4 thoughts on “Infographic: U.S. Navy Fighters 1917 – 2010”

  1. Nice picture. Glad to see loads of interesting aircraft. Here are some ones that never got into production that I like.

    Grumman F12F
    The F11F with a J79 engine. Surprised everyone by hitting Mach 2, almost half again as fast as expected. The Navy turned it down but Switzerland looked at it. (In fact the Navy was not exactly overwhelmed by the F11F itself.) The Swiss eventually decided on the Mirage III. This decision is usually credited to cost but there was more to than that. They needed a highly maneuverable fighter – a reasonable request if one’s airspace includes the Alps. Dassault offered the canard equipped Mirage IIIS. France also allowed a requirement that the US would not: complete blueprints sufficient to allow production of the aircraft in Switzerland in case of another European war. These blueprints would eventually get smuggled to Israel, resulting in the Kfir family.

    Vought F8U-3
    I love the way the Crusader III looks – deep fuselage to hold a J75, 2D air inlet, all those extra winglets. The dash 3 competed against the F4H for the fleet defense role but in the end the Navy wanted 2 seats and 2 engines. The Crusader itself was a fine aircraft and served well in Vietnam and also in the French Navy until nearly the end of 1999. The four M-39 20mm cannon hit harder with better range and accuracy than the M-61 (which the F-4 would not have for years yet anyway) and had a long term rate of fire not much worse. (The Vulcan had to cool between bursts.) The Crusader was the only aircraft to carry the AIM-9D, the SAR version of the Sidewinder.

    Convair YF2Y-1
    The importance of naval airpower – and the vulnerability of aircraft carriers – both became clear during WW2. Among the various schemes to provide airpower without carriers was the Sea Dart, a seaplane jet fighter. Not the first example of that breed but surely the most advanced. Test pilots reported that it worked very well even in rough seas. The twin-engine -2 became the world’s first (and only) supersonic seaplane. It may seem like a very odd idea today but under the McNamara scheme of 1962 the designation F-7 was reserved for a possible production version. In the late 1960s, when paranoia about possible nuked airfields pervaded Europe, Lockheed offered an alternative to the usual VTOL solution. Their proposal looked a lot like the Sea Dart.

    Grumman XF10F
    The first swing wing aircraft to receive a production contract. But this was canceled before any deliveries when the Korean War ended. The actuator mechanism was located inside the fuselage. The ‘glove’ technique pioneered on the F-111 allowed a stronger airframe and wasted less internal volume. Note: The Bell X-5 was the first swing wing to fly but was experimental, not production. It was derived from the Messerschmitt P.1101, which never flew and did not receive a production contract.

    Another aircraft worthy of mention that did go into service.

    Curtiss F8C
    The F8C Falcon biplane was flown by the Navy while the Marines called their variant the O2C Helldiver, the first in a series of like named dive bombers. Examples of this aircraft have been seen on film by millions taking off from Floyd Bennett Field NAB with the Manhattan skyline in the background. Models of it are then seen buzzing around the Empire State Building. Yes, this is the airplane that killed King Kong….no wait…it was Beauty killed the Beast. 😉

    Thus endeth sog’s trivia spew for today.

    1. You are correct, brad. When that wastegate in my turbo-brain opens, results are sometimes randomized.

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