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Encyclopedia > F8U Crusader
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.

Specifications (F-8E)

General Characteristics

  • 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 ft (32.5 m)
  • 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/ft (342 kg/m)
  • 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.

External links:

  • Pictures of Vought jets on www.vought.com (http://www.vought.com/heritage/photo/html/pjets.html)

Related content

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

List of Aircraft | Aircraft Manufacturers | Aircraft Engines | Aircraft Engine Manufacturers

Airlines | Air Forces | Aircraft Weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

  Results from FactBites:
Article about "F-8 Crusader" in the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004 (210 words)
The F-8 Crusader was originally built by LTV Aerospace, which was based in Dallas, Texas.
The RF-8 Crusader, the reconnaissance version, was longer-lived than the actual fighter versions, with reserve units using them through 1986.
The F-8E was used by the French Navy, as a carrier-based aircraft, until 1999 (according to sources), when they were replaced by the Rafale-M. About 20 were still in service, before they were retired.
f8u (188 words)
In 1957 the Crusader won the Collier Trophy for its contributions to the advancement of aviation science.
The F8U series enjoyed a long service life which was extended in the 1960s by remanufacturing and updating existing aircraft.
Crusaders flew in Navy reserve units until 1987, and the French navy flew its Crusaders well into the 1990’s.
  More results at FactBites »



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