F4U-4 Corsair

Manufacturer:  Chance Vought
Model:  F4U-4 Corsair
Role:  Fighter
Year of Manufacture:  1946
Construction Number:  9542
Navy Bureau Number:  97388
Civil Registration Number:  N72378

Model Background:

The Corsair was a fighter plane used primarily in World War II and the Korean War by the Navy and Marine Corps designed and initially manufactured by Chance Vought.  It was also license built by Goodyear and Brewster.

History of this Aircraft:

Military History
Delivered from Vought’s Stratford, CT, plant in block Bu 96752 to Bu 97531, one of 2351 F4U-4 built, including blocks Bu 62915/63071; Bu 80764/82177; Bu 96752/97531; a further 3743 cancel|ed, including planned manufacture by Goodyear at Akron, OH.  Produced with P & W R-2800-ISW radial, with six .50 cal machine guns and underwing stubs for rockets. Deliveries began December 1944. By the end of August 1945, 1859 had been delivered. Production of standard F4U-4 ended April 1946, with F4U-4B with 20 mm cannon, F4U-4N night fighter, and F4U-4P photo recon complete by August 1947.
26 Apr 1946 Bu 97388 accepted by US Navy.
30 Apr 1946 Bu 97388 delivered to US Navy.
Jun 1946 to Sep 1947 Bu 97388 assigned to storage at NAS Tillamook, Oregon, former blimp base for HEDRON 3, and storage  facility for surplus FM-2s. By 1947, 433 aircraft were stored at Tillamook. The field was decommissioned on 1July 1948.

Note: HEDRON 3 = Blimp Headquarters Squadron Three. Also based at Tillamook was ZP-33, Airship Patrol Squadron Three.

Oct 1947 to Feb 1948 Bu 97388 assigned to storage at NAS Santa Ana, CA, former blimp base and USN surplus aircraft storage facility. Santa Ana was decommissioned on 6 June 1949. Santa Ana had been home to ZP-31 during WWII.
Mar 1948 to Sep 1948 Bu 97388 assigned to aircraft pool at NAS San Diego, CA.
Oct 1948 to May 1949 Bu 97388 assigned to VMF-225 (Marine Fighter Squadron 225), possibly Cherry Point, NC.
c. 1950? Assignment to VMF-212 with tail code “LD”.  Data card has no specific dates or location.
14 Aug 1950 At Quonset Point, RI, for 0 & R and M & S. Quonset Point was support base for ASW {anti-submarine warfare) carriers and squadrons.

Note: 0 & R = Overhaul and Repair. M & S – Maintenance and Service.

16 Aug 1950 Bu 97388 assigned to FASRON 3, NAS Norfolk, VA. (FASRON = Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron).
14 Sep 1950 Assigned to VF-42 (Fighter Squadron Forty-four), NAS Oceana, VA. CVG-6 (Carrier Air Group Six).
Nov 1950 With VF-42, CVG-6, NAS Jacksonville, Florida. 530 TT. VF.-42 commanded LCDR Ross B. Spencer.
Feb 1951 With VF-42, NAS Jacksonville, FL, 637 TT.
May 1951 With VF-42 aboard USS Saipan (CVL-48) assigned to Atlantic Fleet. 689 TT.

Note: During this time Saipan was assigned to the Mediterranean. This deployment lasted until 8 June 1951. Saipan was the flagship of Carrier Division 14, assigned to the Sixth Fleet. This tour included stops at Gibralter, Italy, Algiers, and Sicily. She returned to Norfolk, VA, on 8 June.

Note: USS Saipan (CVL-48) was laid down on 10 July 1944. Launched on 8 July 1945. Commissioned on 14 July 1946. It displaced 14,500 tons.  Operated in the 1950s mainly for training, it was later converted to the communications relay ship USS Arlington, deactivated in January 1970 and scrapped.

16 Aug 1951 With VF-42 assigned to NAAS Cecil Field, FL.
27 Aug 1951 At NAS Oceana, VF-42 commanded by LCDR Millard C. Thrash.
Nov 1951 Bu 97388 assigned VF-42 at NAS Oceana, VA. 907 TT.
Feb 1952 With VF-’42 at NAS Oceana, VA. 1017 TT.
May 1952 Bu 97399 assigned to 0 & R and M & S, Quonset Point, Rhode Island.  1147 TT.
21 Jan 1953 At Quonset Point, RI, O & R and M & S.
30 Jan 1953 Assigned to NAS Olathe, KS, NART (Naval Air Reserve Training).

