Obie’s Corsair

By | August 10, 2021


This particular plane, Vought F4U-4 BuNo 97359, departed EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 with the “Finest Navy Fighter” award, however its army historical past dates to March 12, 1946, when the U.S. Navy first accepted it for service. Nonetheless, the fighter flew into storage at NAS Tillamook, Oregon, after which Santa Ana, California. After a four-month stint within the pool and FASRON 7 at NAS North Island in San Diego, ‘359 lastly obtained a squadron task when it was hooked up to the Hellrazors of VA-13A at North Island in April 1948. She remained with this unit till Could 1949, by which period the squadron had relocated to NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

In March 1950, the Corsair went into storage as soon as once more, this time in Litchfield Park, Arizona. On October 18, 1950, the fighter was assigned to VMT-2 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, California, thus starting a two-year stint with the U.S. Marines. After refurbishment in San Diego and Jacksonville, ‘359 was assigned to VF-44 Hornets at NAS Jacksonville, Florida on January 28, 1953, and noticed in depth motion from the decks of USS Lake Champlain (CV 39) and USS Boxer (CV 21) through the closing months of the Korean Struggle. Within the ultimate years of its profession, ‘359 served with VF-74 at NAS Quonset Level, Rhode Island, VX-2 at NAS Chincoteague, Virginia, and Reserve squadrons in San Diego, California and Olathe, Kansas. The Navy lastly struck her from their books at Litchfield Park in July 1956 with 1,798 hours on the airframe.

However the scrap man’s torch was not in her future. In November 1957, the legendary character, Bob Bean, bought the fighter for $1,500.99 and saved it exterior for the following 19 years till Tom Friedkin bought the plane on November 19, 1975. Lower than a 12 months later, this Corsair made its tv debut on Flying Misfits, the two-hour pilot episode for the tv collection which turned Baa Baa Black Sheep. By the point the collection resulted in April 1978, the fighter had appeared in 35 of 36 episodes. The Corsair remained within the Friedkin household assortment till January 1988, once they bought it to the Previous Flying Machine Firm based mostly in Duxford, England. Right here the plane flew, oddly, in WWII-era Royal New Zealand Air Power markings. Nonetheless, this was to be a quick abroad jaunt, because the fighter returned house to the US in 1992 and, over the following twenty years, handed via a number of totally different homeowners, together with Norm Lewis and Max Chapman. In 2006, the Corsair briefly reunited with its former Black Sheep co-star, FG-1D BuNo 92106, in Classic Wings of Canada’s secure at Gatineau Government Airport in Quebec, Canada. In March 2008, former Classic Wings of Canada common, Doug Matthews, bought the plane and had it repainted to symbolize the Corsair flown by VF-32 pilot Lt (j.g.) Thomas Hudner on his Medal of Honor mission of December 4, 1950.

In 2010, it was found that retired Navy Commander Charles “Obie” O’Brien, a pilot then-flying with the Virginia Seaside-based Navy Aviation Museum (MAM), had flown this Corsair on three of his twenty-four fight missions over North Korea in June and July 1953Obie, 83-years-old on the time, was the final pilot on the planet who had each flown Corsairs in fight and was nonetheless actively flying the kind six many years later. When fellow naval aviator Doug Matthews heard about Obie he stated with out hesitation, “Properly he has to fly it once more.”

So on Saturday, September 22, 2012, Obie climbed aboard 97359 and expertly introduced the plane’s Pratt & Whitney R-2800 to life. Over the earlier decade, Obie had logged greater than 100 hours on the controls of the MAM FG-1D, however this flight was totally different. It was particular. He was, as soon as once more, about to fly the exact same Corsair he had flown into the tooth of enemy anti-aircraft fireplace practically six many years earlier.

A 12 months later, nevertheless, Matthews bought the Corsair on to Oklahoman Trent Latshaw. The Corsair flew lower than 100 hours within the following ten years earlier than the American Honor Basis of Ocala, Florida acquired it. Upon studying that there was a dwelling Korean Struggle veteran who had flown ‘359 in fight and who’d additionally flown Corsairs into his mid-80s, officers on the American Honor Basis selected to honor Obie, and his VF-44 squadron-mates, by repainting the Corsair to symbolize the way it appeared in these closing months of the Korean Struggle. With Obie’s title on the cover rail, the fight veteran fighter made its public debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021, that includes on the well-known Warbirds In Assessment on July 23, 2021.

The repaint occurred early in July 2021. The airplane flew to John Mosley’s paint store, Hangar 360 Plane Companies, to regain its wartime identification. The squadron markings, plane quantity, and even Obie’s title underneath the cover accomplished the long-overdue tribute. Warbird Digest photographer Greg Morehead traveled to Raymond, Mississippi to doc its first flight in these markings. Whereas this Corsair may technically be a part of the American Honor Basis’s assortment, to them it is going to at all times be “Obie’s Corsair.”


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