F4U In Action
Reviewed by Rato Marczak (2/2011)

- Jim Sullivan
Description:  - Aircraft In Action series #1220. 64 pages. Text, photos, profiles and drawings. Color. 2010.
- Squadron Signal Publications
- $16.95 USD MSRP
- 978-0-89747-623-2
- Recommended

I still recall when I was in college during mid 80's, and I bought what I believe was only my second or third book about WWII aircraft: the then new F4U Corsair In Action by Squadron Signal (#1029). Being a Corsair fan, I still have it, as well as its second edition (#1145) published in early 90's. Later my personal library would grow substantially, but every time I looked at those books I thought: "Lucky guy this Jim Sullivan. He wrote the books I'd like to had written...". And the years passed.

Having spent 2009-10 as a visiting professor in USA, one day I received an e-mail from nothing less than Jim himself. He told me he was writing a new book for Squadron Signal about the Corsair, and he was interested in a photo I had published in Antrvm. Talk about small world! I then new another incarnation of the Corsair In Action was on the way. Jim is a gentleman, and a truly expert on the subject, solving several of my inquires about the Corsair (including the history behind BuNo 17995) along many e-mails. He was kind enough to send me a signed copy of the book as it hits the shelves. Here is a quick look at it.

This volume follows the modern In Action format, with more color and a better printing quality. It starts on the XF4U and goes all the way to the F4U-7, plus a chapter on Corsair racers and another about surviving aircraft. Like other titles in the series, it is arranged in a very didactic way, illustrating the basic differences between all versions through text and line drawings.

The new format has color photos scattered along the book. A nice touch. Having most books and huge digital archive
on the subject, I was pleasantly surprised to find some unpublished photos from Jim himself, private collectors and NARA. There is a formidable archival work here. This is not a book written by someone who collected photos on the internet.

Compared to the other Corsair In Action volumes, I think there is a bit more material about the later versions, which is good. The quality of the photos is first rate, and Jim's selection makes this volume very different from its antecessors. Several examples of Corsairs serving with famous WWII squadrons are shown, as well as Korea, French Navy and Reserve units. They are clear enough to study different camouflage schemes, weathering, and unit markings.

Besides the photos of Corsairs in combat, you will find a page with nice photos of the F4U and F3A cockpits, and also an excellent factory photo of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine. Special versions like the F2G and test aircraft are also covered.

Of course there are the typical central pages of color profiles to make modelers happy. More than that, the profiles now have enlarged insets showing particular details and markings of each aircraft. Don Greer, as usual, signs the beautiful cover arts while Mattheu Spraggins prepared the line illustrations.

My only complain - and it applies to the whole In Action series, mind you - is the lack of more detailed 3-view plans on the subject. On the other hand I understand that this is a general reference on the Corsair, not a thick book with dozens of walkaround photos and hydraulic diagrams. That's just not the idea behind the series.

This is undoubtely the best of the three In Action books on the Corsair. It also has more pages, more color, and unpublished photos. I'm sure it will satisfy Corsair fans, aviation buffs, and modelers as well. Another outstanding job by Jim Sullivan.

What I liked the most in this book? Simple:

Highly recommended.

Rato Marczak © 2011