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View Full Version : The F4U Corsair... Just plain weird



totalspoon
05-02-2007, 08:10 PM
Has anybody else noticed what a archaic and weird the design of the F4U-1 is? Let me point out a few items.

1. The F4U had fabric overed outer wing sections. Even the russians had abandoned fabric covered wings by the end of the war.

2. Bent wings. Every other designer managed to build his fighter without the extra weight (needed to strengthen the bend) and complexity of designing a bent wing. I know this meant the undercarrage could be shorter but it seems a weird compromise to me.

3. Spot welding. WW2 aircraft were riveted together. Rivets can be drilled out, damaged sections/sheets replaced and reriveted. I have no idea how they fixed damage on a spot welded F4U

4. Exhaust vectoring. By 1941 all designers understood you could gain 10mph for free just by ejecting the engine exhaust backwards. All inline engines had deflectors which turn the exhaust 90 degrees to gain this advantage. Early WW2 radial engine fighters (like the A6M2) wasted this free energy by collecting exhaust in a collector ring and then venting it. By 1945 all radial engines on fighters used individual exhaust stubs which vented straight back gaining the ~10mph. Even the zero was redesigned (A6M5 onwards) while the F4U-1 was still being built in 1945 with a collector ring and single downward vent...

5. Verticle stabilizer. The further towards the rear of the aircraft you put the Verticle stabilizer and rudder, the more effective it is. This means you can make it smaller and have less drag for the same effectiveness. The F4U places a massive Verticle stabilizer 3/4 of the way down the fuselage instead of a smaller one right on the end of the tail. I can't think of another top class ww2 fighter with the Verticle stabilizer well infront of the Horizontal stabilizer.

6. Pre WW2 fighters tended to have their fuel tanks in front (spitfire & hurricane) or behind (Bf109 and P40) the pilot. WW2 fighters generally had fuel tanks moved to underneath the pilot as well as in the wings (Fw190, P51, P47, F6F). No other fighter carries as much fuel as the F4U-1 does in front of the pilot. This forces the F4U pilot a long long way back down the fuselage. weird, just plain weird

Totalspoon

VFS-214_Hawk
05-02-2007, 08:14 PM
I love wierd, ask my wife http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/halo.gif

AKA_TAGERT
05-02-2007, 08:19 PM
Yet is still won the PTO!

Treetop64
05-02-2007, 08:25 PM
Wow.

It's a miracle then that the F4-U turned out to be the world-beating machine it was, earning the reputation it now enjoys, without the considerations of your enlightned observations. Those designers were real idiots to design and build the plane the way they did, huh? They should have had an expert like you on the design team, who knows all the right ways of designing an effective fighter aircraft.

I truly don't undestand how the F4-U became one of the longest serving propeller driven WWII era fighter aircraft in history, in light of your brilliant points. How on earth did it ever acheive a kill count of more than 2100 enemy aircraft in the Pacific - just from April of 1944 - while suffering a loss of only 189 their own number. This hardly seems possible in a craft designed by those who obviously didn't know what they were doing.

Dood, whatever... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Jungmann
05-02-2007, 08:39 PM
Point six. It wasn't that the fuel tank was moved forward of the pilot, the pilot was moved aft of the tank. Look at the F4U prototype--the cockpit is three feet forward, and in exploded drawings, the fueselage tank is aft of it. Production models moved the cockpit and the pilot aft for better visibility on landings.

Point 2. The bent wings weren't just to shorten the gear--they were to get the fuselage high enough to clear the huge four bladed Ham-Standard prop.

Point 4. Exhaust vectoring. Don't know how well this was understood during WWII. Mid war allied radial engined planes--F6F, later P47s, had collector rings, IIRC, and made no claim for a speed increase from ejected exhaust.

Got me about the fabric outer wings. A weight consideration maybe. And got me about spot welding.

But--the F4U prototype flew in 1941, or around there, and later marks flew front line for the French during the 50's and in South and Central America well into the 60s. Only the P51 had as long a service life. The folks at Chance-Vought must have been doing something right.

white12
05-02-2007, 08:52 PM
Weird as you said.. perhaps, but history did prove it to be an effective aircraft. It's hard to say just why its designers made the decisions that they did.. and I'm sure you're about to find out now, hem hem. The one thing I have heard about the Corsair that really seemed to matter that you didn't mention is that the battery is in the cockpit! Man, that can't be good. Of note worthy interest though, my neighbor and good friend was a Corsair driver in WW2 and later went on to fly jets in Korea and LOVED his corsair despite having had one shot out from underneath him when straffing, and had to bail some 20 miles from making it back to Guadalcanal. He flew with the wake avengers.. vmf211 I think.. Anyway, he has had the opportunity to fly many ww2 ac, to include p38, wildcat, and mustang; and while he did say to me that the mustang was "a wonderful aircraft" he still speaks of his Corsair with a gleam in his eye. His "score" at wars end.. 3 AtA confirmed, 3 more AtA probable, one assist, and untold ground targets destroyed. To that end, admittedly it's not my personal favorite, it was by least one account (and I'm sure many more) a good aircraft, and history would suggest the right one at the right time.

