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Corsair Cockpits – Dana Bell

Review by Nick Veronico.

Rivet Counter Guide Number 1: Corsair Cockpits, F4U-1 Family. If that title gets your heart racing, you may need to consider an aviation 12-step programme. Introduce yourself. Grab a chair. You can sit next to me.

Noted author Dana Bell has produced a high-quality, 72-page guide to everything you wanted to know about the evolution of the F4U-1’s cockpit. The book’s use of perfectly chosen, high-resolution black and white images are paired with colour artwork to make the text’s dive into the details even deeper.

Bell’s book is important as the majority of the improvements in early model Corsairs took place in the fighter’s cockpit. Many of the changes had to do with pilot ergonomics, switch and lever placement, and the pilot’s external visibility. The manufacturers expended a lot of development effort in each area of improvement and it is amazing how much was changed from dash number to dash number.

The author examines the XF4U-1 cockpit, the evolution from the stock-framed canopy to the ‘birdcage’ canopy and windscreen armour, mods made to the overturn structure, one-piece Plexiglas canopies, blown or bubble canopies, gunsight changes as the fighter became more mature, and instrument layout, to name some of the many areas covered in detail. There’s also a great description with photos of the early Corsair’s bombing window in the cockpit floor.

As a side highlight, on page 22 there are two photos of FG-1A BuNo 14092 with a bubble canopy as flown later on the R-4360-powered F2G Corsairs. This is interesting as 14092 was one of nine aircraft retained by Goodyear’s Flight Test Department. This group of nine aircraft were given various F2G modifications, however, they were never complete conversion packages and were not redesigned to XF2G models. The majority of images of 14092 show it with the bubble canopy and R-4360 engine, so the small detail of a photo showing this Corsair with a bubble canopy and R-2800 engine is just one more point illustrating the level of detail in the book.

Corsair Cockpits concludes with a manufacturer’s serial number/Bureau number reference guide for the Dash-1s built by Vought, Goodyear and Brewster, along with the finish specifications for the aircraft.

This book deserves study by every Corsair enthusiast, and will hopefully serve as a model for more titles along these lines. The level of unique information and the use of colour artwork makes it tremendous value.

ISBN 978-0-57837-6-424


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