The Original photo-Crusader (Buno 141363) at Davis Monthan Bone Yard (no longer there---perhaps being restored?).
Built as an F8U-1 (fighter), it was cut apart by Vought Aircraft, new sections fabricated and the very first photo Crusader emerged.
VFP-62 CO, Mo Hayes, loved it, took it to the Med and said it was our best aircraft.----Cdr. Norm Green
Death without Dignity
RF-8s or F8's at Davis Monthan AFB "Bone Yard"
Return To: "RF8 Information" Page
Updated: September 29, 2014
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Saving the Remaining photo-Crusaders at Davis Monthan
As of April 23, 2012, there are four RF-8s (Bu Nos: 144614*, 144618**, 145633***, 146845****) remaining at the Davis Monthan [DM] facility [SEE PHOTOS BELOW]
---Scott Ruby, VFP-63 pilot
BUNO's 145633 and 146845 were originally scheduled for disposal, but htat has been stopped, thanks to my discussions with John Dunlap. the keeper of the birds at D-M. We have four years to do something with them. The USS Lexington group has yet to put in a request for one of them - don't know - yet -what the problem is.
There is a move afoot to drag the Ranger out of Bremerton, and use it as a museum, could be in Portland, Oregon. Have a problem getting it past a railroad bridge on the Columbia. We shall see. If I can get a committment out of the Lex group, I plan to go to the Crusader organization for a funding drive. Working with a gent called Pete Clayton who is working to get an RF8G that has been stored at Miramar for the Hornet museuem in Alameda. Pete is making good progress in getting this done. I apparently stired up a hornet's nest with the people in Pensacola [National Naval Aviation Museum] about trying to get these birds put on display somewhere. We shall see what happens.
*144614 VFP-206--DM 1/30/87
**144618 VFP-63--DM 4/15/82
***145633 VFP-62 #905 1966, VFP-63 , VMCJ-4, VFP-206--DM 3/27/87
****146845 VFP-63, VFP-306--DM 9/25/84
Problems/Challenges Involved with the RF-8 Rescue
Went down to D-M to look at the birds there. Good news and bad news. There are still four birds in storage there. That is the good news. The bad news is that two of them have been designated for destruction. I ended up talking to a gent named John Lucas. A good guy. He took me out to the birds, and I took a bunch of pictures.
In order to save the birds, a qualfied organization - museums are the best bet - have to put in a request for a bird to add to their inventory. There are three costs associated with getting a bird out on D-M:
- There is a prep charge, not sure how much yet, a charge for getting the bird ready for transportation, and shipping costs.
- We are looking for a cost of somewhere between $10,000 to $25,000 to get a bird to a final destination. The biggest cost seems to be the prep charge. This includes removal of all hazardous material, explosive materials such as the rocket seat if it has not been done so, and other expenses associated with getting it demilitarized.
- I got an arm wave from John, and will be looking into it further. The two birds designated for destruction were supposed to be hauled off within a week or two. I think I got John to delay the destruction until I can come up with a plan. John was on vacation this week, and I am going to get back to him requesting more definitive information.
- I have been talking to a gent named Rusty, who is the director for the Lex floating museum in Corpus, and he has expressed an interest in taking one of the birds. I need to have him put in a request to the Pensacola organization who own all the birds in D-M. Will keep you informed.
- Once I get my ducks in a row, I am going to the Crusader organization to see if I can get them interested in savings these birds. These are the last complete Crusaders left in existence in the US. I would like to find someone that lives in the Tucson area that can be the point man for the birds there. Also, someone in the Corpus area who can be the point man there.
- The biggest problem is going to be raising the money. I know Rusty has stated that the Lex group cannot afford to do it alone. A fund raiser will be required. The Crusader organization is figher pilot oriented. I do not know how much resistance I will get from it. We shall see. From 1964 through 1973, VFP-63 flew more combat sorties feet dry then any fighter squadron in the navy. 49 RF8 detachments took part in the fun and games there. That is the equivalent of 12-12 plane squadron deployments in a nine year period of time. Think about it. I will keep you informed as to the progress I am making.---Scott Ruby, VFP-63 pilot
A death without dignity. I got this satellite photo of the Davis-Monthan bone yard off Google Earth. It saddens me to see these valiant birds end up like this. Note the one with the forward cockpit chopped off (center front). I think that this is RF8 145608. The cockpit of this airplane was sent to the Pacific Coast Air Museum in California. The satellite photo seems to bear this out. The rest are, I assume, the remaining photo birds in the park. I think all of the fighters have been long destroyed by now.
Three more RF-8s or F8's in Bone Yard
Scott Scarborough Photos
"I recall with sadness the flight when I delivered the last F-8 to D/M [Davis Monthan] from NAF China Lake,
the last time I ever flew the F-8." --Dick Partridge
Jerry Nolan, former VFP-63 PT, adds:
I always enjoy the chance to do a little Photo Intel work, even if it's just for fun. I've attached a couple views I got off GoogleMaps last night [Feb 19, 2009] (see below)... showing the remaining RF-8's at Davis-Monthan. At least I think they're all that remain, I'm too lazy to PI the whole place.
