The Fort Worth Aviation Museum’s Vought F8U-1P – later redesignated a RF8-G — Crusader, Navy Bureau of Aeronautics No. 146898, was built in 1960 in Grand Prairie, Texas. The aircraft was both delivered to and accepted by the Navy on February 26, 1960.

Its first assignment began on March 4, 1960, with Light Photographic Squadron SIXTY-THREE, VCP-63, “Cameras Unlimited” NAS Miramar, California. This squadron used the tailcode “PP” and the aircraft was number “901.” This and other aircraft in the squadron served on smaller detachments when an entire squadron of photo reconnaissance aircraft was not needed. These detachments all performed the same job just in varying locations. On October 26, 1960, this aircraft was assigned to Detachment L from this squadron and boarded the USS Lexington for a Western Pacific Cruise (October 1960-June 1961). They returned to NAS Miramar on June 8, 1961. The squadron designation was changed to Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron SIXTY-THREE, VFP-63, “Eyes of the Fleet” on July 19, 1961. The squadron tailcode remained “PP.”

On November 1, 1961, the aircraft joined Detachment F of VFP-63 and was assigned to the USS Lexington for a Western Pacific Cruise (November 1961-May 1962). They returned to NAS Miramar on May 16, 1962. On November 30, 1962, the aircraft was redesignated as an RF-8A. On May 9, 1963, the aircraft was assigned to Detachment L at NAS Miramar. On August 31, 1963, this detachment deployed joined the USS Hancock for part of its Western Pacific Cruise (June 1963-January 1964).

The aircraft returned to NAS Miramar on December 19, 1963. On July 8, 1964, the aircraft joined Detachment M of VFP-63 at Miramar. Detachment M deployed on the USS Ranger for a Western Pacific / Vietnam Cruise (August 1964-May 1965). On May 11, 1965, the aircraft was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Weapons Representative at the Dallas NAS. This was very likely the office at Vought Aircraft, which is also located on that airfield.

On June 25, 1968, this aircraft returned to VFP-63 at NAS Miramar. On June 27, 1969, the aircraft joined the Marine Corps – Marine Reconnaissance Squadron FOUR, VMJ-4, at Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD), NAS Olathe, Kansas. On February 21, 1970, the aircraft returned to NAS Dallas when VMJ-4 relocated to the field and joined Marine Aircraft Group 41 (MAG-41). This was also a Marine Air Reserve unit. Tailcodes for the squadron were 7K (1967-1969), 5K (1969-1970), 5D (1970-1972), and MJ (1972-1973).

On January 5, 1975, the aircraft joined Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron THREE-HUNDRED SIX, VFP-306, “The Peeping Toms,” at NAF Washington DC, located at Andrews AFB. On December 9, 1975, the aircraft returned to VFP-63 at NAS Miramar. On June 15, 1976, the aircraft returned to VFP-306 at NAF Washington DC. On November 9, 1984, the aircraft was administratively removed from service after 24 years. At that time, it was the highest time RF-8 in the inventory.

It was made part of the collection of aircraft at the USS Alabama Memorial in Mobile, Alabama. In 2005 it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina and removed to National Naval Aviation Museum to be prepared for the bombing range at Eglin AFB. VMAP saved it from destruction, but the aircraft still needs restoration.

Locally, the aircraft was built and served here. Also, local noted aviator, Neil Anderson flew this aircraft while Commanding Officer of the Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD) at NAS Dallas. This aircraft is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum, in Pensacola, Florida. It arrived at the museum on December 29, 2008.

The tremendous photo record below is courtesy of the noted photographers and Robert L. Lawson Collection at the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Manufacturer:  Chance Vought Aircraft

Length:  54 feet, 3 inches

Wingspan:  35 feet, 8 inches

Height:  15 feet, 9 inches

Payload:  5,000 pounds of weapons

Empty Weight:  17,541 pounds

Loaded Weight:  29,000 pounds

Powerplant:  1 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A afterburning turbojet

Fuel Capacity:  1,325 US gallons

Max. Speed:  Mach 1.86 (1,225 mph)

Cruise Speed:  570 mph

Service Ceiling:  58,000 feet

Rate of Climb:  31,950 feet/minute


Internal Guns:  4 x 20mm (0.79 in) Cold Mark 12 cannons in lower fuselage, 125 rounds per gun

External Hardpoints:  2 x side fuselage mounted Y-pylons (for mounting AIM-9 Sidewinders and Zuni rockets) and 2x underwing pylon stations hold up to 4,000 pounds of payload.

Rockets:  2x LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4x 5-inch (127mm) Zuni rockets)

Missiles: Air to Air missiles  4x AIM-9 Sidewinders, Air to surface: 2x AGM-12 Bullpups

Bombs:  12x 250 pound Mark 81 bombs, or 8x 500 pound Mark 82 bombs, or 4x 1,000 pound Mark 83 bombs, or 2x 2,000 pound Mark 84 bombs

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