F-8 Crusader
Overview
 
The Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based
Carrier-based aircraft
Carrier-based aircraft are military aircraft designed specifically for operations from aircraft carriers. The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of aviation-capable ships. Carrier-based aircraft must be relatively...

 air superiority
Air superiority fighter
An air superiority fighter is a type of fighter aircraft intended to gain air superiority in a war, by entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. Air superiority fighters are designed to effectively engage enemy fighters, more than other types of aircraft...

 jet
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 built by Vought
Vought
Vought is the name of several related aerospace firms. These have included, in the past, Lewis and Vought Corporation, Chance Vought, Vought Sikorsky, LTV Aerospace , Vought Aircraft Companies, and the current Vought Aircraft Industries. The first incarnation of Vought was established by Chance M...

 for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and the U.S. Marine Corps, replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass. After the Navy's disappointing experience with the F7U, the F8U was referred to by some as "Vought's Last Chance." The first F-8 prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

 was ready for flight in February 1955, and was the last American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 fighter with gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

s as the primary weapon, principally serving in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.
Encyclopedia
The Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based
Carrier-based aircraft
Carrier-based aircraft are military aircraft designed specifically for operations from aircraft carriers. The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of aviation-capable ships. Carrier-based aircraft must be relatively...

 air superiority
Air superiority fighter
An air superiority fighter is a type of fighter aircraft intended to gain air superiority in a war, by entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. Air superiority fighters are designed to effectively engage enemy fighters, more than other types of aircraft...

 jet
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 built by Vought
Vought
Vought is the name of several related aerospace firms. These have included, in the past, Lewis and Vought Corporation, Chance Vought, Vought Sikorsky, LTV Aerospace , Vought Aircraft Companies, and the current Vought Aircraft Industries. The first incarnation of Vought was established by Chance M...

 for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and the U.S. Marine Corps, replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass. After the Navy's disappointing experience with the F7U, the F8U was referred to by some as "Vought's Last Chance." The first F-8 prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

 was ready for flight in February 1955, and was the last American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 fighter with gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

s as the primary weapon, principally serving in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. The RF-8 Crusader was a photo-reconnaissance development and operated longer in U.S. service than any of the fighter versions. RF-8s played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, providing essential low-level photographs impossible to acquire by other means. US Naval Reserve
United States Navy Reserve
The United States Navy Reserve, until 2005 known as the United States Naval Reserve, is the Reserve Component of the United States Navy...

 units continued to operate the RF-8 until 1987.

Design and development

In September 1952, United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 announced a requirement for a new fighter. It was to have a top speed of Mach 1.2
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 at 30000 ft (9,144 m) with a climb rate of 25000 ft/min, and a landing speed of no more than 100 mph (44.7 m/s). Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 experience had demonstrated that 0.50 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns were no longer sufficient and as the result the new fighter was to carry a 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon. In response, the Vought team led by John Russell Clark, created the V-383. Unusual for a fighter, the aircraft had a high-mounted wing which allowed for short and light landing gear.

The most innovative aspect of the design was the variable-incidence wing
Variable-incidence wing
A variable-incidence wing has an adjustable angle of incidence in order to reduce landing and take-off distances. It was patented in France on May 20, 1912 by Bulgarian inventor George Boginoff....

 which pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing (not to be confused with variable-sweep wing). This afforded increased lift due to a greater angle of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

 without compromising forward visibility because the fuselage stayed level. Simultaneously, the lift was augmented by leading-edge slats drooping by 25° and inboard flaps extending to 30°. The rest of the aircraft took advantage of contemporary aerodynamic innovations with area rule
Area rule
The Whitcomb area rule, also called the transonic area rule, is a design technique used to reduce an aircraft's drag at transonic and supersonic speeds, particularly between Mach 0.75 and 1.2....

d fuselage, all-moving stabilators, dog-tooth notching at the wing folds for improved yaw stability, and liberal use of titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 in the airframe. Power came from the Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet. The armament, as specified by the Navy, consisted primarily of four 20 mm (.79 in) autocannon; the Crusader happened to be the last U.S. fighter designed with guns as its primary weapon. They were supplemented with a retractable tray with 32 unguided Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket
Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket
The Mk 4 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket , sometimes called the Mighty Mouse, was a 2.75 in diameter unguided rocket weapon commonly used by U.S. military aircraft. It was intended as an air-to-air weapon to allow interceptor aircraft to shoot down enemy bombers with greater range and effectiveness than...

