As the war raged, Vought continued to experiment with ways to upgrade their potent fighter. One early development, the F4U-2, adapted the F4U-1 as a night-fighter. A number of these aircraft did see service in the war. This was the only night-fighter variant of a naval aircraft to receive an entirely new model type (the F6F-5N was the Hellcat's night-fighter variant of the -5). Another experimental variant, the XF4U-3 looked to improve high-altitude performance with the use of two Bierman superchargers (reliability issues led to the abandonment of the project).
In 1943 Vought pulled several F4U-1As out of assembly and made further modifications. The most significant was the removal of the six Browning .50cal machine guns and their replacement with four potent Hispano M2 20mm cannon each with 231rds per gun. These explosive shells provided a significant increase in the aircraft's firepower, both due to physical size of the shell and the high-explosive charge in the tip of each round. What would become the F4U-1C was born. Experiments and testing continued to follow throughout 1943 and 1944, with the aircraft being accepted for production.
Numerous refinements implemented in the F4U-1D, which actually saw deployment to the warzone first, were also adapted into the F4U-1C. The partly-framed canopy of the 1A was replaced with the full bubble used in the 1D. Parts of the fabric undersides of the wings were replaced with metal plates, the centerline pylon was omitted and replaced with the same two inner-wing pylons as the 1D, and rocket stubs were added for two 5" HVAR rockets on each wing for a total of four. The fuel tanks in the wings were also omitted. The 1C also utilized the same landing gear oleo strut corrections that would finally make the F4U fully carrier-qualified.
Despite the remarkable power of the 20mm cannon the weapons were not well-received. The US-built version of the Hispano 20mm was notoriously unreliable. Additionally, some early 1Cs suffered from gun jams at higher altitudes until improved deicers for the guns could be installed. Changes made for the M2 version were insufficient to rectify all the problems, however when it worked the Hispano was a powerful weapons system and gave the 1C a massive punch that made her superb as a strike aircraft due to the effectiveness of the 20mm against more hardened targets on the ground. In the air the general fragility of the Corsair's Japanese opponents made the increased power of the 20mm unnecessary, and most pilots preferred the more reliable and still potent Browning .50cal due to its higher rate of fire and larger ammunition load. The increased mass of the cannon and its ammunition also impacted performance, and the 1C was the least maneuverable of the main Corsair variants.
In addition to its armament, another peculiarity of the 1C is the BuNo series. F4U-1C airframes were pulled from random blocks off assembly lines for the F4U-1A, so there is little direct progression in the serial numbers of the 1C. Only one F4U-1C, the first test mule designated #277, was painted in the tricolor scheme. The rest were all painted in the same semi-gloss sea blue as the 1D.
The F4U-1C was one of the rarest Corsair variants produced. Only 200 were built, in part due to the preference for the Browning .50cal. Despite entering development and production first, the 1C actually entered active service after the 1D. The first 1Ds began to arrive in 1944, but the 1C was not deployed to the Pacific until the Spring of 1945. F4U-1Cs were flown by a small number of units in the Pacific, including VF-85 off USS Shangri-La. Interestingly, VF-85 shared their home base with the F4U-1Ds of VBF-85. Both squadrons actually operated interchangeably, with both men and aircraft shuffling between squadrons as need or availability dictated. Carrier Air Group 85 is perhaps unique in the Navy of fielding two F4U squadrons and no F6Fs, (although six were carried for night-fighter and reconnaissance duties) and was certainly unusual for operating one with the rare 1Cs, and the other the more conventional 1Ds.
F4U-1Cs in small numbers flew combat sorties throughout the final months of the war alongside the F4U-1D, and soon the last Corsair variant to see action in WWII and the aircraft that could be the greatest American fighter of the Second World War:
The F4U-1C in Aces High II
The F4U-1C is very similar to the 1D in most respects. However, unlike most American iron she trades in the Browning six-pack for the devastating Hispano M2 20mm cannon. These hard-hitting guns add a new lethality to an already formidable fighter.
The F4U-1C mounts the same variant of the massive Pratt and Whitney R-2800 radial engine as the 1A, (R-2800-8(W)) generating 2000hp under standard combat power on the deck, and an additional 250hp with WEP. She also replaces the "toothpick" propeller of the -1 with the 1A's three-bladed paddle prop. The result is a marked improvement in acceleration and rate of climb over the -1. She's the slowest of all the Hogs, due to the added weight and drag of the big 20mm cannon.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Excellent. The F4U-1C carries four Hispano M2 20mm cannon, with plenty in the clip. Unlike the .50cal, the hitting power of the 20mm is not significantly affected by range due to the high-explosive charge in each cannon shell. This means that longer convergence is possible than would be advisable with the Brownings. The ballistics properties of the Hispano are also excellent, and are not too far off that of the Ma Deuce, so if you can hit with the .50cal, the Hispanos take very little adjustment. The one issue when setting convergence is to remember the guns are still out on the wings, so while close convergence may not be necessary for hitting power, it will make gunnery significantly easier.
