"When you're out of F-8's, you're out of fighters," declared the men who flew and maintained the world's first carrier-based supersonic fighter, the Vought Crusader. Crusaders joined the fleet in the last week of 1956. They combined scorching performance and heavy armament: four 20mm cannon and up to four AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.
One unusual feature of the F-8 was its pop-up wing.
The entire wing could be raised by an internal piston, making it a giant flap and reducing the landing speed, critical when approaching a carrier deck.
I n the early days of the Vietnam War, the Crusader was the most successful U.S. fighter. F-8's downed 18 Communist aircraft for the loss of only three of their own. This 6: 1 kill ratio was significantly better than those of other U.S. fighters, including the more modern McDonnell- Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
The Crusader was also produced in a photo reconnaissance version. These unarmed aircraft did yeoman work during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in Southeast Asia. They served into the eighties, long after the fighter version of the F-8 had been withdrawn from fleet service.
In addition to service with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Crusaders were used by the Philippines Air Force and the French Navy. The French kept their Crusaders into the 1990s, making them the last operational F-8s. A total of 1,261 Crusaders of all types were built.
The Museum’s F8U-1 is a first-production version of the carrier-based air superiority aircraft. The 'Crusaders' were in service with the U.S. Navy from 1957 until 1976.
Manufacturer: Vought Aviation
Model: F8U-1 Crusader
Max T/O Weight: 27,468 lb.
Span: 35 ft. 2 in.
Length: 54 ft. 6 in.
Height: 15 ft. 6 in.
Maximum Speed: 1,013 mph
Cruise Speed: 570 mph
Rate of Climb: 19,000 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 x Pratt&Whitney J-57-P20A turbojet engine, 18,000 lb. thrust
Range: 600 miles
Service Ceiling: 42,300 ft.
Armament: Four 20-mm cannon and provisions for multiple external stores