We Love Crusaders
THE STORY Of THE PHOTO-CRUSADER: INFORMATION, OUR HOBBIES, BOOKS, PILOT STORIES, MUSEUM RESTORATIONS, & ART
Updated August 14, 2016
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Click photo to enlarge picture
Click Photo to enlarge
Click here to see a large detail of Mad's RF-8G BuNo 146897from VFP-63's 1971Midway detachment. Lt. Cdr. Scott Ruby came up with the color scheme. It was lost in an operational accident 6/9/81 aboard the USS Independence (VFP-63 Det 4--pilot Lt j.g. R. Wright ejected.)
Art Courtesy Mads Bangsø
About the artist: Mads is from Denmark and offers his art for sale. He will custom make his rendition to your specifications. Click here to see a collection of his art: http://www.aviationgraphic.com/65_mads-bangso
"You can take the boy out of the Crusader
But you can't take the Crusader out of the boy." --anonymous
"I flew Vigi's and A-4's as well, all fun. But I don't think there's a pilot alive
who flew F-8's who won't say that was the most fun to fly.
I considered it the "Harley Davidson" of airplanes."
John "Lightnin" Davison VFP-63
"I'd make a deal with the Devil if I could just go back and fly either one
[RF-4C & RF-8G] again for just a little while!"
Jim "Mugs" Morgan Col USAF Ret.
RF-8 Crusader Photo Gallery
- Internal Link to: RF-8 Photo Gallery -Photos submitted by our guests.
- RF8 Photo Crusader with a sidewinder missile attached!!
- "Two Sader" - The Two seat Crusader
- Look into the cockpit of a photo Crusader
"The RF8A was a marvelous machine and a good friend for many years."
J.J. Olsen, Cdr USN (Ret)
Finale of the Crusaders
Pilots Remember the Crusader, Last Rides and Other Memories
- Pilot's Memories of the RF8 & F8 Crusader: Finale of the Crusaders
- Photos of the last RF-8s at Davis Monthan (AMARC) "Bone Yard"
- Pilots remember the two seat Crusader, "The 2Sader".
"Two of the best fighter's in my log book had wings that moved, one up and down, one forward and aft. -- Jerry Merritt
Click photo to enlarge. Art by: Stéphan GARNAUD
Drawing of a Crusader RF-8A Det.65 on USS Enterprise 02/08/1964 - 10/03/1964
Med, World Cruise "Operation Sea Orbit".
To see more of Stephan's aircraft art, click on: Artwork Navy
Restoration of VFP-62 RF-8 Crusaders
The History and Restoration of RF8 Bureau Number 145645
- Project Crusader: The Story of RF-8 BuNo 145645:-Marines, VFP-62, VFP-63, Davis Monthan (Bone Yard) & exhibit at Battleship Park, Mobile AL
The Restoration of RF-8G Bureau Number 145609
Project Save Crusader: The Story of RF-8 BuNo 145609:-Marines, VFP-62, VFP-63, VMCJ-3, VMJ-4, Davis Monthan (Bone Yard) & exhibit at National Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola, Florida
"It means a lot to this old sailor to see the Chance Vaught Reconnaissance Crusader receive such recognition. She was indeed a truly remarkable aircraft." --James A. Bremner PHC USN(ret) VFP-63
Other Photo Crusaders Being Restored
Or in Museums
- (1/20/15):Have been working with the Lexington Museum in Corpus. They have agreed to go for an RF8 for display on the boat. They will soon be putting in an official request for the loan of a bird with the powers to be in Pensacola. Assuming it will be approved, I will be meeting with Rusty - the curator of the museum - at D-M, probably some time in March, to pick a bird. Once we have a bird on deck,
I will be leading a fund raising effort to help off-set the cost of getting it to Corpus. The most likely date is 21 March, coincides with my trip to Mariner Spring Training.
