Snapshot: Vought F4U Corsair

I love snapshots. Anyone with enough practice or luck can take a good one. Most people have taken at least one great one.

I can remember being a kid and my dad telling me to put the sun to my back as I shot with our plastic Kodak 110. When I look through our snapshots, I can tell who took them. My mom was a headhunter. Give her a camera and she would cut your head clean off—she was a serial offender too. My dad had huge hands and his finger would find some way of showing up in frame. Each snapshot had a charm of its own.

I started collecting snapshots around 2000. Before the Internet absorbed every facet of our lives, anyone wanting to collect images visited secondhand shops and dug through mounds of photos to find one great snapshot. Now with online shopping, anyone can scroll through the thousands of thumbnails looking for pay dirt.

In an ideal world, these resellers would refuse to break up photo albums and collections. The snapshots would go into a museum, ideally one devoted to snapshots and the often-anonymous shutterbugs that produce them.

But the world is far from ideal.

There is something melancholy about a forsaken snapshot. The image loses its context, loses the story behind the image. Oftentimes the people are as anonymous as the photographer. Sometimes there is a name scribbled on the emulsion or on the back, but oftentimes we have nothing but the image.

Not long ago, I picked up this snapshot of the ordnance crew for a Vought F4U Corsair. It is a snapshot taken by a marine and not an official picture taken and officially approved by the War Department.

The Corsair is easily identifiable from its iconic gull-wing design. Originally designed to fly sorties from Naval carriers, various problems hampered its use by carrier pilots. So until engineers fixed these hurdles, Marines flew them from island airstrips.

In the hands of skilled Marine pilots, the Corsair quickly proved its superiority to the Japanese Zero in every way. By war’s end, the Vought Corsair won fame not only as an agile dogfighter, but a mudder—excelling in close air support and tactical bombing.

In popular culture it was made famous by the Back Sheep Squadron.

Unfortunately I have not discovered the full names of the vets or their squadron.

Ordnance Crew


©2015 Kent Gutschke. All rights reserved.

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