Vought F-8 Crusader


1st Flight 1955

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.


XF8U-1 (XF-8A) (V-383) – the two original unarmed prototypes.

F8U-1 (F-8A) – first production version, J57-P-12 engine replaced with more powerful J57-P-4A starting with 31st production aircraft, 318 built.

YF8U-1 (YF-8A) – one F8U-1 fighter used for development testing.

YF8U-1E (YF-8B) – one F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-1E prototype.

F8U-1E (F-8B) – 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.

XF8U-1T – one XF8U-2NE used for evaluation as a two-seat trainer.

F8U-1T (TF-8A) (V-408) – 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.

YF8U-2 (YF-8C) – two F8U-1s used for flight testing the J57-P-16 turbojet engine.

F8U-2 (F-8C) – 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.

F8U-2N (F-8D) – 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.

YF8U-2N (YF-8D) – one aircraft used in the development of the F8U-2N.

YF8U-2NE – one F8U-1 converted to serve as an F8U-2NE prototype.

F8U-2NE (F-8E) – 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.

F-8E(FN) – 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.

F-8H – upgraded F-8D with strengthened airframe and landing gear, with AN/APQ-84 radar.

A total of 89 rebuilt.

F-8J – 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.

F-8K – upgraded F-8C with Bullpup capability and J57-P-20A engines, with AN/APQ-125 radar. A total of 87 rebuilt.

F-8L – F-8B upgraded with under wing hard points, with AN/APQ-149 radar.

A total of 61 rebuilt.

F-8P – 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.

F8U-1D (DF-8A) – 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.

DF-8F – retired F-8A modified as controller aircraft for testing of missiles including at the USN facility at China Lake.

F8U-1KU (QF-8A) – retired F-8A modified into remote-controlled target drones

YF8U-1P (YRF-8A) – prototypes used in the development of the F8U-1P photo-reconnaissance aircraft – V-392.

F8U-1P (RF-8A) – unarmed photo-reconnaissance version of F8U-1E, 144 built.

RF-8G – modernized RF-8As.

LTV V-100 – 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 (V-401) – 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.


Crew: 1

Length: 55 ft 11.6 in (17.059 m)

Wingspan: 35 ft 8 in (10.87 m)

Height: 15 ft 9.1 in (4.803 m)

Wing area: 375 sq ft (34.8 m2)

Aspect ratio: 3.4

Airfoil: root: NACA 65A006 mod; tip: NACA 65A005 mod

Zero-lift drag coefficient: CD0.0133

Drag area: 5.0 sq ft (0.46 m2)

Empty weight: 18,800 lb (8,528 kg)

Gross weight: 29,000 lb (13,154 kg)

Max take-off weight: 34,000 lb (15,422 kg)

Fuel capacity: 1,348 US gal (1,122.4 imp gal; 5,102.7 L)

Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A afterburning turbojet engine, 11,400 lbf (51 kN) thrust dry, 18,000 lbf (80 kN) with afterburner


Maximum speed: 1,066 kn (1,227 mph, 1,974 km/h) at 36,000 ft (10,973 m)

Maximum speed: Mach 1.8

Cruise speed: 268 kn (308 mph, 496 km/h)

Stall speed: 135 kn (155 mph, 250 km/h)

Combat range: 394 nmi (453 mi, 730 km)

Ferry range: 1,507 nmi (1,734 mi, 2,791 km) with external fuel

Service ceiling: 58,000 ft (18,000 m)

Rate of climb: 19,000 ft/min (97 m/s)

Lift-to-drag: 12.8

Wing loading: 77.3 lb/sq ft (377 kg/m2)

Thrust/weight: 0.62


Guns: 4× 20 mm (0.79 in) Colt Mk 12 cannons in lower fuselage, 125 rpg

Hard points: 2× side fuselage mounted Y-pylons (for mounting AIM-9 Sidewinders and Zuni rockets) and 2× under wing pylon stations with a capacity of 4,000 lb (2,000 kg),with provisions to carry combinations of:

Rockets: 2× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× 5 inch (127mm) Zuni rockets)


4× AIM-9 Sidewinder or Matra Magic (French Navy only) air-to-air missiles

2× AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-surface missiles


12× 250 lb (113 kg) Mark 81 bombs or

8× 500 lb (227 kg) Mark 82 bombs or

4× 1,000 lb (454 kg) Mark 83 bombs or

2× 2,000 lb (907 kg) Mark 84 bombs


Magnavox AN/APQ-84 or AN/APQ-94 Fire-control radar.




Share on facebook

Share on facebook