The F4U Corsair: the US Navy’s Korean War workhorse

Lately I’ve been on a bit of a building spree. The Cold War collaboration for BrickFair Virginia, for which I have already built the SS-20 Saber and Gryphon GLCM transporter erector launchers, has given me lots of ideas and motivation. So far I have focussed on Cold War doomsday weapons that never saw use in anger. The actual armed conflicts that took place during the Cold War, although certainly brutal, fortunately were fought using conventional weapons. One of these was the Korean War.

In 1950, when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea, the US and a number of allies came to South Korea’s aid. At the time, the first jet aircraft were already in service. However, propeller-driven aircraft still had a role to play. Most US Navy aircraft carriers still had several squadrons of Vought F4U Corsairs on board.

This WW2 design may have seemed like an anachronism, but the veteran warbird could carry more weapons and spend more time overhead than faster jet fighters. They were the workhorse of US Naval aviation.

Fighting stopped with the signing of an armistice in 1953, with both countries left in ruins and the border fixed in more-or-less the same place it was before the war started. But the conflict still lingers more than sixty years later with no formal peace treaty in place. Judging from the summit meeting between US President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a few days ago which failed to make progress, this situation seems likely to last a while longer.

The US Navy retired its last war-weary Corsairs around the time of the armistice. At The Brothers Brick we like Corsairs and we’ve written about several. This includes one of my own, which I built in early 2010, long before I joined the team. You may wonder how this one is new and different. It is certainly not the largest or the prettiest Corsair model out there.

Like my old model, the new one is properly minifig scale. It doesn’t dwarf any figures standing next to it, but it has space inside for a pilot. It also has a working sliding canopy. In terms of LEGO-building, nine years is a rather long time, though. Thanks to new parts I was now able to build it completely in dark blue. I have created the distinctive upward slope of the outer wing panels (the proper aeronautical term is dihedral) by sloping the wing panel, rather than by building it using stepped plates. I also added typical Korean-War armament (rockets and bombs under the wings) and built a snazzy new aircraft tractor for the diorama. The model is largely studless to fit with the style of the rest of the builds for the collaboration. The overall shape is similar, but this is basically a completely new build.

6 comments on “The F4U Corsair: the US Navy’s Korean War workhorse

  1. Håkan

    I guess that’s just an ordinary bright blue Classic Space helmet, and it only appears light blue due to the lightning.

  2. Joe

    It’s amazing what nine years can do! The first model was impressive back then, and the updated version is light years better.

  3. Ralph Post author

    @Hakan: Yes, it’s just an blue classic space helmet, most likely from a set I had in my childhood, which makes it more than 30 years old.

    @Joe: Thanks. While am not about to switch to studless building for all of my models (I like studs on them), for the collaboration this will look more coherent. I was mainly happy with being able to slope the wings. The old version used click hinges, whose limited angles didn’t allow me to do this. On the new version, I’ve used plates modified 1×2 with pinhole on top,
    and some old black Technic pins. They’re stiff enough to allow me to prop up the wing at any angle I like.

  4. Ralph Post author

    @brickteller Håkan got it right. They’re train signal masts. I managed to scrounge together six of them from my childhood collection. They are old and fragile and some of them are actually broken, but I was able to combine the matching pieces.

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