 (Mighty Mouse FFARs), and cheek pylons for two guided AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 air-to-air missiles. Vought also presented a tactical reconnaissance version of the aircraft called the V-382.

Major competition came from the Grumman F-11 Tiger, the upgraded twin-engine McDonnell F3H Demon (which would eventually become the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II), and lastly, the North American F-100 Super Sabre adopted for carrier use and dubbed the "Super Fury".

In May 1953, the Vought design was declared a winner and in June, Vought received an order for three XF8U-1 prototypes (after adoption of the unified designation system in September 1962, the F8U became the F-8). The first prototype flew on 25 March 1955 with John Konrad at the controls. The aircraft exceeded the speed of sound during its maiden flight. The development was so trouble-free that the second prototype, along with the first production F8U-1, flew on the same day, 30 September 1955. On 4 April 1956, the F8U-1 performed its first catapult launch from USS Forrestal
USS Forrestal (CVA-59)
The USS Forrestal , formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, is a supercarrier that was named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and was the lead ship of her class of aircraft carriers. The other carriers of her class were the , and...

.

Crusader III

In parallel with the F8U-1s and -2s, the Crusader design team was also working on a larger aircraft with ever greater performance, internally designated as the V-401. Although the Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III was externally similar to the Crusader and sharing with it such design elements as the variable incidence wing, the new fighter was significantly larger and shared few components.

Operational history

Prototype XF8U-1s were evaluated by VX-3 beginning in late 1956, with few problems noted. Weapons development was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
- About : is part of under Commander, Navy Installation Command and is located in the Western Mojave Desert region of California, approximately north of Los Angeles. Occupying three counties – Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo – the installation’s closest neighbors are the cities of Ridgecrest,...

 and a China Lake F8U-1 set a U.S. National speed record in August 1956. Commander "Duke" Windsor set, broke, and set a new Level Flight Speed Record of 1015.428 mph (1,634.2 km/h) on 21 August 1956 beating the previous record of 822 mph (1,322.9 km/h) set by a USAF F-100, however, the world speed record of 1132 mph (1,821.8 km/h), set by the British Fairey Delta 2
Fairey Delta 2
The Fairey Delta 2 or FD2 was a British supersonic research aircraft produced by the Fairey Aviation Company in response to a specification from the Ministry of Supply for investigation into flight and control at transonic and supersonic speeds.The aircraft was the first to exceed 1000mph, and...

, on 10 March 1956, was not broken.

An early F8U-1 was modified as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft, becoming the first F8U-1P, subsequently the RF-8A equipped with cameras rather than guns and missiles.

First fleet operators

The first fleet squadron to fly the Crusader was VF-32 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, in 1957, deploying to the Mediterranean late that year on . VF-32 renamed the squadron the "Swordsmen" in keeping with the Crusader theme. The Pacific Fleet received the first Crusaders at NAS Moffett Field in Northern California and the VF-154 "Grandslammers" (named in honor of the new 1,000 mph jets and subsequently renamed the "Black Knights") began their F-8 operations. Later in 1957, in San Diego VMF-122 accepted the first Marine Corps Crusaders.

In 1962, the Defense Department standardized military aircraft designations generally along Air Force lines. Consequently, the F8U became the F-8, with the original F8U-1 redesignated F-8A.

Fleet service

The Crusader became the ultimate "day fighter
Day fighter
A day fighter is a fighter aircraft equipped only to fight during the day. More specifically, it refers to a multi-purpose aircraft that does not include equipment for fighting at night , although it is sometimes used to refer to some interceptors as well.Examples of planes that were classified as...

