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Corsair - Aircraft Profile - Chance-Vought : Corsair

Corsair

Manufacturer : Chance-Vought
Number Built : 12000
Production Began : 1940
Retired :
Type :

The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair was arguably the finest naval aviation fighter of its era. Work on this design dates to 1938 and was headed-up by Voughts Chief Engineer, Rex Biesel. The initial prototype was powered by an 1800-HP Pratt & Whitney double Wasp radial engine. This was the third Vought aircraft to carry the Corsair name. The graceful and highly recognizable gull-wing design of the F4U permitted the aircraft to utilize a 13-foot, three-blade, Hamilton Standard propeller, while not having to lengthen the landing gear. Because of the rigors of carrier landings, this was a very important design consideration. Folding wings were also required for carrier operations. The F4U was thirty feet long, had a wingspan of 41 feet and an empty weight of approximately 7,500 pounds. Another interesting feature was the way the F4Us gear rotated 90 degrees, so it would lay flush within the wing when in the up position. In 1939 the Navy approved the design, and production commenced. The Corsair utilized a new spot welding process on its all aluminum fuselage, giving the aircraft very low drag. To reduce weight, fabric-covered outer wing sections and control surfaces were fitted. In May of 1940 the F4U made its maiden flight. Although a number of small bugs were discovered during early flight tests, the Corsair had exceptional performance characteristics. In October of 1940 the prototype F4U was clocked at 405-MPH in a speed test. The initial production Corsairs received an upgraded 2,000-HP radial giving the bird a top speed of about 425-MPH. The production models also differed from the prototype in having six, wing-mounted, 0.5 caliber machine guns. Another change was a shift of the cockpit about three feet further back in the fuselage. This latter change unfortunately made naval aviators wary of carrier landings with the F4U, due to its limited forward visibility during landings. Other concerns were expressed regarding a severe port wing drop at landing speeds and a tendency of the aircraft to bounce off a carrier deck. As a result, the F4U was initially limited to land-based USMC squadrons. Vought addressed several of these problems, and the Royal Navy deserves credit for perfecting an appropriate landing strategy for the F4U. They found that if the carrier pilot landed the F4U while making a sweeping left turn with the port wing down, that sufficient visibility was available to make a safe landing. With a kill ratio of 11 -to- 1 in WW 11 combat, the F4U proved superior in the air to almost every opposing aircraft it encountered. More than 12,000 F4Us were built and fortunately a few dozen remain in flyable condition to this date.

Corsair


Latest Corsair Artwork Releases !
 Following their victory at Midway, American forces had fought a long, bloody and bitter campaign to retake the Japanese held islands in the Pacific.  By the end of March 1945, however, they had finally captured Iwo Jima and looked towards Okinawa, a province of Japan itself.  But the closer the fighting came to Japan, the greater was the enemy's resistance.  The five-week long battle for Iwo Jima had been bloody, brutal and costly with over 26,000 US Marine casualties.  Of the 21,000-strong Japanese garrison on the island less than 300 prisoners had been taken; the rest refusing to surrender, preferring to fight to the death or commit 'honourable' ritual suicide.  Now the Allied attention turned to the island of Okinawa.  Annexed by Japan in the late nineteenth century and less than 400 miles south of its mainland, it was the place from which the Allied invasion of Japan must be launched.  Supported by a huge naval presence, including one of the largest British fleets ever assembled, the assault began on 1st April 1945 with the largest amphibious landing of the Pacific war - six US Divisions landed during what has been referred to as a <i>typhoon of steel</i>.  Japan's response was ferocious seeing the peak of the kamikaze scourge and the Allied fighter pilots, whilst providing ground support to the advancing infantry, desperately attempted to defend the naval fleet from unrelenting attacks.  While the British ships with their steel decks fared much better, the kamikazes took their toll on the US fleet, highlighting a conflict worse than anything seen before.  The 82 day battle was one of the most severe and bloody campaigns of WWII, accounting for over 14,000 Allied deaths and five times that number of Japanese soldiers.  This painting depicts USMC Ace Dean Caswell and F4U Corsairs from VMF-221, based on the carrier USS Bunker Hill climbing away from the target area after delivering a blistering rocket attack on enemy positions on Okinawa.

Okinawa by Robert Taylor.
 Often sidelined by other, more glamorous fighters, the Vought F4U Corsair is considered by many to be the best piston-engined fighter ever built, able to outfly anything the Japanese air force could pit against it.  So perfect was this versatile and robust design that it remained in production for 12 years, right up until 1952.  The most important operator of the F4U during the Second World War was the US Marine Corps, flying from scattered island bases throughout the Pacific, these examples being from the 4th Marine Air Wing based at Majuro Atoll in the Marshalls during the Summer of 1944.

Pacific Warriors by Ivan Berryman.
 Lieutenant Robert C Wattenburger shows off the unique lines of the Vought F.4U Corsair 124723 (NP-8) of VC-3 during a low-level fly-by of USS Valley Forge in May, 1952.