Note:  NAS Olathe was officially closed in 1970.  For more information, go here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Air_Station_Olathe

Feb 1953 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1159 TT.
May 1953 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1214 TT.
Aug 1953 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1324 TT.
Nov 1953 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1389 TT.
Feb 1954 At NAS Oilathe, KS, NART, 1430 TT.
10 Sep 1954 Bu 97388 assigned to NAS Grosse Ile, Michigan, NART (Naval Air Reserve Training).

Note:  NAS Grosse Ile closed in 1969.  For more information, go here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Air_Station_Grosse_Ile

1 Nov 1954 Assigned to NAS San Diego, CA, O & R and M & S.
16 Nov 1954 At NAS San Diego, CA, O & R and M & S.
21 Jan 1955 At NAS San Diego, CA, O & R and M & S.
31 Jan 1955 Bu 97388 assigned to NAS Olathe, KS, NART.
Feb 1955 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1606 TT.
31 Aug 1955 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1800 TT.
29 Feb 1956 At NAS Olathe, KS, NART, 1901 TT.
7 June 1956 Bu 97388 designated for assignment to storage.
5 July 1956 Bu 97388 struck off charge at NAF Litchfield Park, AZ.

Note:  Litchfield Park, AZ, 20 miles west of Phoenix, had been the Goodyear Aircraft Corp, modification center during WWII.  After the war it became, with Clinton, OK, one of the major USN storage centers.  Also stored there were F6F Hellcats, F8F Bearcats, TBM Avengers, and PB4Y-2 Privateers.

25 Nov 1957 Bu 97388 sold by US Naval Air Station, north Island, San Diego, CA, J. C. Annaloro, Contracting Officer, to Bob Bean Aircraft, Hawthorne, CA, as N5211V for $917.00, according to CAA Bill of Sale.
(March 1958) Over 2500 aircraft at NAF Litchfield Park.
(1959) 1621 aircraft stored at Litchfield Park.
Civilian History
13 Nov 1958 Cancellation of N5211V, serial number 9542, to allow export of F4U-4 applied for by Bob Bean.
18 Dec 1958 Letter from Bob Bean, Bob Bean Aircraft, Hawthorne, CA, to CAA requesting cancellation of registration for N5211V to allow export under State Department license No. 4799, to Aircraft and Airmen Records Branch.
5 Nov 1958 Trade arranged by Bob Bean with Fuerza Aerea Hondurena for four airworthy Lockheed P-38L’s and two flyable and two wrecked P-63E’s.

Note:  The following P-38L/M were flown back to the United States:

FAH 503  44-53097
FAH 504  44-26961
FAH 505  44-53232  (now at the USAF Musuem)
FAH 506  44-53095  (later with Bill Ross, then Lone Star)

Note:  The following P-63E’s were returned to the United States:

FAH 400  43-11727  N9003R
FAH 401  43-11728  N9005R  (now at the USAF Museum)
FAH 402  43-11729  N9001R
FAH 403  43-11730  N9002R  (ex-Dan Chvatal, Jordan, MN.  Later ex-Wally Fisk – AMJET)

Feb 1960 Three F4U-4, FAH 610 (Bu 97388) FAH 611, and FAH 612 delivered to Honduras.

Note: Ten F4U-4 Corsairs went to the FAH from Bob Bean. Bu 97388 was Honduran serial number FAH 610. These aircraft were to supplement 10 F4U-5/-5N/ -5NL Corsairs delivered to the FAH from the USA military assistance program in 1956.

1963 (FAH had two squadrons of Corsairs. Other aircraft in the FAH inventory included C-47, C-54, C-46, C-82, C-45 PT-13/17 T-6, BT-13A, AT-11, and PT-19. FAH bases were Toncontin, La Mesa, San Pedro Sula, and Puerto Cortes.)
1963-1966 FAH had 12 airworthy Corsairs and six for spares.
Dec 1967 FAH had 12 Corsairs.
Jul 1969 Five F4U-4 and six F4U-5 remained with the FAH.
By 1969 FAH 610 was struck off charge at Toncontin Air Base, Tegucigalpa, and used as a source of spare parts. It did not operate against El Salvador in the Soccer War in July 1969.
1978-1979 FAH 610 one of seven dismantled airframes recovered by Hollywood Wings, Long Beach, CA (George Heaven and Jim Nettle) and shipped by rail from Honduras to Long Beach, CA. These airframes were considered “kits.”
7 Dec 1979 Bill of Sale from Intermaricana de Honduras, SA, to Hollywood Wings, Inc., Long Beach, CA for sale of eight aircraft “in good condition” and “seven discarded aircraft corresponding to the list attached…” for $500,000.