3.JG51_BigBear
05-02-2007, 09:13 PM
Originally posted by Treetop64:
Wow.

It's a miracle then that the F4-U turned out to be the world-beating machine it was, earning the reputation it now enjoys, without the considerations of your enlightned observations. Those designers were real idiots to design and build the plane the way they did, huh? They should have had an expert like you on the design team, who knows all the right ways of designing an effective fighter aircraft.

I truly don't undestand how the F4-U became one of the longest serving propeller driven WWII era fighter aircraft in history, in light of your brilliant points. How on earth did it ever acheive a kill count of more than 2100 enemy aircraft in the Pacific - just from April of 1944 - while suffering a loss of only 189 their own number. This hardly seems possible in a craft designed by those who obviously didn't know what they were doing.

Dood, whatever... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

I think you missed the point of his post. He wasn't putting the Corsair down he was just making some observations about its quirky design features. It is one of the most unique and wierdest looking fighters to see front line service during the war.

Also he's not saying anything that isn't true, except for the exhaust vectoring thing. Even Barrett Tilmann makes many of the same points when he writes about the Corsair.

Decreased blowback pressure may have been achieved by using individual stacks instead of a collector allowing the engine to "breath" better. Any increase in speed would have been achieved by increasing the power of the engine, I've never seen any hard data that vectoring the exhaust backward was the cause of the speed increase. Engines run at max efficiency with a certain amount of blowback. If that was being achieved on the Corsair with its collector that is probably why it stayed.

Another very strange feature of the Corsair was the single piece tail gear which was made using one massive casting and was very difficult to produce. The plane was just wierd.

Treetop64
05-02-2007, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by 3.JG51_BigBear:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Treetop64:
Wow.

It's a miracle then that the F4-U turned out to be the world-beating machine it was, earning the reputation it now enjoys, without the considerations of your enlightned observations. Those designers were real idiots to design and build the plane the way they did, huh? They should have had an expert like you on the design team, who knows all the right ways of designing an effective fighter aircraft.

I truly don't undestand how the F4-U became one of the longest serving propeller driven WWII era fighter aircraft in history, in light of your brilliant points. How on earth did it ever acheive a kill count of more than 2100 enemy aircraft in the Pacific - just from April of 1944 - while suffering a loss of only 189 their own number. This hardly seems possible in a craft designed by those who obviously didn't know what they were doing.

Dood, whatever... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

I think you missed the point of his post. He wasn't putting the Corsair down he was just making some observations about its quirky design features. It is one of the most unique and wierdest looking fighters to see front line service during the war.

Also he's not saying anything that isn't true, except for the exhaust vectoring thing. Even Barrett Tilmann makes many of the same points when he writes about the Corsair.

Decreased blowback pressure may have been achieved by using individual stacks instead of a collector allowing the engine to "breath" better. Any increase in speed would have been achieved by increasing the power of the engine, I've never seen any hard daya that vectoring the exhaust backward was the cause of the speed increase. Engines run at max efficiency with a certain amount of blowback. If that was being achieved on the Corsair with its collector that is probably why it stayed.

Another very strange feature of the Corsair was the single piece tail gear which was made using one massive casting. The plane was just wierd. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think you're right. Sorry spoon.

One straightforward design fature of the Corsair is that, AFAIK, it was the first fighter to feature a completely concealed main gear when retracted, with gear doors that were completely flush with the bottom surface of the wing, with obvious aerodynamic benefits.

WarWolfe_1
05-02-2007, 09:25 PM
yes while it was a strange plane, it did beat the snot out of the Zeke.

As some have pointed out it served a very long time. Longer than the Jug!

I'd take a Corsair any day, before I would a Hellcat, Messer, FW, or (OMG) a Mustang.

Strange but Beautiful. Strange but strong. Strange but a work horse. Its no wonder that Pappy loved it http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

R_Target
05-02-2007, 09:45 PM
Don't forget the wooden ailerons.