Scott Ruby (VFP-63 pilot)
- (2/13/13)Here is a couple of pictures of the next RF-8 (146858) that is to be restored. I am working with Pete Clayton to get this done. If everything goes well, it will be put on display on the Hornet in Alameda. Hopefully, it will be moved there on or about December 2012. Will eventually start a fund raising effort to get it done. Got a quote from a trucking company of $3,200 - using two trucks - to move the birdfrom Miramar to Alameda. Only covers travelling expenses. Actual labor costs are donated to the effort. This is the same company that moved the Merced bird from Edwards to Merced. Doing this out of their appreciation for the military. A good company.---Scott Ruby, VFP-63 pilot
Update (Oct 9, 2012): We are making steady progress on 146858. In August and September we concentrated on the fuselage. Most of the loose and damaged paint is gone. There is virtually no corrosion. This is a rock solid aircraft. Both stabs and both outer wing panels have been recovered from UCSD and are in storage.
Anyone know why it was taken out of service on KITTY HAWK?
- Her aircraft history card shows she was aboard FDR in late 1969 thru mid-1970. Then went to Det 1 aboard HANCOCK from 1971 thru 1975 - making four cruises in CV-19; then Det 2 aboard JFK in 1978; then Det 4 aboard AMERICA in 1979; then Det 1 on KITTY HAWK in 1981
- went to Davis-Monthan in May 1982 with 5975 flight hours and 513 arrested landings. Apparently was stricken in Dec 1985.
Pete Clayton (email@example.com --- modern day Gator fixer)
RANGER CHENG 1989-1992
[Webmaster: Besides VFP-63, this RF-8 served with VMCJ-3 & VC-7]
Photo Courtesy Don KuehlClick on photos to enlarge
RF-8 (BuNo 146898) that had been damaged by hurricane Katrina in Mobile, Alabama was returned to the National Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA) in Pensacola, Florida and was being considered for use as a ground target at Egland AFB. This particular airplane was part of the initial contingent of aircraft to fly over Laos in 1964 with VFP-63. In addition to multiple carrier cruises with the Navy, it also served with Marine squadron VMJ-4 at Navy Dallas from 1969-1971.
[The aircraft went through LTV and received the P-420 engine and some other avionics updates and then continued in service with VFP-306 until September of 1984 when I delivered the plane to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. With the P-420 engine the plane would go supersonic in basic engine thrust in straight and level flight.
This plane will arrive in Fort Worth TX on the 29 Dec. '08. It has been loaned to the
the Veterans Memorial Air Park at Meacham International Airport. The group will restore 146898 and repair the damage from the storm that hit battleship park in Mobil AL. --Gary Riese]
RF-8 #146898 was built in 1960. This Photo Crusader served with Navy squadrons VCP-63, VFP-63, VFP-306 and Marine squadron VMJ-4. It made cruises aboard the USS Lexington, Hancock, Ranger and possibly others.
For more information on Fort Worth Veteran's Memorial Air Park, Click here for their Website: http://www.veteransmemorialairpark.com/ they have a link to some photos of #146898 and other aircraft at the park.
More Information to follow:
- Update: 1/9/09: The restoration planning is leaning toward VFP-63 on one side. VMCJ-4 on the other.
- Update: 2/28/09: I am looking for any photos, spotting reports, that you might have of this aircraft. Especially of interest would be her time with VMJ-4 with 7K, MD, MJ
tailcodes, but all others welcome.
I am looking for modex/side number information for possible paint schemes after restoration.
In addition, photos would be welcome that we could print and display.
I made a similar request about two years ago, well before the jet arrived and got a few
VFP-306 photos for which I am thankful for. Now hoping that someone will have information from the VMJ-4 and VFP-63 years.
[Webmaster's Note: contact Bill Spidel: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Update 2/19/13: Progress on 898 is slow. Other projects for one reason or another have taken precedence but he airplane is near and dear to us all. The folks at the Vought Heritage group gave us a leg up on the restoration and we are planning to put some of the pieces back together. One of our projects was laying a pad for a place to store and work on aircraft. We have made lots of progress the last few months so 898 may be moving up the list before long.