The 1C is exceptional in ground attack. She can carry a total load-out of 2x1000lb bombs and 4x5" HVAR. This is less than the 1D, but the 20mm help make up for it with their strafing capability. The cannon can be set to converge at greater range, making her more effective in a strafing run than the Browning-armed Hogs, which can be invaluable for taking out AAA and other ground targets without having to get too close. Additionally, while the Hispanos may not outright take out an Ostwind or Wirblewind, tracks, engine and turret are all much more vulnerable to cannon fire than to the .50cal. The cannon should also cut through lightly-armored vehicles such as the M8 and LVT like lasers.
The F4U-1C is the least agile of the Hogs, owing to the added mass of the 20mm cannon. Despite this, maneuverability remains excellent throughout her speed range, however her best performance falls between 250-350mph. Rate of roll in the Corsair is excellent, and actually improves as airspeed increases. Instantaneous turn is superb at all speeds and she's one of the best at high-speed sustained turns, especially when utilizing energy saving or building maneuvers such as the low yo-yo. Controls remain responsive up through incredibly high airspeeds, and though the Corsair can compress, it occurs long after most opponents are in elevator lock or have begun shedding parts. At the bottom end of this range the F4U can begin taking advantage of her flaps, which are among the most effective of any aircraft in the game. The first notch can be dropped at 250mph IAS, above speeds where most better-turning opponents can begin to put theirs into effect. Responsiveness is strong, and will haul the Corsair's long nose around faster than most opponents would expect from 12,000lbs of airplane.
Below 250mph the Corsair can perform an astonishingly tight circle as the flaps begin to come out, and with full flaps can even cut corners on many of the Spitfires. However the Corsair's turn rate suffers in a full-flaps situation, and if the F4U is unable to capitalize on her tighter turning radius quickly most of the dedicated turn-fighters will quickly be around on her. Rate of roll also suffers at stall speeds, especially to the right.
Vertical maneuvering is much improved in the 1C over the -1 due to the addition of the paddle prop. However she can still be a little sluggish coming over the top of a loop at low airspeeds, but especially when flaps-out can really haul through the bottom side.
Not to be overlooked is the Corsair's rudder. The rudder is massive, and unlike most aircraft retains authority even at exceptionally high airspeeds. With proper timing the F4U can whip around the top of a vertical extension before an opponent can react, and can greatly improve response in the rolling scissors and the Corsair's already sparkling rate of roll. Skids and slips are highly responsive, and the F4U can easily rake its guns over an out of phase target who might otherwise believe he's out of reach.
Fighting in the F4U-1C
The key to the Corsair is knowing your opponent and knowing the situation. Thus, Energy state is perhaps the most important factor to consider when flying the F4U. Her top speed is excellent, but acceleration and rate of climb are only middle of the pack. The Corsair CAN fight most opponents in a low-speed turn fight, however the unexceptional climb and acceleration will make you vulnerable to other opponents in the furball. Keep the Corsair fast in multi-plane engagements, and take advantage of the F4U's high top speed and high-speed maneuverability to make quick slashing attacks. The Corsair also holds onto E very well, and can lose and catch even exceptional climbers like the Spitfire Mk.XVI and La-7 in the zoom. Diving ability is also excellent. The 1A can really wind it up in a dive, and her E retention allows her to hold on to a lot of that extra speed longer than most opponents. This also makes the Corsair very deceptive, as a low F4U with a ton of E can be easily overlooked by a higher opponent due to her unremarkable acceleration and climb. Use this to advantage with a sudden zoom climb under your opponent
Keep the fights between 250-350mph. This is where the Corsair excels, and she'll handily out-maneuver most opponents above 300mph. At the low end of the range drop a notch of flaps to swing the nose into a firing position. Try to avoid situations where you need more than two notches, and practice working the flaps up and down. Drop them long enough to get your nose where you want it, and get them back up again immediately to keep drag from sapping your Energy. The flaps can also almost be TOO effective and lead to overshooting your turn and losing the shot. Experience will teach you when to drop them and how many notches, and proper timing can haul the nose over for a shot your opponent may never expect.
The big Hispanos give you much more flexibility regarding convergence than those variants armed with the Brownings, however a closer convergence range is still advisable for gunnery purposes. Short bursts can seriously ruin a target's day, and even two or three cannon shells can inflict fatal damage. Although not generally advisable, the 1C can afford to take a HO shot better than any other variant owing to the lethality of the guns. However, the power of the cannon come with a price, as the 1C is the slowest and least agile of all the Hogs. The difference isn't significant, but can be noticeable in an extended fight.
