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The F4U-1D in World War II
While the F4U-1A greatly improved the Corsair's capabilities as a fighter, Vought continued the process of updating and improving the design. As the war progressed the fast carrier task forces began to proceed with the "Island Hopping" strategy, and the steadily decreasing quality and quantity of opposition in the air led the needs of the Navy to shift towards destroying the enemy on the ground. Close Air Support had also been of great importance to the Marines throughout the war as they advanced on the tenacious and well-entrenched Japanese army, and these needs would define the next step forward in the evolution of the Corsair.
Of the numerous changes implemented in what would be designated the F4U-1D, the most evident was a substantial increase in firepower. The aircraft's ordinance loadout was upgraded by deleting the centerline rack and the addition of pylons to the anhedral portion of the wings for loads of up to one 1000lb bomb each or a 150gal drop tank, and the inclusion of tabs on the wings for eight 5" HVAR rockets (four on each side). The outer pair of machine guns were also increased to 400rds per gun, compared to 375 in the 1 and 1A, for a total of 2400rds for the Brownings. Towards the end of the war the centerline bomb rack was re-added and strengthened, allowing the aircraft to carry up to a 2000lb bomb in this position or another drop tank. The F4U-1D could also carry two of the massive 11.75" "Tiny Tim" rockets on the main pylons. Depending on configuration, the Corsair could carry up to 4000lbs of bombs in addition to rockets, however such a configuration was too heavy for carrier operations, and was generally only used when the aircraft was operating from land bases.
This overwhelming firepower made the F4U-1D the Navy and Marine Corps' primary ground attack aircraft from the end of 1944 through the end of the war. Her armament was almost on par with that of the Navy's SB2C Helldiver and TBM Avenger, with the performance to handle enemy fighters. As with earlier models, the 1D's landing gear possessed a dive brake setting, which could be used to control the fighter's airspeed during attack dives. The Corsair's durability also greatly contributed to her success in the attack role.
The F4U-1D made further improvements in addition to the increased ground-attack capability. Early 1Ds retained the partially-framed canopy of the 1A, however this was quickly replaced with a bubble canopy that eliminated these frames entirely. Most 1Ds retained the metal "hood" above the pilot's head but this was also eventually omitted in later 1Ds. Additional controls on top of the dash were added for the handling of the aircraft's ordinance. Some of the fabric covering on the underside of the wings was replaced by metal plate. The wing-mounted fuel tanks were eliminated entirely. She was slightly heavier than the 1A, and the main pylons on the anhedral of the wing inboard of the landing gear struts were permanently fixed, even when the aircraft was flying clean. As a result the 1D's top speed was reduced, but still exceeded 400mph at altitude.
Perhaps the most significant upgrades were to the oleo struts, which in the -1 and 1A were prone to collapse or bounce during the shock of carrier landings. The new struts eliminated these concerns entirely and, combined with landing procedures refined by the British Fleet Air Arm, for the first time the F4U was fully certified for operations from the decks of the big American fleet carriers.
Marine Corps squadrons in the Pacific began receiving the F4U-1D in late 1944, operating from land bases throughout the South and Central Pacific. Additionally, for the first time Corsairs began to be deployed aboard carriers with US Navy squadrons in numbers, supplementing the Hellcats, Helldivers and Avengers already in service aboard the flattops. The 1D provided a superb ground attack platform with its heavy ordinance loadout, and still retained its capability to take on enemy aircraft.
Marine squadrons to use the 1D included VMF-312; the famed Checkerboarders with their distinctive checkered cowls and tails, VMF-251; formerly an observation squadron flying F4F-3P and F4U-1As, VMF-323 Deathrattlers and VMF-224.
One squadron of note to fly the F4U-1D was VMF-512, a unit undergoing special training with the massive "Tiny Tim" 11.75" rocket (essentially a 500lb naval shell with a rocket engine strapped to it). Their target was the German V-1 launch sites in Europe, intending to use the range of the Tiny Tims to stay clear of German anti-aircraft fire, and take advantage of its high destructive power to obliterate the sites. However General George C. Marshall, upon hearing the plan, would not listen any further once he learned the attack would be carried out by Marines, and is famously attributed with refusing to "allow Jarheads to fly in my war."
In addition to its ubiquitous use among the Marines, for the first time the Corsair began to deploy in large numbers among Navy squadrons. The most notable, perhaps, was VF-84 under Roger Hendrick. The squadron flew off USS Bunker Hill. Including Hendrick, much of the core of the squadron was made up of veterans of VF-17, however despite being spiritual successors to the Jolly Rogers, they were denied use of the name by the Navy. F4U-1Ds were also assigned to VBF-85 assigned to USS Shangri-La, VF-10 off USS Enterprise
The F4U-1D became the main Corsair variant fielded by the USN and USMC until the end of the war. She saw combat at most major engagements in the final year of combat, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and was used to strike ground targets and enemy shipping throughout the Pacific on the final drive towards Japan. Additionally, F4U-1Ds of VMF-224 flew in the last major dogfights of the war for the Marines, when eight Corsairs encountered estimates of up to 80 N1K2-J Shiden-kai of the elite 343rd Kokutai over Kyushu.
FLIGHT OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS AN 01-45 HA-1 & PILOT'S NOTES FOR CORSAIR I - IV
The F4U-1D in Aces High II
The F4U-1D may be one of the most versatile fighters in the game. Besides the always-superb air to air capability, the F4U-1D adds a heavy wallop in the ground attack role.
The F4U-1D 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 not as fast as the -1 or 1A, and clocks in a few mph faster than the 1C
Aces High II Performance Charts
Good. The F4U-1D carries six Browning .50cal machine guns, which is the standard armament configuration of much of the American plane set. The primary bank consists of two, with the remaining four in the secondary bank. All six Brownings carry 400rds/gun. As with all aircraft carrying the "Ma Deuce," the strength of this armament in the F4U is accuracy, high lethality for a machine gun, and volume of fire. The Brownings throw out a lot of lead in short order, and have superb ballistics properties. Gunnery in the Corsair is about as close to point-and-click as it gets. However as with all machine guns it takes weight of fire to inflict heavy damage. Shots outside convergence range, or with convergence set at a great range, will reduce the effectiveness of the guns.
The 1D is exceptional in ground attack. She can carry a total load-out of 2x1000lb bombs and 8x5" HVAR. The .50cal aren't remarkable strafing weapons but can get the job done. A single F4U-1D carries enough ordinance to drop a hangar.
Maneuverability in the Corsair is 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 1D 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-1D
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.
Set your guns at close range. The Brownings are highly accurate and hard-hitting, but it takes volume to really deal damage. Convergence beyond 400yds is generally too far. 300yds offers an excellent balance between range and hitting power. At 200yds, the Corsair's guns are buzz-saws, and can cut through most opponents with even a one-second burst. Hold your fire until your opponent is at convergence, unless you intend to spook him into maneuvering to give you a closer shot.
The 1D 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 1D is an excellent ground attack aircraft. She's a stable, accurate dive-bombing platform, and packs a lot of ordinance. 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. By centering the target and unloading all your rockets, then switching to bombs and lining up as above will allow you to knock a hangar down with only one pass through the ack, allowing a fast hit and egress. 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.
Fighting against the F4U-1D
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.
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