Prior to the first flight of the XF4U-1 the Navy commissioned Vought to study a night fighter, version of the F4U-1. Working with the Sperry company and the MIT Radiation Laboratory the necessary radar equipment needed to accomplish the mission was developed and the necessary Engineering design modifications determined for conversion of the F4U-1 to the F4U-2 Night Fighter.
The initial Engineering design of the F4U-2 was complete at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A mock up was complete and ready for review on January 28, 1942. Because Vought was heavily committed to meet schedules on other programs, arrangements were made with the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia, Pa. to convert production F4U-l's to the F4U-2 configuration. A total of 34 F4U-1's were converted to F4U-2's. Thirty two conversions were made at the Naval Aircraft Factory and two were made in the field at Rio Island, Kwajalein Atoll.
Navy Night Fighter Squadron VF-(N) drew first blood at Munda in April of 1944 when it surprised a flight of obsolete Japanese aircraft conducting nuisance raids. They were known as "washing machine charlies" for they were old and noisy aircraft that would not normally be used in combat. Up to that point they probably considered themselves relatively safe since there had been no night airborne resistance.
Imagine the raider's surprise, when out of the night came fire belching aircraft to end their existence. The night fighters did not destroy a vast number of Japanese aircraft but so effective was their mission that the Japanese soon ceased night bombing raids altogether. They accomplished their objective in combat as well as pioneering the night fighter mission. The F4U-2 experience served as a sound basis for the F4U-5N which later served with distinction in the Korean conflict.