" operating off the aircraft carriers. At the time, U.S. Navy carrier air wings had gone through a series of day and night fighter aircraft due to rapid advances in engines and avionics. Some squadrons operated aircraft for very short periods before being equipped with a newer higher performance aircraft. The Crusader was the first post-Korean War aircraft to have a relatively long tenure with the fleet and like the USAF Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a contemporary design, might have stayed in service longer if not for the Vietnam war and resulting attrition from combat and operational losses.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The unarmed photo Crusader was operated aboard carriers as a detachment (Det) from either VFP-62 or VFP-63 to provide photo reconnaissance capability as RF-8A proved ideal for the task of getting low altitude detailed photographs. During the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 in 1962, RF-8As flew extremely hazardous low-level photo reconnaissance missions over Cuba with overflights beginning on 23 October 1962. This was the first true operational flights of the F-8 Crusader. Flights of RF-8As, operating in several pairs of aircraft, with each pair assigned a different target, left Key West twice each day, to fly over Cuba at low level, then return to Jacksonville, where the film was offloaded and developed, to be rushed north to the Pentagon.

These flights confirmed beyond all doubt that the Soviet Union was in fact setting up IRBMs in Cuba. The RF-8As also monitored the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles. To keep score after an overflight, each aircraft was given a stencil of a dead chicken. The overflights went on for about six weeks and returned a total of 160,000 images. The pilots who flew the missions all received Distinguished Flying Crosses, while VFP-62 received the prestigious Navy Unit Commendation.

Mishap rate

The Crusader was not an easy aircraft to fly, and often unforgiving in carrier landings where it suffered from yaw instability and the castered nose wheel. It earned a reputation as an "ensign killer" during its early service introduction. The nozzle and air intake were so low when the aircraft was on the ground or the flight deck that the crews called the plane "the Gator." Not surprisingly, the Crusader's mishap rate was relatively high compared to its contemporaries, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and the F-4 Phantom II. However, the aircraft did possess some amazing capabilities, as proved when several Crusader pilots took off with the wings folded. One of these episodes took place on 23 August 1960; a Crusader with the wings folded took off from Napoli Capodichino
Naples Airport
Naples Airport can refer to:*Naples International Airport in Naples, Italy*Naples Municipal Airport in Naples, Florida...

 in full afterburner, climbed to 5000 ft (1,524 m) and then returned to land successfully. The pilot, absent minded but evidently a good "stick man," complained that the control forces were higher than normal. The Crusader was capable of flying in this state, though the pilot would be required to reduce aircraft weight by ejecting stores and fuel prior to landing.

Vietnam service

When conflict erupted in the skies over North Vietnam, it was U.S. Navy Crusaders that first tangled with Vietnam People's Air Force
Vietnam People's Air Force
The Vietnam People's Air Force is the air force of Vietnam. It is the successor of the former North Vietnamese Air Force and the absorbed Republic of Vietnam Air Force following the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975.-Beginning-1964 :The first Vietnamese aircraft were two trainers, a de Havilland...

 (North Vietnamese Air Force) MiG-17s on 3 April 1965. Although the MiGs claimed the downing of a Crusader, all aircraft returned safely. At the time, the Crusader was the best dogfighter the United States had against the nimble North Vietnamese MiG
Mig
-Industry:*MiG, now Mikoyan, a Russian aircraft corporation, formerly the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau*Metal inert gas welding or MIG welding, a type of welding using an electric arc and a shielding gas-Business and finance:...

s. The Navy had evolved its "night fighter" role in the air wing to an all-weather interceptor, the F-4 Phantom II, equipped to engage incoming bombers at long range with missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s such as Sparrow
AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the United States Air Force, United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual...

 as their sole air-to-air weapons, and maneuverability was not emphasized in their design. Some experts believed that the era of the dogfight was over as air-to-air missiles would knock down adversaries well before they could get close enough to engage in dogfighting. As aerial combat ensued over North Vietnam from 1965 to 1968, it became apparent that the dogfight was not over and the F-8 Crusader and a community trained to prevail in air-to-air combat was a key ingredient to success.

