The whole clan, including me and the kids, went to an air show at Flying Cloud Airport this past weekend. There was tons of cool stuff there, but my favorite-- and my primary reason for wanting to go-- was to see my favorite airplane of all time, the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair. I recorded some short clips of it taxiing, taking off, and flying over-- check them out here.
Ignore the weird propeller speed-- that was due to the default shutter speed on my phone's camera, which I didn't know how to change. I could have also lived without the corny music and the dude on the PA system-- but what can you do. The average American's attention span is about two seconds, so they need all of the added B.S. or their minds stray.
As I explained to my kids, at the beginning of World War II, the US really struggled in the aerial department. The Japanese planes may have been made out of paper mache and cardboard, but boy were they maneuverable compared to the heavy, can't-climb-or-turn early US fighters such as the Grumman F4F Wildcat. The early-war US pilots could only compete through elaborate tactics, like luring Japanese Zero aircraft head-on into their wingmen.
This era was the most exciting in the history of aviation, because the world went from biplanes in 1939 to jet aircraft in 1944. Already by 1942 then, a second generation of US aircraft entered the war. These planes were not only heavily armored, but had fifty caliber machine guns, self-sealing fuel tanks, and they were faster than hell, could turn, and climb like crazy. The first of this wave of aircraft was the Corsair.
It had a 2000 hp engine and a massive thirteen foot propeller! They had lots of issues with the propeller literally scraping the ground. The final solution wound up being a funky wing shape, so they could position the landing gear just so. The Corsair could go over 400 mph, and had a whopping 11-to-1 kill ratio over its Japanese counterparts. During the slow fly-by in my video, I bet the pilot was at thirty percent throttle. The plane's only downside is that at low speeds it tended to stall to the left, unfortunately killing some young pilots-in-training, and earning the nickname "The Ensign Eliminator."
Just like many of my other favorite planes, such as the A-10 Warthog and the SR-71 Blackbird, the F4U Corsair had tons of custom engineering and improvised thinking, lending it tons of personality and character. It was also "best in class" at what it did.