Chance Vought F-8 Crusader
From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
|Chance Vought F-8J Crusader|
|First Flight||March 25, 1955 (XF8U-1)|
|Entered Service||March 1957 (VF-32)|
|Length||@ m||54 ft 6 inch|
|Wingspan||@ m||35 ft 8 inch|
|Height||@ m||15 ft 9 inch|
|Wing area||@ m²||@ ft²|
|Empty||@ kg||19,751 lb|
|Maximum takeoff weight||@ kg||36,587 lb|
|Capacity||@ kg (5,000 lbs)|
|Engines||one Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A|
|Thrust||@ kN (each)||18,000 lbf (each)|
|Maximum speed||@ km/h||Mach 1.65|
|Operational radius (4 Sidewinder)||@ km||1,576 miles|
|Service ceiling||@ m||47,800 ft|
|Rate of climb||@ m/s||ft/min|
|Avionics||Magnavox AN/APQ-94 fire control radar|
|Armament||Four Colt Mk.12 20 mm cannon, four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles|
The Vought F8U Crusader was the first Navy aircraft capable of sustained supersonic flight and was the first Navy fighter capable of exceeding 1,000 mph in level flight. A total of 1,261 Crusaders were built. Forty-five years after the first flight of the prototype, the Crusader still serves with the French Navy.
In September of 1952, the US Navy issued a Request For Proposals for a new carrier-based day fighter capable of Mach 1.2 at 30,000 feet and Mach 0.9 at sea level, an initial climb rate of 25,000 feet per minute, and a landing speed of only 100 knots. The RFP was issued to McDonnell, North American, Douglas, Convair, Lockheed, Grumman, Vought and Republic. Of these, only Douglas, McDonnell, Grumman and Vought had any real experience with carrier-based aircraft. The Chance Vought company of Dallas, Texas went to work on their proposal. At that time, Chance Vought was a part of the United Aircraft Corporation. Vought engineer John Russell Clark led the design team. He had worked on the F6U Pirate and the F7U Cutlass. In May of 1953, the US Navy selected the Vought V-383 as the winner of the competition. The Navy at that time ordered several mockups and wind tunnel test models. The designation XF8U-1 (aka XF-8A) was assigned. At the same time, the reconnaissance version, V-392, was also ordered under the designation F8U-1P.
Initial production version, designated F8U-1. First flight September 30, 1955. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-12A turbojet, later replaced by the J57-P-4A offering an afterburning thrust of 16,200 pounds. The F8U-1 carried an AN/APG-30 gun-ranging fire control radar. A total of 218 F8U-1s were built before production switched in September of 1958 to the F8U-2. The F8U-1P (aka RF-8A) differed from the F8U-1 in having the lower half of the forward fuselage squared off to enable the installation of three CAX-12 trimetrogen cameras and two K-17 vertical cameras. The first F8U-1P flew on December 17, 1956. During 1967 a few F-8As were modified as directors for Regulus I and II drones and designated F8U-1D (aka DF-8A). Two F8U-1KD (QF-8A or DQF-8A) drone conversions were used by the Naval Missile Test Center at Moint Mugu to guide and track the Regulus II submarine-launched cruise missile. The F8U-1T was a two-seat trainer version of the Crusader (prototype designated YF8U-1T aka YTF-8A), powered by a derated J57-P-20 to match the performance of the F-8A. First flight February 6, 1962. Not ordered for production.
Initially designated F8U-1E (for Electronics), the F8U-1E has 'limited all-weather' capability thanks to an AN/APS-67 radar replacing the AN/APG-30 ranging radar. First first September 3, 1958. A total of 130 F8U-1Es were built.
The F8U-2 (aka F-8C) was powered by a more powerful engine, the J57-P-16 rated at 10,700 lbf dry and 16,900 lbf augmented. A missile rack allowed carriage of four (rather than two) Sidewinder missiles. A typical load-out was limited to two Sidewinders, however. Max speed Mach 1.7, Initial rate of climb 25,000 feet per minute.
The F8U-2N (for Night) had an even more powerful J57-P-20 engine, delivering 10,700 lbf dry and 18,000 lbf augmented. The F8U-2N was originally intended to be a night fighter with improved Magnavox AN/APQ-83 radar and avionics. Approach Power Compensator (APC) made carrier deck landings safer and easier. The four-cannon armament was retained, as well as the four-Sidewinder capability. The F8U-2N finally did away with the speedbrake-mounted rocket pack in order to provide space for increased fuel capacity, raising the total internal fuel to 1,348 US gallons. First flight February 16, 1960. Between June 1960 to January 1962, 152 airframes were built.
