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|The Aircraft :|
|Corsair||The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair was arguably the finest naval aviation fighter of its era. Work on this design dates to 1938 and was headed-up by Voughts Chief Engineer, Rex Biesel. The initial prototype was powered by an 1800-HP Pratt & Whitney double Wasp radial engine. This was the third Vought aircraft to carry the Corsair name. The graceful and highly recognizable gull-wing design of the F4U permitted the aircraft to utilize a 13-foot, three-blade, Hamilton Standard propeller, while not having to lengthen the landing gear. Because of the rigors of carrier landings, this was a very important design consideration. Folding wings were also required for carrier operations. The F4U was thirty feet long, had a wingspan of 41 feet and an empty weight of approximately 7,500 pounds. Another interesting feature was the way the F4Us gear rotated 90 degrees, so it would lay flush within the wing when in the up position. In 1939 the Navy approved the design, and production commenced. The Corsair utilized a new spot welding process on its all aluminum fuselage, giving the aircraft very low drag. To reduce weight, fabric-covered outer wing sections and control surfaces were fitted. In May of 1940 the F4U made its maiden flight. Although a number of small bugs were discovered during early flight tests, the Corsair had exceptional performance characteristics. In October of 1940 the prototype F4U was clocked at 405-MPH in a speed test. The initial production Corsairs received an upgraded 2,000-HP radial giving the bird a top speed of about 425-MPH. The production models also differed from the prototype in having six, wing-mounted, 0.5 caliber machine guns. Another change was a shift of the cockpit about three feet further back in the fuselage. This latter change unfortunately made naval aviators wary of carrier landings with the F4U, due to its limited forward visibility during landings. Other concerns were expressed regarding a severe port wing drop at landing speeds and a tendency of the aircraft to bounce off a carrier deck. As a result, the F4U was initially limited to land-based USMC squadrons. Vought addressed several of these problems, and the Royal Navy deserves credit for perfecting an appropriate landing strategy for the F4U. They found that if the carrier pilot landed the F4U while making a sweeping left turn with the port wing down, that sufficient visibility was available to make a safe landing. With a kill ratio of 11 -to- 1 in WW 11 combat, the F4U proved superior in the air to almost every opposing aircraft it encountered. More than 12,000 F4Us were built and fortunately a few dozen remain in flyable condition to this date.|
|Betty||G4M. The Japanese Bomber the Mitsubishi G4M, given the name "Betty' by the allies, was the main heavy bomber of the Japanese Navy during World War II. It had a very long range, achieved by having huge fuel tanks in the wings and very little armour protection for the crew. Since the tanks were not self-sealing the Betty was extremely vulnerable, tending to go up in flames whenever hit. The Betty's single outstanding success was achieved at the start of the Pacific War when, a Japanese force of G3M Nell's and G4M Betty's of the 22nd Air Flotilla sank the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse off the coast of Malaya on 10th December 1941. This action is sometimes known as "The Battle of the Gulf of Siam". The aircraft range was (G4M1) 3,130 miles (G4M2) 2,980 miles (G4M3) 2,262 miles and it carried a armament of three x 7.7 mm manually-aimed machine guns in nose, dorsal and ventral positions and one 20 mm cannon manually-aimed in tail. Also a bomb load of 2,205 lb, or one 17.7-inch torpedo|
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