Chance-Vought RF-8G "Crusader"

The Chance-Vought RF-8G “Crusader” is a supersonic US Navy jet, the reconnaissance version of the F-8 “Crusader” Navy fighter. Originally known as the F8U until 1962 when the Defense Department standardized military aircraft designations, the F-8’s wings pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing. As the last fighter jet to be armed with cannons as their primary weapon, the F-8 earned the nickname “Last of the Gunfighters.”

Designed simultaneously with the F8U at the Vought plant in Dallas, Texas, the F8U-1P photo-reconnaissance version had a redesigned nose and forward section for camera stations. The first F8U-1P “Photo” Crusader, later known as the RF-8A, made its initial flight in December 1957, with five cameras in place of the four 22mm Colt cannons. In 1965-66, the RF-8G replaced the RF-8As with strengthened wings, ventral fins, fuselage reinforcement, a new navigation system, and improved camera station installations. The photo reconnaissance versions of the Crusader served long after the fighter version retired.

Did you know?

The Crusader won the Collier Trophy in 1957 as the first operational carrier-based fighter capable of speeds exceeding 1,000 mph.

John Glenn made the first supersonic transcontinental flight in an F8U-1P (RF-8A) on 16 July 1957 averaging 732.5 mph -- even after slowing down three times to refuel!

The RF-8’s low-altitude photo coverage of Soviet missiles in Cuba proved vital in helping to end the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. 

About our Aircraft

Rescued from the boneyard in Tucson, Arizona by the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation, our RF-8G “Crusader”, 146882, began life as an F8U-1P and came off the Vought assembly line as the 125th photo Crusader. After an extensive restoration by the Vought Aircraft Heritage Volunteers, the RF-8G enjoys a place of prominence on the floor of the Museum’s Main Gallery. It is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. 
RF-8G Nose
Video Credit: US Navy F8U-1P "Crusader" Reconnaissance Aircraft Familiarization Film, Uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm, 2015.