Vought F-8 Crusader

TypeCarrier-based fighter aircraft
Country of originUnited States
First flight25 March 1955
IntroducedMarch 1957
ProducedData is not available
Numbers built1,219
Unit costsData is not available
Max speedMaximum speed: Mach 1.86 (1,225 mph, 1,975 km/h) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m)
Cruise speed: 570 mph (@c@x495 knots (917 km/h), 915 km/h)
Max rangeCombat radius: 450 mi (730 km)
Ferry range: 1,735 mi (2,795 km) with external fuel
Service ceiling: 58,000 ft (17,700 m)
DimensionsLength: 54 ft 3 in (16.53 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 8 in (10.87 m)
Height: 15 ft 9 in (4.80 m)
Wing area: 375 ft² (34.8 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 17,541 lb (7,956 kg)
Loaded weight: 29,000 lb (13,000 kg)
Powerplant1 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A afterburning turbojet
ArmamentGuns: 4x 20 mm (0.79 in) Colt Mk 12 cannons in lower fuselage, 125 rpg

Hardpoints: 2x side fuselage mounted Y-pylons (for mounting AIM-9 Sidewinders and Zuni rockets) and 2x underwing pylon stations holding up to 4,000 lb (2,000 kg) of payload:

2x LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4x 5 inch (127mm) Zuni rockets)

Air-to-air missiles:
4x AIM-9 Sidewinder or Matra Magic (mounted only on F-8E(FN) of French Navy)
Air-to-surface missiles:
2x AGM-12 Bullpup

12x 250 lb (113 kg) Mark 81 bombs or
8x 500 lb (227 kg) Mark 82 bombs or
4× 1,000 lb (454 kg) Mark 83 bombs or
2× 2,000 lb (907 kg) Mark 84 bombs
OperatorsFormer Operators:
France, Philippines, United States

The Vought F-8 Crusader (F8U) was developed by Vought to substitute the Vought F7U Cutlass of the United States Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) as the Navy had terrible experience operating the F7U.

The F-8 Crusader was a single-engine and carrier-based aircraft which had a role of air superiority fighter. It was an ultimate supersonic day fighter and the last American fighter aircraft armed with guns as the main weapon and had seen combats in the Vietnam War. A reconnaissance variant, the RF-8, played an important role during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Navy kept on operating this variant as of 1987.

During the Vietnam War the Crusader was considered as fighter with the best kill ratio as it had 19:3, shooting down 19 of North Vietnam’s MiGs (MiG 17 and MiG 21). In the war, the USMC operated land-based version of the F-8 Crusader and along with the Navy’s F-8, they were know as bomb trucks.

Along with the U.S. Navy and USMC, the French Navy (Aeronavale) and the Philippine Air Force were the operators of the Crusaders as well.

The Design and Development of Vought F-8 Crusader

Having a disappointing experience when operating the Vought F7U, the U.S. Navy wanted to have a better fighter with a maximum speed of Mach 1.2 at 30,000 ft (9,144 m) with a landing speed of no more than 100 mph (160 km/h) since the new fighter would be operated on board an aircraft carrier. The desired fighter should also be capable of carrying a 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon.

Trying to improve the disappointing F7U performance, the Vought team then designed a fighter with high-mounted wing as an effort of providing short and landing gear. The wing design was revolutionary for a fighter at the time. The model designated V-383. The design also implemented an innovative variable-incidence wing which pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing allowing an adjustable angle of incidence which beneficial to shorten landing and take-off distances.

The V-383 was powered by single Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet providing thrust of 18,000 lbf (80.1 kN) with afterburner and the engine was essential to allow the aircraft to reach the top speed of Mach 1.86 (1,225 mph, 1,975 km/h) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m).

Fulfilling the Navy’s requirement, the aircraft was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) autocannon as its primary weapon. It was also capable of carrying 32 unguided Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket (Mighty Mouse FFARs) in a retractable tray and two guided AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile at its cheek pylons. For avionics, the F-8 Crusader was equipped with Magnavox AN/APQ-84 or AN/APQ-94 Fire-control radar.

The Vought’s design was not the only proposed design as Grumman also proposed F-11 Tiger, McDonnell came with F3H Demon and North American suggested F-100 Super Sabre. Finally, the Vought design team won the competition as declared by the Navy in May 1953 and obtained an order for creating three units of XF8U-1 prototypes. The first prototype had its first flight in March 1955 and exceeded the speed of sound. The first production aircraft, the F8U-1, had its maiden flight in September 1955 along with the second prototype. In April 1956, the F8U-1 successfully launched from USS Forrestal (CVA-59). Starting there, the production of Vought F-8U Crusader carried on until it had a total of 1,219 units.

The Vought design team did not stop working as they continued the development by manufacturing Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III, a larger version of F-8U. But there only 5 of it were built.

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