The park is in negotiations for a RF-8 simulator in a 40-foot trailer. Vought Retirees had finished repairing the aft section and it was returned to Fort Worth. --Jim Hodgson
Update (8/30/13):My name is Chip Bulkeley; I am the Director of Maintenance (Preservation & Restoration) for Veterans Memorial Air Park at Meacham Field in Fort Worth, Texas. We have an RF-8 that we are restoring and need reference material (NATOPS, MIM's, etc.) for the project.
Could you direct me toward online sources?
Thanks, Chip Bulkeley
- Update 4/2/15: Restoration Completed: Loaned to Frontiers of Flight Museum, Love Field, Dallas, TX
Vought (XF-8A) XF8U-1 Bu No 138899Vought (XF-8A) XF8U-1 (Bu. No. 138899) Crusader(1/23/12): The First Crusader Being restored at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA. Contributed by Scott Ruby, VFP-63
[Update May 18]EXTERNAL LINK to the Boeing Museum of Flight Restoration Facility at Paine Field in Everett, WA, where: The very first Crusader (XF8U-1) is undergoing restoration - courtesy Dave Johnson, F8 pilot
- UPDATE (1/20/15)We're nearing the completion of the project at Paine Field and the XF8U-1 is slotted to go to the Museum of Flight's covered air park after its completion. The XF8U-1 Crusader has been on display at one event so far the "Vintage Aircraft Weekend Event" at John Sessions' Historic Flight Museum and in conjunction with Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Museum. The XF8U-1 also made the centerfold of the Aloft Magazine.
Craig C Wall, USAF retired
- Update (11/11/13): I'm now a full time employee at the MOF restoration center and I'm full time on the XF8U-1! Finally I'm able to give her 100% full attention! It was on hold because I had other projects going and could only spend my spare time on BUNO 899. The Main Museum wants her, who wouldn't?! So now it's a priority and I'm getting help as well as a budget!
I will keep you up to date on all the progress. It will be accurately restored to its original configuration on its maiden flight!
Please keep all the Crusader guys informed as well I appreciate it. They deserve to see #1 in all her glory! The Last of the Gunfighting Mig Masters will never die!!!
[Webmaster: Here is a contact email to show your appreciation: Craig Wall: USAF retired, Museum of flight structural and design engineer ---Contributed by Dave Johnson]
- VFP-206 RF-8G Bu No 146860: The last official RF-8G flight was flown by Dave Strong on 30 March, 1987, from Andrews out to Dulles where it would be inducted into the Museum which had not even been built yet---the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum at Dulles Int'l in Chantilly, VA has the RF-8G Crusader on display there today.
This RF-8G was the last operational Navy Crusader .
Delivered as an F8U-1P, Served with the US Marine Corps in Asia and flew over 400 combat sorties.
Squadrons flown by: VMCJ-3, VC-7, and VFP-206.
- (8/13/16) Greg Engler (VFP-62 AT2) sends us a great Video with Music
link: Smithsonian Udvar Hazy RF-8G Exhibit To see more of Greg's Crusader links, go to "Latest Site Updates" for more information.
The Restoration of RF-8G Bu. No. 145607 at Castle Air Museum
RF-8G 145607 was moved by road from Edwards AFB to the restoration hangar at Castle Air Museum (CAM), Atwater, CA. A small volunteer crew from the museum dismantled it. The airplane was complete except for the cameras and has very little visible corrosion. The restorers had to look for three new tires as they were completely shot. Click to see: Moving RF-8G to CAM -Contributed by: J.J. McKenna
Click this link to follow : The restoration story of RF-8G 145607
- Update: 7/11/10--RF-8G BuNo 144617: The Marine Photo Crusader is on display at the MCAS Miramar museum. It is in rough condition according to LCDR Tad Riley and in need of some TLC. The tail markings indicate it was last attached to VMCJ-3. It was also assigned to NADC and VFP-206.
- Question: "Have Crusaders been restored to flyable condition?"