The shot on the website [above] showing a row of 11 F-8's (one with chopped cockpit) is outdated. S-3 Vikings in white cocoons are in that location now. The F-14's are still there. [Webmaster's Note: The photos above are circa 2006]
A single F-8 (below) which I suspect is also a photo bird, I think BuNo 145645 was
parked near this plane before it went to the USS Alabama.
The Last (four?) RF-8 Crusaders at the Boneyard (AMARC)
Here are the three RF-8's from the other pic on the website [ground level pictures below], they've been sitting in the same place for a long time.
Three of Four RF-8Gs at AMARC And a second view [BELOW] of the three RF-8G 'Saders visible from the AMARG tour coach. Interesting that 145633's tail pipe is painted while the other two are natural metal.
I think there was also an RF-8G on 'Celebrity Row' however I could only take photos from one side of the coach as it was completely full so missed that one. Photo taken through the bus window on the 5th May 2008 - Michael Baldock. Contributed by: JJ McKenna
RF-8G BuNo 146845(squadron,tail code, air group/base,nose number, arrival year) -(VFP-63, PP, 923), (VFP-63, NP, 603, 1971), (VFP-306, *, 605, 1978) Retired to Davis-Monthan AFB on 9/25/1984. Photo: May 19, 2004: Copyright: Bill Spidle (approval requested). Contributed J.J. McKenna
RF-8G BuNo 145633-(squadron,tail code, air group/base,nose number, arrival year) (VFP-62, AJ, 905, 1966), VFP-63, NL, 712, 1967), (VMCJ-4, 5D, 42, 1971) Retired to Davis-Monthan AFB on 3/27/1987. Photo: May 19, 2004: Copyright: Bill Spidle (approval requested). Contributed J.J. McKenna
These are the three RF-8G Crusaders which are visible just beyond the entrance gate at the start of the Pima Museum's AMARG tour. IIRC the tour guide stated that they were taking part in some type of experiment which perhaps accounts for the small boxes on sticks to one side?
The center RF-8G is Bu.No 145633 which Fryer/Swann record as last operated by VFP-206 and retired in March 1987. The farthest RF-8G appears to be park coded 2F433 which would make her Bu.No 146845 last operated by VFP-306 as 'ND-604' retired in Sept 1984. Am unable to identify the RF-8G nearest the camera.
Photo taken through the bus window on the 5th May 2008 - Michael Baldock. Contributed by: JJ McKenna
"It really was an eerie feeling taxing through all of that history, and knowing that when I brought the throttle around the horn, she would never "breathe" again."
Regarding last F-8's to the bone yard. I flew the last F-8 fighter which was attached to an F-8 squadron to DM on my 30th birthday May 19, 1976. The Jet Journal did a big spread on it. It was a 211 plane with Skip Leonard's name on the side. There were other photo versions to go later
obviously, and I think some fighters from some of the test facilities.... I think it was Barry Gabler, in D.C., who had the last F-8 flight-- which was in a photo bird.
It was rumored that Turtle Redditt and Rattler Rucker climbed up on the top of the top gun offices, and came to full attention and full salute in honor of my takeoff from Miramar. Little did they know that I went on emergency T trim just after I lowered the wing, Which made the 550 kt break at DM a bit interesting. Had to put the old gal down in style. It really was an eerie feeling taxing through all of that history, and knowing that when I brought the throttle around the horn, she would never "breathe" again. --Track/Bubba Meyers
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The Bone Yard near Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona, USA
The 3rd largest Air Force in the world is sitting on the ground here.
Remember - Each one of these babies had a multimillion dollar price tag. For those of you that have never seen this, it is something to see. The precision in the way they are parked is impressive. It's difficult to comprehend the size of the 'Bone yard' and the number of aircraft stored there. Of course the important thing to remember is that they are all capable of being returned to service if the need ever arises.
If you are ever in the Tucson area, the weekly tours of the bone yard are still given through the Tucson Air Museum , located just south of Davis Monthan AFB. Both the museum and the bone yard are very popular attractions in the Arizona desert. It is difficult to comprehend the number of military
aircraft in dead storage until you see these photographs.
Even if you have seen this before, look again. The 3rd largest Air Force in the world is sitting on the ground here. Contributed by: Walt Quist
- The Bone Yard near Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. The third largest air force in the world: Davis Monthan Picture 1 -Click to see: Davis Monthan Picture 2 -Click to see: Davis Monthan Picture 3 - Contributed: Adam Miklovis
- A great EXTERNAL link:
Ground level Photos of all Aircraft at Davis Monthan --Submitted by Greg Engler
Return To: "Crusader Finale" Page
Created on ... May 19, 2006