FAA Pilots impression of the Corsair

pinehilljoe

Senior Airman
618
376
May 1, 2016
I'm in the middle of the book, the Forgotten Fleet, The Story of the British Pacific Fleet by John Winton. He has a chapter on the Hellcat and Corsair, filled with first hand accounts. A squadron leader was in the US to take delivery of a squadron of Corsairs, here's his impression:

1669771291535.png


Half way through the book, its very good, filled with first hand accounts.
 

EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,001
1,933
Oct 19, 2021
That quote came from Norman Hanson who in July 1943 was then Senior Pilot of the third FAA Corsair squadron to form (1833 on 15 July 1943) The first squadron, 1830, had formed on 1 June, and the second on 1 July, 1831. All were side by side at Quonset Point. By the time Hanson first saw the Corsair in that hangar, the rumours about it were going around the base. In those 6 weeks there had been a number of aircraft lost with at least 4 pilots killed (from an initial 20) from those first two squadrons

Hanson was by then an experienced pilot but his fighter training had been on Fulmars and, IIRC,Sea Hurricanes. The Corsair was a huge step up in performance for him, let alone the more junior pilots straight from training schools. And many of the aircraft being flown were the very earliest “birdcage”Mk.I, well before all the various bugs were ironed out. It was Spring 1944 before some of those reached his squadron in Ceylon.

In March 1944 he became CO after his predecessor was killed in a flying accident in Ceylon.

Squadron histories & crew lists here:-

Hanson published his wartime memoirs way back in 1979 under the title “Carrier Pilot”. He flew operationally until April 1945 over Okinawa, when HMS Illustrious was withdrawn to return to the U.K. to refit. Now available as a free download on Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon product
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,350
6,298
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
This post reminded me of Canada's last (or 2nd last) VC.

 

Big Jake

Airman 1st Class
114
76
Apr 15, 2007
Florida
From Capt. Eric Brown's "Wings of the Navy": It [the Corsair] was an anathema to some pilots and shear ambrosia to others. There were those pilots that acclaimed it as the best single-seat fighter of any nation to emerge from WW2; there were pilots that pronounced it a vicious killer equally dispassionate towards killing its pilot as his opponent. Indeed, few fighters were capable of arousing within those that flew them such extremes of passion as was the Corsair".
 

Macandy

Senior Airman
360
246
Aug 6, 2017
The Fleet Air Arm nickname for the Corsair was the 'Bent winged bastard' - It was a beast of a plane, and it took no prisoners.
But! If you mastered it, it was one of the most lethal thing in the skies. Very fast, very tough, terrific handling.


Interesting bit of history

The Fleet Air Arm was lumbered with a large number of the awful Brewster built Corsairs the USN refused to accept as they were riddled with manufacturing defects.
The FAA was however perfectly happy with them - compared to the absolute trash that British manufacturers had been supplying them, these 'problem child' Corsairs seemed to the FAA pilots and aircraftsmen like they had been built by Cadillac!
 

EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,001
1,933
Oct 19, 2021
The Fleet Air Arm nickname for the Corsair was the 'Bent winged bastard' - It was a beast of a plane, and it took no prisoners.
But! If you mastered it, it was one of the most lethal thing in the skies. Very fast, very tough, terrific handling.


Interesting bit of history

The Fleet Air Arm was lumbered with a large number of the awful Brewster built Corsairs the USN refused to accept as they were riddled with manufacturing defects.
The FAA was however perfectly happy with them - compared to the absolute trash that British manufacturers had been supplying them, these 'problem child' Corsairs seemed to the FAA pilots and aircraftsmen like they had been built by Cadillac!
More complete rubbish.

Dana Bell, who has researched the Corsair extensively noted:-
“Though Brewster Corsairs are often cited as inferior, Navy records do not agree. .....Brewster engineers had handled special projects, such as the shorter British wingtips, the centreline bomb rack, and a (poorly documented) Corsair wing. Brewster, however, had management and labor problems - raising costs and delaying F3A deliveries. By early 1944, the Navy was pleased with Brewster production, but in April a new board of directors was elected. Unhappy with several of the members, the Navy terminated Brewster contracts 22 May, allowing completion of up to 150 more aircraft by 1 July. Lawsuits followed, and most of BuAer’s Brewster files were pulled by legal offices - leaving little documentation in today’s archives.”

