CAF’s Corsair Turns 70 Today!

Lefty Gardner arriving in the FG-1D  during May, 1961 at Rebel Field, the CAF's original home in Texas. (CAF photo)
Lefty Gardner arriving in the FG-1D during May, 1961 at Rebel Field, the CAF’s original home in Texas. (CAF photo)

Edited from a piece by Mike Schneider

The Commemorative Air Force celebrates the 70th ‘birthday’ of their FG-1D Corsair today! FG-1D “530” is one of the original airframes that launched the Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force). This airplane is not only historically significant, but it is thoroughly engrained in the CAF’s heritage and has been one of the busiest aircraft in the history of the CAF’s stable. Since 2012, this Corsair has called Falcon Field in  Peachtree City, Georgia  her home. She resides with the CAF’s Dixie Wing, and as part of their commemoration of this momentous event, they have produced a celebratory patch and T-shirt for sale… the proceeds of which will help maintain their magnificent Bentwing Bird!

A closeup of the CAF FG-1D 70th Anniversary T-shirt.
A closeup of the CAF FG-1D 70th Anniversary T-shirt.
CAF FG-1D 70th Anniversary T-shirt.
CAF FG-1D 70th Anniversary T-shirt.

CAF’s FG-1D History:
The Goodyear Aircraft Corporation built the CAF’s Corsair, hence the designation FG instead of Vought’s F4U. She joined the US Navy as Bu.92468, but never saw combat. She served ‘Stateside’ in various roles until the Navy struck her from active duty in 1956.

Service History:

NAS Alameda, California – minor repair (July 1945 – August 1945)
NAS Alameda, California – aircraft pool (September 1945 – June 10, 1946)
NAS Glynco, Brunswick, Georgia – storage (June 16, 1946 – February 1948)
NAS Jacksonville, Florida – Assembly & Repair / aircraft pool (March 1948 – May 1948)
NAS Akron, Ohio – Reserve Training Squadron (June 1948 – *October 1948)
***No records from January 1949 through March 1950
NAS Jacksonville, Florida – Overhaul & Repair (*April 1950 – May 19, 1950)
NAS Atlanta, Georgia – Reserve Training Squadron (May 19, 1950 – January 2, 1952)
NAS Jacksonville, Florida – Overhaul & Repair (January 2, 1952 – April 24, 1952)
FASRON-9, NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida (April 24, 1952 – May 15, 1952)
CAG-10 / VF-102 “Sluggers”, NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia (May 15, 1952 – November 21, 1952)
NAS Squantum, Massachusetts – Reserve Training Squadron (November 21, 1952 – November 8, 1953)
NAS Jacksonville, Florida – Overhaul & Repair (November 8, 1953 – February 15, 1954)
NAS Grosse Isle, Michigan – Reserve Training Squadron (February 15, 1954 – June 13, 1954)
NAS Minneapolis, Minnesota – Reserve Training Squadron (June 13, 1954 – April 29, 1955)
NAS New York, New York – Reserve Training Squadron (April 29, 1955 – October 12, 1955)
NAF Litchfield Park, Arizona (October 12, 1955 – January 1957)
stricken: January 1957 (stored on site at NAF Litchfield Park)

Ernest Huggins saved Bu.92468 from destruction in 1957. Huggins only held the Corsair for one year before transferring ownership to Skip Underwood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Underwood relocated the plane to an airstrip in Buckeye, Arizona where he had a small crop dusting operation, and it remained there in storage until sold in 1960 to CAF Hall of Fame member Marvin L. “Lefty” Gardner.

The CAF's Corsair in her 'Red White & Blue' paint scheme. (CAF photo)
The CAF’s Corsair in her ‘Red White & Blue’ paint scheme. (CAF photo)

Upon joining the CAF, the Corsair underwent a restoration to flying condition. They registered her as N9964Z and painted the aircraft in their then standard red, white and blue livery which adorned other fighters already in the collection like the P-51D and P-38L. On April 9th, 1974, the FG-1D suffered damaged from a collision at Ft. Worth, TX and subsequently became the last corsair rebuilt by Vought in Dallas, TX.

The CAF's Corsair when painted as '883', one of Pappy Boyington's steeds. (CAF photo)
The CAF’s Corsair when painted as ‘883’, one of Pappy Boyington’s steeds. (CAF photo)

Fast forward to March of 1981 and Vought delivered the freshly repaired/overhauled Corsair back to the CAF, with Vought CEO Norm Thayer at the controls. Once again, the Corsair took to the air show circuit, this time in US Marine Corps markings representing VMF-214 “883”; a Corsair that Major Gregory “Pappy Boyington” flew during WWII.

If you have ever had the chance to talk to any of the veterans who flew the Corsair, they will mention how rugged the aircraft was and how much punishment it could take. While not under combat situations, Bu.94268 can testify to that strength as well, as mechanical problems forced the Corsair to put down in a grass field on April 14th 1982, and unfortunately she sustained damage after striking a fence. After further repairs, the Corsair again took to the skies as one of the busiest air show performers of the 80’s and 90’s.

CAF’s FG-1D shown here as Number “13” - a generic representation of Corsairs that served aboard CV 9 USS Essex. It is the first time the checkerboard pattern appeared on the CAF’s Corsair. (CAF photo)
CAF’s FG-1D shown here as Number “13” – a generic representation of Corsairs that served aboard CV 9 USS Essex. It is the first time the checkerboard pattern appeared on the CAF’s Corsair. (CAF photo)

In April of 2001, BuNo 92468 returned to Vought Industries in Dallas, TX to retire the “13” paint scheme which was worn from a decade of air shows. The following images show the aircraft during stripping and painting in Vought’s factory.

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The airframe received a cosmetic restoration which included a new paint scheme depicting 1st Lt. M.O. Chance’s VMF-312  bird ‘530’, a scheme the Corsair retains to this day.

CAF Corsair on Final Approach - The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing will display several World War II-era aircraft at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant located at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport, Saturday Dec 7th, 11am-4pm .  The WWII flying musem, based in Peachtree City, GA, will be the featured guest organization of the Aero Club of Metropolitan Atlanta's December meeting. (Photo Credit Rod Reilly)
CAF Corsair on Final Approach. (Photo Credit Rod Reilly)

The Corsair is in great hands with the CAF’s Dixie Wing and continues to fly actively on the air show circuit. To show your support of this magnificent aircraft, please do think about buying and wearing a T-Shirt in her honor. Click on the image below to purchase the exclusive Corsair Anniversary T-shirt

CORSAIR Anniversary Patch_FINAL

4 Comments

    • Many thanks Richard… just click on the image of the patch at the end of the article and that will take you to the order page.

  1. I’m trying to find a good picture of an F4U at Minneapolis NAS to use as a guide for a model I am building. Do you have any from when this aircraft was in Minneapolis. I grew up near the NAS in the 50’s. Thanks

    • I found a picture on the net. There is a “E” on the tail, ship Nr. 29.It looks pretty worn with the rudder and wings having holes in it.
      Looks like kids are playing on it. Looks like BU 92083

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