Post War Piston Engine Power

The US Navy was still finishing-up the combat training of the first Naval Aviators to fly the ferocious new Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat when the Japanese surrendered before they had to face this plane in combat.

The print above depicts the next model along, the Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, shown in post-WW2 markings.  This plane, with its four 20 mm cannon and its stunning speed was a sobering opponent, even as the jet age was eclipsing piston engine power. The F8F-2 Bearcat, with its knuckle-walking stance on the ground, and its blistering performance in flight still astonishes air race spectators to this day.

As with the Bearcat above, the US Navy was wanting to obtain fast interceptors to meet the Japanese threat, and ended up creating this monster, the F2G-1D “Super Corsair,” with its massive, 28 cylinder, Pratt & Whitney R-4360 “corncob” engine and its ridiculous, “pin you to the seat” 4,400 feet per minute rate of climb. Goodyear, building Corsairs under license, was the sole contractor on these outrageous Super Corsairs. This aircraft, built without a tailhook for Marine Corps usage, is shown in the markings it wore while undergoing tests at Pax River. This Super Corsair rendering is also available with a simple white background, since the brick hangar background was developed for use in a calendar image.

Aside from its military usage, this Super Corsair created quite a stir when it showed up on the postwar air racing circuit. Just imagine the performance of an aircraft with an engine that uses 56 sparkplugs. More recently, a rebuilt Super Corsair has been a race-painted as “Number 54,” in authentic red, white, and black livery, in commemoration of an early air racer, and flown in the last few years in competition at Reno, in those original racing colors, down to the single white propeller blade, just like the one that was replaced, and painted white, on that earlier Super Corsair, for races conducted decades ago, in the Cleveland Air Races. Clearly, the racing tradition lives on.

This 24″ x 36″ print shows the last Supermarine Spitfire to be deployed overseas, at the RAF base at Kai Tek, flying combat air patrols over Hong Kong, as things heated up with North Korea and Red China.  The D-Day style “Invasion Stripes” were intended to ensure that these British planes would be identified as “friendlies.”  These powerful, late model Spitfires, with their massive tails and full bubble canopies, would’ve been impossible to imagine when the first Spitfires came on strength with the RAF at the beginning of World War Two.  The Spitfire was one of the most updated, heavily modified aircraft in history.

This 24″ x 36″ print depicts a Korean War era Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Hawker Sea Fury. The Sea Fury, a logical evolution beyond the earlier Hawker Tempest, shown among the RAF fighters, shown on the Commonwealth aircraft  page, represented the British approach to creating their own monster, the very acme of the Royal Navy’s use of piston engine power, as that era was coming to a close. These stunningly powerful planes are still being flown in the National Championship Air Races in Reno each year, some in Commonwealth military markings, and some in over-the-top racing paint schemes.

This 24″ x 36″ two-view print depicts a Korean War era Vought F-4U-5 flown by the pilots of VMF-212, a Marine Corps squadron now called the “Lancers,” but, at that time, known as the “Devilcats,” as depicted in their unit patch, appearing in the upper right-hand corner of this print. Many, many desperately outnumbered (at times, by 10-to-1) American ground pounders owed their very survival to the concentrated use of these planes in the hazardous but necessary Close Air Support role as overwhelming numbers of enemy troops came swarming over the rugged Korean terrain.

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