The heavy‐gunned and armor‐plated Corsair is credited with turning the tide of the Pacific air war. Its distinctive multi‐angled “bent” wings, long snout and massive propeller was roughly equal in speed to the Japanese Zero. The Corsair’s blue scheme and tail-hook implied it was a carrier‐based aircraft. However, the cockpit, located behind the big radial engine and wings, made it difficult to see the carrier deck to land. The plane tended to bounce or stall, if pilots were lucky enough to feel their way to the deck!
Land‐based Marine units like “Pappy” Boyington’s “Black Sheep Squadron” proved more successful landing the Corsair on island airstrips. A redesign that raised the pilot seat and replaced the struts, reducing the bounce enabled the Corsair to be cleared by the Navy for carrier use.
The Corsair earned many nicknames, none as ominous as the “Whistling Death,” originated from Japanese soldiers who heard the plane diving menacingly above their positions. Also dubbed “Kamikaze Killer,” the fighter’s ability to descend quickly saved many Allied ships and carriers from Japanese kamikaze planes in the Pacific Theater.
|Engine:||Pratt & Whitney R-2800-18W|
(up to 2,450 hp)
|Height:||14 feet, 9 inches|
|Maximum Speed:||453 mph|
|Armament:||Six .50 caliber machine guns |
or four 20mm cannons
Ruthless II was built by the Goodyear Corporation, and was accepted into U.S. Navy service in 1945. It first flew with Fighter Bomber Squadron 80 and was later assigned to Marine fighter squadrons. By late 1947, as more modern fighters began to appear, Ruthless II was flying with reserve outfits. By 1951 Ruthless II was used primarily in training and stricken from Navy records in 1957.
In 1969 Ruthless II flew with the Fuerza Area Salvador (the Air Force of El Salvador) in the “Soccer War” between El Salvador and Honduras, where it received battle damage, evidenced by a patched bullet hole in its right wing. In 1975, former Corsair pilot and aircraft collector Howard Pardue purchased the plane from the Salvadoran Air Force. Its restoration was complete in 1984, and it was purchased by Evergreen in May of 1990.
Today, the Corsair wears the paint scheme of Navy ace Oscar Chenowith Jr.’s aircraft. Chenowith was born in Salem, Oregon, grew up in McMinnville, and went to Oregon State University. During World War II, he flew with the famed “Jolly Rogers Squadron” (VF‐17) and is credited with 8.5 victories.
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