Brewster built 735 F3A Corsairs before its contract was terminated. Of those, 430 (60%) went to the FAA as the Corsair III, the remaining 40% staying with the USN. Britain stopped receiving them several months before production ceased altogether. Neither the FAA nor the USN deployed them with operational squadrons but both used them extensively with units working up to operational readiness all the way through to the end of WW2.

Those 430 Corsair III represented only 23% of the 1,892 Corsairs Britain received under Lend Lease in WW2.

Britain also used the 95 early Vought production Corsair I only for training purposes, again replacing them with Corsair II/IV before units became operational.
 

Macandy

Senior Airman
360
246
Aug 6, 2017
More complete rubbish.

Dana Bell, who has researched the Corsair extensively noted:-
“Though Brewster Corsairs are often cited as inferior, Navy records do not agree. .....Brewster engineers had handled special projects, such as the shorter British wingtips, the centreline bomb rack, and a (poorly documented) Corsair wing. Brewster, however, had management and labor problems - raising costs and delaying F3A deliveries. By early 1944, the Navy was pleased with Brewster production, but in April a new board of directors was elected. Unhappy with several of the members, the Navy terminated Brewster contracts 22 May, allowing completion of up to 150 more aircraft by 1 July. Lawsuits followed, and most of BuAer’s Brewster files were pulled by legal offices - leaving little documentation in today’s archives.”

Brewster built 735 F3A Corsairs before its contract was terminated. Of those, 430 (60%) went to the FAA as the Corsair III, the remaining 40% staying with the USN. Britain stopped receiving them several months before production ceased altogether. Neither the FAA nor the USN deployed them with operational squadrons but both used them extensively with units working up to operational readiness all the way through to the end of WW2.

Those 430 Corsair III represented only 23% of the 1,892 Corsairs Britain received under Lend Lease in WW2.

Britain also used the 95 early Vought production Corsair I only for training purposes, again replacing them with Corsair II/IV before units became operational.

Limits on manoeuvring were imposed on Brewster built Corsairs after defective construction was found in wings.

You really need to do some basic research… but allow me to assist.

'Brewster built relativly few F4Us mainly due to poor management and poorer labor/management relations. USN pilots did not care for the Brewster built birds as some had been delivered with apparent sabotage and mosst had very low quality of construction.'

'When Brewster, which had produced some of the least successful military aircraft, including the Buffalo and Bermuda, began rolling out F3As, they became the subject of a government investigation owing to their many production defects. One USMC pilot remembers trying to avoid flying the Brewster built Corsairs because it was rumored in the squadron that the planes were prone to shedding their wings.The government solved the problem by terminating Brewster production and assigning most of the already built F3As to training squadrons or shipping them to the British as part of Lend-Lease'.

'On Aug.23, 1943, despite having taken a wartime 'no-strike pledge' United Auto Workers Local 365 struck the plant for four days, at a cost of 240,000 man-hours, the time it would have taken to build 20 planes.
Worse, the Johnsville action seemed trivial: Guards had not been allowed to choose their posts - front gate or bathrooms - by seniority. Even a pro-Brewster newspaper dubbed it "the most disgusting strike in the history of this country."
The union local's flamboyant president, Thomas V. DeLorenzo, fanned the fire. "If I had brothers at the front line who needed the 10 or 12 planes that were sacrificed [in the strike], I'd let them die, if necessary, to preserve our way of life or rights or whatever you want to call it," he told a Washington Post reporter.
To readers - including many in Congress - the Brewster plant was a portrait of trade-unionism gone insane.
For three months in 1943, the House held hearings, and what lawmakers learned about the factory astounded them:
-Apparent sabotage by workers led to Buccaneers that would lose rudder control, or with engines that could not be turned off.
-Workers spent hours loafing in the factory known as the "Bucks County Playhouse" and some allegedly had sex in the planes. Rival shifts hid parts from each other.
-(?) $50,000 worth of tools and materials were stolen.
But the chaos was not limited to the workforce. Strange tales of inept management abounded.
When supervisors discovered tools left in finished planes, for instance, they ordered disbelieving engineers to build a giant device to flip planes and shake out loose bolts and tools.
Before the hearings even ended, the Navy canned the Buccaneer, hauling more than 300 of them out of the plant as scrap.
By then, the Buccaneer already was a joke among U.S. pilots. Though some of the bombers were in Navy combat units, not one saw battle. Most were used for training; others were launched into the sea to test catapults on aircraft carriers.
Production at Johnsville switched to the Corsair fighter, designed by Vaught. But by early 1944, the Navy canceled that contract, too, and closed the plant.'
 

