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American postwar aircraft


Vought F-8 Crusader

The Vought F-8 Crusader was one of the first truly supersonic carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was built in large quantity and had a significant operational history - in service as a dogfighter, strike aircraft, and reconnaissance platform - that is only now coming to a close.
The Crusader began life as a US Navy requirement issued in September, 1952, for a carrier-based fighter capable of a top speed greater than Mach 1. Eight aircraft manufacturers participated in the competition, among them Chance-Vought.
The Chance-Vought design was revolutionary, a great step forward in the state of the art; the Navy was quick to see its promise, and announced it the winner of the competition in May, 1953. This was followed on 29 June by a Navy contract requiring Chance-Vought to build two prototypes of an aircraft with the designation XF8U-1.
The first prototype was rolled out in February, 1955, and took to the air on 25 March, breaking Mach 1 during this initial flight - making it the first fighter designed for shipboard operation to fly faster than sound.
The F8U-1 was followed by an improved variant, the F8U-1E, which had an improved radar system (and so a bigger plastic nose-cone), giving it limited all-weather capability. The first F8U-1E - a modified production F8U-1 - flew in early September, 1958; 130 would be built in all.
American aircraft had been quietly operating in the festering war in Southeast Asia since 1962; in June, 1964, an RF-8A had been shot down over Laos.
The Crusader was used by both US Marine and Navy detachments during the war. The Marines used the aircraft largely in the attack role, for support of their ground forces in South Vietnam. In Navy hands, the Crusader was operated more as a dogfighter -- wing pylons were rarely fitted to Navy Crusaders -- and racked up scores against North Vietnamese MiGs -- though enemy fighter opposition was never more than a serious nuisance, with most American air losses due to an impressive system of ground defenses.
The success of the F-8 Crusader in air combat led to an intense rivalry with pilots of the F-4 Phantom. In the early part of the war, Crusaders won the contest hands down, though their victories all occurred in the period 1966 through 1968. They shot down at least 18 MiGs. But the Vietnam War was the high tide of the Crusader; increasingly replaced by its rival, the F-4, by 1972 the fighter versions of the F-8 were being phased out of service.
In service is still F-8F (FN) in French army.
General characteristics F-8F
Primary function Carrier-based fighter and attack aircraft
Power plant One Pratt&Whitney J57-P-20A turbofan
Thrust with afterburner 18,000 lb 80 kN
Speed maximum 1,135 mph 1,827 km/h
cruising 560 mph 901 km/h
Initial climb rate 351 ft/s 107 m/s
Ceiling 58,000 ft 17,680 m
Combat radius 600 miles 966 km
Weight empty 19,925 lb 9,038 kg
max. takeoff 34,000 lb 15,420 kg
Wingspan 35.6 ft 10.87 m
Length 54.5 ft 16.61 m
Height 15.75 ft 4.8 m
Wingarea 350 sq ft 32.51 sq m
Armament Four 20mm cannons M39 and up to 2,268 kg weapons incl. two AIM Matra R530 missiles or eight 5 in (127 mm) rockets.
Crew One

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Jirka Wagner



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