Valley Forge Fly-By by Ivan Berryman.
 With its macabre skull and crossbones insignia, and a reputation for total disdain of authority, VF-17 arrived in the Pacific with a variety of nicknames ranging from the Irregulars to the Cast-offs, but under the dynamic leadership of their Squadron Commander, Tom Blackburn, VF-17 made their presence felt immediately upon their arrival in the fall of 1943. Equipped with the F4U Corsair, VF-17 pilots had what Blackburn was convinced was the best fighter aircraft of World War II, and on 1st November, during the invasion of Bougainville, VF-17 pilots shot down 6 Japanese planes in their first taste of battle - 2 falling to the guns of their C.O.  Over the next 8500 hours of combat in the Solomons, its pilots shot down 156 enemy aircraft, 8 Japanese aircraft for each plane it lost, and produced the highest number of Aces of any squadron in the Navy.  Blackburns Fighting 17 were the toast of the Navy brass, earned the respect of their peers, and became known throughout the Pacific as The Jolly Rogers.

Jolly Rogers by Nicolas Trudgian.

Corsair Artwork Collection



Victory Flyover by Robert Taylor.


Beach Head Strike Force by Robert Taylor.

Time to Head Home by William S Phillips.

Zero Fighter Sweep by Roy Grinnell.


Valley Forge Fly-By by Ivan Berryman.


HMS Anson at Sydney Harbour, July 1945 by Ivan Berryman.


Jolly Rogers by Nicolas Trudgian.


Topaz One at Twilight by Brian Bateman.

Attack on the Yalu Bridges by Philip West.


Battle for the Islands by Nicolas Trudgian.


Gunfight Over Rabaul by Nicolas Trudgian


The Black Sheep by Nicolas Trudgian.


Kiwi Strike by Nicolas Trudgian.


Semper Fi Skies by John D Shaw.


Rabaul - Fly For Your Life by Robert Taylor.


Black Sheep Sweep by Troy White.


Pacific Warriors by Ivan Berryman.


Okinawa by Robert Taylor.

Corsair Aces of World War Two.


Working the Night Shift by Stan Stokes.

Corsair on Final by Stan Stokes.

Hook Down and Homeward Bound by Stan Stokes.

Golden Gate Corsair by Stan Stokes.

Gull Winged Warrior by Stan Stokes.


Angels of Okinawa by Stan Stokes.

Ace in a Day by Stan Stokes.

Black Sheep Over Rabaul by Stan Stokes.

Corsair of the Intrepid by Stan Stokes.

Mission to Buin Harbor by Stan Stokes.

Boyington Takes a Break by Stan Stokes.

Top Aces for : Corsair
A list of all Aces from our database who are known to have flown this aircraft. A profile page is available by clicking the pilots name.
NameVictoriesInfo
James E Swett15.50The signature of James E Swett features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Archie Glenn Donahue14.00The signature of Archie Glenn Donahue features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
John Thomas Blackburn13.00The signature of John Thomas Blackburn features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Ronald Cuthbert Hay13.00The signature of Ronald Cuthbert Hay features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Roger R Hedrick12.00The signature of Roger R Hedrick features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Stanley W Vejtasa11.00The signature of Stanley W Vejtasa features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc9.00The signature of Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Daniel G Cunningham7.00The signature of Daniel G Cunningham features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Dean Caswell7.00
Robert Bruce Porter7.00The signature of Robert Bruce Porter features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Robert M Baker7.00
Robert Wesley McClurg7.00The signature of Robert Wesley McClurg features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
John F Bolt Jr6.00The signature of John F Bolt Jr features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Arthur Roger Conant6.00The signature of Arthur Roger Conant features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
D J Sheppard5.00The signature of D J Sheppard features on some of our artwork - click here to see what is available.
Squadrons for : Corsair
A list of all squadrons from known to have used this aircraft. A profile page is available by clicking the squadron name.
SquadronInfo

No.47 Naval Fighter Wing


Country : UK

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No.47 Naval Fighter Wing

Full profile not yet available.

VF-17


Country : US

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VF-17

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-112


Country : US

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VMF-112

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-121


Country : US

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VMF-121

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-122


Country : US

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VMF-122

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-214


Country : US

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VMF-214

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-218


Country : US

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VMF-218

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-253


Country : US

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VMF-253

Full profile not yet available.

VMF-451


Country : US

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VMF-451

Full profile not yet available.
Signatures for : Corsair
A list of all signatures from our database who are associated with this aircraft. A profile page is available by clicking their name.
NameInfo


Colonel Robert M Baker USMC

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Colonel Robert M Baker USMC
Colonel Robert M Baker USMC

Bob Baker joined the Marine Corps in 1941 and first saw combat in the Pacific theater in February 1942. By the summer of 1943 he was flying F4Us with VMF 121 over the Solomons. On June 30 he downed three Zeros in one fight. Two days later he and three of his flight were attacked by a large force of over forty Zeros, Baker shot down two in the action to become an Ace. For these actions he was awarded the DFC. He fought at Rendova, also Guadalcanal and Munda.