Dana Bell

Senior Airman
488
1,088
Sep 17, 2016
Hi Macandy,

I'm curious what you consider basic research - where did your quotes come from? It's true that there were problems with Brewster wing construction, but all Vought, Goodyear, and Brewster outer wing panels were built at Briggs; all inner wing sections were built at the same subcontractor (IIRC, Willeys?) All three Corsair producers had the same problem with hinges, and all three companies had unsatisfactory reports on hinge failures. Whatever source you chose found a problem with Brewster Corsairs, but ignored the problem turning up in ALL Corsairs. (The problem was eventually solved.)

The report you quoted mixed complains about Buffaloes and Bermudas and then assumed they were also found in Corsairs.

Much is made of the Navy's choice to send F3As to training units - this is often cited as proof that Brewster's Corsairs were too dangerous for combat units. Hogwash. Brewster built only 735 Corsairs - 430 of them went to the UK. The first 60 US Navy units were Birdcages, delivered after Vought and Goodyear had moved on to "-1As" - makes sense to send the older models to training units. The last 131 units were "1As" delivered after Vought and Goodyear had moved on to -1Ds and F4U-4s - again, the older models made more sense in training units. That leaves the first 114 Brewster F3A-1As. Their "problem" can be traced back to production delays - while Vought and Goodyear were adding the latest modifications, updates, and systems to production at an acceptable rate, Brewster was still struggling to deliver Corsairs built to older specs. I'm shocked that writers continue to think the Navy felt it was safer to train (and kill) fledgling pilots in dangerous aircraft so that the survivors would have the advantage of taking safer aircraft into combat.

The Navy did file a long report justifying its closure of the Brewster plant - all of the problems surrounded poor management and poor work ethics leading to very high costs per aircraft and very slow production rates. The Navy needed to justify what was considered an extreme action in wartime - the closing of a wartime combat aircraft factory. If there was a particular problem with the quality of the F3A versus the F4U or FG, that report would have been the perfect place to include it.

The Corsair story had been locked in myth to the point that when the actual history is found in the archival record, the truth is challenged as not following the myths...

Cheers,



Dana
 

SaparotRob

Unter Gemeine Geschwader Murmeltier XIII
8,686
8,050
Mar 12, 2020
Long Island, NY
Hi Macandy,

I'm curious what you consider basic research - where did your quotes come from? It's true that there were problems with Brewster wing construction, but all Vought, Goodyear, and Brewster outer wing panels were built at Briggs; all inner wing sections were built at the same subcontractor (IIRC, Willeys?) All three Corsair producers had the same problem with hinges, and all three companies had unsatisfactory reports on hinge failures. Whatever source you chose found a problem with Brewster Corsairs, but ignored the problem turning up in ALL Corsairs. (The problem was eventually solved.)

The report you quoted mixed complains about Buffaloes and Bermudas and then assumed they were also found in Corsairs.

Much is made of the Navy's choice to send F3As to training units - this is often cited as proof that Brewster's Corsairs were too dangerous for combat units. Hogwash. Brewster built only 735 Corsairs - 430 of them went to the UK. The first 60 US Navy units were Birdcages, delivered after Vought and Goodyear had moved on to "-1As" - makes sense to send the older models to training units. The last 131 units were "1As" delivered after Vought and Goodyear had moved on to -1Ds and F4U-4s - again, the older models made more sense in training units. That leaves the first 114 Brewster F3A-1As. Their "problem" can be traced back to production delays - while Vought and Goodyear were adding the latest modifications, updates, and systems to production at an acceptable rate, Brewster was still struggling to deliver Corsairs built to older specs. I'm shocked that writers continue to think the Navy felt it was safer to train (and kill) fledgling pilots in dangerous aircraft so that the survivors would have the advantage of taking safer aircraft into combat.

