The F-8 Crusader (designated F8U until the standardization of aircraft designations in 1962 made it the F-8) made its maiden flight on March 25, 1955.
The Crusader achieved almost instant acclaim with its speed. On August 21, 1956, Commander Robert W. “Duke” Windsor reached 1,015.428 M.P.H. over a 15-kilometer course at Naval Ordnance Test Station China Lake, California. This mark, for which he received the Thompson Trophy, marked the first time an operationally-equipped U.S. aircraft exceeded 1,000 M.P.H.
Chance Vought, the company that built the F-8, had a reputation for unique designs for aircraft beginning with the inverted gull winged F4U Corsair and continuing with the tailless F7U Cutlass. The Crusader featured its own unique design aspect in the form of a variable incidence wing.
Crusaders flew their first combat missions triggering cameras instead of weapons. The RF-8A variant made photoreconnaissance flights over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. RF-8As also logged these missions flights throughout the Vietnam War. In the fighter configuration, Crusader pilots were part of the first strikes against North Vietnam and flew combat missions throughout the war, credited with the downing of 18 enemy MiGs in air-to-air combat.
The Museum’s Aircraft:
F-8A (Bureau Number 145347) made deployments on board USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42) while assigned to the VF-11 Red Rippers. Accessioned into the museum’s collection in 1971, it is painted in the markings of the VF-24 Red Checkerboards, a squadron credited with 4 MiG kills over North Vietnam.