COURTESY: CHANCE VOUGHT F8U-1E CRUSADER PROJECT N37TB U.S. NAVY BUREAU NUMBER: 145527 CONTRACT NUMBER: 057187 THUNDERBIRD AVIATION SERIAL NUMBER: A35-50
A Great opportunity to Purchase a RARE Supersonic Warbird!
The US Navy selected the Vought design in May 1953 and the first prototype flew in March 1955. Production started in September 1955 and the F8U-1E began production in September 1958 with the J57 P-4A engine, the Vought ejection seat, a new radar scanner, and a larger radome.
The Navy accepted the Crusader on 3 April 1959 at the Vought plant in Dallas, TX. The aircraft passed through Fleet Air Service Squadron (FASRON) 8 in Alameda on the way to assignment to VMF-232 “Red Devils” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay later in 1959. The Red Devils had just returned from a carrier tour and was changing from FJ-4s to the new Crusaders.
By 28 November 1959, the Crusader was taken over by FASRON 117 at NAS Barbers Point and the aircraft was soon on the way to Overhaul & Repair under the Bureau of Naval Weapons Fleet Readiness (O&R BUWEPS FR) at San Diego. A special rework began on 8 January 1960 and then an overhaul on 9 March. The aircraft was ready for test flight by 22 June and was available for assignment by 5 August. The next move was to Alameda on 31 August 1960 before assignment to VMF-251 “Thunderbolts” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Atsugi on 6 October 1960.
A short time later, on 1 January 1961, the Crusader was transferred to VMF-312 “Checkerboards” at NAS Atsugi. This squadron did carrier qualification work on the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) in early March 1961. After qualifications and back in Japan, the squadron provided 2 Crusaders for 5-minute ready alert for the defense of local air space with several aircraft scrambled, though no interceptions were made. VMF-312 transferred to the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) on 28 March for a 3-week tour off Vietnam as part of Carrier Air Group 2 (CAG-2). The squadron flew combat air patrol over the fleet during the Laotian Crisis. No actual combat missions were flown. At the end of April 1961, VMF-312 flew to the CORAL SEA operating in the South China Sea and, again, flew combat air patrol as part of CAG-14. Another round of carrier qualifications took place aboard the USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) in early October 1961.
On 9 January 1962, the Crusader accompanied VMF-312 as it transferred to MCAS El Toro. The Department of Defense renamed military aircraft later that year and the Crusader became an “F-8B” on 30 November 1962.
A year later, the Crusader rejoined VMF-232 at Kaneohe Bay on 6 November 1963. The next assignment was to VMFAW-122 “Crusaders” at El Toro on 22 May 1965. This squadron was just back from a deployment to Japan where the squadron’s Crusaders had been left. It was in transition to the F-4, but continued to operate some Crusaders.
A short time later, on 27 July 1965, the Crusader was transferred to NAS Olathe for use in post-student training; probably with the Marine Corps Air Reserve. The Crusader could have been with VMF-113 “Whistling Devils” at first and then would have been with VMF-215 “Fighting Corsairs” after 22 October 1965 when the former squadron was deactivated.
The aircraft underwent a special rework and repair starting 4 May 1967 at NAS North Island Coronado. From there, it was assigned to VMFAW-212 “Lancers” at Kaneohe Bay on 24 June 1967.
A little less than a year later, on 22 May 1968 the Crusader was transferred to VMFAW-235 “Death Angels” at MCAS Iwakuni. This squadron had just completed a 2nd tour in Vietnam and swapped F-8Es for F-8Bs, like the Crusader, in Japan. The Death Angels were the last Marine Corps. unit to fly the Crusader. The squadron transferred to Kaneohe Bay on 20 June 1968.
The Crusader was assigned next to VF-194 “Red Lightnings” aboard the USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) off San Francisco on 27 September 1968. The ORISKANY had just completed an overhaul and VF-194 pilots used F-8Bs for training before receiving F-8Js for the squad
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