Century Wings CW601475 US Navy Vought F-8E Crusader Fighter - NP103, VF-211 "Fighting Checkmates", Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), 1967 [Take-Off Version] (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
In September 1952, the United States Navy announced a requirement for a new fighter. It was to have a top speed of Mach 1.2 at 30,000 ft (9,150 m) with a climb rate of 25,000 ft/min (127 m/s), and a landing speed of no more than 100 mph (160 km/h). Korean War experience had demonstrated that 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns were no longer sufficient and as the result the new fighter was to carry a 20 mm (0.8 in) cannon. In response, the Vought team led by John Russell Clark created the V-383. Unusual for a fighter, the aircraft had a high-mounted wing which allowed for short and light landing gear.
The most innovative aspect of the design was the variable-incidence wing which pivoted by 7 out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing. This afforded increased lift due to a greater angle of attack without compromising forward visibility because the fuselage stayed level. Simultaneously, the lift was augmented by leading-edge slats drooping by 25 and inboard flaps extending to 30. The rest of the aircraft took advantage of contemporary aerodynamic innovations with area ruled fuselage, all-moving stabilators, dog-tooth notching at the wing folds for improved yaw stability, and liberal use of titanium in the airframe. Power came from the Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet and the armament, as specified by the Navy, consisted of four 20 mm cannon, a retractable tray with 32 unguided Mighty Mouse FFARs, and cheek pylons for two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Vought also presented a tactical reconnaissance version of the aircraft called the V-382. The F-8 Crusader would be the last U.S. fighter designed with guns as its primary weapon.
Major competition came from Grumman with their General Electric J79-powered F-11 Tiger, McDonnell with upgraded twin-engine F3H Demon (which would eventually become the F-4 Phantom II), and North American with their F-100 Super Sabre adopted for carrier use and dubbed the Super Fury.
In May 1953, the Vought design was declared a winner and in June Vought received an order for three XF8U-1 prototypes (after adoption of the unified designation system in September 1962, the F8U became the F-8). The first prototype flew on 25 March 1955 with John Konrad at the controls. The aircraft exceeded the speed of sound during its maiden flight. The development was so trouble-free that the second prototype, along with the first production F8U-1, flew on the same day, September 30th, 1955. On April 4th, 1956, the F8U-1 performed its first catapult launch from USS Forrestal.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a F-8E flown by VF-211 "Fighting Checkmates" then embarked upon the Bon Homme Richard during the Vietnam War. Aircraft modeled depicts a plane in the takeoff position with its flaps down. Only 3,000 pieces produced.
Wingspan: 5.75 inches
Length: 9.25 inches
Release Date: November 2008
Historical Account: "By a Factor of Ten" - In what became one of the longest aerial engagements of the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Commander Richard Schaffert of VF-111, fought a near-legendary one man defense against a flight of MiG 17s attacking a group of A-4s. Representative of the early and mid-war group of tough, no-nonsense Crusader 'drivers', Schaffert threw his fighter around the sky as he fended off several determined thrusts by the MiGs until help arrived. Even then, it took several engagements and several misguided Sidewinders before one MiG was downed by Dick Wyman.