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McDonnell F2H Banshee: The Carrier Based Jet Fighter

The aircraft for today is the McDonnell F2H Banshee which was the carrier based jet fighter of the US Navy and the US Marine Corps that served from year 1948 to 1961. The aircraft was developed mainly in its single seat configuration. The McDonnell F2H Banshee holds the title of being one of the US navy’s primary jet fighter during the Korean War.

Other than US, Canada was the other operator for this fighter and the McDonnell F2H Banshee holds the title of being the Royal Canadian Navy’s first jet fighter as it served the RCN from 1955 to 1962. The name of the McDonnell F2H Banshee is derived from the Irish mythological creature named Banshee.

Origin:-




The design of the McDonnell F2H Banshee has originated from the FH-Phantom but still the program development for the McDonnell F2H Banshee was under work even before Phantom entered the production line. McDonnell Douglas’s engineer at the time only had plans to make the McDonnell F2H Banshee looks similar to that of Phantom in many aspects. However, after working on the design of the McDonnell F2H Banshee, they came to realization that a fighter jet design with the base for being equipped with heavier armaments, increased internal fuel capacity as well as other certain improvements would be a much more feasible idea.

Development and First Flight:-

McDonnell’s engineer came up with mock up design of the McDonnell F2H Banshee which was at the time designated as XFD-2-1 which was completed back in the April of 1945. The project was carried out during the World War II and fortunately survived through all of it. However, the war caused the delays in production of the prototype and the first of its 3 flight worthy prototypes was not created until 1946.

The very first prototype of the McDonnell F2H Banshee made its first flight back on January 11th 1947 from the Lambert Field Airport located in St. Louis, Missouri.

During its first flight, the McDonnell F2H Banshee provided impressive climbing rate of about 9000 feet per minute which was twice that of the F8F Bearcat, which at the time was the primary interceptor of the Navy as their fleet defense aircraft.

Powerplant & Performance:-

Navy later re-designated the XF2H-1 as the XF2D-1 and ordered for the production of 56 of these aircraft. The aircraft finally entered the service of the Royal navy back in August of 1948 where it replaced the Grumman F8F Bearcat as the primary defense aircraft of the Navy’ carrier fleet.

The McDonnell F2H Banshee was equipped to have twin Westinghouse J34-WE-30 turbojet engines. Each of these engines would generate a thrust of about 3150 lbs which allowed for the aircraft to fly at a top speed of about 581 mph for a ferry range of 1715 miles. The maximum ceiling altitude achieved by the McDonnell F2H Banshee was about 47000 feet which it could reach with a climbing rate of almost 6000 ft/min.

Armaments:-

The previous fighters before the introduction of McDonnell F2H Banshee into the US Navy were equipped with only the machine guns. As for the McDonnell F2H Banshee, it was equipped with 4 of the 20mm Colt Mk16 automatic cannons that were fitted on its nose section which were enough to deliver a punch to any enemy aircraft. The upper set of these cannons had 220 rounds while the lower set had 250 rounds that were also able to ward off any ground targets. Introduction of these cannons in the McDonnell F2H Banshee was the one that shifted the US Navy from their commitment to those 0.50 caliber machine guns.

The McDonnell F2H Banshee also featured 8 underwing stations which could be used for having drop bombs as well as aerial rockets.

Notable Variants:-

The very first of the McDonnell F2H Banshee on the production line were of model number F2H-1 of which nearly 56 units were manufactured which were powered by Westinghouse J34-WE-22 turbojet engines. Following the F2H-1 came the F2H-2 of which nearly 308 units were manufactured and was the one that had the internal load carrying capacity of 500 lbs for having aerial rockets.

One variant of the McDonnell F2H Banshee was designated as F2H-2B which was a fighter bomber model that could be equipped with Mark 8 nuclear bombs. Only 25 units of this variant were manufactured.

The F2H-2N was the night fighter jet fighter that was equipped with the APS-19 series radar system to navigate during the nighttime. For housing this radar system, a larger nose assembly was made and only 14 of these night fighters were manufactured. For photo reconnaissance missions, the F2H-2P variant was manufactured which also had a specially made nose assembly for keeping inside 6 cameras. 89 of these F2H-P units were manufactured.

Operator other than US Navy:-

Other than the US Navy and the US Marine Corps, only Canada was the sole foreign operator of the McDonnell F2H Banshee which served their Royal Canadian Navy. Their McDonnell F2H Banshee were designated as F2H-3 and was the RCN’s first ever carrier based jet fighter.

Exceptional Service during Korean War:-

The official service of the McDonnell F2H Banshee started back in 1948 which meant that by the time it was 1950’s Korean War, the aircraft was already in full circulation. After the Soviet built MiG-15 fighters came into play, the McDonnell F2H Banshee was not able to go onto the front lines as it held disadvantage in the head-to-head dogfights. This is why; the US Navy and the US Marine Corps both reserved the McDonnell F2H Banshee for the close friendly support while the dogfighting was reserved for the F-86 Sabre.

The McDonnell F2H Banshee served exceptionally during the entire Korean War as no aircraft ever lost to enemy fighter jets. Still, the aircraft could also not make any aerial kills itself. 3 of the McDonnell F2H Banshee were lost during the ground enemy fires. For the McDonnell F2H Banshee, the Korean War was the only conflict that it saw as a combat fighter.

Retirement:-

In the late 1950s, more and more advanced attack and defense platforms made their emergence and the McDonnell F2H Banshee was finally replaced by both the US Navy and the US Marine Corps in 1959 and 1961 respectively. As for the Royal Canadian navy, they too retired their fleet of McDonnell F2H Banshee back in 1962.

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