The 1C has much shorter legs on internal fuel than the -1 and 1A, as she lacks the wing tanks. To compensate, she can carry an additional drop tank, although the weight and drag can impact her ability to maneuver in a fight. On the other hand, the 1D's pylons are permanently fixed, so you don't suffer an additional drag penalty for carrying them as you do in the -1 or 1A. The best practice is to carry one or two drop tanks and 100% internal fuel. Either release the external tanks when the enemy is sighted, or hold them and use hit and run tactics until the situation calls for you to begin maneuvering, at which point you can cut them loose.
The 1C is an excellent ground attack aircraft. She's a stable, accurate dive-bombing platform, and packs a lot of ordinance and firepower. A dive-bombing run can be executed with a high degree of accuracy from the near-vertical beginning at 10,000-15,000ft above the target by lowering the landing gear as dive brakes, and putting the target about halfway between the bottom of the gunsight and the top of the engine cowling. Rockets can be aimed in a near-vertical dive by lining the target up in the center of your sights. She's not truly capable of the one-pass hangar kill, as she only carries four of the HVARs, however she can easily polish off a hangar with the 20mm, much more effectively than the .50cal-armed 1D. Shallower low-level bombing runs can be executed similarly, by using your cowling as the release point. Aiming rockets is somewhat more art than science, but against soft targets such as AAA batteries, barracks and fuel, pinpoint accuracy becomes somewhat less important as splash damage from a near-miss can still take out these targets. The cannon especially are potent ground-attack weapons, and can chew up light targets with ease.
Fighting against the F4U-1C
The Corsair is a dangerous and often underestimated opponent in comparison to widely-used aircraft such as the Spitfires. With some exceptions, anything that can out run her the she will out-maneuver, and anything that out-turns her the F4U will out-run. Trying to turn with the F4U at high speeds is not recommended, as both her instantaneous and sustained turning ability at high speeds is exceptional. 190s and late-model P-38s (notably the L) may be able to fight her in a rolling engagement. Don't let the Corsair have the high ground. She accelerates well in the dive, and her zoom climb is exceptional. She can be deadly in the vertical at high speeds, and can catch and lose even the SpitXVI and La-7 in the zoom. Watch for rudder reversals at the top of vertical extensions, as the rudder can haul that big nose back around and put her guns in your face with alarming speed.
The best strategy is to try to corner the F4U low and slow. She doesn't climb or accelerate well, so if you can keep above her and prevent her from egressing or gaining altitude you can control the fight and force her to stay defensive, bleeding off vital E. However, never underestimate the Corsair's flaps. They are among the most effective in the game, and the Hog can really swing around on you at low speeds if you're not careful. She's more vulnerable in a low-speed fight if you integrate a vertical component, as she can be somewhat sluggish at the top of loops at low speeds. Beware of rudder authority as well, as even if you're out of phase the rudder is highly responsive and can skid a shot in at surprisingly high airspeeds.
NEVER overlook the threat posed by a low Corsair. The F4U hides its energy state exceptionally well, and you may think you're out of reach only to suddenly watch that F4U 5000yds below you rocket up underneath guns blazing. Corsairs are exceptional divers. They accelerate very quickly downhill, and can not only remain intact through remarkably high airspeeds, but will maintain control authority well over 500-550mph. Trying to follow a Corsair through a high-speed dive can be a gamble, as she'll out-maneuver most opponents at these speeds, and will hold together while many other aircraft begin shedding pieces. Additionally, beware the zoom on the way back up, as if she's gained enough separation and airspeed you may not catch her before hanging yourself on your prop.
Corsairs can soak up a good bit of punishment before going down, so once you get a shot you may need to keep her there for a good second or two. Snapshots will rarely be sufficient to inflict enough damage to put her down. The engine especially seems to suffer damage fairly easily, and she's most prone to losing the outer wing panels, horizontal stabilizers, and the whole rear fuselage. Taking off the outer wing panel will at least knock her out of the fight, however it's not unusual for the Corsair to deny the kill by fooling you with an apparent death spiral, only to level out a few thousand feet under you and sneak away home.
You want to identify FAST whether your opponent is a 1C. While you may be able to take a snapshot from the Browning-armed models, even scattered hits from those Hispanos can inflict catastrophic or fatal damage. The best option is to not even give him that much of a shot. The 1C is somewhat easier to work than the other variants, as the cannon do impact her overall performance, but remember that this is STILL a Corsair, all the same tactics will apply. It should be also noted that while she may not set up this sort of attack directly, the "Charlie" will be more inclined to accept a HO if offered. It's best not to even consider this, as those big guns will tear you apart. Try to avoid any positioning that gives the 1C even the briefest snapshot, and be very careful of overshoots.
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