The Vought F-4U Corsair was a single seater American fighter aircraft which saw service primarily in World War II. It was designed as a carrier-based machine and the F4U-1D version was an upgrade to carry a payload of rockets carried on permanent launching rails, as well as twin pylons for bombs or drop tanks. These modifications caused extra drag, but the additional fuel carried by the two drop tanks would still allow the aircraft to fly relatively long missions despite heavy loads. Other initial Vought Corsair design problems led to revised shorter wings being adopted to fit the limited hanger accommodation on board. Also a clear view cockpit canopy and the improved height of the pilot seat gave essential added visibility. Our Oxfords model incorporates the physical refinements of the F-4U- 1D variant.
The aircraft carrier USS Gilbert Islands was a Commencement-Bay class escort carrier of the US Navy. She was diverted from manoeuvres off Hawaii in April 1945 and deployed with an escort carrier force whose task was to close Okinawa. Aboard were her fleet of Vought F-4U Corsairs and the US Marine Corps VMF-512 Squadron. The USS Gilbert Islands arrived off the coast of Okinawa in May and during the ensuing Battle of Okinawa. VMF-512 aircraft blasted and strafed concrete dugouts, troop concentrations, ammunition and fuel dumps. Then they helped neutralize outlying Japanese airfields and installations. The squadron remained carrier based and at the end of the War, as part of the post-war drawdown of forces, VMF-512 was decommissioned on 10 March 1946.
'The Mad Cossack' was No. 26 in the Corsair fleet which took part in the Okinawa raid and was so named because of the white nose art. The art is printed on both sides of the front fuselage and the No. 26 appears in white on the edge of the engine cowling and on the upright tail fin. The aircraft body colour is a rich midnight blue and the printed decoration is all finished in white. The cockpit is moulded in green inside the bubble enhanced canopy.
Although not a lot is known about the pilots who flew 'The Mad Cossack', one was Lt Ron Spjeldet, who lived until he was 93 years old and went on to fight in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
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