The Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport Corsair
The Sikorsky Memorial Corsair was originally built by the Goodyear Aircraft Company under licence of Chance Vought. She was simply known as Bu. No. 92460, built under contract no. 1871, finished in July of 1945. She was accepted by the US Navy on 7/22/45 and delivered on 7/23/45. She saw service with VMF 314 a training squadron.
During the ensuing years she bounced around from Akron, Columbus, Cherry Point, Atlanta, Jacksonville and was eventually mothballed with the majority of the FG1 fleet at NAS Litchfield Park. She was sold off the the El Salvadorian Air Force Where she wore the Number FAS 217 (Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña Corsair FAS 217). Some point early in her career she was placed in the junkyard. We don’t know exactly happened to cause this as records are non existent.
So there she sat till 1969 when Nick Mainero, a Marine Corsair pilot in WWII and holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, was the airport manager at KBDR (Sikorsky Memorial) at the time and wanted to to get a Corsair back in the area to honor the men and women involved with the Corsair in Stratford and Bridgeport CT, Home of Chance Vought and site of the plant during the war. As he tells the story he went down and tried to get a flying Corsair and even offered his Salvadorian military host, as he put, “Let me fill one up and Ill fly it home”. He was reminded that these was a war brewing (the 100 Hour or Soccer War) and they couldn’t spare a flyer. He was then directed to the junkyard and offered his pick. He says he picked the best one there and “it was a real wheels up job”. It was eventually shipped to Floyd Bennet field and to Bridgeport CT. And there it was placed on a stick for 37 years. Time and neglect had taken their toll. Sitting in the salt marsh, the Corsair became a giant battery dissolving itself back to the base elements through galvanic corrosion.
In 2007 serious moves were made to get the old girl down off the pole. Thanks to Doc Gunther & Jerry O’Neil as well as many others with the Connecticut Air and Space Center in 2008 the Corsair took to the skies once again, although it was on a steel cable. She was then taken to the Stratford Aviation School and the wings were removed. From there she was moved to the Connecticut Air and Space Center, based in building 6 of the original Chance Vought / Sikorsky plant/SAEP. Connecticut Corsair (Chester, Connecticut) guru Craig McBurney was instrumental in getting the Prop & the destroyed Pratt and Whitney R2800 Engine removed. There things got interesting. The idea was a simple quick cleaning, patching and painting. No one realized the extent of the damage and it was was far more extensive then anyone could have ever thought.
Money and people were needed. Drew King who came aboard in 2010 was instrumental in creating a new spirit and rush of energy the project needed. It didn’t hurt that he has friends who restore warbirds around the globe. Developing a realistic project plan and and with the help of his new Head Mechanic / Engineer, Ed McGuinness it was implemented. Ed’s Uncle was a Marine Corp Crew Chief on a Corsair during the Korean War. Mark Corvino , who’s parents worked at the Chance Vought Plant in Stratford during the war, manages many of the small assembly restorations. Mark Knopick, line mechanic, has been carefully disassembling each and every part of the plane with love and care as to try and preserve as much as possible of the original material. At this point many sub assemblies are being cleaned, painted and stored for the final assembly. The museum and the project are also very lucky to have the skilled hands of Rich Jersey (Stratford) and Bob Bracci (Trumbull) both who have been involved with the museum for over a decade.
Due to the large amounts of corrosion even simple things like removing the 110 bolts that hole the cockpit section to the Fuselage section took well over a month to break loose. We are taking our best measures to damage as little of the original material as possible. Our overall goal is to preserve and protect as much of the original airframe as possible for long term preservation.
Thanks to a large donation via Ezell Aviation, The Breckenridge Aviation Museum and Jim Slattey, a large jump in the restoration has happened. The center-section has has the spar repaired, main landing gear installed and a tail-wheel gear located and assembled as well as several smaller issues corrected. This one year trip to Texas has saved the restoration team possible 3-5 years of additional work.
We really need continued support from the community. The project is being funded by public donations only. We like many others charities need funding both for the Connecticut Air and Space Center and the many project we are working on, including the Corsair.
Special fasteners that are needed are $3.00 a piece and we need literally 100’s just in the fuselage section. Theses are not exaggerations, but real facts.
Donations are tax deductible and the Connecticut Air and Space is a 501c3 Charitable Non Profit organisation.
Checks can be made to:
If you have further questions about the Corsair Restoration please email our director at CASC@ctairandspace.org. We always respond in a prompt and timely manner.
We are excited to be a part of Ralph Harvey’s new book
“Developing the Gull-Winged F4U Corsair – And Taking It To Sea”
Order Yourself a copy Now!
Here are some links to the online efforts we have made for the restoration including videos and photos.
- Visit the Old Sikorsky Memorial Corsair Blog
- Numerous Photos can be found on Flickr
- This video is from when we removed the fuselage
- This was shot during the Corsairs over CT air show!
Our 2014 Supporting Sponsors
Schocks Auto Body
Stoked smoke shop
Town Fair Tire
Re-Max Carlos Perez
Burns Tire Exchange
Center Auto Machine Shop
Towne Body Shop
M & M Transmission
Breezy Point Auto
Best Brake and Safety
K 2 Automotive
A & F Mohegan Garage
Midland Development Co.
Auto Parts Unlimited
Hards Corner Tavern
B R Y A C Restaurant
Blue Sky Flight
Gene Madara ( In Memory)
Sitting Duck Tavern
T.C. & Francine Coughlin
Tony Rod Costume Fenching
John J Brennan Construction Co.