BuNo 81698

Current Civil Registration Number N53JB

BuNo 81698 is one of the very few early production F4U-4 Corsairs that still exist.  It left the Vought factory in Stratford, CT. a full four months prior to the end of World War II but it was destined to remain stateside until being deployed to the conflict in Korea six years later.  During that war it served with VF-92 through five months of combat before hostilities drew to a close. 

After its retirement, BuNo 81698 became yet another of the many Corsairs saved from the scrap man by entrepreneur Bob Bean of Hereford, AZ in 1959.  It lingered in storage with Bean until 1971 when Robby Jones of Minter City, MS purchased the fighter and restored it back to flying condition in 1974.  Robby flew the plane for a short time as "Whistling Death" before trading it to Joe Arnold of Mulberry, AR in exchange for a P-51D Mustang in 1977.

After suffering an engine failure the following year, BuNo 81698 was parked until 1980 when aircraft broker Terry Randall of Tulsa, OK facilitated its sale to John MacGuire of Ft. Hancock, TX. 

BuNo 81698 became the first of many warbirds that would be acquired by MacGuire in the years to come.  In 1984 MacGuire opened the ‘War Eagles Air Museum’ in Santa Theresa, NM and spent the rest of his life building a large and diverse collection of aircraft and classic cars.  In time, BuNo 81698 became little more than a static display piece as the museum expanded.  Though John MacGuire passed away in 2001, his War Eagles Air Museum remains open for public display with BuNo 81698 surviving as the collection’s founding aircraft.

Buno 81698 VMF-212 Flight Formation MCAS Cherry Point 1947 The plane in the foreground (# 22) is BuNo 81698. - Jim Sullivan Collection Buno 81698 1999 - Jim Buckel Buno 81698 - KensAviation.com

 

BuNo 81698