JR_Greenhorn
05-02-2007, 09:45 PM
The reason for the spot welds is easy--ease of manufacture. It's the same reason Detroit has been spot welding cars together for years. A spot weld is quick, simple, and reduces part count. Anyone who's ever done body work on '60s-'70s Detroit-produced cars knows that spot welds are easily drilled out and re-welded when repairs are necessary. Obviously a Heliarc welder would've been required to re-spot-weld aluminum panels.


Perhaps the fabric covered outer wing sections were also for cost considerations? Another possibility is the fabric covering was an attempt to offset the weight gained with the kinked wings.

totalspoon
05-02-2007, 10:13 PM
Wow treetop64...

Your make a comment about a design being a bit different and next thing your under personal attack. I never said the Corsair no good, only different,

Quote
"I can't think of another top class ww2 fighter with.... "

All I was trying to say that its design was unique.

As for collector rings, the F6F and the F4U-4 both had individual exhaust stubs (so did the Fw190A, Raiden, Hayabusa, Shiden, La5FN, LA-7 and others). The P47 didn't but that was because its exhaust was collected to run its turbo-supercharger.

The figure of 10mph comes from Lawrence Wackett, head of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corperation during WW2. During the design of the original P&W Double Wasp powered CA15, Lawrence calculated that 10mph could be gained by fitting individual exhaust stubs instead of a single collector ring.

Totalspoon

totalspoon
05-02-2007, 11:07 PM
Please don't get me wrong. To design a flying 2000hp fighter takes a special person. To design the first (or one of the first - I can't remember) 400mph fighters, you have to be pretty gifted.

What I was trying to get at was...
If you were going to build a 2000hp fighter that would take you 12 months hard work (to prototype stage) and could make or break your company, how original would you be. Would you just try and make an good, clean, well thought our design (concept of the FW190) or would you try adding something revolutionary that might or might not work (P51D) or would you go against the work of all the other designers and built something really different and unique like the F4U.

I stick by what I said earlier. The F4U was world class but was weird...

Totalspoon

TheBandit_76
05-02-2007, 11:59 PM
If by weird you mean gorgeous.......allllllrighty then.


http://www.compass.dircon.co.uk/corsair_68.jpg

Aaron_GT
05-03-2007, 02:21 AM
Point six. It wasn't that the fuel tank was moved forward of the pilot, the pilot was moved aft of the tank. Look at the F4U prototype--the cockpit is three feet forward, and in exploded drawings, the fueselage tank is aft of it. Production models moved the cockpit and the pilot aft for better visibility on landings.

The visibility was poor with the cockpit moved aft, though, as it meant that the nose made it hard to see the carrier, hence the delay in being cleared for carrier landings until the British had worked out a curving approach.


Point 2. The bent wings weren't just to shorten the gear--they were to get the fuselage high enough to clear the huge four bladed Ham-Standard prop.

The big prop meant either one of two things:
1. Long undercarriage legs (possibly more
fragile and maybe needing systems to
shorten them when retracting, meaning more
complexity and extra weight).

or

2. Shorter legs and a bent wing.

So the original poster is correct - it was an issue of trying to keep the undercarriage legs short to avoid other issues. On balance it was felt that a bent wing was the least problematic solution. The advantage was a clean wing-fuselage joint which causes less drag.

leitmotiv
05-03-2007, 02:36 AM
Before going intuitive best to read a little about an aircraft first:

The odd wing was for the huge prop. Vought distrusted long l.g. legs (which Grumman did not---Corsair and Hellcat used same engine).

Spot welding was to save weight. Rivets are heavier. One reason why the Corsair prototype made 400mph and the Hellcat prototype didn't.

Not all designers used exhaust vectoring in 1941.

Read the history of the F4U---the USN wanted the fuel tank up front and forced Vought to change the entire disposition of the pilot and the fuel tank to suit them. Vought originally designed the airplane with the pilot considerably further forward for better visibility. The prototype flew in this configuration.

Brain32
05-03-2007, 03:05 AM
I've seen a thread similar to this one couple of thousands times, however it was about a different plane and there was not so many defenders http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif

R_Target
05-03-2007, 05:21 AM
Originally posted by Aaron_GT:
The visibility was poor with the cockpit moved aft, though, as it meant that the nose made it hard to see the carrier, hence the delay in being cleared for carrier landings until the British had worked out a curving approach.

