More From The National Interest: How China Could Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier How the F-35 Stealth Fighter Almost Never Happened Thanks to the rather far-fetched mid-1970s TV series Black Sheep Squadron, the bent-wing image of the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair is no doubt one of the most vivid of the World War II fighters in the minds of most Americans.
The events depicted in the series were contrived, but the airplanes were real, and the series was based on real men who had flown the same type of fighter against the Japanese several decades earlier when the bent-wing Corsair symbolized Marine Corps Aviation.
Meanwhile, Marine Corps fighter squadrons had gone into combat in the Southwest Pacific with obsolete Grumman F4F Wildcats and needed something capable of intercepting Japanese bombers at high altitude.
Both the Navy and Marine Corps were hurting for a decent fighter in 1942, but due to heavy carrier losses at the battles of Coral Sea and Midway, naval aviation was temporarily out of the war and could wait until new carriers could be launched and made ready for sea to equip its squadrons.
The Corsair’s first exposure to air-to-air combat occurred the following day, when VMF-124 contributed several airplanes for a joint-service force made up of Army P-38s and P-40s, Navy Liberators, and the Marine F4Us.
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