North American FJ-2/-3 Fury

TypeFighter aircraft – carrier capable
Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerNorth American Aviation
First flight27 December 1951
ProducedData is not available
Numbers built741
Unit costsData is not available
Max speed587 kts (1,088 km/h) at sea level
Max rangeRange: 860 mi (1,593 km) (normal)

Service ceiling: 46,800 ft (14,300 m)
DimensionsLength: 37 ft 7 in (11.45 m)

Wingspan: 37 ft 1.5 in (11.31 m)

Height: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)

Wing area: 288 ft² (26.7 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 11,802 lb (5,353 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 18,790 lb (8,523 kg)
Powerplant1 x General Electric J47-GE-2 turbojet, 6,000 lbf (26.7 kN)
ArmamentGuns: 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
OperatorsUnited States (Retired)

The North American FJ-2/-3 Fury was a swept-wing carrier capable jet fighter which developed from the design of the United States Air Force’s F-86 Sabre to serve with the United States Navy and Marine Corps. During the Korean War, the agility and superiority of Soviet’s MiG-15 Fagot was almost undefeated and becoming a huge threat to the US military force. Along with the Vought F7U Cutlass and F9F Cougar, the US Navy wanted a good fighter aircraft to cope with this threat.

Even it used similar designation of the older straight-winged North American FJ-1 Fury, the FJ-2 and FJ-3 were totally different aircraft while the later model, FJ-4 Fury, took the design of the FJ-3.

The History of FJ Series

As mentioned above, the threat of Soviet’s fighter the MiG-15 continued emerging during the Korean War. In 1951, unfortunately the expected Vought F7U Cutlass and F9F Cougar were not ready to be deployed in the battle zone. Urged by the threat, the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics considered having a better fighter by developing a fighter using the design of North American F-86 Sabre. It would reduce designing and development time and the development cost as well. The Sabrejet was a transsonic jet fighter aircraft and well-known for countering the MiG-15 in high speed dogfights. But the Sabrejet was not able to be operated from an aircraft carrier. It was the best choice at the time and due to the urgency the Navy ordered around 200 FJ2 fighters even the first prototype was not ready to fly.

On 27 December 1951, the first prototype successfully took its maiden flight bearing four 20-mm Colt Mk 12 cannon while the Sabrejet was armed with six Colt-Browning M3 .50 machine guns. Several months later, in August 1952, the first trial onboard an aircraft carrier was conducted onboard USS Midway (CVB-41) and carrier qualification was held onboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) around two months later.

Almost a year later, the first production aircraft had its first flight on 22 November 1952. This FJ-2 already had improvements so it had better performance for carrier mission. The manufacturer modified some parts including stronger nosewheel strut, larger widescreen and widened main landing gear. The FJ-2 was powered by the General Electric J47-GE-2, a navalized version of the J47-GE-27 used in the F-86F. With this engine, the FJ-2 could reach a maximum speed of 587 knots (1,088 km/h) at sea level. All the navalized modifications made the FJ-2 was 500 kg heavier than the F-86 Sabre.

Unfortunately, the Korean War was over before the FJ-2 was massively produced as the US Navy preferred to operate the lighter F9F Cougar considering its superior slow-speed performance for carrier operations. All of the 200 units of FJ-2s were then operated by the US Marine Corps for its land-based fighter squadrons. But the performance of the FJ-2 Fury was out of satisfactory. It led the US Marine Corp to stop operating the fighter by 1957.

However, the performance of FJ-3 was slightly better. There were a total of 538 FJ3s were constructed. The FJ3 was armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Some of them were modified into fighter-bomber. The FJ3 had served with the US Navy’s aircraft carriers including the then-new supercarrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59) and USS Intrepid (CVA-11).

Several variants of FJ2/3 had been built since 1951 including: XFJ-2 (test and evaluation aircraft), FJ-2 Fury (single-seat fighter-bomber aircraft, equipped with folding wings, powered by one General Electric J47-GE-2 turbojet), FJ-3 Fury (single-seat fighter-bomber version, powered by the more powerful Wright J65-W-2 turbojet engine), FJ-3M Fury (improved version of the FJ-3, with the ability to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles), FJ-3D (target drone) and FJ-3D2 (target drone).

North American FJ-2/-3 Fury videos

Aero-TV: Profiles in Aviation – The FJ-3 Fury

FJ-4B Fury Departure

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