The Navy did file a long report justifying its closure of the Brewster plant - all of the problems surrounded poor management and poor work ethics leading to very high costs per aircraft and very slow production rates. The Navy needed to justify what was considered an extreme action in wartime - the closing of a wartime combat aircraft factory. If there was a particular problem with the quality of the F3A versus the F4U or FG, that report would have been the perfect place to include it.

The Corsair story had been locked in myth to the point that when the actual history is found in the archival record, the truth is challenged as not following the myths...

Cheers,



Dana
That's an amazing bit of info. The Buffalo gets written up as awful as does Brewster. The Corsairs they were building was beset by problems. It had never occurred to me that other manufacturers may have contributed to the problems. It never occurred to me that other airplane manufacturers had similar trouble and similar sub-contractors. I had never looked farther than popular press stories.
Great post.
 

Geoffrey Sinclair

Senior Airman
409
736
Sep 30, 2021
For those who think the US did really well in WWII aircraft production consider Ford Willow run never operated at full capacity due to a lack of workers, Ford was aiming for 1 B-24 an hour. Supplying Willow Run were 965 subcontractors located in 287 cities in 38 states, all up around 35 to 36% of total worker hours per B-24 from Ford were worked by subcontractors.

Corsair, worker hours per completed aircraft. The percentage of the total hours done by subcontractors, Vought 45 to 50%, Goodyear 45 to 55%, Brewster 30 to 35%.
MonthVoughtGoodyearBrewster
Jan-43​
27,273​
Feb-43​
16,567​
Mar-43​
16,364​
Apr-43​
15,859​
May-43​
15,789​
67,410​
Jun-43​
14,408​
68,636​
25,000​
Jul-43​
12,813​
33,309​
25,000​
Aug-43​
13,044​
33,309​
25,000​
Sep-43​
11,167​
26,005​
25,000​
Oct-43​
10,375​
22,136​
48,438​
Nov-43​
9,504​
18,782​
43,750​
Dec-43​
9,411​
18,080​
28,906​
Jan-44​
9,055​
17,160​
24,746​
Feb-44​
8,593​
15,566​
21,807​
Mar-44​
8,279​
14,151​
19,864​
Apr-44​
8,117​
10,000​
18,320​
May-44​
7,637​
9,804​
Jun-44​
7,434​
7,571​
Jul-44​
7,196​
9,362​
Aug-44​
7,084​
9,130​
Sep-44​
7,012​
8,222​
Oct-44​
6,700​
7,111​
Nov-44​
6,365​
6,889​
Dec-44​
7,687​
6,667​
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,350
6,298
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
For those who think the US did really well in WWII aircraft production consider Ford Willow run never operated at full capacity due to a lack of workers,
Whenever I see photos from the US mega aircraft factories I often notice the lack of workers, plus usually groups standing around, presumably waiting for parts. Maybe these photos were taken at lunch or the workers told to get out of the shot?

f4u-corsair-production-line-bettmann.jpg



9a4aa6b509048b6e48?width=600&format=jpeg&auto=webp.jpg
 

pbehn

Lieutenant Colonel
11,880
8,358
Oct 30, 2013
That's an amazing bit of info. The Buffalo gets written up as awful as does Brewster. The Corsairs they were building was beset by problems. It had never occurred to me that other manufacturers may have contributed to the problems. It never occurred to me that other airplane manufacturers had similar trouble and similar sub-contractors. I had never looked farther than popular press stories.
Great post.
That is just your opinion. I was just getting ready to vent my spleen about poor Brits being given crap planes when someone introduced some facts, I really hate it when that happens.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,097
8,668
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
Whenever I see photos from the US mega aircraft factories I often notice the lack of workers, plus usually groups standing around, presumably waiting for parts. Maybe these photos were taken at lunch or the workers told to get out of the shot?

View attachment 697667


View attachment 697668
Having worked in several of these "mega factories" (of course not during WW2) I can tell you that many times photos like these were taken during lunch or shift change and depending on the program were limited to only certain parts of the production line
 

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