DESIGN AND SPECIFICATIONS of MAJOR VARIANTSFor over 30 years, the F-8 Crusader served the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as a front-line fighter and photo recon aircraft.
(Very complete info at Joe Baugher's site) Design began in 1952, with the first flight conducted on 25 March 1955. The F-8A entered service in March of 1957. Length: 55' 3" Height: 15' 9" Wingspan (spread) 35' 8" Wing area: 375 sq. ft. Variant: F-8A F-8E RF-8G --------------------------------------------------------- Empty Wt: 16,150# 19,200# 17,300# Max Launch Wt: 27,500# 34,100# 27,822# Max Trap Wt: 20,000# 22,000# 20,000# Approach speed @max: 133 kts. 140 kts. 133 kts. Stall, pwr. on/off 115/135 kts. 123/145 kts. 115/137 kts. JP-5, internal-gal/lb: 1,273/8,600 1,348/9,100 1,497/10,176 Engine: P&W J-57-P.... 4 16 22 Thrust, MRT/CRT, #: 10,200/16,000 10,700/18,000 10,700/17,000 Guns: 4-20mm, 500 rds 4-20mm, 500 rds 5 Cameras Missiles: 2 Sidewinder 4 Sidewinder 2 Sidewinder* Max Speed, IMN/mph**: 1.7/1,120 1.9/1,255 1.8/1,190 Combat Radius, nm: 345 355 640 Service Ceiling, MRT 42,300' 40,000' 41,600' * Sidewinder rails were fitted, but I don't know that any were carried in hostile airspace. Photo beanies, can you clarify? ** Gleaned from various sources; approximations. Compare these numbers (of a 40 year old a/c) to current fighters.
It was the Crusader which went in low and fast to photograph the Cuban missle sites in 1962, and both photo and fighter versions performed admirably in Vietnam.
Its kind having flown some 2,360,000 hours and logged more than 385,000 carrier landings, the last F-8 Crusader was presented to the National Air and Space Museum.
The French Navy continues to fly F8E(FN)'s; these will be retired on Dec. 31, 1999.
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The F-8J was, by most folks recollection, one of the worst Navair aircraft program fiascoes since the Cutlass.
The intent was to improve the F-8E with better radar, tail armament in the form of armor plate protection for the UHT actuators, better cruise and landing flight characteristics with 2-section leading edge droops and BLC, improved approach power compensator with a UHT rate input, improved ECM and wing pylon fuel drop tank capability. There were a few more things like new wiring, UHF radio and APR-30 RWR gear. The airplane was rushed to the fleet with only limited carrier suitability testing.
Squadrons on the Bon Homme Richard and Ticonderoga got to be the carrier suitability testers for the fleet by default.
The aircraft was woefully overweight by almost 2000 lbs. and underpowered. With BLC on you lost about 800 lbs of thrust. Flight control rigging was optimized to achieve the slowest approach speed with apparently little consideration for anything else. The result was a dangerous aircraft around the boat, especially at night. Although the approach speeds were down around the 120 knot range at max trap weight, you couldn't see over the nose and wave-off capability was pathetic. Squadrons tried various things to deal with the poor waveoff performance. The Tico played with "trim drag" by altering the C.G. of the aircraft through fuel management. They would intentionally leave fuel in the aft cluster for this purpose. The Bonny Dick placed limits on temperatures that we could fly using 90 degrees for day and 85 for night. (The ship promptly installed a thermometer that could be read in tenths and at 84.9 degrees at night we would launch.) We also were taught the "pulse technique" waveoff. For this you would rotate the aircraft to almost a stall while simultaneously applying full power. With the sink rate halted, you would then ease off and climb out. Imagine that maneuver at night.
To add to your worries, you could actually fly the airplane below the minimum speed required to operate the RAT (Marquardt emergency ram air turbine). The thought that you could be on final at night, operating off the RAT and then lose all electrical power was frightening to say the least.
Gradually during the cruise, Navair responded to the problems and sent teams to WestPac to begin incorporating the fixes. To relieve the weight problem the armor plate in the tail was removed and the ALQ-51 was re-installed to replace the newer, but heavier ALQ-100. The visibility over the nose was improved by changing the flight control rigging and increasing the approach speed to around 128 kts. The RATs were reworked to allow for safe operation at approach speeds. The wave-off capability was improved by incorporating a "war emergency thrust" throttle position. A spring was added to the leading edge of the throttle quadrant that would stop the throttle at the MRT position unless you pushed it further against the spring and into the WEP position. We were instructed to get used to using WEP by practicing during fouled deck waveoffs until the first engine hot section inspection showed that we were destroying the engine's burner cans. It seems that WEP was just intentionally allowing you to overspeed the engine for additional power and it played hell on the burner cans. The ultimate fix came with the improved J57-P400 series engines about a year later. Eventually, Navair made all the necessary mods and the J served well until its retirement.
The Naval Helo Assn. Website's Dictionary of Aviators Slang inludes this entry:
A good, righteous airplane. Current airplanes need not apply, this is a nostalgic term referring to birds gone by. By all accounts the F-8 Crusader was a tits machine.
F-8 Drivers, maintainers, builders, etc.--- your suggestions are welcome.
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