But it more than made up for missing
WWII during the Korean War, along with
seeing some action in a “little skirmish” in
Central America before being rescued by a
father and son in 1981.
KOREAN WAR HERO
From the very onset of the Korean War this
Corsair was engaged in combat. From June
through October 1951 the Tobul F4U- 4 was
aboard the USS Boxer with squadron VF-884,
known as the Bitter Birds. Eventually reassigned in December 1951 until July 1952, this
Corsair was flying with VF-653 aboard the
USS Valley Forge. Its squadron emblem consisted of a dragon holding a shield with a
golden triangle and a checkerboard stripe.
The checkerboard stripe signified the winning of the Cleveland Air Races (twice) by the
squadron commander, Lt. Cmdr. Cook
Cleland, who flew this particular Corsair during its more than 200 combat missions.
Although this F4U- 4 Corsair was retired
from U.S. naval service in July 1956, its combat days were far from over.
My dad loved to
fly warbirds as
much as turning
wrenches on them.
“I think one of the more unique histori-
cal aspects of this Corsair was that it was
involved in the ‘Soccer War’ between
Honduras and El Salvador in July 1969,”
Jim said. “Although that air war only
lasted less than a week, it was the last aer-
ial battle fought between WWII-era
fighters. El Salvadoran air force P- 51
Mustangs and F4U Corsairs slugged it out
with Honduran F4U Corsairs for aerial
supremacy. Our Corsair was sold to the
Hondurans in the early 1960s and became
FAH-613. I am convinced that the only
reason it survived was because it ended up
becoming a parts airplane for the other
After languishing in the Honduran jun-
gles until 1977, it was rescued by an airline
pilot and traded hands one more time
before the project was put up for sale and
purchased by Joe Tobul in 1981. Joe was no
stranger to Korean War vintage aircraft. He
had flown U.S. Marine Corps F3D
Skyknights with VMF-231’s Ace of Spades
attack squadron during the early 1950s.
TOP RIGH T: No. 416 when it flew with the “Bitter Birds.”
ABOVE: Pilots of VF-653 Dragons pose with their famous
Skipper, Lt. Commander Cook Cleland, aboard USS Valley Forge.
LEF T: F4U- 4 Corsairs over the USS Boxer wait for others to
launch and join formation. No. 416 (center) is the Tobul Corsair.