Final production version of the Crusader for the US Navy, designated F8U-2NE, powered by J57-P-20 turbojet and equipped with AN/APQ-94 search and fire-control radar for improved all-weather air-to-air as well as air-to-ground capability. First flight June 30, 1961. The F-8E(FN) was developed for the French Navy, which introduces boundary layer control wing surface in order to reduce approachs speeds in orde to land safely on the smaller French carriers. The Sidewinders were replaced by two R.550 Magic/Magic 2) infra-red and radar-homing AAMs. To control the R.550 in its radar-homing version, a Magnavox AN/APQ-104 radar was fitted, together with a modified AN/AWG-4 fire control system was installed. First flight February 27, 1964 and ultimately replaced by Rafale M fighters in 1999.
Designation for target/drone controllers, used to control QF-9F and QF-9G aircraft and BQM-34A, AQM-34B and AQM-34C drones.
Upgrade of existing 73 RF-8A airframes, powered by a J57-P-22 engine rated at 10,700 lbf dry and 18,000 lbf augmented. Service entry October, 1965. A second remanufacturing program started February 1977, introducing a more powerful J57-P-429 engine, new electrical wiring and new electronic countermeasures equipment. The last Crusader in active service was a RF-8G, serving the Naval Air Reserve to March 1987.
Designation for 89 remanufactured F-8Ds with J57-P-20A engine, F-8E-type underwing pylons and the Bullpup fire-control systems. First flight July 17, 1967. 35 ex-US Navy (ex AMARC) F-8Hs were delivered to the Philippines Air Force and retired January 23, 1988.
Designation for 136 remanufactured F-8Es with J57-P-20A engine, provisions for two 300-US gallon drop tanks on the underwing hardpoints and boundary-layer control wing (developed for the French F-8E(FN)). The intent was to improve the F-8E with better radar, tail armament in the form of armour plate protection for the UHT actuators, better cruise and landing flight characteristics with 2-section leading edge droops and BLC, improved approach power compensator with a UHT rate input, improved ECM and wing pylon fuel drop tank capability. There were a few more things like new wiring, UHF radio and AN/APR-30 RWR gear. The airplane was rushed to the fleet with only limited carrier suitability testing. The aircraft was seriously woefully overweight and underpowered. This made carrier landings a hazardous operation. The US Navy made various fixes, including removing the armour plate in the tail, re-installing the AN/ALQ-51 (to replace the newer, but heavier AN/ALQ-100) and introduction of a "war emergency thrust" throttle position to improve the wave-off capability. Problems were finally fixed by installing the higher rated J57-P-400 turbojet.
Designation for 87 remanufactured F-8Cs with underwing pylons and a new cockpit lighting system.
Designation for 61 remanufactured F-8Bs with underwing pylons and a new cockpit lighting system.
The designation F-8M had been reserved for F-8As that were originally scheduled to be remanufactured to later Crusader standards. Cancelled.
Alternative, non-official, designation of the F-8E(FN).
Designation F-8P (P for Prolongé) for 17 upgraded F-8E(FN) with entirely new electric circuit, overhaul of radar and flight controls, Instrument Landing System (ILS), new Mode 4 IFF, new Inertial Navigation System (INS), new SHERLOC RWR and Martin-Baker Mk.7 (0/0) seat instead of the old Mk.F5A-F.
F-8 modified to test NASA Langley's revolutionary SuperCritical Wing design (Richard Whitcomb) to minimize drag from shockwaves that subsequently represented millions of dollars yearly in fuel savings and reduced air pollution as airlines switched to supercritical-wing aircraft.
F8U-3 Crusader III
Developed by Chance Vought as a successor to the successful F-8 Crusader program and as a competitor to the F-4 Phantom II. Though sharing the older aircraft’s designation in the old Navy system, the two aircraft had little in common. It was heavily reworked with two large ventral fins, advanced flight control system, Pratt & Whitney J75-P-5A/6 turbojets rated at 131 kN (29,500 lb) with afterburner and to be armed with two AIM-7 Sparrow missiles in addition to the four AIM-9 Sidewinders. Two airframes built, first flight February 6, 1958. Maximum speed was never determined, as the canopy would overheat and begin turning opaque at about Mach 2.6. With acceleration still evident at that speed, test pilots felt that Mach 3.0 was attainable.
- Wikipedia English page
- FAS page
- The Gunfighter's Site
- Joe Baugher F-8 pages
- French Fleet Air Arm F-8 page