Lieutenant Colonel Charles E Beck

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Lieutenant Colonel Charles E Beck

25 / 3 / 2009Died : 25 / 3 / 2009
Lieutenant Colonel Charles E Beck

Charles Beck joined the service in November 1942, and after gaining his pilots wings, was posted to the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group at Martlesham Heath in July 1944. He flew his first combat mission with the, in a P47, on 29th August 1944. He then flew Mustangs as the group converted over to P51s from the P47. He took part in the Groups big mission to Misbourg, Germany, on 26th November, when the Group scored 110 victories against a big Luftwaffe attack on the bomber stream. Charles finished his combat tour on 7th May 1945, the last day of the war. He returned home and continued his service, flying with the Van Nuys Air National Guard, flying P-51, F-86 Sabre and F-102 Delta Dagger aircraft. He was one of the first people to break the sound barrier, using an F-86 Sabre. He later served on active duty in the Korean War, and during the Vietnam conflict. He served for three years with the US Navy as a liaison officer on the F4U Corsair. Sadly, Charles Beck died on 25th March 2009.




Captain Tom Blackburn

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Captain Tom Blackburn

21 / 4 / 1994Died : 21 / 4 / 1994
21 / 4 / 1994Ace : 13.00 Victories
Captain Tom Blackburn

From a naval family, Tom Blackburn joined the service in 1929. In 1942 he took part in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, commanding VF-29. His first mission ended by ditching in the Atlantic, and 60 hours adrift in a dinghy. Surviving this, Tom Blackburn went on to command VF-17, leading the squadron to become one of the most distinguished naval fighter units of the Pacific War. With the accent on teamwork and mission accomplishment, the success of Tom Blackburns Jolly Rogers are legend in the lore of naval aviation. Sadly, Tom Blackburn died on 21st April 1994.



Jeff de Blanc

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by or with the mounted signature of Jeff de Blanc

23 / 11 / 2007Died : 23 / 11 / 2007
23 / 11 / 2007Ace : 9.00 Victories
Jeff de Blanc

Jefferson De Blanc flew two combat tours in F4Fs and F4Us from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, achieving 9 air victories. He was awarded the Medal of Honor whilst flying an F4F on bomber escort with VMF-112 in 1943. Sadly, he passed away on 23rd November 2007.




Lieutenant Colonel John F Bolt

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Lieutenant Colonel John F Bolt

8 / 12 / 2004Died : 8 / 12 / 2004
8 / 12 / 2004Ace : 6.00 Victories
Lieutenant Colonel John F Bolt

John Bolt is one of only seven American aces to shoot down 5 or more enemy aircraft in both WWII and Korea. He was also the only Marine Corps ace in Korea. Commissioned in 1942, he joined VMF-214 in 1943. Flying the F4U Corsair, John Bolt downed six Zekes in just 90 days from September to December 1943 to become and ace. He also saw action in the last few weeks of the war with VMF-472. Returning to combat duty in the Korean War he served a tour with the Marines before flying a tour with the Air Force where he shot down six Mig15s. John F Bolt passed away on 8th December 2004.


Citaion for the Navy Cross

The Navy Cross is presented to John F. Bolt.(0-13522) Lt Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed member of the united Nations while attached to the First Marine Aircraft Wing and serving as a pilot of a plane in the THIRTY NINTH Fighter-Inteceptor Squadron, Fifth Air Force, in action against enemy aggressor forces in the Republic of Korea on 11 July 1953. Sighting four hostile jet interceptors immediately after the second section of his four-plane flight was forced to retir from the area because of a low fuel supply during a reconnaissance mission deep in enemy territory. Major Bolt quickly maneuvered his aircraft and that of his wingman into attack position and deliberately engaged the numerically superior enemy in a head-on firing run, destroying one of the hostile planes with his initial burst of fire. Although his fuel supply was dangerously low, he initiated repeated attacks on the remaining enemy aircraft and severely damaging the engine section of the lead interceptor, routinely pressed his attack against the crippled plane until the enemy pilot was forced to bail out. By his exceptional courage and superb airmanship in destroying the two aircraft, Major Bolt raised his total of enemy jet planes destroyed during the Korean War to six, thereby becoming the first jet ace in Marine Corps aviation. His inspiring leadership and great personal valor reflect the highest credit upon himself and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States naval Service.


Cdr Guy Lucky Pierre Bordelon Jr USN

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19 / 12 / 2002Died : 19 / 12 / 2002
Cdr Guy Lucky Pierre Bordelon Jr USN

Guy Pierre Bordelon was born in Ruston, Louisiana on February 1, 1922. Bordelon graduated from Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1939. He then attended Louisiana Tech, and later LSU. While at LSU, with WWII raging, Bordelon entered the US Navy as an Aviation Cadet. He reported to the University of Georgia in September of 1942 for his pre-flight training. In May of 1943 he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Thereafter he he served in various fleet and training units. In March of 1944 Bordelon married the former Anne Craig Taylor of Ruston, Louisiana. On August 1, 1946 Bordelon augmented to the regular Navy, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (SG). As a Lieutenant, Bordelon served in Intelligence and Operations/ Logistics billets on Staff, CMDR of crusier division Three during the early stages of the Korean War. Following this tour he returned to combat flying duties with VC-3. This specialized command trained and deployed night combat Corsair units on board all carriers operating off the coast of Korea. During 1952 and 1953 Bordelon was Officer-In-Charge of Detatchment D on board the USS Princeton (CV-37) In June of 1953 the Fifth Air Force requested help from the Navy in defending against evening raids from enemy propellor driven aircraft. Nicknamed Bedcheck Charlies by the UN gorund forces, these night attacks were quite succesful at destroying large quantities of supplies, munitions and fuel, and the radar equipped night jet fighters flown by the Air Force were too fast to successfully attack these low flying, highly maneuverable intruders. Bordelon and his wingman Ralph Hoppy Hopson were ordered ashore to assist the Fifth Air Force. Augmented by two other F4U5N Corsairs from the USS Philippine Sea, Bordelon and his wingman flew nightly combat air patrols between June 29 and July 16, 1953. Bordelon, flying an aircraft named Annie-Mo after his wife, destroyed five enemy aircraft during these missions including three Lavachkin lls and two Yakolev 18s. Credited with his five victories Bordelon became the Navy's first and only ace in Korea. He also became the last American pilot to reach ace status while flying a propeller driven aircraft. During the Vietnam War Bordelon served as Deputy Commander, Fleet Air Western Pacific. This command provided logistical support and repairs for all naval and marine aviation units in the Pacific. 's last service with the Navy included participation in Apollo Moon Mission recovery with Task Force 140 in the Atlantic. Bordelon retired from the Navy in 1969 following twenty-seven years of service. His thirty seven decorations include the Navy Cross, 2 Silver Stars, the Korean Order of Military Merit, and the NASA Outstanding Service Medal. He died on 19th December 2002.



