This Corsair carries a bomb rack under the wing. Even though this is a comparatively new aircraft the paint has already begun to wear at the ring root where mechanics stand while servicing the engine.
The same aircraft from a different angle. The white dots on the fuselage are factory inspection stickers. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A posed photograph of a brand-new Corsair, showing details of the wheels. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A Navy Lieutenant Commander in his “choker whites” summer dress uniform poses for the photographer. Interestingly, the propeller on this Corsair displays the pre-war warning stripes on the tips.
Another shot of a factory fresh birdcage Corsair. The radio mast was offset to starboard to allow an unobstructed view through the gunsight.
A sentry armed with a shotgun protects the aircraft as they roll off the assembly lines. Sabotage was a constant concern which never materialized. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
A derelict F4U-4 at Blythe, CA. The outer wing panels were covered in fabric, which has mostly rotted away on this aircraft.
Part I here:
A fine study of a Corsair in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme showing how the grime can build up on the inner wings. On this aircraft the cowl flaps have been installed without regard to color. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Corsair was a beautiful aircraft from any angle. The bent wings were adopted to allow ground clearance for the 13-foot propeller, giving the Corsair its distinct appearance. (LIFE Magazine)
Artwork on Corsairs was a rarity compared to types operated by the USAAF. Here is a close-up of a FAA Corsair displaying a colorful image of Donald Duck.
The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm ordered over 500 Corsairs. The examples here are seen in the Temperate Sea Scheme with the last three digits of their serial numbers roughly sprayed on their cowls.
A Fleet Air Arm Corsair showing details of the wing fold mechanism. The three dark circles near the wingtip are colored recognition lights, red, green, and amber.
A Marine from VMF-511 inspects the guns of this F4U-1D aboard the USS Bock Island (CVE 106). The covers for the ammunition feed trays were interchangeable, this has disrupted the bar of the insignia on the port wing as Glossy Sea Blue panels have been substituted for white, a common occurrence.
One of the first Corsairs off the production lines, this is BuNo 02170. She is seen in the standard Blue Gray over Light Gray Scheme in September 1942. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The photographer has caught this Corsair cycling its landing gear. The wheels turned 90 degrees when retracted to lie flat within the wings. (LIFE Magazine)
A Marine Corsair of VMF-222 on Barakoma Field, Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands in November 1943. This is BuNo 03833. She wears a Graded Scheme camouflage which is already showing fading and wear under the harsh South Pacific sun.
An atmospheric photograph of a birdcage Corsair semi-silhouetted in the glare. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Part III here:
The first of the breed! This is XF4U-1 BuNo 1143 seen in 1940. The prototype flew just 1n time to be painted in the colorful US Navy “Yellow Wings” scheme.
Early production Corsairs had a framed canopy center section, leading to the nickname “birdcage Corsairs”. Although the paint is rather worn and faded, the white dots visible on the fuselage are factory inspection stickers. Note the primer showing through at the forward wing root, and the fading of the fabric wing panels and ailerons. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Although designed as a fighter, the Corsair could carry an impressive bomb load. This F4U-1D is seen hauling two 1,000-pound bombs beneath the fuselage. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Corsair was kept in service after the war, even as several other types were retired in the general de-mobilization which followed. Here is a rather worn F4U-4 in overall Glossy Sea Blue of VBF-82 aboard the USS Randolph (CV-15) in 1946.
The XF4U-3 was designed to provide the Marines with a high-altitude interceptor by fitting a turbocharged Pratt & Whitney XR 2800-16 engine and four bladed prop. The turbocharger inlet is visible under the fuselage in this photograph. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A fine study of one of the three XF4U-3 prototypes. Problems with the engine resulted in fitting a Pratt & Whitney R 2800-14 engine instead, the aircraft achieving an impressive speed of 480 mph at 40,000 feet. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Torokina Airfield on Bouganville provides the standard South Pacific setting for this Corsair as it taxies out on the Marston mat runway.
Several Marine squadrons employed the Corsair primarily in the close air support mission. This aircraft is being prepped for another mission to add to her already-impressive scoreboard.
The FG-1D of Marine Lt Leroy Anheuser displays his Ace of Hearts emblem. The aircraft was assigned to VMF-122, based on Peleiu during 1944-45.
Marine 1Lt Jeremiah O’Keefe of VMF-323 poses in the cockpit of his Corsair on Okinawa. O’Keefe downed five Japanese aircraft during a single sortie on 22APR45, and an additional two on 28APR45. He was awarded the Navy Cross.
Part II here: