The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and Brewster-built aircraft F3A. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured by Vought, in 16 separate models, in the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in U.S. history (1942–1953).
The Corsair served in with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, Fleet Air Arm and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, as well as the French Navy Aeronavale and other, smaller, air forces until the 1960s. It quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter-bomber of World War II. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II, and the U.S. Navy counted an 11:1 kill ratio with the F4U Corsair
The performance of the Corsair was impressive. The F4U-1 was considerably faster than the F6F Hellcat and only 13 mph (21 km/h) slower than the P-47 Thunderbolt, both of the two other fighters also being powered by the R-2800. But while the P-47 achieved its highest speed at 30,020 feet (9,150 m) with the help of an intercooled turbosupercharger, the F4U-1 reached its maximum speed at 19,900 ft (6,100 m), and used a mechanically supercharged engine.
Carrier qualification trials on the escort carrier USS Sangamon, on 25 September 1942, caused the U.S. Navy to release the type to the United States Marine Corps. Early Navy pilots spoke disparagingly of the F4U as the "hog", "hosenose" or "bent wing widow-maker". After all, the U.S. Navy still had the Grumman F6F Hellcat, which did not have the performance of the F4U but was a far better deck landing aircraft. The Marines needed a better fighter than the F4F Wildcat. For them it was not as important that the F4U could be recovered aboard a carrier, as they usually flew from land bases. Growing pains aside, Marine Corps squadrons readily took to the radical new fighter.