The Saga of The F2G Super Corsair

The F2G Racing years.   Part 1 of 4

by Rodney Williams

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There were three companies producing the Corsair during World War-II.  However, Goodyear Aircraft Corporation; (G.A.C.) which was located at the Akron, Ohio municipal airport was the only company to produce the Super Corsairs.

 

I was born in Akron, Ohio, and my Dad Harry was an engineer at G.A.C.  On many occasions, I went to the factory with my dad.  I was able to sit in some of the fighters, and even test fire the machine-guns.  I even got to sit in one of the F2G's.  It was painted gloss sea blue, and the cowling was painted  a gloss yellow color.  Later, that plane had a #9 painted on the cowling (see above photo).

In 1946 the National Air Races resumed at Cleveland, Ohio's municipal airport.  So my dad and I went to the races in 1946, 1947, 1948 & 1949.  As my dad would say!  "Let's go see my Corsairs race!

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Here is the data on the four (4) F2G's, which Cook Cleland owned:

1.   B.U. #88463:  Race No. 74:  Civil Race No. "NX5577N"

Cook purchased this F2G-2 on 2-05-47 for $1,250.  It was flown by Cook and by his friend Richard Becker.

2.   B.U. #88457:  Race No. 84:  Civil Race No. "NX5588N"

Cook purchased this F2G on 3-5-47;(price unknown).  Tony Jannazo flew this a./c. for Cook.  It crashed during the Cleveland National Air Show, killing Tony and destroying the plane.

3.    B.U. #14693:  Race No. 94:  Civil Race No. "NX5590N"  

Cook purchased this XF2G-1 on 7-15-47 for $2,818.00.  In 1948 the civil number was change to N5590N, dropping the "X."

4.    B.U. #88458:  Race No. 57:  Civil Race No.  "N5588N"

Cook does not remember the date, when he purchased this F2G-1D; (price unknown).  Due to complaints from other pilots, etc;  Cook assigned this a./c. to one of his employee's; Ben McKillen.  Ben flew the racer in the 1949 air race's at Cleveland.
Cook used the civil race number from his crashed F2G, and deleted the "X."

The other F2G which flew during the Cleveland Air Races was purchased by Ron Puckett on 3-19-47.  He paid $1,250.00 for his XF2G-1.  Ron also dropped the "X"  in the civil number during the 1949 races.

B.U. #14694:  Race No.18.  Civil Race No. "NX91092"

Bill Odem crashed a P-51 Mustang Racer during the 1949 races, killing a lady and her child.  This ended the races in Cleveland.

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New part of article starts here


"AIR RACERS   # 18  & # 84"
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 To the viewers of ARC :  In my haste, trying to get this three part story together, prior to a business trip, and sending it to ARC, I plumb forgot,  and left out the photo's/additional information for the above two F2G's.  My data on the F2G-Program has come from a dozen+ books, and as many person's.  The most important humans were:  Cook Cleland, who owned #57, 74,  84, & 94.  The late Harry Doan, who, once owned #57, and Walter Soplata who,  once owned #74.  Doug Champlin owned a non-racer b.u. #88454.  Speaking on the phone with these men,  I assume they know the facts, and not hear-say by book writers etc. 
 Case - in - point :::::  I wrote that Walter Soplata died, and the family sold #74 to the Crawford Museum, which is located in the Cleveland, Ohio area.  Jim Bates, who lives in Akron, Ohio; (my home town) sent email, & stated::::  When the Crawford people packed-up #74 for shipment to Bob Odegaard, who is going to restore #74.  Jim was there and took a photo of the mid-section of #74, which was ready for shipment to Bob.  Jim met Walter!  This was in September, 1999.  The photo's I showed of #74 being dismantled was publish in "THE  SOCIETY OF AIR RACING HISTORIANS;" newsletter "Golden Pylons;" post-mark date of April 12, 1998.  Jim also stated that the deal was part donation and part $$$$.   Researching my data, I find a penciled-in note; "Walter died, family sold #74."  I neglected to add date, nor who called me on the phone.  Moral of the story:  See how easy it is to goof-up ??

If anyone has any factual information concerning the F2G's, like Jim Bates, please by all means, forward it to me.  Hopefully, one day soon, I'll enter my thirty pages of data in this new p.c. of mine.  I've held off, 'cause I'm a two-finger typist !  Let's start with racer #18.  I will put in all of my data, which I have on  it, and then will add the same for racer #84,  including the photo's this time. 

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"AIR RACER # 18" 

They list a production number by G.A.C; of "1703" ; with a b.u. number of #14694.    It is classified as a   XF2G-1 - F2G configuration.   It was listed as the 6th XF2G-1.  It was tested @ G.A.C. until October, 1945, then it was sent to N.A.M.C. - Philadelphia/Mustin Field for carrier tests.  The plane had problems, so b.u. number 88460 took its' place.  #14694 came back to Mustin in March of 1946.  Where it was between those two dates, I have no data !!   I would assume it went back to G.A.C.?  It left Mustin and went to N.A.T.C./Patuxent in April, 1946, and stayed there until May 31, 1947.  Mr. Nick Haulprich, the so called F2G Historian sent me his data , which stated that #14694 was the 8th XF2G-1, not the 6th XF2G-1, and that #88460 was the 7th F2G-2.  Nick list no other data.  For a historian, Nick's F2G data is rather sparse, to say the least. 

