Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Australia’s only airworthy Chance Vought F4U Corsair has returned to the skies over Tyabb.
The Corsair, an F4U-5N night-fighter variant built in 1951 at Stratford, Connecticut by Chance Vought (a division of United Aircraft), went into service with the United States Navy. Little is known of her US service history, but in 1956 she was placed in service with the Fuerza Aerea Hondurena (Honduran Air Force) as FAH608. Honduran Corsairs engaged in the very last piston-versus-piston dogfights ever flown, where one successfully shot down a trio of El Salvadorean fighters during the Football War of 1969.
After being sold on the civil market in the early 1970’s and returning the the USA, she passed through several hands until being gifted to the Royal New Zealand Air Force by Walt Disney Studios in 1987. A decade later, the RNZAF swapped the aircraft in exchange for a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk owned by Graham Hosking in Tyabb, Australia. She underwent restoration to airworthiness in Darwin by Peter Bradley and the team at Aerotec NT and, in 2014, made her first post-restoration test flight. She moved to her current home at Tyabb later that year.
In early 2017 she suffered a landing mishap at the Hunter Valley Airshow in Maitland NSW, and was transported by road back to Tyabb. While there was no major structural damage done, parts like flaps and landing gear doors required replacement, as well as a new engine and propeller.
Her second “first flight”, flown by Peter ‘BD’ Clements, was a complete success. There were no anomalies or issues reported during the 45-minute test flight. It is hoped that she will be one of the stars of the upcoming Tyabb Air Show in March 2020.