F-8C digital fly-by-wire testbed (NASA
Two F-8 Crusaders Prepare to Launch from the USS Midway (CV-41). Note the variable-incidence wings are in the "up" position.
The F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft built by Chance-Vought of Dallas, Texas. It was first manufactured in March 1957, and was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon. The RF-8 Crusader was a photo-reconnaissance development, longer-lived than any fighter versions. RF-8s also played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, providing essential low-level photographs impossible to acquire by other means. Naval Reserve units continued to operate the RF-8 until 1986.
A unique feature of the Crusader was its variable-incidence wing, capable of being raised at the front. Additionally, the entire leading edge was slatted, and the ailerons drooped with the flaps. This allowed for better low-speed performance and visibility, by permitting both a nose-low fuselage and a high angle of attack, during carrier landings. Several modified F-8s were used by NASA in the early 1970s, proving the viability of both digital fly-by-wire and supercritical wings.
The F-8E was used by the French Navy until 1999, when they were replaced by the Rafale-M. About 20 had remained in service until retirement, with other units removed from duty during the preceding years.
- Crew: one, pilot
- Length: 54 ft 6 in (16.50 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft 2 in (10.80 m)
- Height: 15 ft 9 in (4.80 m)
- Wing area: 350 ft² (32.5 m²)
- Empty: 16,483 lb (8,088 kg)
- Loaded: 24,475 lb (11,125 kg)
- Maximum takeoff: 27,938 lb (12,700 kg)
- Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A, 10,700 lbf (47.7 kN) thrust (18,000 lbf, 80.3 kN with afterburner)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.72
- Range: 1,457 miles (2,331 km)
- Service ceiling: 58,000 ft (17,680 m)
- Rate of climb: 27,200 ft/min (8,290 m/min)
- Wing loading: 70 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)
- Thrust-to-weight: 1:2.3
- 4x 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon in the lower fuselage, with 144 rounds per gun
- 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on fuselage pylons.
- Pictures of Vought jets on www.vought.com (http://www.vought.com/heritage/photo/html/pjets.html)
Related development: A-7 Corsair II
Comparable aircraft: F-100 Super Sabre
Designation sequence (pre-1962): XF5U - F6U - F7U - F8U
Designation sequence (post-1962): F-5 - F-6 - F-7 - F-8 - F-9 - F-10 - F-11