Ron Puckett purchased this aircraft from the Navy on March 19, 1947.  The amount was listed at $1,250.00.  Question is : When did Ron take possession of said F2G, as is was still @NATC in May of 1947?  The race number was 18, and the civil number was "NX91092."  It had the auxiliary rudder for the 1947 air races, but no tail-wheel fin tip, aft of tail wheel opening, as I call it; (see racer #57).  The top carburetor air-scoop was standard. They removed 9" from each wing-tip.  The basic aircraft color for the 1947 air races was: "Dark Blue."  The engine cowl, tail cone, and prop dome was "Orange."  The colors have no F.S. Number.  Maybe we can assume it was the Navies gloss sea blue !!   Why?  Cook Cleland never removed the gloss sea blue on #57.  They just painted the red and white over it, as my photo shows.  Orange is Orange, right ?  My guess would be bright Orange.  I was at the races in 1947, I saw all the racers, but!!!!! "that's a long time ago."

My photos show that in 1948, #18 was one solid color, which seems to be the dark blue.  If you check-out the race records, you will note that no F2G racer won anything.  Cook flying #94, and Becker flying #74 both had to drop out of the "Thompson Trophy" race, due to both of the large air-scoop hoods shook loose. There's no mention of Ron Puckett entering any race in 1948, yet he, and his F2G was there! 

For the 1949 air races, there was not only structural changes, but a complete new paint-scheme.  They removed the auxiliary rudder, and extended the carburetor air scoop to the speed ring.  There was another 7" removed from each wing-tip, either in 1948, and/or in 1949.  The civil number was changed from "NX91092" to "N91092;" in 1949. (this happened to other racers as well). 

The basic aircraft color was light gray.  The front portion of the fuselage, belly, and wing roots were light blue, with an irregular color separation line.  The registration; racing numbers, and lettering below the cockpit was also light blue.  The name "Betty"; "Miss Port Columbus"; and "Shirley" were painted gray.
Years ago, Al Keller send me several 3-view drawing's of the F2G racers, with a '86 & '87 by DSJ, or just DS, as there's a vertical line after the S, and is drawn under and across to the start of the D.  I only have two 3-view drawings of #18, showing the a.c. in 1947 & 1949.  If there was a 3-view of the single paint scheme, I may have sent my original to someone by  mistake.  Anyways, we know by the photo's that there were 3-different paint schemes for #18.

Sometime after the races, Ron sold the plane to someone, but forgot the guy's name.  He was Sam Goldman; d.b.a. "Chesapeake Airways."  In 1997, and/or in 1998,  Bob Odegaard was visited Sam looking for aircraft parts.  Bob noticed a photo of #18 with its' "tag." hanging on it, up on the wall.  Sam related that he sold the engine to Pratt & Whitney, and scrapped the rest of the F2G.  Me and many others have hunted for this aircraft for over 25-years.  What a sad, sad ending for such a very rare bird.

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"AIR RACER  # 84"

This aircraft not only had a short life, but a very sad ending.  The great F2G expert historian, Mr. Nich Haulprich had "0" data on his spread-sheet, which he sent me in 1991.  Let's forget he called me many bad names!  It had a  B.U. number of 88457.  It was a F2G-1, converted from the FG-4 airframe, like all the other F2G's.  It's first flight was on September 27, 1945.  It was delivered to N.A.T.C/ Patuxent, MD on 10-10-45 for other tests.

During its' stay @NATC, they painted #32 on the fin, and #32  T. T. on the cowling.  T.T. stood for Tactical Test.  

The enclosed photo show's that the aircraft must have been doomed from the start, as it crashed somewhere near Patuxent, I think !!!?

It was stricken from the Navy records on 4-30-47.  Cook purchased this aircraft on March 5, 1947.  I do not know when he took possession of it. The sale price is unknown.  The 3-view drawing says it had a black paint job, (reportedly ordinary house paint).   Registration number of NX5588N, and the racing number of 18 was white.  The aircraft had the auxiliary rudder, and the carburetor air scoop extended to the speed ring.  They removed approximately 9" from each wing tip. 

Tony Jannazo piloted the plane for Cook during the  1947 "Thompson Trophy" race.  He crashed the plane on the 7th lap, into an empty field on 9-1-47, Tony was the only person who died.  The plane was a total loss. I saw the plane go down.

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Footnote:  When Cook purchased #57, he used the paper-work from this aircraft, and kept the same civil number, however, he had the X removed, #57 was N5588N, so said Cook and Harry. 

I think this is it !!  I hope I got it right:  Steve and I have agreed to make Part-IV on the Saga of the F2G.   I will show some very rare photos of #9, a non-racing F2G,  #88454 in the container, etc.  Then, I want to do a story on how I built my 1/32 scale crashed F2G in detail, using maybe 75-100 photo's.  Would "U" like that ?

Rodney
P.S. I am right on most of this information, but, please, if you can give any factual input, please do so.


P.S. Check out some of my other models on  
www.skywriters.net  

Part 2 of this article tells about "The scrapping or restoration of some of these historic racers." Part 3 of this article will tell how to build an accurate model of these historic racers.

 "The F2G Super Corsair Racers".....Building the models

Part 4

"The final chapter"

Photos and text by Rodney Williams