Photography Magazine

Vought F8U-2 (F-8C) Crusader

By Htam

Pacific Coast Air Museum,  Vought F8U-2 (F-8C) Crusader 146995,

@ Santa Rosa, CA

December 2019

Among the aircraft on display at the Pacific Coast Air Museum is this Crusader, now subject to a second restoration effort.  Folks familiar with San Francisco might remember seeing this airframe in a local park (Larsen Park) being used as a play structure.  Flown into the park by helicopter in 1975, the cockpit was filled with concrete, a slide attached and the tailpipe replaced with corrugated tube for kids to crawl up into.  Rescued from the park in 1993 at the request of the US Navy, the Museum completed a major restoration in 1998.  Amazingly the original landing gear remained in decent shape despite being buried for all that time.

The Crusader was the last American fighter aircraft with guns as the primary weapon, earning it the title “The Last of the Gunfighters”.  Introduced in 1957, the type served until 1987 with the US Navy and as late as 1999 with the French Navy.  Visible here is the innovative variable-incidence wing which articulated 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing, creating a greater angle of attack to increase lift without compromising forward visibility.  After adoption of the Tri-Service aircraft designation system in September 1962, the F8U became the F-8.  Fuji X-E2s w/18-135mm.

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