Kissimmee Air Museum, located at the Florida’s Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM) will have a visiting VIP (Very Important Plane) during the holiday season: The Collings Foundation’s rare F4U-5NL Corsair.
Its distinctive gull wing design and prestigious combat history make the Vought F4U-5NL Corsair one of the most famous fighters built during World War II and an icon for a generation of plane enthusiasts who grew up hearing the stories of such groups as the “Black Sheep Squadron,” according to museum officials.
The F4U Corsair was designed to employ the largest engine and propeller ever fitted to a fighter up to that point. First flown in May 1940, its entrance into the combat arena with the US Navy was delayed due to concerns about visibility and landing characteristics. Land-based Marines were the first US forces to fly the Corsair in combat in March 1943. It was not until the British proved that the Corsair could safely operate from carriers that the Navy put the F4U into service in January 1944. A total of 24 Corsair pilots became aces during the war, eliminating any doubt about the Corsair’s fighting ability.
After the end of World War II the Corsair continued to serve in the military. Corsair Bureau Number (BuNo) 124692 supported UN soldiers in Korea, serving aboard the carrier Essex with VC-3 flying 77 combat hours over Korea, most of its service as a night fighter. Today it supports the Collings Foundation’s fight to preserve aviation history in its original VC-3 configuration.
The Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Nationwide Tour is a living history display and flying museum that offers tours and flights in the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and North American P-51C Mustang. The foundation’s F4U-5 Corsair will be on display at Kissimmee Air Museum during the tour’s winter hiatus.
Kissimmee Air Museum and Warbird Adventures’ T-6 flight operations are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.