Sit in the Cockpit of the Last U.S. Crusaders
Told by Those Who Flew It
"...the mouths of the young F-14 jocks hanging open,
with whispers of 'What the hell was THAT?'
as the burner lit...they were all in awe."
- As told by those who flew: Thunderbird Aviation's Restored F8's-Courtesy of "F8 Community blog"
"The modern Navy is a much safer way to make a living than the one 40 years ago, I think the public needs to know about the people and aircraft that led to our modern force.
-- Kent Kaiser, son of CDR Dean E. Kaiser"
Of all the planes [F8, F4, F14] I flew, the F-8 was my favorite - Cress Bernard
Interesting Crusader EXTERNAL LINKS
The French Navy Crusaders
Update (1/7/14): Vinnie Zabicki provided the above photo with the message: "The photo is of the French F8 which I worked on at Pax river Naval Air Test Center (service test division). Jacob (Willie) Wilson [former VFP-62 electrician] and a crew from VF-174 were sent to France (aboard a French carrier) to help train French sailors."
(7/18/13) Video of: First French Navy Crusader Carrier Ops Interesting views from under the Crusader as it is launched. Also read the history beneath the video. Turn up your speakers!--Via F8 Community Blog
- (9/1/14): VIDEO F-104 & Two French F8s Give an Airshow Very good quality and a good look at two great aircraft.
- EXTERNAL LINK: The sole French Naval Aviation fighter for 35 years -- French Navy Carrier ops
- (10/28/15) Early French Carrier Ops---some with belly-mounted cameras Via Barrett Tillman
- (1/22/15) Good Video French carrier Flight Ops with F8s
- Click to read an interesting account describing: Vietnam: The first supersonic war---the RF-4 photo-Phantom and the Crusader --The article describes some of the eight Vietnam-era military aircraft on display at the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum.
- (2/21/13)Youtube 42-minute Discovery Channel documentary: "Last of the Gunfighters" Circa 1964 Vietnam footage. Turn Speakers up and go to full screen.
"It doesn't mention that the F-8 eventually was capable of 1.8 Mach (the only Navy jet of my era that got faster and more productive as it aged).
The documentary describes the Air to Ground capability with Zunis, but does not mention 500 [and 2,000] pound bombs.
There are a few clips of Hal Loney. Hal, Ron Evans, (some others I don't remember) were transitioning to the F-8 in VF-124 in August 64, before joining our Squadrons in October. Ron and I became Admin officers in sister squadrons VF-51 & VF-53 aboard USS Ticonderoga, Did not know until it happened, that Ron Evans became an Astronaut and circled the moon while Gene Cernan walked on the moon(Apollo 17). Don't know where Hal Loney ended up."--- Contributed by: Marlo Holland (F8 Community Forum)
- (1/29/12): YouTube video..F-8 Crusader vs. F-4 Phantom Dogfight at early Top Gun
- Crusader stats, pictures, & squadron member messages:AeroWeb - RF-8G Contributed by Ernie Halley
- Interesting site on F8 flight testing:
Crusader High Altitude Tests - -Marines, aircraft, & interesting links and stories. Contributed by Walt Quist
- An interesting story of the first "Fly-by-Wire" development:
F8 "Fly-by-Wire" test plane Using electronics and wires to control an aircraft was tested in the F8 Crusader. Contributed by Walt Quist
- EXTERNAL VIDEO LINK - The Flying Stove Pipe: RF-8G take off and landing It is in .mp4 format. You have to have Realplayer or Windows Media Player to see this. The site has: -Many Videos of Other Military Aircraft. Contributed by: Ernie Halley
Jerry Nolan adds: "It was shot at NAS North Island. First scene shows a F-8 taking off from (I think) Rwy 18. You can see a C-121 Constellation and downtown buildings in the background. Last scene shows RF-8G BuNo 146890 landing on Rwy 29, you can see the Hotel Del Coronado in the background. Fresh paint and no squadron markings on 146890 - maybe the plane was being worked on at NARF."