Note:  Honduran documents include lists of airworthy aircraft with TT on airframe, engines, and props and “Discarded F4U-5 and F4U-4 aircraft” and “Data on stripped F4U-5 and F4U-4 aircraft.”   FAH 610 (and FAH 616) are listed on this document with correct Bureau No. 97388 for FAH 610.

Note:  “Discarde” and “Stripped” Aircraft listed as follows:

F4U-5 FAH 602 Bu 124447
F4U-5 FAH 603 Bu 123168
F4U-5 FAH 608 Bu 124493
F4U-4 FAH 610 Bu 97388
F4U-4 FAH 612 Bu 97288
F4U-4 FAH 616 N86432
F4U-4 FAH 618 N864132

1979 (Eight airworthy Corsairs were recovered by Nettles and flown back to the United States. Most were F4U-5 and Soccer War veterans. The Corsairs were replaced in FAH service by 12 ex-Israeli Defense Force Air Force Super Mysteres in 1976-1979.)
1981 Bu 97388 sold to Earl Ware, Jacksonville FL, as hulk by Hollywood Wings. FAH 610 was stored in his back yard. Also stored in Jacksonville were FAH 611 (Bu 97382) FAH 617 (Bu 97059), and FAH 692 (still in USN markings, probably a spare parts source).
27 Sep 1982 Bu97388/FAH 610 sold to Gerald Beck, Tri-State Warbird Collection, Wahpeton, ND, by Earl E. Ware.  Restoration project 1982-1998.  Painted in the colors of VF-42 when complete.
1982 (Beck also acquired Bu 97320, FAH 616, N72084 from John Roxbury, Princeton, MN. This aircraft was held in storage until 2005. It was later sold to an owner in San Martin, CA.)

Note: Warbird Registry notes that the rear fuselage of Bu 96885, FAH 618 was used in the restoration of Bu 97388. Thus Bu 97388 is considered a “components” aircraft. Both of these aircraft were BOC with the FAH on 22 December 1961. Bu 96885 was later rebuilt for static display at the USS Midway Museum.

28 Oct 1989 “Sold” by Gerald Beck to Tri-State Aviation, Inc. as Bu 97388.
26 Oct 1994 Letter from Gerald S. Beck, Tri-State Aviation, Inc., to FAA Aircraft Registry, Oklahoma City, OK, requesting N-numbers for Bu 97388 and Bu 97320, ex FAH 610 and FAH 616 respectively.
12 Feb 1997 Document from Direccion General de Aernautica Civil, Teguciagalpa, Honduras, showing that F4U04’s Bu 97388 and Bu 97320, ex-FAH 610 and FAH 616 respectively had never been assigned Honduran civil registration.  Signed by Fernando Soto.

Note:   Captain Fernando Soto was HAH Corsair pilot who shot down three FAS fighters, a Mustang and two FG-1D Corsairs, on 17 July 1969, while flying F4U-5N FAH 609, which remains in Honduras in running condition.

22 Apr Registration for Bu 97388, ex-N5211V, reinstated by FAA.
23 Apr 1997 Bu 97388 registered N72378 to Gerald Beck.
20 July 1998 FAA Certificate of Airworthiness issued to N72378 in Experimental Category.  FAA also issued “Operating Limitations – Experimental Category” for N72378.
July 1998 N72378 Displayed at Oshkosh.
1998-1999 N72378 displayed at Polar Aviation Museum, ANE.  Members of VMF-214 “Black Sheep” visited Polar at this time, including ace Bob McClurg.
3-5 Jun 2005 Participated in “Corsairs over CT” Stratford, CT, Sikorsky Memorial.
13 Dec 2009 “Sold” to Cynthia Schreiber-Beck and Whitney S. Beck as Bu 97388, from the estate of Gerald S. Beck.  (Gerald Beck was killed in an accident in his homebuilt P-51A at Oshkosh in 2007 for more information go here:  http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20070801X01080&key=1).
13 Dec 2009 Application for Registration applied for Bu 97388 by Cynthia Schreiber-Beck and Whitney S. Beck.
17 Feb 2010 N72378 registered to Cynthia Schreiber-Beck, Wahpeton, ND.
19 Dec 2016 First flight of the corsair after an extensive maintenance period which included an overhaul of the prop and engine, new fabric, and rebuilt systems.

Many thanks to Tom Lymburn for compiling this history.