Lieutenant Colonel Henry M Bourgeois USMC

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14 / 11 / 2009Died : 14 / 11 / 2009
Lieutenant Colonel Henry M Bourgeois USMC

Henry was the youngest ever Marine Officer when he joined VMF-214, and had flown two combat tours with VMF-122 prior to that, with 2 victories to his credit. On 21st September 1943 he led a division of Corsairs to strafe Kahili Airdrome, where he destroyed 2 aircraft on the ground; the division accounting for 12 aircraft and an AA position destroyed. Sadly, Henry Bourgeois passed away on 14th November 2009.



Hoagy Carmichael

Click the name above to see prints signed by Hoagy Carmichael

25 / 7 / 1997Died : 25 / 7 / 1997
Hoagy Carmichael

Commander Peter (Hoagy )Carmichael was born on the 11th of August 1923. In 1942 Peter Carmichael joined the Royal Navy and began pilot training in the US and South Africa, and went on to fly the Spitfire and F4U Corsairs during the final days of the Second World War. After the war, Carmichael flew the Blackburn Firebrand. In June 1948 Carmichael converted to fly the Hawker Sea Fury. In 1952 Hoagy Carmichael, was deployed to Korea with 802 Squadron. The squadron was on board HMS Theseus and travelled to Malta. This was followed by a two month break for an intensive work-up at RNAS Hal Far on Malta, before the squadron sailed to Korea aboard HMS Ocean in April, with a four day stop over in Hong Kong where addtional aircraft arrived. On 9th August 1952 Carmichael, flying his regular Sea Fury (WJ232), was leading a four aircraft formation to attack railway facilities in North Korea between Manchon and Pyongyang. While flying over Chinnampo they came under attack from MiG 15's diving down on them. Hoagy Carmichael later stated: Eight MiGs came at us out of the sun. I did not see them at first, and my No. 4, 'Smoo' Ellis, gave a break when he noticed tracer streaming past his fuselage. We all turned towards the MiGs and commenced a 'scissors'. It soon became apparent that four MiGs were after each section of two Furies, but by continuing our break turns, we presented impossible targets. They made no attempt to bracket us. One MiG came at me head on. I saw his heavy tracer shells. I fired a burst, then he flashed past me. I believe Carl got some hits on him too. This aircraft then broke away, and went head on to my Nos 3 and 4, Lieutenant Pete Davies and 'Smoo' Ellis. They were seen to get good hits on one who broke away with smoke coming from him. Hoagy Carmichael in his Sea Fury became one of the few prop-driven aircraft to down a jet fighter and was the only British Pilot in a British aircraft to do so. For this action he was awarded the DSC. Commander Peter (Hoagy )Carmichael was CO of 806 Naval Air Squadron at Lossiemouth, the last Royal Navy unit flying Sea Hawks. Carmichael later went on to serve as Commanding Officer of T.S. Prince of Wales, Holyhead Sea Cadets until his retired in 1984. Sadly, Hoagy Carmichael died on the 25th of July 1997


Lieutenant Colonel A Roger Conant

Click the name above to see prints signed by Lieutenant Colonel A Roger Conant

10 / 3 / 2007Died : 10 / 3 / 2007
10 / 3 / 2007Ace : 6.00 Victories
Lieutenant Colonel A Roger Conant

Enlisting in the U.S. Navy, Roger Conant received his wings as a Marine pilot in 1942. Assigned to VMF 215 he flew the Chance Vought F4U Corsair on well over 100 combat missions, mostly in the air battles over Rabaul and the Solomon Islands where he downed a total of 6 Japanese Mitsubishi Zeros. He was on his return to the Pacific theater as a night fighter pilot on the day war ended. Roger Conant USMC(R) passed away on March 10, 2007.