Despite the "last gunfighter" moniker, the F-8s achieved only four victories with their cannon; the remainder were accomplished with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, partly due to the propensity of the 20 mm (.79 in) Colt Mk 12 cannon
Colt Mk 12 cannon
The Colt-Browning Mk 12 was a 20 mm cannon widely used by the United States Navy after World War II.-Development:The Mk 12 was an advanced derivative of the wartime Hispano HS 404 that had been used on a variety of American and British fighter aircraft during World War II...

s' feeding mechanism to jam under G-loading during high-speed dogfighting maneuvers. Between June and July 1966, during 12 engagements over North Vietnam, Crusaders shot down four MiG-17s for two losses. The Crusader would be credited with the best kill ratio of any American type in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, 19:3. Of the 19 aircraft shot down during aerial combat, 16 were MiG-17s
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. Most MiG-17 variants cannot carry air-to-air missiles, but shot down many aircraft with its cannons...

 and three were MiG-21s
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

. But the NVAF claimed 11 F-8s were shot down. Approximately 170 F-8 Crusaders would be lost to all causes during the war.

The Crusader also became a bomb truck in war, with both ship-based U.S. Navy units and land-based U.S. Marine Corps squadrons attacking communist forces in both North and South Vietnam.

USMC Crusaders flew only in the South, and U.S. Navy Crusaders flew only from the small Essex
Essex class aircraft carrier
The Essex class was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with 24 vessels built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. Thirty-two were originally ordered; however as World War II wound down, six were...

 class carriers; there weren't many F-8s. Marine Crusaders also operated in Close Air Support missions.
F-8 pilots credited with shooting down North Vietnamese aircraft

NameSquadronAircraftDate
CDR Harold L. Marr VF-211 MiG-17 12 June 1966
LT Eugene J. Chancy VF-211 MiG-17 21 June 1966
LTJG Philip V. Vampatella VF-211 MiG-17 21 June 1966
CDR Richard M. Bellinger VF-162 MiG-21 9 October 1966
CDR Marshall O. Wright VF-211 MiG-17 1 May 1967
CDR Paul H. Speer VF-211 MiG-17 19 May 1967
LTJG Joseph M. Shea VF-211 MiG-17 19 May 1967
LCDR Bobby C. Lee VF-24 MiG-17 19 May 1967
LT Phillip R. Wood VF-24 MiG-17 19 May 1967
LCDR Marion H. Isaacks VF-24 MiG-17 21 July 1967
LCDR Robert L. Kirkwood VF-24 MiG-17 21 July 1967
LCDR Ray G. Hubbard, Jr. VF-211 MiG-17 21 July 1967
LT Richard E. Wyman VF-162 MiG-17 14 December 1967
CDR Lowell R. Myers VF-51 MiG-21 26 June 1968
LCDR John B. Nichols VF-191 MiG-17 9 July 1968
CDR Guy Cane VF-53 MiG-17 29 July 1968
LT Norman K. McCoy, Jr. VF-51 MiG-21 1 August 1968
LT Anthony J. Nargi VF-111 MiG-21 19 September 1968
LT Gerald D. Tucker VF-211 MiG-17 22 April 1972

Twilight service with U.S. Navy

LTV built and delivered the 1,219th (and last) U. S. Navy Crusader to VF-124
VF-124
Fighter Squadron 124 was a fleet replacement squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the Gunfighters, they were active from 1958 through 1994...

 at NAS Miramar on 3 September 1964.

The last active duty Navy Crusader fighter variants were retired from VF-191
VF-191
VF-191 or Fighter Squadron 191 of the United States Navy was established in 1943 and disestablished in 1978. A second squadron, bearing the same designation was established for a short time again between 1986 and 1988.-History:...

 and VF-194
VF-194
Fighter squadron VF-194 Red Lightnings was an aviation unit of the United States Navy. It was established in 1952 and disestablished in 1978. It was reactivated for a short time again between 1986 and 1988.-Squadron linage:...

 aboard in 1976 after almost two decades of service, setting a first for a Navy fighter. The photo reconnaissance variant continued to serve for yet another 11 years with VFP-63 flying RF-8Gs up to 1982 and the Naval Reserve flying their RF-8s in two squadrons (VFP-206 and VFP-306) until disestablishment of VFP-306 in 1984 and VFP-206 on 29 March 1987 when the last operational Crusader was turned over to the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

.

