Switch to full style
This is the place where the majority of the warbird (aircraft that have survived military service) discussions will take place. Specialized forums may be added in the new future
Post a reply

Brewster F3A-1 Corsair history?

Sun Oct 15, 2006 2:48 pm

I am puzzled by some of the information I have on the Corsair. It was lost in an accident on Dec. 19 of 1944. I have not been able to locate any photos of this plane (Bu. No. 04634) prior to the crash. One individual from North Carolina said he had photos of the crash site from the 60's or 70's but has not located them yet. From the history card we know that it served with VMF-124 at Mojave MCAS from 1/44 to 8/44. The buzz numbers there were prefixed with "L", and a faded "L69" is visible under the cockpit area. The Corsair was then assigned to Cherry Point MCAS from 8/44 till its loss in Dec. I do not know what paint changes may have occured there. Overall it was in a tri-color scheme albeit very faded to bare aluminum on the upper surfaces.

It is relatively agreed that 136 Brewsters were built in 1943. The manufacturers number is 1752 and I would extrapolate this to be the 119th built. This would imply that it was built in late 1943. The lower insignia had the red surround and this would indicate the right outer panel was built in the three month period of 6 thru 8 of 1943. Now for the BIG question. Where did the change in canopys from birdcage to raised occur in the Brewster construction run? Any info would be appreciated.

"Pirate" Lex

Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:09 am


What's the status on this bird? Any updates?



Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:33 am

I lost my airline job about 2 weeks after Oshkosh '05 so that slowed progess to ZERO! In the last month I have just opened an aircraft paint shop in Cambridge MN named Pirate Air. I am hopeful to again see some progress this summer. I also hope to do some more wreck recoveries (LEGALLY, as before) even without NHC blessings.

As far as the research goes, I would have thought that at least 1 or 2 photos (Jack Cook?) might have surfaced of this plane in service, but as of yet nothing.

"Pirate" Lex

Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:52 pm

Hi Lex. Glad to hear you've gone forward with Pirate Air, and I hope business is as busy as you can handle.

I don't have the production info for the F3A for which you seek, but I thought you'd appreciate the following post from the Aviation Enthusiasts Corner . Maybe WIXers have seen this already, but for those who have simply assumed that the F3A was an inferior product (because that's what's printed as common knowledge, right?), I offer the following:

Mark Stockwell
Corry, PA
My father (who is 85) flew the F4U-1, -1A and -1D models in combat with VMF-215 in the Solomons (Guadalcanal, Munda and Vella Lavella that I can remember) in 1943/44. The -1 model is the version with the flat top canopy (also called the birdcage). The -1A is essentially the same aircraft with the blown canopy (bulged). The -1D was a distinct model with increased external ordnance carrying capability and the R2800-8W water injected engine. He says the -1A designation was unknown to the squadrons in the Solomons, they called both the -1 and -1A the -1. He thinks that the -1A designation was retroactive after the -1C and -1D designations. This would account for Vought and Navy photos identifying Corsairs with blown canopies as F4U-1. He also flew the F3A-1A and FG-1A in the same squadron. He says the best single Corsair he flew in combat was the first F3A-1A his squadron received (it also had an R2800 built by Kelvinator and no one else wanted to fly it until the Squadron CO flew it and realized how good it was). Dad also flew -4, -5 and -5N models and the F6F-5N in later squadron service. He considers the -4 to be the finest of all Corsairs.

Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:58 pm

I saw her at Oshkosh 2005. That is going to be one sweet bird when it is done. Good Luck!

Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:06 am

Lex, Just thinking out loud (and you've probably already checked this), but is it possible the answer to your question might be found in either the parts manual or perhaps the Pilot's Flight Handbook for the F4U-1/FG-1/F3A-1? Is it possible that the parts numbers for the bits that make up the birdcage canopy are cross-referenced to a specific set of aircraft Bu Numbers (and thus the parts numbers for the -1A canopy referenced to another set of Bu No's)? Might similar info on the respective Bu No's be found in the pilot's handbook concerning features and operation of the canopy?