Warrant Officer Bryan Cox

Click the name above to see prints signed by Warrant Officer Bryan Cox
Warrant Officer Bryan Cox

Born in 1925, this New Zealand fighter pilot Bryan Cox flew Corsairs in the Pacific. On January 14th, 1945, 36 Kiwi Corsairs based on Green Island were sent to attack the Japanese base at Rabaul. Flight Lieutenant Francis George Keefe in one of the Corsairs was shot down by flak and his parachute was seen opening and landing in the water. The following day Bryan Cox along with fifteen other Corsair pilots of 14 sqd and 16 Sqd were sent on the rescue mission for Keefe, escorting a flying boat. A raft was dropped and the mission may have been a success, except Francis Keefe was picked up by a Japanese patrol boat, and died of gangrene from his many wounds 10 days later in a prison camp. Returning to base, the 16 Corsair pilots encountered a bad storm, but due to lack of fuel could not fly around the strom and instead had to go through it. Bryan Cox was separated from the rest of the Corsairs when his radio and light went out due to a cockpit failure and Bryan veered away in fear of a mid air collision, not managing to regain contact whith the others. Seven pilots were lost at sea, from 14 Sqd. Flight Lieutenant BS Hay, Flying Officer AN Saward, Flight Sergeant IJ Munro, Flight Sergeant JS McArthur, and from 16 Sqd, Flight Sergeant RW Albrecht, Flight Lieutenant TRF Johnson, and Flying Officer G. Randell. Bryan Cox with only minutes of fuel left and contemplating ditching finally saw the outline of Green Island and managed with not more than seconds of fuel remaining to land. After the war Bryan was to become one of New Zealands best known flying instructors, and he spent many years as Chief Instructor at Ardmore, now a popular civil aerodrome which was the same airfield that Cox had been based at flying the Corsairs. Following the end of the war, Bryan had served in J Force, with No.14 Squadron RNZAF flying duties in Japan. He was an early observer to the horrors of Hiroshima. He served there untill 1947, and is secretary of the New Zealand fighter pilots association.




Lieutenant Dan Cunningham

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Lieutenant Dan Cunningham
10 / 3 / 2007Ace : 7.00 Victories
Lieutenant Dan Cunningham

Dan Cunningham joined the service in December 1942, being posted to VF-17, his first operational squadron. He later flew with VBF-10. A valuable member of the Jolly Rogers air fighting team, Dan Cunningham scored 7 aerial victories flying the F4U, and a number of unconfirmed probables. His combat career was confined to the south west Pacific theater, where he took part in some of the major air battles of the Solomons.




Colonel Archie G Donahue USMC

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30 / 7 / 2007Died : 30 / 7 / 2007
30 / 7 / 2007Ace : 14.00 Victories
Colonel Archie G Donahue USMC

Archie Donahue was born in Casper, Wyoming in 1917. He attended schools in Wyoming until 1934 when his family moved to Texas. He had his first airplane ride at the age of eight and the flying bug bit him. Archic completed three years of engineering studies at the University of Texas before joining the Navy as an Aviation Cadet. During his training Archie was stationed at Kansas City, Jacksonville, and finally Corpus Christi. He requested a transfer to the Marine Corps, and upon his graduation he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in February of 1942. After a short posting to Norfolk, Archie was assigned to VMF-112, which was nicknamed the Wolfpack. The squadron was sent to Guadacanal in September where they commenced combat missions flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat. Archie would soon transition to the state-of-the-art F4U-1 Corsair. Between September 1942 and June of 1943 Archie was credited with nine aerial victories. One of these was achieved in the Wildcat with the balance attained while piloting the Corsair. On May 13, 1943 Archic would down five A6M3 Zeros during a single mission. In June of 1943 VMF-112 returned to the States, and the squadron was disbanded. Serving as a flight officer at El Toro Air Station in California, Archie was given the assignment of carrier qualifying VMF-451. In February of 1945 VMF-451 began combat operations flying from the deck of the USS Bunker Hill. For the next three months Donahue and his squdroninates flew numerous missions in support of the landings at lwo Jima and Okinawa, as well as strikes at the Japanese mainland, and in the process earning the nickname Angels of Okinawa. On April 12, 1945 Donahue was once again credited with five victories during a fierce aerial battle over Okinawa. On May 11 th Archie's flight of 16 Corsairs had just returned to the carrier, and as the pilots completed their debriefing the Bunker Hill was hit by two Kamikaze aircraft, setting off a huge fire and killing 346. The Bunker Hill had to be withdrawn from action. Donahue returned to the States where he was made Commander of a squadron at El Toro. He was later transferred to Quantico, a large Marine base near Washington, DC. Archie flew a total of 215 combat missions during WWII including 56 from the deck of the Bunker Hill. He was credited with a total of 14 confirmed aerial victories. He had more than 4000 flying hours in military aircraft and 110 successful carrier landings. Although he never crashed an airplane, Archie was reported killed during aerial gunnery training when a student made a beautiful run and cut the tail off Archie's plane about five feet behind his head. Archie is a recipient of the Navy Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals. Archie has also been an active participant in the Confederate Air Force, and in 1990 he piloted an SBD with an unusual pilot, Saburo Sakai, the high scoring Japanese ace who was shot down in WWII by the rear gunner of a SBD. Following his retirement from military service in 1958 Archie began a long and successful career in real estate development. Archie lives in Texas with his wife Mary. They have five children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sadly, he passed away on 30th July 2007.



