The Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) is a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, and for the French Navy.
The first F-8 prototype was ready for flight in February 1955.
The F-8 served principally in the Vietnam War.
The Crusader was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon.
The two original unarmed prototypes.
First production version, J57-P-12 engine replaced with more powerful J57-P-4A starting with 31st production aircraft, 318 built.
One F8U-1 fighter used for development testing.
One F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-1E prototype.
Added a limited all-weather capability thanks to the AN/APS-67 radar, the unguided rocket tray was sealed shut because it was never used operationally, first flight: 3 September 1958, 130 built.
One XF8U-2NE used for evaluation as a two-seat trainer.
Two-seat trainer version based on F8U-2NE, fuselage stretched 2 ft (0.61 m), internal armament reduced to two cannon, J57-P-20 engine, first flight 6 February 1962.
The Royal Navy was initially interested in the Rolls-Royce Spey-powered version of TF-8A but chose the Phantom II instead.
Only one TF-8A was built, although several retired F-8As were converted to similar two-seat trainers.
Two F8U-1s used for flight testing the J57-P-16 turbojet engine.
J57-P-16 engine with 16,900 lbf (75 kN) of afterburning thrust, ventral fins added under the rear fuselage in an attempt to rectify yaw instability, Y-shaped cheek pylons allowing two Sidewinder missiles on each side of the fuselage, AN/APQ-83 radar retrofitted during later upgrades.
First flight: 20 August 1957, 187 built.
This variant was sometimes referred to as Crusader II.
All-weather version, unguided rocket pack replaced with an additional fuel tank, J57-P-20 engine with 18,000 lbf (80 kN) of afterburning thrust, landing system which automatically maintained present airspeed during approach, incorporation of AN/APQ-83 radar.
First flight: 16 February 1960, 152 built.
One aircraft used in the development of the F8U-2N.
One F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-2NE prototype.
J57-P-20A engine, AN/APQ-94 radar in a larger nose cone, dorsal hump between the wings containing electronics for the AGM-12 Bullpup missile, payload increased to 5,000 lb (2,270 kg), Martin-Baker ejection seat, AN/APQ-94 radar replaced AN/APQ-83 radar in earlier F-8D.
IRST sensor blister (round ball) was added in front of the canopy.
First flight: 30 June 1961, 286 built.
Air superiority fighter version for the French Navy, significantly increased wing lift due to greater slat and flap deflection and the addition of a boundary layer control system, enlarged stabilators, incorporated AN/APQ-104 radar, an upgraded version of AN/APQ-94.
A total of 42 built.
Upgraded F-8D with strengthened airframe and landing gear, with AN/APQ-84 radar.
A total of 89 rebuilt.
Upgraded F-8E, similar to F-8D but with wing modifications and BLC like on F-8E(FN), “wet” pylons for external fuel tanks, J57-P-20A engine, with AN/APQ-124 radar.
A total of 136 rebuilt.
Upgraded F-8C with Bullpup capability and J57-P-20A engines, with AN/APQ-125 radar.
A total of 87 rebuilt.
F-8B upgraded with under wing hardpoints, with AN/APQ-149 radar.
A total of 61 rebuilt.
17 F-8E(FN) of the Aéronavale underwent a significant overhaul at the end of the 1980s to stretch their service life another 10 years.
They were retired in 1999.
Several retired F-8A modified to controller aircraft for testing of the SSM-N-8 Regulus cruise missile.
DF-8A was also modified as drone (F-9 Cougar) control which were used extensively by VC-8, NS Roosevelt Rds, PR; Atlantic Fleet Missile Range.
Retired F-8A modified as controller aircraft for testing of missiles including at the USN facility at China Lake.
Retired F-8A modified into remote-controlled target drones
Prototypes used in the development of the F8U-1P photo-reconnaissance aircraft – V-392.
Unarmed photo-reconnaissance version of F8U-1E, 144 built.
Revised “low-cost” development based on the earlier F-8 variants, created in 1970 to compete against the F-4E Phantom II, Lockheed CL-1200 and F-5-21 in a tender for U.S. Military Assistance Program (MAP) funding.
The unsuccessful design was ultimately only a “paper exercise.”
XF8U-3 Crusader III
A new design loosely based on the earlier F-8 variants, created to compete against the F-4 Phantom II; J75-P-5A engine with 29,500 lbf (131 kN) of afterburning thrust, first flight: 2 June 1958, attained Mach 2.39 in test flights, cancelled after five aircraft were constructed because the Phantom II won the Navy contract.