The approach wasn't really the problem. The bouncing landing gear, sudden left wing stall, and original tailhook point design held the Corsair back. In the summer of 1943, Butch Davenport and other VF-17 pilots worked with Vought engineers to get the gear adjusted, add the wingtip spoiler, and redesign the hook point. By then, the USN had already made up it's mind, and the Corsair was beached despite VF-17 pilots making combat carrier landings without loss in November 1943. Oddly, during this whole period, Corsair night-fighters were approved for carrier landings.

WOLFMondo
05-03-2007, 05:29 AM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:


The odd wing was for the huge prop. Vought distrusted long l.g. legs (which Grumman did not---Corsair and Hellcat used same engine).


I wonder why they didn't make a smaller 4 or 5 bladed prop, like they had to do for the very late MK Spitfires or broad blade props like late German fighters.

M_Gunz
05-03-2007, 05:54 AM
With the bent wing the inboard anhedral sections did not contribute to wingtip vortecies.
And who knows but some pilots did not like the idea of sitting on a gas tank which has been
pointed out as a weakness of fighters that had that.
Heliarc welders on an aircraft carrier? Who'da thunk that?
Exhaust added 10 mph?? I've read about the Meredith effect but that was RADIATOR exhaust
though there was speculation about adding engine exhaust post radiator to the P-51 scheme.
Fabric out wing skin? I'd like to find out what it was treated with! Not just ailerons?

XyZspineZyX
05-03-2007, 06:42 AM
1. I'm no F4U expert, but I seem to recall that only the first versions of the Corsair had outer wing sections covered with fabric.

2. Bent wings meant that one could attach the wings to the fuselage at a 90 degree angle and do away with unnecessary wing fairings to help reduce drag. This along with the other design compromises already mentioned above. Which is heavier? A complex bent aluminum spar, or long steel cased landing gear?

4. Actually the F4U had 2 vents. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Vought engineers probably thought that at speeds the Corsair would travel at that 10mph was negligeable.

5. I think you need glasses. Sure, relative to the cockpit, the vertical stab and rudder seem close, but relative to the whole airplane, its where it should be.

6. Taken from Air Vectors: "There was another troublesome consequence: putting all the guns in the wings meant eliminating wing fuel tankage, and so the forward fuselage was stretched by 45 centimeters (18 inches) to include a new self-sealing tank in the center of the fuselage.The fuel tank also meant moving the cockpit back by about 91 centimeters (3 feet), which made it hard for a pilot to see over the nose when taxiing, taking off, or landing."

You have to understand that designing an aircraft isnt about "My gawd, that engineer is such a weirdo for having done that", but its more about compromise.

I dont think people are attacking you because you said that the design was unique, you said the design was weird. Look at your first post, and the title of this thread that you started.

MrMojok
05-03-2007, 07:18 AM
for those interested in the fabric coverings, check out the "Roaring Glory" series episode on the Corsair.

The pilot, this guy Steve Hinton who is lucky enough to get to fly a lot of these WWII planes (someone on this forum knows him, I cannot remember who) takes the cameraman on a complete preflight walkaround of the plane before he goes up, and talks about the fabric.

Roaring Glory F4U Corsair (http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Roaring_Glory_Warbirds_Vought_F4U_Corsair/17017911?trkid=189530&strkid=1971811719_0_0)

erco415
05-03-2007, 08:51 AM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Fabric out wing skin? I'd like to find out what it was treated with! Not just ailerons?

The fabric was treated with a nitrate/butyrate dope, which sealed the weave of the fabric (generally speaking, cotton) making it air/watertight and caused the fabric to taughten. Fabric has some advantage over aluminum in that it is easy to repair battle damage and is lightweight. A big disadvantage is that once you light it on fire, it burns like the dickens! This is primarily due to the nature of the dope. You can still get nitrate/butyrate dope to finish your fabric covered airplane, but there are several other non-flammable dopes to choose from.

TC_Stele
05-03-2007, 03:05 PM
Originally posted by AKA_TAGERT:
Yet is still won the PTO!

Don't tell that to the Hellcats http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

Treetop64
05-03-2007, 04:20 PM
Originally posted by totalspoon:
Wow treetop64...

Your make a comment about a design being a bit different and next thing your under personal attack. I never said the Corsair no good, only different,


You're right, bro, and I'm sorry. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

I apologized in my second post in this thread.

I missed the point of your post. Besides, I was already in a foul mood when I first read it.

totalspoon
05-03-2007, 04:25 PM
Skunk...