The F-8 Crusader is the only aircraft to have used the AIM-9C which is a radar-guided Sidewinder. When the Crusader retired, these missiles were converted to the AGM-122 Sidearm
AGM-122 Sidearm
The AGM-122 Sidearm was an American air-to-surface anti-radiation missile.-Development:The AGM-122 Sidearm was produced by the re-manufacture of AIM-9C missiles which had been taken out of service. The AIM-9C was a semi-active radar homing variant of the Sidewinder, developed for the US Navy's...

 anti-radiation missile
Anti-radiation missile
An anti-radiation missile is a missile which is designed to detect and home on an enemy radio emission source. Typically these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communication can also be targeted in this manner.- Air-to-Ground :Most ARM designs...

s used by United States attack helicopters to knock out enemy radars.

NASA

Several modified F-8s were used by NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 in the early 1970s, proving the viability of both digital fly-by-wire and supercritical wings.

French Navy

When the French Navy's air arm, the Aéronavale, required a carrier based fighter in the early 1960s for use aboard the new carriers Clemenceau
Clemenceau (R 98)
Clemenceau , often affectionately called "le Clem'", was the lead ship of her class, and the 6th aircraft carrier of the French Navy, serving from 1961 to 1997. She was the second French warship to be named after Georges Clemenceau, the first one being a battleship of the Richelieu class, laid...

 and Foch
Foch (R 99)
Foch was the second of the French Navy. She was the second warship named in honour of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, after a heavy cruiser commissioned in 1932, and scuttled in Toulon on 27 November 1942....

, the Phantom II turned out to be too large for the small French carriers. Following carrier trials aboard the Clemenceau on 16 March 1962 by two VF-32 F-8s from the American carrier Saratoga, the Crusader was chosen and 42 F-8E(FN)s were ordered, the last Crusader produced.

The French Crusaders were based on the F-8E, but were modified in order to allow operations from the small French carriers, with the maximum angle of incidence of the aircraft's wing increased from five to seven degrees and blown flap
Blown flap
Blown flaps are a powered aerodynamic high-lift device invented by the British and used on the wings of certain aircraft to improve low-speed lift during takeoff and landing. The process is sometimes called a boundary layer control system . They were a popular design feature in the 1960s, but fell...

s fitted. The aircraft's weapon system was modified to carry two French Matra R.530
Matra R530
The Matra R.530 is a French medium to short range air-to-air missile.It was available in IR and SARH as the main armament of the Mirage III which was able to carry a single missile in the centerline, the Mirage F1, which carried 2 under the wings, and the F-8 Crusader in the French Navy...

 radar or infra-red missiles as an alternative to Sidewinders, although the ability to carry the American missile was retained. Deliveries started in October 1964 and continued until February 1965, with the Aéronavales first squadron, Flotille 12F reactivated on 1 October 1964. To replace the old Corsairs, Flotille 14.F received its Crusaders on 1 March 1965.

In October 1974, (on the
Clemenceau) and June 1977 (on the Foch), Crusaders from 14.F squadron participated in the Saphir missions over Djibouti. On 7 May 1977, two Crusaders went separately on patrol against supposedly French Air Force (4/11 Jura squadron) F-100 Super Sabres stationed at Djibouti. The leader intercepted two fighters and engaged a dogfight (supposed to be a training exercise) but quickly called his wingman for help as he had actually engaged two Yemeni MiG-21 Fishbeds. The two French fighters switched their master armament to "on" but, ultimately, everyone returned to their bases. This was the only combat interception by French Crusaders.
The Aéronavale Crusaders flew combat missions over Lebanon in 1983 escorting Super Etendard strike aircraft. In October 1984, France sent the Foch for Operation Mirmillon off the coast of Libya, intended to calm Colonel Ghaddafi down, with 12.F squadron. The escalation of the situation in the Persian Gulf, due to the Iran-Iraq conflict, triggered the deployment of the Clemenceau task force and its air wing, including 12.F squadron. 1993 saw the beginning of the missions over ex-Yugoslavia. Crusaders were launched from both carriers cruising in the Adriatic Sea. These missions ceased in June 1999 with Operation Trident over Kosovo.

