All Things Aviation
F-8E Crusader Scale: 1/48 scale model Wing Span: 9.875 inches Length: 16 inches The Vought F-8E, also known as the F8U-2NE, was the definitive production variant of the Crusader series of aircraft. Widely known as “The Last Gunfighter”, the Crusader was a highly innovative aircraft for the time in which it was developed, featuring a variable-incidence wing that extended out of the fuselage by 7 degrees during takeoff and landing, allowing for a greater AoA that increased lift at low speeds. The F-8 also featured leading-edge slats, an area-ruled fuselage, an all moving stabilator, dog-tooth wings for increased yaw stability, and of course, four 20mm cannon that earned the Crusader the distinction of being the last US fighter designed around gun armament as the main weapon. The first F-8 Crusader took to the air on March 25th, 1955, with VX-3 being the first unit to receive the type in late ‘56. The F-8E was the final production variant, and differed from previous versions on account of its improved APQ-94 radar that afforded it all-weather capability compared to its mainly day-fighter only predecessors. The F-8E also offered a greater air-to-ground capability, which was increasingly relevant during its service in Vietnam. Carrier trials of the F-8E occurred in 1963, with production ending in mid-1964. Vought would go on to improve the aircraft during its service life, adapting it to various use cases and military needs, primarily by converting the F-8E into the F-8J via a more powerful engine, wet pylons, and a new radar. The Crusader also saw usage in foreign militaries, especially with the French Aéronavale, who used a slightly modified version of the F-8E to suit their air superiority needs.