Happy Birthday USMC & Remembering a Remarkable Tailwheel Airplane

The United States Marine Corp celebrated its 245st birthday November 10, 2020. I am reminded of the Marine Corps famed Checkerboard Squadron, VMA 312. My father, Major Ed Alsip, served with that squadron during the Korean War. Pictured here are the Marine aviators who flew the renown F4U Corsair from the USS Sicily during the combat of 1951.
The United States Marine Corp celebrated its 245st birthday November 10, 2020. I am reminded of the Marine Corps famed Checkerboard Squadron, VMA 312. My father, Major Ed Alsip, served with that squadron during the Korean War. Pictured here are the Marine aviators who flew the renown F4U Corsair from the USS Sicily during the combat of 1951.
In acknowledgement of the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, I have reprinted the dedication from my book, Artistry of the Great Flyer. I hope you enjoy reading about the F4U-4, a fabulous tailwheel airplane.

I have dedicated this book to my father, Major Edward Alsip, USMC. He was a naval aviator, a career officer in the US Marine Corps. He served in WWII as a ground officer with Marine Air Group 22 during the campaign for the Marshall Islands. During the Korean War, he flew over one hundred missions from the aircraft carrier USS Sicily. He was a member of VMA-312, the famed Checkerboard Squadron, flying the Corsair F4U-4. He and the other naval aviators of that time wrote the final chapters for the story of that remarkable Vought F4U Corsair. They were the last of a generation of fighter pilots whose awesome stick and rudder skills were matched by the demands of a tail wheel airplane with an incredibly powerful radial engine.

In his book titled Corsair, author Barrett Tillman stated that “the F4U was superb as an air superiority fighter, and also outstanding in the air to surface role.” He continued, saying that “only the now legendary McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom series has rivaled the Corsair as a proven multi-purpose combat aircraft.” The story of the Vought F4U Corsair is remarkable. In the foreword to Corsair, Kenneth A. Walsh, Lt. Col. USMC wrote that it was an airplane “capable of, or adapted for, turning with ease from one to another of various tasks.” He went on to describe it as “a day fighter and a night fighter. A dive bomber and a reconnaissance plane. Land-based and carrier-based.”

Flying in the slot between Guadalcanal and Bougainville, Lt. Walsh of VMF 124 became the first Corsair ace. He finished the war, WWII, with twenty-one victories and the Medal of Honor. Behind every fighter ace there is a wingman. Lt. Walsh said about Lt. Bill Johnston, his usual number two: “If it wasn’t for him, I’d still be somewhere in the Solomon Islands! He was always there when I needed him.”

By the time history records the exploits of my dad and other pilots during the Korean War, marines flying the F4U were upholding the standard for heroic close air support of ground troops. For such action, my dad was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In part, the citation reads, “Major Alsip pressed his attack to a low altitude so as to achieve maximum effect. Despite intense enemy small arms fire which hit and damaged his aircraft, Major Alsip remained over the area making repeated rocket and strafing runs against the advancing troops.”

Learning, remembering, and talking about the heroism of America’s young men who risked and sacrificed so much in aerial combat during this nation’s wars is the way we honor their lives. I share this reverence for the exploits of America’s flying heroes, but as a flight instructor I am especially in awe of their flying skills: the level to which they mastered the use of stick and rudder.

I dedicate this book to my father, Major Edward Alsip USMC, and his contemporaries, America’s naval aviators; they were flyers. They mastered the fundamentals of flying an airplane. They knew stick and rudder skills, and they performed those skills while looking through a gun sight at 200 mph, sometimes at an altitude below the tops of trees and with other young men shooting at them.

Click here to see this month’s feature video Learning to Fly Aerobatics.

My two books, in paper back or E-book, and both Key Point videos are available from Amazon.com. Search “Jim Alsip” at Amazon or click here.