In general, Crusader did not have the disadvantages that were usually inherent in aircraft designed for operations as part of aviation ship-based. “MiG-Master” or “The Last Gunner”, as they began to call it after the Vietnam War, surpassed all modern US fighters in flying qualities and was classified as a jet classic.
In September 1952, the command of the US Navy issued a technical task for a new ship-based fighter. A request for proposals was sent to eight companies, and it was determined that the new aircraft should have 1,2М speed at 9144 m and 0,9M at sea level, speed of 7620 m / min, and landing speed 184 km / h.
Guns and Rockets
In addition to the usual elements of aircraft carrier aircraft (for example, a folding wing), the new machine had to be armed with gun-guns and rocket weapons, as well as have excellent maneuverability.
One of the companies that entered the tender was Chance Vought, an experienced naval aircraft designer and builder that had previously offered two lesser-known jet fighters, the F6U Pirate and F7U Cutlass. Ultimately, in May 1953, the Model V-383 proposed by Vought was declared the winner. The aircraft was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney 157 turbojet engine, which developed a thrust of 64,43 kN at the afterburner. Two prototypes of this vehicle were designated XF8U-1.
The F8U aircraft met the requirements of the US Navy thanks to a number of features. So, for example, light metals such as titanium and Metallite alloy developed by Vought were used in its design, and its aerodynamic properties were improved due to the fuselage designed with the area rule in mind, which led to a decrease in drag. The wing with a system for changing the angle of its installation was a unique innovation in the Crusader design: during takeoff and landing, the wing installation angle increased by 7 °, which increased the angle of attack, but the fuselage maintained a horizontal position, thus providing a good view from the cockpit.
The first Crusader (serial number 138899) took off from Edward Air Base in March 1955. Not having serious design flaws that require improvement, F8U-1 almost immediately went into production. The first production machines were handed over to the customer in September 1955 of the year. The USMC received its first January 1956 of the year, the first pilots of the Navy had already begun training flights to Crusader at Patuxent River air base.
On April 4, 1956, Crusader, the third pre-production aircraft, made its first landing with an aero-finisher and took off from the catapult of the Forrestol aircraft carrier. In the course of further tests, certain shortcomings were identified and eliminated, and soon the aircraft was fully ready for service on navy.
Records and victories
In order to personally demonstrate the capabilities of his new fighter, the US Navy had to break the speed record that belonged to the aircraft of the US Air Force. The test pilot "Duke" Windsor was tasked to achieve on the Crusader the cherished speed in 1000 mph (1609 km / h). This attempt, dubbed “One Grand,” was made in the Mojave Desert, California. However, the British soon overtook everyone - on the experimental aircraft Fairey Delta 2 they managed to reach the speed of 1822 km / h.
In reality, according to Western historians, the command of the US Navy did not want Windsor to demonstrate the maximum speed of the F8U, in order not to reveal the unique capabilities of the new aircraft. Windsor was only ordered to reach 1609 km / h. However, in the early morning of August 21 1956, he took to the air on the 12-series F8U-1 and in two speed passes managed to reach the average speed of 1633 km / h, a little less than the British record, but almost 322 km / h more than the US Air Force record. This achievement brought the US Navy and Vought the so-called “Thompson Cup”.
President Eisenhower's visit to the new Saratoga aircraft carrier (Forrestal type) provided the Navy with another opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the F8U-1. Captain Robert Daws, commander of the 3 Squadron (VX-3), captivated the operational officer of his unit, Lieutenant Commander Paul Miller with the idea of making a flight across the country, from coast to coast. After rising 6 June 1957, into the air from the deck of the aircraft carrier "Bon Homme Richard", located off the coast of California, Dowse and Miller headed for Dallas. Refueling from the AJ-2 tanker aircraft, the F8U-1 pair then again reached the altitude 13716 m and the cruising speed 0.96M. Having flown to the east coast, the pilots reached the Saratoga, made a quick flight at a speed of 1106 km / h at an altitude of just 23 m above the water, and then went to land. It was an impressive sight, from take-off to landing 3 passed hours 28 minutes, a kind of unofficial record.
Another transcontinental flight was performed on July 16 1958 of the year. Marine Corps Major John Glenn planned a transcontinental flight from west to east — the Bullet project. The flight was supposed to take place at supersonic speed, and the whole country could watch it. Glenn was supposed to take to the air in Los Angeles on the third F8U-1P, with F8U-1 and AJ-1 Savage aircraft as tankers. However, the accompanying F8U-1 had to interrupt the flight due to damage to the fueling hose during the first refueling, and Glenn continued the flight alone. Through 3 h 23 mines, he landed in New York at the Floyd Bennett Field airport, where the site was owned by the US Navy. Average flight speed was 1167,63 km / h or 1,1M. This impressive flight was brought to Vought and the sailors of the Collier Cup.
The 3 Squadron received the first serial F8U-1 in December 1956, and in March 1957, the 32-I Fighter Squadron became the first in the Navy to re-equip them. The first squadrons of the CMP received their Crusader in December 1957 of the year. Finally, in February 1958, the Crusader, made their first cruise as part of the 194 fighter squadron aboard the Hancock aircraft carrier in the Pacific and as part of the 32 squadron on the Saratoga aircraft carrier in the Atlantic.