Vought F-8 Crusader

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.



(XF-8A) (V-383)

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.


(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.



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.


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


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.





55 ft 11.6 in (17.059 m)


35 ft 8 in (10.87 m)


15 ft 9.1 in (4.803 m)

Wing area

375 sq ft (34.8 m2)

Aspect ratio




NACA 65A006 mod


NACA 65A005 mod

Zero-lift drag coefficient


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)


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)



Wing loading

77.3 lb/sq ft (377 kg/m2)





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


2× side fuselage mounted Y-pylons

(for mounting AIM-9 Sidewinders and Zuni rockets)


2× under wing pylon stations with a capacity of 4,000 lb (2,000 kg),

with provisions to carry combinations of:


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.



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