Few aircraft are considered to be more legendary than the F4U Corsair. Corsairs have been the focus of many books over the years, including two Detail & Scale titles (volumes 55 and 56). Recently opened files at the National Archives and National Air and Space Museum came to the attention of aviation researcher and author Dana Bell, and material for new perspectives on the Corsair came to light. Originally planned as a single book, Bell encountered such a treasure trove of information and never-before published photos that he decided to break up the material into two books. Previously we reviewed Volume 1 here which covered prototype and Birdcage Corsairs (<link here>) Here, we’ll take a look at Bell’s F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2, which covers the raised cockpit variants of the F4U-1A, -1C, and -1D.
F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2 is a softcover book in 8.5” x 11” format, with pages printed on glossy paper and the print quality is first rate. It is the same length as Volume 1 at 72 pages, and it packs in a great deal of information and never-before-seen material. The text and captions are well written and edited. The text is simultaneously concise and highly informative. The main body of text opens the book, summarizing the history of the raised cockpit development of the centerline hardpoints and twin pylons of the -1D, the 20 mm cannons of the 1-C, exports to England and New Zealand, reconnaissance Corsairs, and the details of the production runs at Brewster and Goodyear factories. The author also describes how the Corsair’s initial difficulty in landing on carriers was fixed.
Canopy and gunsight variations are described next, followed by notes on engine evolution, fuel tanks, development of underwing rockets, and variations in radio and antenna configuration. A definitive discussion on colors and markings will be very useful to scale modelers. This section also speaks to the debate in the scale modeling community regarding Corsair primer colors (pink/orange “salmon primer” versus zinc chromate yellow), cockpit colors (aluminized zinc chromate versus dull dark green), and landing gear colors. An exhaustive listing of serial numbers and associated production changes are listed for all Vought, Brewster, and Goodyear Birdcage F4U-1A, -1Cs, and -1Ds. I find all of this documentation to serve as an invaluable knowledge base to historians and scale modelers alike.
The photos, of course, are the heart of this illustration-heavy volume and are just as valuable as the text. Many of the large-format figures (most are black-and-white while some are in color) are again nothing less than spectacular in print quality and the visual information they carry. Just like Volume 1, the pictures function more like a time machine, transporting a reader back some 70 years in ways that few books can achieve. Scale modelers will find great value in the richly detailed and crisp images of the raised cockpit variant’s powerplant, engine accessory bay, the water injection system of the R-2800-8W engine, cockpit details, and airframe details such as fuselage reinforcement plates. The new canopies of the raised cockpit variants are covered in detail, including an experimental fitting of a P-47K Thunderbolt canopy. Detail photos and technical notes are provided on the centerline drop tank, bomb rack, bomb shackle variants, the Mk. 5 rocket launching system, radio configuration changes, external lights, and more.
The outstanding photographic coverage is complemented by various original engineering line drawings. Volume 1 contains extensively researched color profiles of diverse Corsair paint schemes, and in Volume 2, the same treatment is provided only for British Corsairs Marks II and III.
I can find no shortcomings in this book beyond the fact that many readers, including myself, would probably wish that it would have been longer yet still.
Dana Bell’s F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2 is a superlative volume on the F4U-1A, -1C, and -1D. Just as with the first volume, it is engaging, impeccably researched, and immensely informative. Corsair fans will find this book to be a highly valued reference, and scale modelers will find this book living on their workbench no matter what scale or kit of a raised cockpit variant Corsair they’re working on.
You can find F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2 available at amazon.com, hopefully at your local hobby shop, and at Classic Warships website (http://www.classicwarships.com/) where you can also see their other titles.
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale