Restorers Spotlight: The Corvino Initiative

Mark Corvino - Corsair Restorer

Mark Corvino - Corsair Restorer

When you are working with volunteers you never know who is going to walk in the door. I was very lucky last April to have Stratford resident, Mark Corvino join our team.

It’s not often that you get a chance to meet and work side by side with a guy like Corvino.  In  this day and age you don’t meet people that put the thought and care into their work that Mark does.   His attention to detail, careful hand and love for the Corsair made him a natural to take on the Windscreen restoration.

You see, Corvino has Corsairs in his blood. His mother, Victoria “Vicki”, was an employee of Chance Vought and worked on the Corsair production line. In addition to his mom, his father Frank Corvino worked the transportation side at the plant.  So the Corvino family had a real investment in with Corsair.  Wait, I forgot to mention Victoria’s brothers  Frank & Lenny Serritella worked there as well, and continued on with Avco / Lycoming as the plant changed hands over the next 40 years after Chance Vought left Stratford in 1947.

In her own words, the Corvino family shared this letter written from Victoria.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition was the song playing in the cafeteria the day I started working at Chance Vought in Stratford, Connecticut as a riveter. We were mostly women workers at that time. Most of the men were in the war. We had to wear regular outfits of blouses and slacks no sweaters. We also had to wear hairnets or you couldn’t work there. If I’m not mistaken that was when slacks were really introduced to women, they were worn inside and outside after that.

My riveter was hand held others worked at a machine. I also worked with red,white and blue explosives. You had to be careful when those little sparks would fly around but I was never burned.  Two of us women would work on one big Wing section, one on either side of the Wing. I was always on the riveting side while she pressed an iron bit up against the otherside.

One day a worker from the hanger where they put the Corsair Airplanes together came to where I was working looking for a small person with small hands. Everyone hollered there she is sitting down there. He took me into the hanger. He asked me to see if I can put my hand through that little hole. I said I could so he said there’s a nut in there that had fallen off a screw see if you find it. I did. He escorted me back to my Work andsaid give the little lady a big hand and every one hollered and clapped. They said I was the heroine of the day.

It was a nice place to work. They used to kid us a lot but when the war ended we women were laid off. On our last day we got a standing ovation from the men as we left the building. It was quite an experience and I was proud of the work I did.

Corvino coming in low and slow for a victory pass - Moments before we removed the rivets from the fake windscreen cover.

Corvino likes to reminisce how in later years he would take his mom, Victoria, down to the circle at KBDR (Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport) to see the Corsair and she would recount memories of the War and the famous bent wing bird.  While she was a supporter of the Corsair being displayed back in the 1970’s, as the years wained on and the obvious effects of time and weather took their toll she wished it could be preserved for future generations. Victoria passed away at 94 year old in 2006.  Mark Corvino now openly admits he is doing this in part, for his mother, Victoria’s memory.

Corvino has been working on refinishing the windscreen and canopy since December 2010. He has been handling disassembly, cleaning and fitting while I have been doing the corrosion control and painting with Chris Soltis helping me in the corrosion control department.

The windscreen as it looked removed from the Corsair, moments before tear down.

Screen frame removed , deck panel before cleaning.

Lower deck panel before cleaning. Note the defroster for the windshield.

Windscreen fairing , note the corrosion

Chris holding a freshly cleaned windscreen fairing

Lower windscreen fairing in primer

Deep corrosion in one of the canopy rails

With the amount of damage to the canopy rails deemed to be too far for repair, crew member Steve Rescsanski drew up a set of new rails. They are currently in production.

Defroster plenum cleaned and primed

Canopy release hand pulls


Canopy pulleys

Test fitting the windscreen & canopy parts

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One Response to Restorers Spotlight: The Corvino Initiative

  1. mark corvino says:

    Thank you very much for a great compliment! Things might be starting to happen for the project and pieces like this will only help us in our endeavors and put a personal touch on our efforts.

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