The Vought F-8 Crusader originally designated as F8U is a single engine, supersonic carrier-based air superiority fighter jet that was developed by the “Vought” to serve for the United States Navy, the Marine Corps and the French Navy. The aircraft was designed to replace the Vought F7U Cutlass.
The first prototype of this aircraft was ready for flight test back in February of 1955. The Vought F-8 Crusader was the principle aircraft for the US Navy and the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. The Vought F-8 Crusader was the last of the American jet fighters that were equipped with guns as their primary weapons. Due to this fact, the aircraft was nicknamed as “The Last of the Gunfighter”.
The Vought Rf-8 was another variant of this aircraft that was developed for photo-reconnaissance. The aircraft served in the United States service longer than any other fighter versions.
The aircraft was the essential aircraft that served a major role in the Cuban Missile Crisis as it provided low-level photographs that were impossible to gather at that tie with any other means. The last of the Vought F-8 Crusader served for the US Navy until 1987.
For our readers today, we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the Vought F-8 Crusader which are as follows.
The design for the Vought F-8 Crusader was started by the US Navy back in 1952. The design was being made of an aircraft that would be able to have the top speed of Mach 1.2 while having a climb rate of 25000 per minute with a landing speed of no less than 100 mph.
The aircraft was amongst the most fast built jet fighters in the history of US. The aircraft’s first prototype was ready by February of 1955 for its first test flight.
Broke the speed record:-
The Vought F-8 Crusader was the first ever jet fighter in the US that broke the speed record after it traveled at a speed of 1000 mph while being flown by U.S. Navy pilot R.W. Windsor back in 1956.
The Vought F-8 Crusader was equipped with only one Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A afterburning turbojet. This engine was capable of generating up to 10,700 lbf (47.6 kN) of dry thrust.
The Vought F-8 Crusader came equipped with 20 mm cannons that proved to be a great weapon for dogfights during the Vietnam War against the Soviet MiGs.
The first generation of fighter jets proved to be a valuable asset for the later generations. The Vought F-8 Crusader was designed to have an adjustable wing tilt. This feature allowed the wings to be pulled in closer by 7 degrees.
This design was the base that was later applied in Navy’s current elite fighters like F-14 Tomcat and B-1 Lancer.
Vought F-8 Crusader VS F-4 Phantom:-
The F-4 Phantom fighter jet was designed by the Navy to serve mostly the air-to-air missile strikes to attain air superiority on interdiction missions. On the other hand, Vought F-8 Crusader relied on its guns and missiles for gaining air superiority. The aircraft was designed to have deft maneuvering which was not easy to fly by many pilots. Still, the pilots who flew this aircraft admired its prowess in aerial missions.
The Vought F-8 Crusader was one of the primary aircraft that served in the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, for our Crusader lost in war, it destroyed nearly 19 MiGs. This was very impressive considering it was only second best to the Navy’s most elite fighter; the F-4 Phantom. During the war times, F-8 was the most feared fighter aircraft by the enemies.
An Example of its massive air superiority:-
According to one reported incident from back in May of 1972, two Vought F-8 Crusaders that were returning from mission intercepted one North Vietnamese MiG that was headed toward the US Naval Carrier group. The naval carrier initially sent two F-4 Phantoms towards it but they were called back.
The reason for this sudden calling back was because F-8 intercepted the aircraft and when they did, the pilot of the MiG ejected out into the water. This alone was a testament to the statement as to how much enemies feared F-8.
The Vought F-8 Crusader lost its brilliance to the F-4 Phantom despite gaining many successes over its long years of service. The original name for F-8 was F-8U, with U being for the Upgrade possibility.
The most successful upgraded version of F-8 was F-8U-3 which was regarded as “Best Fighter that the US Navy Ever built”. The F-8U-3 was the fastest and most maneuverable along with being the better dogfighter hen compared to F-4 Phantom. However, still F-4 prevailed in term of popularity because it was the future of the air superiority where jet fighters would reign with missiles and no pilot would be involved in dogfights.
Highly acclaimed despite being Obsolete:-
The idea of the jet fighters with missiles for air superiority was proven wrong with the start of Vietnam War but until then all the further development on F-8 was halted and it was stuck only in its original first form. Still, the Vought F-8 Crusader proved to be one of the highly acclaimed fighters during that era despite it being labeled as Obsolete.
The aircraft although as primarily designed to be used by the US Navy and the Marine Corps it was still exported to two other countries of the world; France and the Philippines. In France, the aircraft served or its French Navy while in the Philippines, it served in the Philippine Air Force:-
The aircraft served for the active duty in the US Navy until 1985 while it was still being used by the US Naval Reserve until 1987.
The Vought F-8 Crusader is dubbed as the last of the Gunfighters in the US Naval and Air Force. The aircraft, unlike the today’s aircraft, was only equipped with guns that were used for high chase dogfights. The aircraft dominated the air space during the Vietnam War even against the Soviet MiGs and even dulled the presence of the -4 Phantom in terms of its high speed and maneuverability. The aircraft was sued not only by US Navy but also the Philippine Air Force and the French Navy along with some variants beings used by NASA.