Aviation Innovator Rex Buren Beisel
Designed by American aeronautical engineer Rex Buren Beisel, the Vought F4U Corsair was the first fighter aircraft with the capability of exceeding a speed of 400 mph in level flight carrying a full military load. The single engine aircraft was used extensively in World War II, allowing the Allied forces to dominate the skies in the Pacific. Between 1940 and 1953, the number of F4U Corsairs built by Vought across 16 models totaled 12,571, but because demand for the aircraft outstripped Vought’s production capacity, F4U Corsairs were also built by Goodyear and Brewster, with the prefix of FG for Goodyear and F3A for Brewster identifying the manufacturer.
Born in San Jose, California, on October 24, 1893, and raised in Cumberland, Washington, Rex Buren Beisel earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Washington, while at the same time working at various jobs. Upon graduation Beisel completed a civil service examination in mechanical engineering which led to a job offer in the US Navy’s Bureau of Construction and Repair, and later at the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1917 where he served as a draughtsman. Although he had no previous aeronautical experience, and limited access to relevant data, he started designing wing floats, pontoons and hulls for seaplanes with such skill that he was soon assigned to major aeronautics projects, and in 1919 became one of the few aeronautical engineers in the United States.
In 1923, Beisel went to work as Chief Engineer at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company where he designed award winning airplanes, among which were the N2C-1 Fledgling and F8C Helldiver. In 1931, as Assistant Chief Engineer at Chance Vought, Beisel designed the SBU-1 and SB2U Vindicator bombers. He was soon promoted to Chief Engineer and was head of the design team that produced the legendary Vought F4U Corsair. He became General Manager of Vought Aircraft in 1943, during which time he oversaw the relocation of the company from Stanford in Connecticut to Dallas, Texas, and move that included huge quantities of equipment and 1,300 employees and their families. He was promoted to Vice President of Vought’s parent company, United Aircraft Corporation in 1949, retiring a few years later. Rex Buren Beisel died on January, 26, 1972, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 78, having made an indelible and noteworthy impression on aviation history.