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F-8 Crusader Vought
F-8 Crusader
Carrier-borne Interceptor

Though removed from US service many years ago, the F-8 Crusader continued to serve with the French Navy through the late 1990s. The Crusader was originally developed to meet a US Navy requirement for a supersonic fighter to operate from and defend its aircraft carrier fleet. The design was unique in that the entire wing section could be angled upwards to reduce the fuselage angle of attack and improve pilot visibility. Though the Crusader was already somewhat obsolete by the time of the Vietnam War, the F-8 served with distinction in that conflict and collected more air-combat victories than any other type of aircraft.

Some 1,259 Crusaders were built for the US Navy and Marines, the Philippines, and the French Navy. The final US and Philippines examples were removed from service in the late 1980s. By 1996, only 18 French aircraft were still flying, and these were 30 years old. These last F-8s were finally replaced by a navalized version of the Rafale in 1999.

Data below for F-8P
Last modified 26 September 2009

First Flight (XF-8U-1) 25 March 1955
(F-8A) 20 September 1955
Service Entry March 1957
Retirement 4 December 1999

CREW: one: pilot


Wing Root NACA 65A006 mod
Wing Tip NACA 65A005 mod

Length 54.50 ft (16.61 m)
Wingspan 35.17 ft (10.72 m)
Height 15.75 ft (4.80 m)
Wing Area 374 ft² (34.84 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 19,700 lb (8,935 kg)
Normal Takeoff 27,560 lb (12,500 kg)
Max Takeoff 34,000 lb (15,420 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 5,300 L
external: unknown
Max Payload


Powerplant one Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A afterburning turbojet
Thrust 18,000 lb (80.07 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,225 mph (1,975 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m), Mach 1.86
at sea level: unknown
Initial Climb Rate 21,000 ft (6,410 m) / min
Service Ceiling unknown
Range typical: 380 nm (710 km)
ferry: 1,040 nm (1,930 km)
g-Limits unknown

Gun four 20-mm Colt cannons (84 to 144 rds ea)
Stations four external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile R.530, Matra 550 Magic, AIM-9 Sidewinder
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb none
Other none

XF8U-1 or XF-8A Prototype; 2 built
F8U-1 or F-8A First production model armed with 4 20-mm cannons, unguided rockets, and later fitted for Sidewinder missiles; 318 built
YF8U-1 or YF-8AL F8U-1 used for development purposes; 1 converted
YF8U-1E or YF-8B F8U-1 converted into prototype of the F8U-1E; 1 converted
F8U-1E or F-8B Production model of the improved F8U-1 with limited all-weather capability and radar; 130 built
F8U-1D or DF-8A F8U-1 airframes converted into target drone directors
F8U-1KD or QF-8A F8U-1 airframes converted into target drones
YF8U-1P or YRF-8A Prototype of a photo-reconnaissance model
F8U-1P or RF-8A Production reconnaissance model carrying no weapons but fitted with a camera bay located in the forward fuselage
XF8U-1T/F8U-1T/TF-8A Two-seat operational trainer
YF8U-2 or YF-8C Flight test aircraft converted from F8U-1 airframes; 2 converted
F8U-2 or F-8C Upgraded all-weather fighter with a new engine; 187 built
YF8U-2N or YF-8D Development aircraft
F8U-2N or F-8D Production model with an improved engine, increased fuel load, and upgraded armament; 152 built
XF8U-2NE Development aircraft
F8U-2NE or F-8E Production mutli-role attack fighter with an improved engine, new radar, and underwing pylons for up to two AGM-12 Bullpup missiles; 286 built
F8U-3 Evaluation aircraft that competed against the F-4 Phantom II, featured a new engine, redesigned engine inlet, and the ability to fire the Sparrow missile; 5 built
F-8E(FN) Version of the F-8E sold to the French Navy with an improved high-lift wing design; 48 built
DF-8F F-8A airframes re-built as target drone directors
RF-8G RF-8A airframes refurbished with a stronger structure, ventral fins, and a new engine; 73 converted
F-8H F-8D airframes re-built with a stronger structure and blown flaps
F-8J F-8E airframes re-built with a stronger structure and blown flaps; 136 converted
F-8K F-8C airframes re-built with a stronger structure and blown flaps; 87 converted
F-8L F-8B airframes re-built with a stronger structure and blown flaps; 61 converted
F-8M Rebuilt model
F-8P French aircraft upgraded to "prolong" service use until the Rafale M was ready to replace them

KNOWN COMBAT RECORD: Vietnam War (USN, USMC, 1965-1972)

KNOWN OPERATORS: France, Aéronautique Navale (French Naval Air Arm)
Philippines, Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas (Philippine Air Force)
United States (US Marine Corps)
United States (US Navy)


F-8 Crusader

  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 358-359.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 900.
  • Isby, David C. Jane's Fighter Combat in the Jet Age. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, p. 187.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 242-243.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Spohrer, Jennifer. Jane's Combat Simulations: USNF '97 Users Manual. San Mateo, CA: Electronic Arts, 1996, p. 8.17-8.18.
  • Winchester, Jim. Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2005, p. 248-249, Vought XF8U-3.

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