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Corsair Cockpits
F4U-1 Family

by Dana Bell

Rivet Counter Guide #1

S u m m a r y

Publisher and Title:

Rivet Counter Guide #1
Corsair Cockpits
F4U-1 Family

by Dana Bell

ISBN: 978-0-578-37642-4
Media: Soft cover, 8.5 x 11 inch, 72 pages plus covers.

USD $35.00 + $4.49 shipping on Amazon

USD $35.00 + $4.00 Shipping on ebay

Review Type: First Read
Advantages: The most complete and comprehensive description of the F4U-1 cockpit, and the changes made to it.
Disadvantages: The plot is a bit slow moving.

An absolute necessity for anyone interested in the Corsair, and for those who wish to model the cockpit in all its glorious detail.

Reviewed by Steven Eisenman




The mask is off, and Dana Bell reveals himself truly for who he is, the “Ultimate Rivet Counter”.  “Dana Bell Colors” was just a friendly façade. In this monograph, Dana not only counts the rivets, but also the springs and gauges and levers and switches and everything else that made up the cockpit of the F4U-1 family of Corsairs, which includes the -1A, for which Dana gives an excellent explanation of its unofficial status as a designation, and the -1D.

What you quickly realize are the problems that were encountered in actually flying a Birdcage Corsair, let alone engaging in aerial combat.  The cockpit was a complete mess. It seems that, depending on the aircraft, the pilot could see clearly either forward or backward, but not in both directions.  Instruments were poorly located, or poorly designed, the control column could fail under the stress of combat, when it wasn’t blocking the chart board, and the pilot was likely to smash his face on the gun sight in a rough landing.



It was quickly realized that major changes were needed, most important of which was to raise the cockpit. Vought came forward with Project 108 – “The raised cabin Corsair”.   The Project was broken down into three groups: Group I – Essential Changes, Group II – projects released prior to Project 108 and deemed mandatory, and Group III desirable but not mandatory.  Dana covers the 20 items that made up Group I, two of the items in Group II (the other items not being relevant to the cockpit), and three items of Group III.

There are well written explanations of the reasons for each of the changes and descriptions of each of the changes, supported by excellent photographs and drawings.  The drawings are meticulous in detail and should be examined carefully.  Took me a few minutes to see the change in the redesign of the rudder pedals.


In the case of the changes made to the Corsair, Dana points out that it is important to keep in mind that construction number sequence and Bureau of Aeronautics serial numbers (BuNos) sequence was not congruent.  Not all aircraft in a given BuNos range had the changes.  It appears construction numbers (C/N) were the key. For every item on the Project 108 list, Dana has included the C/N and BuNos for the given change.  He also includes a complete list of serial numbers for Vought, Brewster, and Goodyear -1 series Corsairs.

For modelers there is the realization of small details of the Corsair that we never even thought about adding to our models.  There is the hole in the side of the Birdcage covered with a doped patch for the Molins signal flare discharger.  The notch on the starboard side of the frameless canopy to prevent shorting out of the radio. Did you include the ring-and-bead sight, or use the proper gunsight in the right position? And, are your switch panels properly located?  Thought not. 



What is really boggling is the blind flying instrument panel.  This must have driven the Brits mad, given their emphasis for consistency.  Did they do anything about it?  Seems not, based on a follow up question I ask Dana.

Finally, Dana deals with color, the cockpit colors.  What you come away with is that paint specs and such were like the Pirate’s Code; more like guide lines than rules. Or, as he so wonderfully puts it regarding those “unreliable” documents “…they frequently listed intentions rather, than actual practices.”




To be perfectly honest, this book is not for everyone, especially modelers who just want to get the exterior correct. For that there are Dana’s two previous monographs, listed below.  But, for the aircraft enthusiasts, the modelers with AMS, the Corsair devotees, and above all, the Rivet Counters who want the full detailed account of the ins and outs of the cockpit and the changes made, this is not to be missed. And miss it you might, as of now this is a limited edition publication.

Aircraft Pictorial, No. 7: F4U-1 Corsair Vol. 1

Aircraft Pictorial, No. 8: F4U-1 Corsair Vol. 2

Thanks to Dana Bell for the review copy.

In the name of transparency and disclosure, my name does appear in the “Acknowledgements”.  In no way does this affect my objectivity. I really didn’t do anything.

Review Copyright 2022 by Steven Eisenman
This Page Created on 1 April, 2022
Last updated 1 April, 2022

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