The French Crusaders were subject to a series of modifications throughout their life, being fitted with new F-8J-type wings in 1969 and having modified afterburner
AfterBurner
The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, portablemonopoly.net was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

s fitted in 1979. Armament was enhanced by the addition of R550 Magic
R550 Magic
The R.550 Magic is a short-range missile designed in 1968 by French company Matra to compete with the American AIM-9 Sidewinder. On 11 January 1972, a Gloster Meteor of the centre for in-flight trials fired the R550 Magic and shot down a Nord CT20 target drone .Mass-produced from 1976, the Magic...

 infra-red guided missiles in 1973, with the improved, all-aspect
All-aspect
An all-aspect missile is one which is able to track a target no matter which way the target faces relative to the missile. In other words, an all-aspect missile can be launched against a target in a tail-chase engagement, in a head-on engagement, in a side-on engagement, from above, from below,...

 Magic 2 fitted from 1988. The obsolete R.530 was withdrawn from use in 1989, leaving the Crusaders without a radar-guided missile. In 1989, when it was realised that the Crusader would not be replaced for several years, it was decided to refurbish the Crusaders to extend their operating life. The aircraft were rewired and had their hydraulic system refubished, while the airframe was strengthened to extend fatigue life. Avionics were improved, with a modified navigation suite and a new radar-warning receiver. The 17 refurbished aircraft were redesignated as F-8P (P used for "Prolongé" -extended- and not to be confused with Philippine F-8P). Although the French Navy participated in combat operations in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and over Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 in 1999, the Crusaders stayed behind and were eventually replaced by the Rafale M
Dassault Rafale
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Introduced in 2000, the Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations with the French Navy...

 in 2000 as the last of the breed in military service.

Philippine Air Force

In late 1977, the Philippine government purchased 35 ex-U.S. Navy F-8Hs that were stored at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. Twenty-five of them were refurbished by Vought and the remaining 10 were used for spare parts. As part of the deal, the U.S. would train Philippine pilots in using the TF-8A. The F-8s were grounded in 1988 and were finally withdrawn from service in 1991 after they were badly damaged by the Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. It is located in the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is west of the dormant and...

 eruption and have since been offered for sale as scrap.

Variants

  • XF8U-1 (XF-8A) – the two original unarmed prototypes - V-383.
  • F8U-1 (F-8A) – first production version, J57-P-12 engine replaced with more powerful J57-P-4A starting with 31st production aircraft, 318 built.
  • YF8U-1 (YF-8A) – one F8U-1 fighter used for development testing.
  • YF8U-1E (YF-8B) – one F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-1E prototype.
  • F8U-1E (F-8B) – added a limited all-weather capability thanks to the AN/APS-67 radar, the unguided rocket tray was sealed shut because it was never used operationally, first flight: 3 September 1958, 130 built.
  • XF8U-1T – one XF8U-2NE used for evaluation as a two-seat trainer.
  • F8U-1T (TF-8A) – two-seat trainer version based on F8U-2NE, fuselage stretched 2 ft (0.61 m), internal armament reduced to two cannon, J57-P-20 engine, first flight 6 February 1962. The Royal Navy
    Royal Navy
    The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

     was initially interested in the Rolls-Royce Spey-powered version of TF-8A but chose the Phantom II instead. Only one TF-8A was built, although several retired F-8As were converted to similar two-seat trainers - V-408.
  • YF8U-2 (YF-8C) – two F8U-1s used for flight testing the J57-P-16 turbojet engine.
  • F8U-2 (F-8C) – J57-P-16 engine with 16,900 lbf (75 kN) of afterburning thrust, ventral fins added under the rear fuselage in an attempt to rectify yaw instability, Y-shaped chin pylons allowing two Sidewinder missiles on each side of the fuselage, AN/APQ-83 radar retrofitted during later upgrades. First flight 20 August 1957, 187 built. This variant was sometimes referred to as Crusader II.
  • F8U-2N (F-8D) – all-weather version, unguided rocket pack replaced with an additional fuel tank, J57-P-20 engine with 18,000 lbf (80 kN) of afterburning thrust, landing system which automatically maintained present airspeed during approach, incorporation of AN/APQ-84 radar. First flight 16 February 1960, 152 built.
  • YF8U-2N (YF-8D) – one aircraft used in the development of the F8U-2N.
  • YF8U-2NE – one F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-2NE prototype.
  • F8U-2NE (F-8E) – J57-P-20A engine, AN/APQ-94 radar in a larger nose cone, dorsal hump between the wings containing electronics for the AGM-12 Bullpup
    AGM-12 Bullpup
    The AGM-12 Bullpup is an air-to-ground missile which was used on the A-4 Skyhawk, A-6 Intruder, F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom among others...

