Experimental Aircraft in Stratford

Vought Sikorsky & Chance Vought Experimental Development in Stratford

By the late 30’s Stratford had become a hub of activity in the development of new aviation ideas. Be they aircraft or rotorcraft it it was new and amazing it was coming out of Connecticut!

1938 – XF4U-1

Navy XF4U-1 Corsair, BuNo 1443, in flight in 1940

Navy XF4U-1 Corsair, BuNo 1443, in flight in 1940

The U. S. Navy opened design competition for a high-speed, high-altitude fighter airplane in February of 1938.  Vought’s chief engineer, Rex Beisel, was in charge of the program and Vought submitted two proposed fighters, designs V-166A and V-166B. The Bureau of Aeronautics accepted design V-166B on 8 April, 1938. Thus the Corsair was born.  The signature inverted gull wing was the most unusual feature.  The air-frame was build to be fast.  Pratt and Whitney’s new  radial engine, the R-2800 would be mounted to the air-frame swinging a 13’4″ prob built by Hamilton Standard. 

The XF4U-1 made its maiden flight on 29 May, 1940.

Navy Vought XF4U-1 Corsair parked on a 'Compass Rose' at the Bridgeport Airport  on April 19, 1941.

Navy Vought XF4U-1 Corsair parked on a ‘Compass Rose’ at the Bridgeport Airport on April 19, 1941.

The XF4U-1 shattered records with speeds over 400 miles per hour in full combat trim.  highly aerodynamic fuselage used a combination of flush riveting and spot welding.   The landing gear, tail wheel, and arresting gear were not only retractable, but completely faired-in when retracted into the air-frame   It was described by Admiral John H. Towers as the “fastest airplane in the United States“.

The Corsair would go on to become one of the most famous World War II fighters in the Pacific theater.

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