Boarding an F4U Corsair

This image shows a pilot about to board an F4U Corsair.

You can see that the cockpit is aft of the wing. I know there is a step on the fuselage, but it still seems like it would be quite a stretch to get in. Is there any footage of a pilot climbing into the cockpit? I haven’t been able to find any.

This article appears to explain it:

It also has a couple of small pictures of the process.

I don’t know but if I had won the lottery last week I may have bought one for us to try out. Damn it, I shopped at that Kroeger myself many times. :frowning:

In this photo, you can see the door. It looks like a little white smudge below the number “56”, and just above the back edge of the wing.

In this one, you can see a man with his foot in the door.

In this one, his foot is hidden behind the wing, but you can tell where it would be.

Wait a minute. The steps are on the starboard side of the airplane. If you put your right foot on the wing root and your left foot on the body step, wouldn’t swinging your right leg into the cockpit have you facing backwards?

Going to have to go watch reruns of Black Sheep Squadron now.

I have a little bit of experience getting into and out of WWII era airplanes.

It wasn’t designed to be easy. These things were flown by healthy, flexible young men (and a few women on ferry flights). They were able to do a little contorting/leg raising/hoisting to get in and out of the airplanes.

The second photo show him with his right foot in the fuselage and his left leg entering the cockpit. And yes that guy had to be flexible to do that.

Yeah, but that’s not what kenobi’s link says.

I would enter like his link suggest and then stand on the seat and spin around. Ha! Not really, they would need to hoist me on a crane and use a shoehorn to fit me in. And then a can opener to get me out.

The guy in my second photo is not doing it in the textbook-approved way.

For the Stearman in my avatar getting in and out required you to stand on the seat. Wipe your feet before getting in.

There’s an idea. I have Season 1 around here somewhere…

AA-5, too. You lift the cushion and step on the seat pan.

I use to do a bit of part time tour guiding at an air museum that had a collection of airworthy WWII fighters, including an F4U Corsair. We had a few other guides who were ex fighter pilots, one of them, Clarry, flew F4Us in WWII. When I knew him, he was in his 70s, and always had a pipe, either clenched between his teeth or being fiddled with, tapped, loaded with tobacco, relit, etc. When the pipe wasn’t in his mouth, you can see that it had worn his teeth away. Anyway, he took great delight in demonstrating how to get into the F4U. Even in his 70s he could jump in with no trouble, up on to the wing, foot in the little door, other leg up and over the sill, and in the seat.

Nothing on that plane was designed to be easy.

One was parked at the local airport for a while after a propellor strike. Standing in front of that beast gave me a new appreciation for just how big they were. Pictures don’t do them justice.

You should feel them take off.

Big plane with a big engine driving a big propeller. An excellent design to extract as much performance as possible out of the engine.

Rather it was the biggest engine they had driving the biggest propeller they had, tucked into the smallest possible airplane that could keep that engine pointed forwards and carry enough fuel to go the distance and enough ordnance to do some damage when it got there.

The ideal fighter is all engine except for some tail feathers and reins for the pilot to steer with. Plus ordnance.

A friend of mine crash landed not one, not two, but three different Corsairs. Walked away from two of them, and had an injured knee on one. Many decades later I was driving him to a doctor to work on the knee, which hadn’t had any surgical treatment back then

It ended up being a big airplane, but a fairly small diameter streamlined fuselage around that big engine. Like all designs, they had to make compromises, but nearly all the decisions were driven by performance, with ease of manufacture, pilot visibility, and handling all taking a back seat. I think it’s instructive to compare the three main fighter planes that used the R-2800 Double Wasp:

  • P-47 Thunderbolt
  • F4U Corsair
  • F6F Hellcat

All excellent fighters, but the compromises made for handling, carrier landing, altitude performance, maneuverability, and speed are interesting.