Lieutenant Colonel W Thomas Emrich

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Lieutenant Colonel W Thomas Emrich

Born in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois in 1921, he joined VMF-214 on 7 August 1943 and flew two combat tours with the Black Sheep. On 15 October 1943 Tom shot down two Zeros in aerial combat during a bomber escort to Kahili Airfield. The next day on a fighter sweep to Kahili he had to ditch his Corsair off Vella Lavella, and was rescued by a PT boat. By the end of his Black Sheep combat tours he had flown 68 missions, and then flew a third combat tour with VMF-211 on Green Island - along with 14 other former Black Sheep pilots.


Colonel T W Boot Furlow

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Colonel T W Boot Furlow

Flying the F4F on his first combat mission with VMF-121 in October 1942, Boot Furlow soon downed his first Zero on the Hiei mission. He served in all the major south west Pacific theaters and later flew the F4U Corsair


Lt Colonel Roger Haberman

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Lt Colonel Roger Haberman

Roger Haberman served with VMF-211. He flew at Guadalcanal from 9th October 1942 to January 1943. Later he flew the F4U Corsair, becoming an Ace with 7 victories.



Colonel Edwin A Harper

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14 / 2 / 2014Died : 14 / 2 / 2014
Colonel Edwin A Harper

Ed Harper was born in Bassano, Alberta, Canada in 1920. He joined VMF-214, the Black Sheep on 7 August 1943 and flew both combat tours from September 1943 to January 1944. He shot down 1 enemy aircraft and two probables on fighter sweeps over Kahili and Rabaul. On 17 October 1943, Ed was wounded in aerial combat and brought back his damaged Corsair to Munda. The next day he flew a mission and scored a probable over a Zero. Ed was also one of the Black Sheep pilots that were reassigned to VMF-211 for a third combat tour after the Black Sheep were disbanded on 8 January 1944. Edwin Harper died on 14th February 2014.


Lt Colonel Ronnie Hay

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22 / 11 / 2001Died : 22 / 11 / 2001
22 / 11 / 2001Ace : 13.00 Victories
Lt Colonel Ronnie Hay

Ronnie Hay joined the Royal Marines in 1935 and volunteered to fly with the Fleet Air Arm. In 1940 he joined 801 Squadron flying Skuas on HMS Ark Royal for the Norwegian Campaign, claiming his first victory on his first operational sortie. He took part in the operations covering the Dunkirk beaches and flew Fulmars with 808 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. By the time Ark Royal was unk in 1941, he had a further 7 victories. In 1944 he became Wing Leader of 47 Naval Wing flying Corsairs aboard HMS Victorious in the Far East where his tally climbed. His final socre was 13 victories. Sadly Ronnie Hay died on 22nd November 2001.



Rear Admiral Roger Hedrick

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10 / 1 / 2006Died : 10 / 1 / 2006
10 / 1 / 2006Ace : 12.00 Victories
Rear Admiral Roger Hedrick

After joining the US Navy in 1936, Roger Hedrick served aboard the USS Ranger before joining VF-17 on USS Bunker Hill as Executive Officer to Tom Blackburn. With over 200 hours in fighters before his first combat, Hedrick brought considerable experience to the squadron. Regarded by Blackburn as the top fighter pilot he flew with in World War Two, Hedrick completed over 100 combat missions and shot down 12 Japanese aircraft, with a number of probables unconfirmed. Flying the F4U he took part in the campaigns in the Solomons, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan. Sadly, he passed away on 10th January 2006.



Lieutenant Colonel William D Heier

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29 / 10 / 2010Died : 29 / 10 / 2010
Lieutenant Colonel William D Heier

Born in Oklahoma City in 1920, Bill Heier joined the RCAF in 1941 and transferred to the US Navy in 1942. He flew both of the Black Sheep combat tours, having joined the squadron on 7 August 1943. During the 21 September 1943 strafing of Kahili, Bills Corsair was damaged and he had to make a water landing off Vella Lavella. He was picked up by a PT boat and returned to the squadron. By the end of his two combat tours he had shot down 4 confirmed enemy aircraft, and 3 probables, during aerial combat over Kahili and Rabaul. He would also fly a third combat tour on Green Island with VMF-211 along with other Black Sheep pilots. William Heier died on 29th October 2010.



Lieutenant Colonel James J Hill

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Lieutenant Colonel James J Hill

James Hill was born in Chicago in 1920. His training involved flying Stearmans, Buffalo and Wildcats. He arrived in the South Pacific on 5 June 1943 after completing flight school in Pensacola, and joined VMF-214 on 7 August 1943, flying Corsairs. He flew both combat tours with the Black Sheep. On 18 October 1943 on a fighter sweep over Kahili Airfield he shot down a Zero in aerial combat. During his two tours with the Black Sheep he flew a total of 70 combat missions, and also flew a third combat tour with VMF-211 on Green Island. He then flew another combat tour with VMF-521 as a pilot instructor, later joining VMF-324 at Midway. In his career he was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 Air Medals.


Major Harry Johnson USMC

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Major Harry Johnson USMC

Harry Johnson went to the Pacific in November 1943, joining VMF-214 as a replacement pilot. He destroyed a Zero in combat on 6th January 1944, two days before VMF-214 were disbanded. Serving later with VMF-218 and VMF-253, he flew a total of 84 missions on Corsairs during WWII, and another 69 missions in Korea.