     missile, payload increased to 5,000 lb (2,270 kg), Martin-Baker
    Martin-Baker
    Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a manufacturer of ejection seats and safety related equipment for aviation. The company origins were as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats...

     ejection seat, AN/APQ-94 radar replaced AN/APQ-84 radar in earlier F-8D. First flight 30 June 1961, 286 built.
  • F-8E(FN) – air superiority fighter version for the French Navy
    French Navy
    The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

    , significantly increased wing lift due to greater slat and flap deflection and the addition of a boundary layer control
    Boundary layer control
    Boundary layer control refers to methods of controlling the behaviour of fluid flow boundary layers. This holds particular interest in aeronautical engineering because drag may be reduced whilst achieving high lift ....

     system, enlarged stabilators, incorporated AN/APQ-104 radar, an upgraded version of AN/APQ-94. A total of 42 built.
  • F-8H – upgraded F-8D with strengthened airframe and landing gear, with AN/APQ-124 radar. A total of 89 rebuilt.
  • F-8J – upgraded F-8E, similar to F-8D but with wing modifications and BLC like on F-8E(FN), "wet" pylons for external fuel tanks, J57-P-20A engine, with AN/APQ-125 radar. A total of 136 rebuilt.
  • F-8K – upgraded F-8C with Bullpup capability and J57-P-20A engines, with AN/APQ-135 radar. A total of 87 rebuilt.
  • F-8L – F-8B upgraded with underwing hardpoints, with AN/APQ-149 radar. A total of 61 rebuilt.
  • F-8P – 17 F-8E(FN) of the Aéronavale underwent a significant overhaul at the end of the 1980s to stretch their service life another 10 years. They were retired in 1999.
  • F8U-1D (DF-8A) – several retired F-8A modified to controller aircraft for testing of the SSM-N-8 Regulus
    SSM-N-8 Regulus
    The SSM-N-8A Regulus was a ship and submarine launched, nuclear armed cruise missile deployed by the United States Navy from 1955 to 1964.-Design and development:...

     cruise missile. DF-8A was also modified as drone (F-9 Cougar) control which were used extensively by VC-8, NS Roosevelt Rds, PR; Atlantic Fleet Missile Range.
  • DF-8F – retired F-8A modified for target tug duty.
  • F8U-1KU (QF-8A) – retired F-8A modified into remote-controlled target drones
  • YF8U-1P (YRF-8A) – prototypes used in the development of the F8U-1P photo-reconnaissance aircraft - V-392.
  • F8U-1P (RF-8A) – unarmed photo-reconnaissance version of F8U-1E, 144 built.
  • RF-8G – modernized RF-8As.
  • LTV V-100 – revised "low-cost" development based on the earlier F-8 variants, created in 1970 to compete against the F-4E Phantom II, Lockheed CL-1200 and F-5-21 in a tender for U.S. Military Assistance Program (MAP) funding. The unsuccessful design was ultimately only a "paper exercise."
  • XF8U-3 Crusader III – new design loosely based on the earlier F-8 variants, created to compete against the F-4 Phantom II; J75-P-5A engine with 29,500 lbf (131 kN) of afterburning thrust, first flight 2 June 1958, attained Mach 2.6 in test flights, canceled after five aircraft were constructed because the Phantom II won the Navy contract - V-401.

Operators

:
  • French Navy
    French Navy
    The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

     (Aéronavale)

:
  • Philippine Air Force
    Philippine Air Force
    The Philippine Air Force is the air force of the Republic of the Philippines, and one of the three main services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas....


:
  • United States Navy
    United States Navy
    The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

  • United States Marine Corps
    United States Marine Corps
    The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

  • NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...


Aircraft on Display

France
  • An F-8P, French Navy side number 19, is on display at the Musée des Ailes Anciennes in Toulouse
    Toulouse
    Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

    , France


Philippines
  • BuNo 147056 F-8H/F-8P Philippine Air Force serial number 47056/313 is on display outdoors at Philippine Air Force Museum, Pasay City, Philippines.
  • BuNo 148696 F-8H/F-8P Philippine Air Force serial number 48696/311 is on display outdoors at Quezon Avenue, Philippine Military Academy, Baguio. Aircraft is at 16° 21' 37.60" N 120° 37' 09.30" E.
  • F-8H/F-8P Philippine Air Force serial number 48661/301 is on display outdoors at Clark Air Base, Pampanga, Philippines.


