Settle an argument for me, who developed the F4U's curved approach for carrier landings.

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PAT303

Tech Sergeant
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Dec 31, 2018
So there is a sequence in the movie Devoted that shows an F4U coming in too low so the pilot gives it a fist full of power at the last minute when he is waved off causing the Corsair to roll onto it's back and dive into the ocean killing him, I came across a discussion about it and many obviously American members have argued that the USN had developed and perfected the curved approach technique that has been, in their eyes falsely attributed to the FAA. So who is correct?, did the USN tame the F4U before the Brits even got their hands on them?.
 
The USN developed the approach.

Now, before someone jumps up and screams "NO NO NO IT WAS THE ROYAL NAVY!!!"

Please let me remind one and all that every single RN squadron equipped with F4U type aircraft, yes, all, ALL, of them, received their corsairs in the US. The pilots were trained to operate the F4U in the US at USN air stations. They carrier qualified in the F4U aboard USN carriers under USN instruction. The info on which squadron trained where is available if one can bestir oneself to look.

When, long ago, I was conversing with a couple of US naval aviators with F4U experience and, in my youthful (so we're talking some 50-55 years ago) ignorance made mention of the claim of RN development, I was informed by the gents, after stifled scoffing noises, that there was only one way to approach a carrier in an F4U and keep the LSO in sight . . . everyone knew it and no one felt they had to claim it. Keeping the LSO in sight is pretty much a requirement. One US naval aviator of my acquaintance said to the effect that anyone with any experience - he'd been flying fighters since the spring of 1941 and had three combat deployments under his belt before climbing into his first F4U - can figure out the method after the first FCLP; the method was pretty obvious . . . worked for him the very first time going aboard a carrier.

Further, and contrary to the nonsense on the internet, the USN was operating F4Us in combat off carriers BEFORE the RN, period, full stop.
 
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Just another story that becomes fact in that case. I have even seen it in historical books.

Seems it was happening way before the internet too. From primary school on the next two generations up were
always telling me and others that the Australian navy won the battle of the Coral Sea because the 'yanks' weren't there.
 
While not disputing the above, it is perhaps easy to see why the story has gone down in history the way it has.

The Corsair got its long nose in the transition from the sole XF4U prototype to the F4U-1 production aircraft which first flew on 25 June 1942. It was March 1943 before USN squadrons began their carrier qualifications seemingly without much difficulty. The first FAA Corsair squadron didn't form until June 1943 and did its first deck landing practice on U.S.S. Charger in Sept that year. No doubt both navies had dummy deck landing practice prior to that (ADDLP in FAA parlance).

But turn the clock back to the end of 1941. At Christmas 1941 a hooked Spitfire Vb, another aircraft with a long nose, was decklanded for the first time on Illustrious. More trials were carried out on Victorious in March & April 1942 and the first front line squadron received Seafires on 23 June 1942 and first went aboard Furious at the beginning of Sept.

Another FAA aircraft notorious for its long nose was the Blackburn Firebrand which first flew in prototype form in Feb 1942. (During its extended development period it acquired a second ASI on the port side of the fuselage just forward of the cockpit to allow the pilot to keep an eye on the airspeed while flying the curved approach to the deck. An early form of HUD!).

So the FAA had gained experience of the long nose and visibility problem a few months before the USN.

And of course there was the experience of the RAF pilot who successfully landed his unhooked Spitfire on the U.S.S. Wasp on 9th May 1942 during her second Malta run after it suffered a drop tank failure.

During this time both navies had begun to work closely together. So was there cross fertilisation? Or was it just the logical solution to a problem that needed solved? Who knows.

The alternative to the curved approach, and the one favoured by Eric Brown, was to fly the aircraft straight in but crabbed slightly to starboard so the pilot could look down the side of the fuselage. Then apply corrective rudder just before touchdown. But then his skills were above average.
 
Royal Navy Cadets, Lambert Field US Naval reserve Air Base, Saint Louis, MO.
Lambert Field US Naval Reserve Air Base, Saint Louis, MO.jpg
 
Hi
According to Eric Brown it was Peter Bramwell, after trials on HMS Illustrious on the Clyde during Christmas week 1941, who recommended that a "curving approach technique" be adopted for the hooked Spitfire (Seafire) so as the pilot could keep the batsman in sight for as long as possible.
It is apparent that the use of the curving approaches were quite well known by the FAA before the introduction of the Corsair.

Mike
 
Hi
According to Eric Brown it was Peter Bramwell, after trials on HMS Illustrious on the Clyde during Christmas week 1941, who recommended that a "curving approach technique" be adopted for the hooked Spitfire (Seafire) so as the pilot could keep the batsman in sight for as long as possible.
It is apparent that the use of the curving approaches were quite well known by the FAA before the introduction of the Corsair.

Mike
I would think whomever made the second F4U carrier landing. After the first landing, realizing he couldn't see well, our man would have adjusted his second landing. Is this really so complicated?
 
A slow curving approach was simply FAA SOP.
Small decks, keep your eye on the spot - Swordfish, Martlets, Fulmars, slow curving approach
 
I thought the Corsair needed a curved approach at low level because it tended to float across the deck and bounce on landing, A curved approach to the landing strip was normal even in WW1. Also, from what I read it was the bat men that needed training as much as the pilots, since on a curved approach the wings arent level anyway.
 
I thought the Corsair needed a curved approach at low level because it tended to float across the deck and bounce on landing, A curved approach to the landing strip was normal even in WW1. Also, from what I read it was the bat men that needed training as much as the pilots, since on a curved approach the wings arent level anyway.
Looking at the subject I think the FAA would have been using the curved approach with the Seafire long before the F4U simply because it was in service earlier, as posted already there would have been lots of people coming up with the same idea's as what is the best way to tackle the problem on both sides of the ocean as well as the floating over the deck and bouncing issue which the Seafire also had. I only started this thread because on the other discussion there was some obvious chest beating going on from a number of the posters.
 
Trying not to show favoritism the unloved Skua may have caused a few problems with deck view on landing.
l2867.jpg

Not at bad as some others but it was a lot better before they moved the engine over 2ft forward.

I am beginning to wonder if the curved approach was a lot more standard than most of us realize.
 
^ that's what I'm thinking too, I find it hard to believe it's a Corsair specific problem. I will try and find the clip from the movie, it's a brutal ending for the pilot.
 
Guess no one told the director that the standard procedure was to fly down the port side and then come back around for the trap . . . none of this gyrating around while approaching from astern from miles and miles away . . .
From the trailers I've seen I have been having my doubts about the true thrust of the story and now seeing such an obvious mistake I've lost any interest.
 
Guess no one told the director that the standard procedure was to fly down the port side and then come back around for the trap . . . none of this gyrating around while approaching from astern from miles and miles away . . .
From the trailers I've seen I have been having my doubts about the true thrust of the story and now seeing such an obvious mistake I've lost any interest.
As a guy who has flown military (fighters), commercial, and some civilian just about any aviation movie is WAY short on accuracy. Technique only, I squint a bit and try to enjoy the story.

Cheers,
Biff
 
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