Once again, my good friend Steve Forrest built a plane for a pilot I created. (When you make pilots, you can't beat a friend like that!) Steve has always liked the F4U Corsair, and wanted to do Greg "Pappy" Boyington's personal mount. Despite the pictures of Pappy in the "Lucybelle" Corsair with all of the Japanese victory flags on the side, this was most decidedly a posed photography session for the media way behind the front lines and was not an aircraft he flew in actual combat. In reality, the pilots of VMF-214, Boyington's squadron, didn't have assigned aircraft but just hopped into whatever was available for that mission. Boyington was known to usually take the oldest aircraft on the line. Some say this was a leadership decision to inspire the newer pilots in their equipment. Others say it was a more shrewd outlook on Boyington's part... if it flew long enough to be an "old" aircraft, it must be a good one!
So with some research, we discovered that Corsair number 883 was definitely flown by Pappy in combat and has a few pictures of Pappy in the cockpit after a sortie. This plane was heavily weathered and the F4U-A1 with the first bubble-style canopy.
Steve's Ziroli Corsair is right at 1/5 scale, 93" wingspan, around 30 lbs. weight, Robart retracts, and a Zenoah G-62 for power. My favorite feature is the servo-activated CANOPY! It really looks cool taking off canopy open and on the next fly-by closed! And of course it shows off Pappy wonderfully!!
When Steve first put Pappy in the cockpit he was concerned something wasn't correct. He looked too small for some reason, even though the scale should have been right. After pulling up several WW2 images of pilots in real Corsairs, we discovered the issue.
See how large and open the cockpit looked in relation to the pilot? (Really thrilled that Pappy looks just as real as the actual pilot photos!) He is the right size in relation to the canopy and bulkhead behind the seat. What was the deal? See below with the red marks on the front windscreen? The frame was too low and needed to be painted up a lot higher. When Steve did that, Pappy looked just right! Scale is such an elusive thing! Just goes to show you really have to study your sources to get it right and not just take a kit as correct.
Steve actually has let me fly his Corsair on several occasions and I love flying it. It flies like a big ol' warbird should. Really nice and stable to land with a fairly slow touch-down speed. The G-62 pulls it with authority and very scale like. Steve doesn't have it set up as "snappy" on the controls, just good positive control with lots of stick movement to guide it. One thing this model does that I've seen in most other models of the Corsair large or small scale... it wobbles in turbulence! I've seen this in forums called the "Corsair-wobble". In very bumpy conditions, it can be a little worrisome, but flies fine with authoritative control. I suspect the bulge of the canopy disrupts the airflow a bit over the tail, but I'm no engineer. In calm conditions, it flies rock solid. Does the full-scale do this?
In the Corsair line-up photo at the 2014 Dino Digorgio SR. Memorial Warbird fly-in at Ball Ground GA, Pappy has a commanding presence in the cockpit with correct posture... compared to the "dollie-type" pilot slumped against the back of the cockpit. And no pilots in the other Corsairs! That is a Warbird foul! Lol.
Above is a video of Steve flying this bird at his manicured flying field. Yeah, he takes as much pride in his grass runway as he does his model aircraft! And yes, Steve usually lands that good or even better! Thanks for the video Mark Butrum.