- EXTERNAL VIDEO LINK: USS Shangri La CVA 38 Carrier Ops --Contributed: J.J. McKenna
- EXTERNAL VIDEO LINK: Look for the unusual RF-8 with no markings other than buno towards the end --Contributed: J.J. McKenna
"The F4 was an enormously capable aircraft but, in my experience,
there was never anything like the F8 for the pure joy of flying a beautiful airplane." --Bruce Martin
Flying Fast in the Crusader
Captain Lynn Helms USMC was the first Naval Aviator to
exceed 1000 MPH (June 1955). John Konrad received Crusader 1000 MPH Certificate Number 1. Lynn Helms
received Crusader 1000 MPH Number 2, dated 24 June 1955, signed by Paul
Thayer VP of Chance Vought. Duke Windsor received 1000 MPH Certificate
- EXTERNAL FILE: (Adobe .pdf Format) The early supersonic flights: Mach 1+ "The Dash" Great description of the first 1000 mph flights in the Crusader. A copyrighted article from Flight Journal; Contributed by Walt Quist & Dave Johnson
I had a brand new [F8-]2NE (as it was designated then) on its fourth flight. While in level flight it went to 1.98 IMN [indicated mach number] and was still accelerating when the chase pilot asked me my speed. He then told me to slow down as he had lost sight of me. It was still stable and I believe it would have made 2.0. After landing the chase said the limit was 1.9 due to canopy heating limits.---Jerry Kuechmann
Record Setting Flight in a F8U-1P by Maj. John Glenn USMC
- In 1957, before the F8U-1P became fleet operational I was part of the team at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland which conducted the Board of Inspection and Survey (BIS) trials on the F8U-1P. It was this aircraft which was flown by Maj. John Glenn in "Project Bullet." Maj. Glenn was, at that time assigned at NATC as a test pilot.
After that record setting flight was completed, the aircraft was
returned to the test team to continue the BIS Trials. Here's a link to a site that will give you more information about the project: [EXTERNAL LINK]Project Bullet
Some additional info about the BIS Trials of the F8U-1P. Prior to starting the tests the team flew down to Dallas and spent several days at the Chance Vought plant observing many of the manufacturing processes involved in building the Crusader and getting a briefing on the operation of the various aircraft systems. --Provided by Harold (Hap) Murphy PHCS USN(RET)
Webmaster's Note: The F8U-1P Maj. Glenn flew Project Bullet with was lost in an operational accident on 12/13/72 in the South China Sea, from VFP-63 Det. 34 on the USS Oriskany. LT. T. B. Scott was recovered.
For the Photo Pilot in Vietnam, supersonic was not greatly important but high subsonic was the key to long life there. Our mech's turned up the wick on the sleepy old J-57 when we went to the war and the usually fast RF-8G became very fast. The crew also waxed the wing and made it even faster. Running at 600 KIAS at 3500-5000' in MIL made it a great machine; anytime I got below 600 I bumped it back up with a little burner: very hard light at those speeds with welcome results, right back up to .99M in a hurry. ---Will Gray (VFP-63 67-70, 72-75, & 80)
"THE SPEED RUN"
Getting Max Speed out of the "Gator"
by Ron (Astro) Knott
- As an IP at VF-174 I briefed the speed run many times. As I recall the
following procedures were used to get max speed out of the ?Gator.? This
was over 40 years ago so I will tell it like I remember. Corrections are
Before the flight we would contact metro logy to find out
the altitude of isothermal layer on that day. Isothermal process is a
change in which the temperature of the system stays constant. It varies
from day to day but is usually in the 40,000 range. An average
reduction value of 3°F per 1000ft is commonly used up to the isothermal
layer. For some reason, unknown to me, this was the best altitude to get
the highest speed out of the ?Gator.? And as I recall this altitude was
usually between angels 37 to 42 [37000 - 42000 ft] on most days.