Lieutenant Tom Killefer

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16 / 6 / 1996Died : 16 / 6 / 1996
Lieutenant Tom Killefer

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Hermosa Beach, Killefer attended Stanford University, where he played varsity baseball and was elected student body president. He earned his law degree at Harvard and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England. Tom Killefer joined the navy in 1941, and was posted to his first operational squadron, VF-18, first seeing combat in October 1943. He flew 58 combat missions, scoring 4 victories, and a number of unconfirmed probables. Like all navy pilots he had a large number of deck landings, and saw action in the North Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Flying the F4F and F4U he took part in the great air battles over Bougainville and the massive campaign against Rabaul. Tom Killefer earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Air Medal and a Purple Heart. Sadly Tom Killefer died at the age of 79 on Sunday 16th June 1996 in Portola Valley, California.



Captain Alan Leahy CBE DSC RN

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Captain Alan Leahy CBE DSC RN

Joined the Royal Navy in 1943 as Naval Airman 2nd Class. he was trained by the US Navy as a fighter pilot flying Corsairs. Later he qualified as an Air Weapons Officer. He has served on the aircraft carriers Implacable, Illustrious, Theseus, Vengeance, Glory, Bulwark, Ark Royal, Victorious and Hermes. He commanded 738 (Seahawks), 803 (Scimitars) 700 Z and 809 (Buccaneers) and has flown 35 different types of aircraft. In 1953 he was awarded the DSC for operations over Korea flying Sea Furies in 801 Squadron from HMS Glory. He was the leader of the all red Royal Navy Seahawk aerobatic team of five aircraft at the 1957 Farnborough Air Show. He was made MBE in 1958. Amongst a variety of appointments he was Director of the Naval Air Warfare Division of the Naval Staff when the Royal Navy got approval for the Sea Harrier. His final appointment was as Commodore Clyde in command of HMS Neptune and the Faslane Submarine Base. He was appointed ADC in 1977 and promoted to CBE in 1978.




Brigadier General Bruce J Matheson

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29 / 1 / 2009Died : 29 / 1 / 2009
Brigadier General Bruce J Matheson

Born in Chicago in 1921, Bruce Matheson enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942 and joined the Black Sheep on 7 August 1943. On 17 October 1943 he shot down a Zero over Kahili but was wounded during the aerial combat. He safely landed his badly damaged Corsair at Munda. On 3 January 1944 Bruce got his last aerial victory, and also confirmed Major Boyingtons final aerial victory before Pappy was shot down near Rabaul. By the end of the second Black Sheep tour, Bruce would have 3 confirmed victories and 1.5 probables. For his third combat tour he was transferred along with 14 other Black Sheep pilots to VMF-211 on Green Island. Sadly he died on 29th January 2009.




Lieutenant Colonel Robert W McClurg

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20 / 1 / 2007Died : 20 / 1 / 2007
20 / 1 / 2007Ace : 7.00 Victories
Lieutenant Colonel Robert W McClurg

Born in Cochocton, Ohio in 1919, Bob McClurg left for the South Pacific on 2 May 1943, joining VMF-214, the Black Sheep, on 7 August 1943. He flew both of the Black Sheep combat tours, and was then transferred to VMF-211 for his third combat tour after the Black Sheep were disbanded. During the Squadrons first aerial combat on 16 September 1943, an escort mission of torpedo and dive-bombers, Bob shot down a Zero over Ballale for one of the Black Sheeps early victories, and his first. By the end of both his combat tours with VMF-214, Bob would have a total of 7 confirmed aerial victories and 2 probables, and was one of the squadrons Aces. After the war he left duty in 1946, but remained active in the reserves, from which he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Sadly, he died on 20th January 2007.




Colonel Bruce Porter USMC

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20 / 4 / 2009Died : 20 / 4 / 2009
20 / 4 / 2009Ace : 7.00 Victories
Colonel Bruce Porter USMC

After a tour in the Pacific, Bruce joined VMF 121 in 1943 at Guadalcanal and soon downed 4 Zeros. He served tours with VMF (N) 511 (first all-Marine carrier squadron) and later VMF (N) 533. He helped lead that squadron on one of the longest over-water flights of WWII for a single engined aircraft - flying from the Marshall-Gilbert islands to Saipan-Iwo Jima. On June 15, 1945 he scored a double night victory at Okinawa, making him an Ace. He was probably the only Marine pilot to gain two or more kills in both the Corsair and Hellcat; and became only one of six Marines to score a double or triple kill in one mission. Sadly, Bruce Porter died 20th April 2009.


Commander Don Sheppard

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20 / 4 / 2009Ace : 5.00 Victories
Commander Don Sheppard

Canadian Don Sheppard joined the RNVR Fleet Air Arm in december 1941. Joining the carrier HMS Victorious he flew with 1836 Sqn on the first successful strike against the German battleship Tirpitz on 3rd April 1944. Remaining with 1836 Sqn he transferred to the RCNVR at this time. In June Victorious sailed for the Indian Ocean, where he flew Corsairs under Ronnie Hay, becoming an Ace. Later he flew in the Pacific off Okinawa.