(Like I said, this is probably ancient history for you, but just in case it isn't...)

I also found something to the effect that the Aircraft Yearbook for 1943 doesn't list an F3A-1 Brewster "Corsair", but rather the F3A-1 Brewster Battler (In the tradition of other fine Brewster products like the Buccaneer and Buffalo).

The Battler... priceless! :wink:

Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:35 am

I had the pleasure of meeting with many WWII Corsair pilots this last week, including John Wastvetd who flew my Corsair 6 times while training with VMF-124 in CA in 1944. I would still like to find any information or period photos. I thought I might try again as we have quite a few new members.

So bump.

Pirate Lex

Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:24 am

Hi Lex... I can't help with photos sadly, but with respect to the birdcage/bubble canopy issues, your's is definitely a bubble canopy version. You can tell because the armor plate and turtle decking have none of the scalloped out areas used in the birdcage birds. If you do wish to convert it to a birdcage though, please let me know, as I know where to find one of the canopies. I doubt it's a -1D either, as Brewster made only about 30 of them.

I don't know when Brewster stopped making birdcage variants, but I can't imagine they made many of them, as their production line only came up to speed by the time that Vought was upgrading to the new model. Goodyear hardly made any either. I have long thought that the only birdcages either company produced were the initial kits put together from Vought parts to prove their processes, but I may be wrong.

That reference by Dan to a pilot flying an F3A in a war zone was news to me. I never heard of any of them serving in combat before. I had always been under the impression that the closest any came to battle were a few Fleet Air Arm examples which made it to Ceylon. That would be exciting news if some actually made into theatre though. Is there any way to corroborate that information?


Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:19 pm

This may help with a little research.

I have a Vought Tech. Manual that lists Master Change Records for Corsairs.

Airplane NO. 1233, MCR 77, Furnishings - Cockpit Cabin - Raised for Improved Visibility - Installation of MCR's 153, 154, 172, and 217 following were associated and incorporated with MCR #77.

If you can date Vought A/C # 1233, that would give a date for the -1A canopy.

The -1D canopy is MCR 503, Furnishings - Cockpit Cabin - Sliding Section - Elimination of Horizontal Formers. A/C #3325


Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:42 pm

Here are some from F4U-1 THRU AU-1..and twin

Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:57 pm


The Corsair experts will have to explain.

Which photo depicts the "raised" cockpit cabin (like that of plane # 1233 as described in Mike's post): Pic #2 or Pic #3 :?:

Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:58 pm

The third one at the bottom there would be the blown canopy.

So what's up with this guy? :lol:

My personal records showed this. This is from my general notes, drawn from what I have tried to deduce as the most reliable sources over time. I still can't swear to how precise the information is though.

Change Order CW, Contract 198. The definitive –1A changes were put into production. There were 42 major changes incorporated including a new adjustable pilots seat that could be raised or lowered 9 inches, an armored pilots’ headrest, lengthened control stick, revised rudder/brake pedals, new instrument panel, gun sight, and canopy; new turtle deck, and cockpit armor plating; and reinforcement of the overturn structure, and redesigned tail gear.

The only changes I show specifically for the F3A-1 are these...


Retractable landing/taxi light under the left wing was eliminated. It was replaced with a smaller approach light located in the leading edge of the wing.

Water/methanol injected P&W R-2800-8W radial engine was introduced. This new feature could be used in order to provide extra engine rpm in a combat situation without the engine suffering from detonation.

Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:20 pm

He's running a batch 8)

Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:44 pm

I know that mine, Bu No 04634, is an early raised (single brace) canopy. I just wonder how close it is to being the first Brewster built to the A-1 specs. It also had an early Salmon primered left wing with the retractable landing light.

I am just hoping to find someone with an original photo of it in service in any location (factory, VMF-124 at Mojave or at Cherry Point MCAS) or maybe all three!

Thanks to all. The search continues.

Pirate Lex

Speaking of Corsairs....

Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:58 pm

I found a photo in my collection the other day of a VMF-225 F4U-4 in 1946 with a sharkmouth, can you believe that?

Rich Dann
Post a reply