Warbirds Online attended the Warbirds Downunder Airshow at Temora on the 20th and 21st of November 2015 and it was a great event. One of the feature attendees at the Airshow was Chance Vought Corsair F4U-5N, Bu No 124493 FAH603, VH-III.
The aircraft displayed several times at Temora and is a beautiful sounding machine on the ground and in the air. Corsairs are a large fighter in comparison to many of the other WWII fighters such as the Supermarine Spitfire and the North American P51 Mustang. A fact borne out when the Corsair took part in a WWII fighter flypast with two Curtiss P40s, two Spitfires and two Mustangs. The Corsair is a big elegant brute of an aircraft and conveys an impression of strength and power. The aircraft was flown by pilot Pete Clements who performed a series of solo demonstrations over the two days of the show and had the large audience spellbound.
To add to the display of “Yank Heavy Iron”, the Corsair put on a flypast with Grumman TBM-3E Avenger VH-VTB, recently restored to flight at Toowoomba Queensland and these two USA Naval types were quite a site as they cruised past the crowd much to the appreciation of all.
The Corsair was also very impressive on the ground, with its startup routine and the wing folding demonstration.
Chance Vought Corsair F4U-5NL History
The Corsair was delivered to U.S. Navy 1947 as Bu No 124493 Struck off active service with the United States Navy 1956 and then delivered to the Honduras Air Force (FAH) as FAH603 in March 1956. The aircraft served in Honduras for a number of years although its service there is not fully documented. It is believed the aircraft suffered a forced-landing accident at Toncontin Air Base in 1967 and was relegated to a scrapyard. FAH603 was recovered from Honduras in 1978 and then moved to George Heaven & Jim Nettle of Hollywood Wings, Long Beach, CA, 1978-1979 and stored and dismantled. She was then acquired by Peter W. Thelen, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1987 and then to Walt Disney Studios, 1987 as a composite restoration project. In 1987, the aircraft was donated to the RNZAF Museum in return for allowing RNZAF A4 Skyhawks to participate in a Walt Disney Film. RNZAF Museum, Wigram AB, Christchurch, NZ 1987 to 1996. Apparently the plan was for the Museum to rebuild the aircraft as a F4U-1 as used by the RNZAF, however before this was attempted, in 1996 the aircraft was exchanged for a P40-F (Now restored as an RNZAF P40E at Wigram NZ) with Graham Hoskins of Tyabb, Victoria, Australia.
The Corsair has undergone a full restoration to airworthiness in Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) which was carried out by Nobby Bartsch and his crew. The restoration was meticulous, down to the last nut and bolt.
Chance Vought Corsair F4U-5NL General Characteristics
- Crew: 1 pilot
- Length: 33 ft 6 in (10.1 m)
- Wingspan: 41 ft 0 in (12.5 m)
- Height: 14 ft 10 in (4.90 m)
- Wing area: 314 ft2 (29.17 m2)
- Empty weight: 9,583 lb (4,073 kg)
- Loaded weight: 12,902lb (6,300 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-32W radial engine, 2300 hp (1,678 kW) at takeoff – 1900 at 25,000 ft – 2760hp with water injection at sea level
- Maximum speed: 470 mph at 31,400ft
- Range: 1,036 mi (882 nmi (1,633 km))
- Service ceiling: 41,400 ft (12,620m)
- Rate of climb: 3,780ft/min (1,152 m/m)
- Guns: 4 × 20mm M3(T-31) Cannon with total of 924 rounds
- Rockets: 8 × 5 in (12.7 cm) High Velocity Aircraft Rockets and/or
- Bombs: 2,000 pounds (910 kg)
As one of the fastest and most dramatic of piston engine Warbirds, it is a fantastic addition to the airshow scene in Australia.
© John Parker 2015