The definition Weird is "strikingly odd or unusual"

1. Every F4U produced in WW2 (F4U-1,1A,1C,1D,4) had fabric covered outer wings. No other production figher in 1945 had fabric covered wings.
2. No other production fighter had bent wings
3. No other production fighter used spot welding
4. Every other production fighter in 1945 used individual exhaust stubs vectored backwards to provide a tiny additional speed boost.
5. No other fighter had its verticle stablizer well ahead of its horizontal stabilizer. (I never mentioned anything about the Verticle stabilizer position in relation to the cockpit. That was you)
6. No other fighter carried so much fuel in the fuselage ahead of the pilot.

I'm not besmirching its combat record, knocking it designers or discrediting it outstanding performance

I'm just stating its "strikingly odd or unusual"

The Corsair is Weird...

Totalspoon

luftluuver
05-03-2007, 06:07 PM
5. No other fighter had its verticle stablizer well ahead of its horizontal stabilizer. I suggest you look at some Blackburn, Gloster and Miles a/c.

Then there is the Mosquito NF.

The Heinkel 112 had a cranked wings.

luftluuver
05-03-2007, 06:12 PM
1. Every F4U produced in WW2 (F4U-1,1A,1C,1D,4) had fabric covered outer wings. No other production figher in 1945 had fabric covered wings. Only from the main spar back. The forward portion of the wing was covered in aluminum.

luftluuver
05-03-2007, 06:16 PM
4. Every other production fighter in 1945 used individual exhaust stubs vectored backwards to provide a tiny additional speed boost.
When was the last time you looked at a F4U-4 or a F2G-1D?

Xiolablu3
05-03-2007, 06:22 PM
I have always thought the F4U looked a very strange bird.

Amazing plane to fly online, can carry so much ordanance and is quite a fighter for such a big heavy plane.

Those 50's make a mess of anythign they hit.

It feels a bit like a Tempest to me, which I guess is right. They are both big heavy, powerful planes with massive engines. In the game you can really 'feel' yourself hauling that big engine round in a turn.

Certainly both 'Brute force solutions'.

heywooood
05-03-2007, 06:25 PM
one other advantage of the bent wing was to allow for the wing root (where the wing joines the fuselage) to be at a 90 deg angle to the fuselage...this means that the top of the wing and the bottom of the wing at the root connection require no fillet or fairing. Thats alot of extra surface area that adds lots of drag to the airframe...so without that fillet and fairing theres your 10 mph and then some right back....

WarWolfe_1
05-03-2007, 07:11 PM
6. No other fighter carried so much fuel in the fuselage ahead of the pilot.

This was also a source of many woes. And why the seams were taped, to stop leakage.

Dagnabit
05-03-2007, 10:28 PM
I read somewhere that the prop was the reason for the bent wings...And isnt the Stuka also a bent winger? Gonna go fly it to see... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

Dag

KIMURA
05-04-2007, 04:23 AM
About the spot-welding parts. Which parts of the F4U were spot welded? I ask because I havent my sources handy and of the aaparently argument of the disadvantage of spot-welding compared to riveting while replacing parts. To detach a spot-welded part you have to do the same thing as if the part is rivet together - drilling out the welding points.

One other disadvantage that wasn't listed up til yet. The F4U-1 and F4U-1A were the only US fighters which housed unprotected fuel tanks in the wings. The main tank in front of the cockpit was protected the wing tanks not.

R_Target
05-04-2007, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by KIMURA:
About the spot-welding parts. Which parts of the F4U were spot welded? I ask because I havent my sources handy and of the aaparently argument of the disadvantage of spot-welding compared to riveting while replacing parts. To detach a spot-welded part you have to do the same thing as if the part is rivet together - drilling out the welding points.


The fuselage was spot-welded. The curves were formed up in the sheet metal, then stiffeners were welded to the sheets. After that, the sheets were riveted to frame sub-assemblies, which were then put together to form the fuselage. I think the idea was to use the minimum amount of rivets possible for a smooth surface.

As for field repair, I dunno. A couple of bullet holes here or there could probably be patched in a variety of ways. There's a photo of Tom Blackburn's "Big Hog" showing circular patches on the fuselage from where Roger Hedrick accidentally shot at him, but I can't tell what they used. It could just be tape. Anyway, I haven't seen a whole lot of photos of Corsairs with big patches on them.

Kasdeya
05-04-2007, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by R_Target:

As for field repair, I dunno. A couple of bullet holes here or there could probably be patched in a variety of ways. There's a photo of Tom Blackburn's "Big Hog" showing circular patches on the fuselage from where Roger Hedrick accidentally shot at him, but I can't tell what they used. It could just be tape. Anyway, I haven't seen a whole lot of photos of Corsairs with big patches on them.

prolly either used food cans or beer cans. they come in handy, specially after coming back from a really tough mission. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif