CJFM, PARAFIELD AIRPORT, ADELAIDE – F4U-1 Corsair Buno 02270 restoration update

The mammoth restoration on a very early build F4U-1 Corsair continues at Classic Jets Fighter Museum, Parafield Airport, South Australia, with the team of volunteers making strong progress each month on bringing another rare WW2 veteran back to a static display status. The history of the Corsair was that it was forced landed near Quoin Hill airfield on the north coast of Vanuatu island of Efate on May 5, 1944 by US Marine Corps pilot Capt. James A.Vittitoe.Vittitoe ran out of fuel on a training mission and had to put his aircraft down in the ocean and it ended up hitting the coral. The wreckage was acquired by Bob Jarrett in 2009 and imported into Australia. The basic shell of the aircraft remained after 50years in the salt water environment and it was noted that it take a lot of effort to turn this wreckage into a beautiful Corsair.
The CJFM F4U-1 Bu.02270, has two interesting titles, it is the world’s oldest Corsair known to still exist and it also rare as it is only one of 2 remaining worldwide which used the early canopy birdcage design before changing to the more common hood design.
Over the past few years much work by Bob Jarrett and his workshop team of volunteers has resulted in significant progress changing the wreck into a nearly completed aircraft by early 2016. The effort being invested in the Corsair is shown by the diverse team of 20 volunteers, who are rostered to ensure their efforts are managed and co-ordinated effectively in restoring this exciting project.
The museum tries to rotate the volunteers workload over 3 days a week when the volunteers can offer their time. The restoration situation in early 2016 has the F4U-1 Corsair’s rear fuselage rebuilt with all of the tailpane, stabilisers in place, the rear fuselage section through to the engine firewall including the cockpit section all rebuilt.
Currently the cockpit is not yet fitted out. The inner wing sections, outer wing sections and the forward wing spars are being worked on at present in several places around the hangar.
The engine is undergoing work to rebuild it back to its original condition with much volunteer work being expended.
The wings spars are being rebuilt nearby in the hangar with amazing skill to recreate the very long “W” shaped main spar wing sections. The outer wing, flaps and aileron sections are literally a work of art with many ribs, stiffeners and spars all being meticulously rebuilt and covered up with sheet metal or fabric as required.
 The wing based intake inlets are superb workmanship with much effort expended on crafting their curves. This really shows the detail the volunteer team members are dealing with in restoring this old warrior.
The wings wheel wells initially were built using plans to work with timber mockups to align all the various parts and hoses that needed to go into each wheel bay. Then the team went ahead and rebuilt the actual wheel bays in the wings using these plans.
The 2 tall and strong landing gear struts are being rebuilt and will be put back into the restored wings when ready.
The F4U’s heart is the powerful P &W R-2800 Double Wasp engine and this is placed alongside the aircraft, standing upright at the moment with components being added to its external frame to enable attachment of the cowl rings.
 It is the museum plans to inhibit the engine with preservative oils before it will be fitted onto the Corsair’s engine mount. This oiling will enable the engine to be preserved better when on static display.
The cockpit is currently undergoing work with this being undertaken in 2 stages. The first one is relating to the canopy framework and this is underway with a sheet metal cut out of the canopy sitting on the aircraft. This is in the distinctive shape of the early model Corsair birdcage design. Bob Jarrett has explained that this metal canopy is to be used as a pattern for the upcoming plastic canopy, which will be dropped over the metal outline to form the actual canopy frame.
Meanwhile inside the cockpit, the planned fitting out of the cockpit will take place when the team is ready. At this stage the cockpit fittings assigned for the Corsair are on public display, placed on the floor in a small cockpit mockup display which enables visitors to see what a Corsair’s cockpit layout was like from the pilot’s perspective.
Another sign of progress is that since the last update the US national insignia has been painted on both sides of the rear fuselage.
The CFJM plan to keep working on the restoration of the wings, engine, cockpit fittings and continue the repaint of the warbird.
Once this intensive work is all completed they aim to roll out the F4U-1 Corsair in its US Marine Corps WW2 Pacific colour scheme as a fitting tribute to its pilot’s legacy
It is expected that this will be the first static rebuilt F4U-1 Corsair restoration in Australia, a warbird type which has not interestingly been seen here on public display until the last 2 decades despite being used around the Pacific and based in Australia during WW2 and post war.
Currently only 1 flying example of the Corsair is on the warbird scene in Australia and is based in Melbourne. Another example is being rebuilt to fly is in far north Queensland.
The CJFM has remains of 2 other F4U Corsairs stored on public display and these 2 wrecks haven’t been assigned any restoration timeframe.
In March 2016 the CJFM was announced to close its doors in the future, with a lot of its collection sold off or handed back to donors. It is understood that Bob will focus on continuing the restoration of this Corsair for the meantime.