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F4U-1D “The Whistling Death”
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F4U-1D in camouflage Gauntlet_1's Realism Pack Corsair Edition created by Gauntlet_1 | Download here

There are not many Second World War aircraft with such a legendary status as the Corsair. Its distinctive inverted gull wing, clean lines, and most importantly, its combat record, made it one of the most iconic aircraft of World War 2. It was natural that such a famous aircraft would be present in War Thunder as well: currently, there are four variants of the Corsair in the game, with the F4U-1D, the topic of this article, sitting at Rank II with a BR value of 3.7 for Realistic and Simulator Battles (3.3 for Arcade Battles). 

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From the beginning, it was clear that the Corsair would be a very fast aircraft and it also turned out to be one of the most technologically advanced fighters of its time. The first XF4U-1 prototype had its maiden flight in May 1940 and during flight test, it reached a top speed of 405 mph (651.8 kph) in level flight, becoming the first American single-engined fighter able to fly faster than 400 mph. Such an exceptional performance was enabled not only by an aerodynamically sound hull using spot welding instead of rivets, but mainly by the massive Pratt & Whitney XR-2800-4 Double Wasp 18-cylinder prototype radial engine, producing 1805 horsepower, propelling a large three-bladed propeller. Long propeller blades were the reason for introducing the inverted gull wing,  as without it, the aircraft would need impractically long gear legs to provide clearance for the propeller; and long, weak gear legs were unacceptable for a naval aircraft designed for the rigours of deck landing. Initial serial batches of Corsairs featured the even more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800-8 producing 2000 horsepower, and the F4U-1D then received the uprated R-2800-8W engine with a power output of 2250 horsepower and a water injection system for emergency power boost.

In-game, the F4U-1D is also very fast - when fully upgraded and when using manual engine control and WEP, its top speed is 579.4 kph (360 mph) at sea level and 671 kph (417 mph) at an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,096 m). This allows you to leave most of your opposition at the given BR spread trailing both at sea level and at altitude. In real life, the Corsair proved to be significantly faster and more powerful than agile, but slower Japanese fighters such as the Ki-43 and the A6M, and these opponents will have no chance catching you in-game as well. The Corsair also maintains great dive capabilities - it has great acceleration in a dive and is able to reach speeds of up to 500 mph (805 kph) without structural damage. This allows you to out-dive practically anything at the given BR spread, making the steep dive a sound defensive tactic with the Corsair. The downside here is the mediocre rate of climb and poor low speed maneuverability. Keep those two disadvantages in mind - in real life, Corsair pilots were advised to always keep their speed when combatting very agile Japanese fighters and to never engage in low-speed turning contests. It is claimed the nickname “Whistling Death” was given to Corsair by the Japanese - according to this claim, the name was derived from a whistling sound produced by the radiators in the wing roots at high speeds. This claim was however not verified.  

As for firepower, the Corsair is armed by six AN/M2 .50 calibre machine guns located in the wings with the most outboard pair having a supply of 375 rounds per gun, and the rest provided with 400 rounds per gun, bringing the total ammunition supply to 2350 rounds. In real life this armament proved to be deadly against light and mostly unarmoured Japanese fighters, and will serve you well in-game as well, not only against Japanese aircraft, but against aircraft of all nations. The one-second burst mass of 3.23 kilograms (7.1 lb) per second may seem low when compared with 20 mm cannons, but this is compensated by a much higher rate of fire and especially the armour piercing incendiary API-T ammunition, which is ideal for setting enemy aircraft ablaze and dealing crippling damage quickly. When armed with the Ground Target belt, .50 machine guns can then destroy even light pillboxes and shred unarmoured or lightly armoured targets. Guns are wing-mounted, so bear in mind your convergence setting to maximise your firepower.

The F4U indeed was a potent fighter, but initially it suffered problems rendering it impractical for carrier operations, such as the long nose obstructing the pilot’s vision and dangerous stall characteristics at low speeds. All of these were eventually rectified after a curved approach to carrier landings was developed by the British Fleet Air Arm, but in the interim the Corsair was relegated to ground-based service and assigned to the US Marine Corps. It was during the USMC service where the Corsair proved to be an effective fighter-bomber combining speed with a large payload of bombs and rockets. In-game, you can also use the Corsair as a fighter-bomber by researching rocket rails and bomb racks, allowing you to mount either two 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs or eight 5-inch (127 mm) rockets. With this armament the F4U-1D can be used in tank battles as well, both as a fighter defending your team against enemy bombers, or as a fighter-bomber attacking enemy tanks. 

To sum things up, the Corsair possesses high speed, great dive performance and energy retention, formidable armament and mediocre rate of climb and low speed maneuverability. As such, the F4U-1D is a pure-blood boom-and-zoom fighter and it is recommended that you use it as such. Climb to gain sufficient altitude and strike your opponents from above. Don’t be afraid to use long bursts from your machine guns - you have plenty of ammunition. Never engage in turning contests, instead use your speed gained during the dive to zoom back to altitude. If you then find yourself pursued, dive away and gain enough separation to turn the tables. The Corsair also has a rugged construction and can take quite a beating, allowing you to withstand heavy damage and still be able to limp back to base for repairs. 

 Fast, rugged and heavily armed, the Corsair proved to be a great fighter and fighter-bomber, serving throughout the Second World War and Korean War, and in the right hands, it can be very effective in-game as well. If you wish to stick with Corsairs, research will lead you to the cannon-armed F4U-1C, possessing the same great performance as the F4U-1D but with four hard-hitting 20mm cannons. 

Author: Jan “RayPall” Kozák

Want to read more about the vehicles in War Thunder? Find other Vehicle Profiles on our website!

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