|McDonnell F3H Demon |
McDonnell F3H Demon
|Role ||Carrier fighter |
|Crew ||1 |
|First Flight ||7 August 1951 |
|Entered Service ||1956 |
|Manufacturer ||McDonnell |
|Length ||59 ft 0 in ||17.98 m |
|Wingspan ||35 ft 4 in ||10.77 m |
|Height ||14 ft 7 in ||4.45 m |
|Wing area ||442 ft² ||m² |
|Empty ||21,287 lb ||10,055 kg |
|Loaded ||31,145 lb ||kg |
|Maximum takeoff ||39,000 lb ||15,409 kg |
|Engine ||Westinghouse J40-WE-22 |
|Thrust ||14,400 lbf ||29 kN |
|Maximum speed ||716 mph ||990 km/h |
|Combat radius ||1,800 miles ||1,818 km |
|Ferry range ||1,370 miles ||km |
|Service ceiling ||42,650 ft ||13,400 m |
|Rate of climb ||14,350 ft/min ||m/min |
|Wing loading ||lb/ft² ||kg/m² |
|Thrust/Weight ||lbf/lb ||1.9 N/kg |
|Power/Mass ||hp/lb ||kW/kg |
|Avionics ||AN/APG-51 radar |
|Guns ||4 × 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon |
|Bombs ||6,000 lb (2,720 kg) |
|Missiles ||4 × AIM-7 Sparrow (F3H-2M) or |
2 × AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles (F3H-2)
The McDonnell F3H Demon was a US Navy carrier-based jet fighter aircraft. The successor to the F2H Banshee, after initial problems, it served from 1956 until 1964.
Development work began in 1949. The aircraft was designed around only a single Westinghouse J40 engine, which was to have thrust of over 11,000 lbf (49 kN) - three times that of the engines in the Banshee. It was the first swept-wing design produced by McDonnell and among the first US aircraft to have missile armament.
The prototype first flew in 1951, and first test flights of the operational design were in January 1953. The engine was a major disappointment, producing only half of the expected power. Worse, it was tempermental and unreliable. Of 35 F3H-1N aircraft flown with the J40 engine, eight were involved in major accidents. The J40-engined aircraft were grounded and a new engine was sought.
The best alternative was the Allison J71 engine destined for the F-100 Super Sabre (also used in the B-66/A-3), and subsequent F3Hs with this engine were designated the F3H-2N. While more reliable, this new engine had to be 'shoe-horned' into the airframe, and, with less power than needed, did little for the aircraft's performance. The first Demon with a J71 flew in October 1954. Another problem was with the ejection seats: initial versions could fail to operate and had to be replaced with Martin-Baker models.
Despite the problems, the Navy ordered 239 F3H-2s, and the first were deployed in March 1956. 522 Demons were built up to the end of production in November 1959. It was the Navy's first all-weather interceptor with radar (the AN/APG-51 air interception set).
The F3H-2N's standard armament was four 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon. In later years the upper two cannon were often omitted. Later models, redesignated F3H-2M, were equipped to fire the Raytheon AAM-N-2 Sparrow and later the Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Deployed aircraft carried both types of missiles, the Sparrow on the inboard rails and the Sidewinder outboard. In air carrier air defense applications cannons were not used, but they were installed and armed when situations (such as the Cuban Missile Crisis) dictated, where the aircraft might be deployed against surface watercraft.
A reconnaissance version, the F3H-2P, was proposed, but never built. It remained the Navy's front-line fighter until 1962, when it was succeeded by the F-4 Phantom II. Although developed during the Korean War, it did not see action, although it flew over Lebanon and Quemoy in 1958.
In 1962 the F3H was redesignated F-3. The F3H-2N became the F-3C, while the F3H-2M became MF-3B and the F3H-2 simply F-3B.
The last Demon-equipped squadron, VF-161 'Chargers', traded their F-3s for F-4 Phantoms in September 1964.