Colonel James E Swett USMC MOH

Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Colonel James E Swett USMC MOH

18 / 1 / 2009Died : 18 / 1 / 2009
18 / 1 / 2009Ace : 15.50 Victories
Colonel James E Swett USMC MOH

Jim Swett became one of the top-scoring F4U Aces, with 15.5 victories in 94 missions in the Corsair, but he had already earned himself the Congressional Medal of Honor piloting the F4F Wildcat before switching to the F4U. Leading a four plane section with VMF 221 on April 7, 1942 he shot down no fewer than 7 Japanese Val dive-bombers in an engagement over Tulagi Harbor, before taking a hit himself, and ditching in the sea. In all Jim Swett flew 211 combat missions, 94 in F4U Corsairs, made 120 carrier launches and recoveries, and in addition to his Medal of Honor, was awarded 6 DFCs and 2 Purple Hearts. Sadly, Jim Swett died on 18th January 2009.

Citation for Medal of Honor

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as a division leader in Marine Fighting Squadron TWO TWENTY-ONE in action against enemy Japanese aerial forces in the Solomon Islands Area, April 7, 1943. In a daring flight to intercept a wave of 150 Japanese planes, First Lieutenant Swett unhesitatingly hurled his four-plane division into action against a formation of fifteen enemy bombers and during his dive personally exploded three hostile planes in mid-air with accurate and deadly fire. Although separated from his division while clearing the heavy concentration of anti-aircraft fire, he boldly attacked six enemy bombers, engaged the first four in turn, and unaided, shot them down in flames. Exhausting his ammunition as he closed the fifth Japanese bomber, he relentlessly drove his attack against terrific opposition which partially disabled his engine, shattered the windscreen and slashed his face. In spite of this, he brought his battered plane down with skillful precision in the water off Tulagi without further injury. The superb airmanship and tenacious fighting spirit which enabled First Lieutenant Swett to destroy seven enemy bombers in a single flight were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Captain Stanley Swede Vejtasa USN

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18 / 1 / 2009Ace : 11.00 Victories
Captain Stanley Swede Vejtasa USN

Commissioned in August 1939, Swede Vejtasas first combat assignment was in May 1942 whilst flying the SBD Dauntless with VS-5 aboard the USS Yorktown during the Battle of the Coral Sea. here he participated in the attack on the Japanese carrier Shoho, and flew anti-torpedo plane patrol, claiming three Zeroes. Switching to fighters with VF-10 flying the F4F Wildcat aboard the USS Enterprise he took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz, where he notched up 7 air victories on one flight in October. In March 1943 he flight-tested the new F4U Corsair in the combat zone. His final tally for the war was 11 aerial victories.


Capt E Royce Williams USN

Click the name above to see prints signed by Capt E Royce Williams USN
Capt E Royce Williams USN

Royce Williams was born in Wilmot, South Dakota in 1925. In 1936 his family moved to Clinton, Minnesota where a familyowned grocery business was established. Royee worked in the business, but preferred outside work including activities at his Uncle's farm and lakeside resort. He was active in the 411 club and the Boy Scouts, and became the first young man from Clinton to attain Eagle Scout status. In high school Royce played three sports, including quarterback on his school's football team. He graduated first in his class. Royce had boyhood dreams of becoming a military pilot. His older brother had Joined the Navy in 1942, becoming a Marine Corps aviator. In March of 1943 Royce Joined up, and he became a naval aviator. Royce became carrier qualified in the F6F Hellcat on the old USS Ranger (CV-4.) He flew the F6F, and later the F4U Corsair and the F8F Bearcat. Royce attended the University of Minnesota where he earned his Bachelors Degree. He later would attend the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey. Royee eventually transitioned to jets, where his first operational deployment was on board the USSOriskany, flyingthe17917-5 Panther. While deployed in Korea with the VF-781 (later redesignated V17-121) Pacemakers, Royee engaged seven Soviet-piloted Mig-15s on November 18, 1952. The Oriskany was only 100 miles from V1adivostok. Shortly after take-off Williain's flight of four Panthers encountered the seven Migs. Royce was instructed to reverse course and hold a barrier between the Migs and the Task Force, but the Migs attacked. It is believed that Royce downed three of the bogies, although official reports credited him with only one. With his Panther badly shot-up R oyce limped back to the Oriskany and got his aircraft home with the help of the LSO and ship's Captain. The engagement was politically sensitive as the US Government feared escalating Soviet involvement in the War in Korea. Mig kills were rare for the Navy in Korea (only 55 aerial victories), and the Panther was generally outclassed by the Mig-15 in most dogfights. Royce remained in the Navy until his retirement in 1980. He served as an exchange pilot with the USAF flying the F-86 and F-100. He also served as CO, XO and of VF-33 on board the USS Enterprise flying the F8-E Crusader, and later on board the USS America flying the F-4 Phantom 11. He also served as an Air Wing Commander during the Vietnam War. He also served as CO of the USS Eldorado, with CINCPAC Staff as COS ConiFAITWestPac, and as ACOS OPS ComTracPac. Royce's decorations include the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Combat V, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Bronze Star Medal. He married his hometown sweetheart, Cam, in 1947. They have three sons. Royce currently resides in Southern California.


Aviation History Timeline : 22nd April
DAYMONTHYEARDETAILS
22April1934William Thaw, a WW1 Ace with 5.83 victories, died on this day
22April1943 James Francis Edwards of shot down a Me323
22April2006Knight's Cross recipient Hermann Eggers of 3./Flak-Regiment 64 died on this day

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