United States
  • BuNo 141351 is on display at NAS Jacksonville Heritage Park, Naval Air Station Jacksonville
    Naval Air Station Jacksonville
    Naval Air Station Jacksonville or NAS Jacksonville is a military airport located four miles south of the central business district of Jacksonville...

    , Florida; this aircraft was previously displayed at the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field
    Naval Air Station Cecil Field
    Naval Air Station Cecil Field or NAS Cecil Field was a United States Navy base, located in Duval County, Florida. NAS Cecil Field was the largest military base in the Jacksonville, Florida, area....

    , Florida
  • BuNo 143806 is on display at Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum
    Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum
    The Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum is a non-profit museum in Horsham, Pennsylvania. It is adjacent to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove...

    , Naval Air Station Willow Grove
    Naval Air Station Willow Grove
    Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove or NASJRB Willow Grove was a Naval Air Station owned by the U.S. Navy and located in Horsham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States four miles northwest of the central business district of Willow Grove, which is north of...

    , Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
  • BuNo 144427 is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona
    Tucson, Arizona
    Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

  • BuNo 144617 is on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
    Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
    The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is located at Building T, 4203 Anderson Avenue, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California. The museum contains exhibits and artifacts relating to the history and legacy of United States Marine Corps Aviation...

     at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar , formerly Naval Air Station Miramar is a United States Marine Corps installation that is home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is the aviation element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force...

    , California
  • BuNo 145347 is on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation
    National Museum of Naval Aviation
    The National Museum of Naval Aviation is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum opened in 1962....

     at Naval Air Station Pensacola
    Naval Air Station Pensacola
    Naval Air Station Pensacola or NAS Pensacola , "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", is a United States Navy base located next to Warrington, Florida, a community southwest of the Pensacola city limits...

    , Florida
  • BuNo 146860 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution
    Smithsonian Institution
    The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

    's National Air and Space Museum
    National Air and Space Museum
    The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

     Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, adjacent to Dulles International Airport.
  • BuNo 146939 is on display on the flight deck of the at Patriot's Point
    Patriot's Point
    Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, at the mouth of the Cooper River on the Charleston Harbor, across from Charleston.-Museum ships and exhibits:...

     Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
    Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
    Mount Pleasant is a large affluent suburban town in Charleston County, South Carolina, United States. It is a member of the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area, for statistical purpose only, as designated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget....

  • BuNo 146963 is on display at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
    Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
    Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort or MCAS Beaufort is a United States Marine Corps air base located three miles northwest of the central business district of Beaufort, a city in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States...

    , South Carolina
  • BuNo 146985 is on display at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum
    Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum
    The Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum is located at the Space Coast Regional Airport, 6600 Tico Road, in Brevard County, just south of Titusville, Florida. The VAC contains vintage aircraft and a hangar with a restoration area. The VAC also has a Memorabilia Hall with flight gear, dress...

     at Space Coast Regional Airport
    Space Coast Regional Airport
    Space Coast Regional Airport is located in the city of Titusville, Florida on Columbia Boulevard and Washington Avenue in Brevard County. Formerly known as Ti-Co Airport, it is the nearest commercial airport to the Kennedy Space Center.- History :In 1943, the U.S. Government constructed the...

     in Titusville, Florida
    Titusville, Florida
    Titusville is a city in Brevard County, Florida in the United States. It is the county seat of Brevard County. Nicknamed Space City, USA, Titusville is on the Indian River, west of Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center and south-southwest of the Canaveral National Seashore...

  • BuNo 147030 is on display on the flight deck of the at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California
  • BuNo 149150 is on display at NAS Oceana Aviation Heritage Park, Naval Air Station Oceana
    Naval Air Station Oceana
    Naval Air Station Oceana or NAS Oceana is a military airport located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a United States Navy Master Jet Base. It is also known as Apollo Soucek Field, named after Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, a Navy Test Pilot who set the global altitude record in 1930 by flying a...

    , Virginia

Specifications (F-8E)

See also

External links

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