The student and instructor
would climb to angels 50, cruise droops in, slipping along at .96 M or
better. Next procedure was to plug in the stereo [After Burner] and genteelly ?0?
g downhill to the isothermal layer altitude. Hopefully, you would
accelerate above 1.35 Mach (the high drag area) on the high dive. We
would level off at the isothermal layer and start a slow climb (1000
fpm) back up to the mid 40?s and leveling off accelerating slowly to max
speed. Remember we had a 5 minute max time on the burner.
If you had a clean and powerful bird you could easily reach 1.7 to 1.86
(max speed) on this run which was well above 1000 MPH. If you got less
than 1.35M on the downhill run the top speed would be reduced
We also briefed that at the end of the speed run for the
student to come out of burner and apply a 4 g turn. As you will remember
there was no buffet at all when pulling g?s supersonic in the F-8.
However, when the bird went from supersonic to transonic to subsonic the
shock wave traveled forward allowing the UHT to become much more
effective. This 4 g turn instantly turned into a 6 or 7 g turn and the
AC would normally depart rapidly to the opposite direction of the turn.
(Remember the cruise droops were in giving less lift as well.) The
student would leave helmet paint on both sides of the canopy after such
a rough departure.
Not only was this a max speed run it was also a great
demonstration of the high speed departure action of the F-8.
Several AC would accelerate beyond the 1.86 M but that was not allowed
according to the hand book. Of course many went up to the 2.0 M number
so I was told. ?Those were the day my friend.?
[Webmaster's note: This was excerpted from the F8 Community web site, where pilot chat frequently brings up these interesting stories]
. . .the company [Chance Vought Aircraft] was disappointed with the max speed obtained in the first test plane(s); something around 1.4 mach. Then they "coked" [Coke bottle shaped] the fuselage a bit just behind the cockpit and dramatically improved the speed. Again if memory serves me, they could obtain 1.9 mach in a slight dive adding a little "G" force for stability.
Later, I had an F8U-2 just out of maintenance check and after performing the check items, decided to see how fast it could go. Straight and level, altitude in the high 40s [40,000+ ft.], the mach meter read 1.85 (close to 1200 mph), but the nose began to "hunt and peck" and the canopy got hot to the touch. Fear and common sense made me back off at that point.---Dick Murdock (VF-124)
(2/1/14):. . .I flew production test flights for NARF, PAR, O&R, out of NORIS for a couple of years. Every test flight required a speed run. The fastest that I was able to get a reworked F8 was an F8D (F8U-2N), to 1.95 imn. As described earlier, the nose began to twitch in yaw, which I always attributed to the vacuum tube stabilization systems, and a few stray electrons. One certainly did not want to lose the yaw stab at that sort of speed! I have read also that others managed to get the photo birds up to high speed. My experience with the original engined, F8U-1's, -1E's, -1P's was that the P-4A engine would drive the the RF8A or G to about 1.45 imn max. The F8A's and B's could reach between 1.6 imn and low 1.7 imn. The F8C with the P-16 was the best flying airframe, with a maximum speed of about 1.8 imn. The F8D was the fastest, with the F8E just a bit slower. This was with the P-20 engine. Because of the radar improvement, the F8E seemed nose heavy and just that bit less maneuverable in a hassle. Good memories! Roger Crim
(2/1/14):Speaking of F8 speed runs, I can remember hitting 1.96 off Beaufort, SC in a clean (no rails) F8U-2 (F8C). It still had some oompf when the nose began to wander. The D's seemed to give up the ghost around 1.85. As for the F11's, in Kingsville I recall easing the nose down to get supersonic. Great days. Semper fi, Don Treichler
(2/1/14): I also had an acceptance hop in a new 2NE while in VF 174. Clean bird, no racks or rails, hit 1.98 and had NAS Glynco ground speed me at 1196mph. Mac McCarthy
And then there was...
The Super-Sader (F8U-3)
Mach 3 prototype at Edwards (Click picture to enlarge) - Contributed by John Sees)
" Above Mach 2 the thrust required and the thrust available diverged, and therefore the faster you went the faster you went.!!!!" - Hal Vincent
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