Douglas F3D Skyknight
|F3D (F-10) Skyknight|
|An EF-10B Skyknight of VMCJ-2 Playboys|
|Manufacturer||Douglas Aircraft Company|
|First flight||23 March 1948|
|Status||Phased out of service|
|Primary users||United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
The Douglas F3D Skyknight, (later F-10 Skyknight) was a United States twin-engine, mid-wing jet fighter aircraft manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company in El Segundo, California. The F3D was designed as a carrier-based all-weather aircraft and saw service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. While it never achieved the fame of the North American F-86 Sabre, it did down several Soviet-built MiG-15s as a night fighter over Korea with only one air-to-air loss of its own against a Chinese MiG-15 on the night of 29 May 1953. It also served as an electronic warfare platform in the Vietnam War as a precursor to the EA-6A Intruder and EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft is sometimes unofficially called "Skynight", dropping the second "k".
Design and development
The F3D was not intended to be a typical sleek and nimble dogfighter, but as a stand off night fighter, packing a powerful radar system and second crew member. It originated in 1945 with a U.S. Navy requirement for a jet-powered, radar-equipped, carrier-based night fighter. The Douglas team led by Ed Heinemann designed around the bulky air intercept radar systems of the time, with side-by-side seating for the pilot and radar operator. The result was an airplane with a wide, deep, and roomy fuselage. Instead of ejection seats, an escape tunnel was used, similar to the A-3 Skywarrior.
Power was provided by two Westinghouse J34 turbojets mounted in the roots of then-standard straight wings of the early jet era. As a night fighter that was not expected to be as agile as smaller daylight fighters, the expectation was to be a stable platform for its radar system and the four 20 mm cannon mounted in the lower fuselage. The U.S. Navy awarded Douglas a contract for three XF3D-1 prototype aircraft on 3 April 1946. (The losing design from Grumman evolved into the F9F Panther.)
The radar system in the F3D-1 was the Westinghouse AN/APQ-35. The AN/APQ-35 was a combination of three different radars, each performing separate functions: an AN/APS-21 search radar, an AN/APG-26 fire control radar, both located in the nose, and an AN/APS-28 tail warning radar. The complexity of this vacuum tube-based radar system, which was produced before the advent of semiconductor electronics, required intensive maintenance to keep it operating fully.
First flight of the XF3D-1 occurred on 23 March 1948. A production contract for 28 F3D-1 production aircraft soon followed in June 1948. The F3D-1 was followed by the F3D-2, which was first ordered in August 1949. The F3D-2 was intended to have Westinghouse J46 engines in enlarged nacelles to replace the J34—WE-32 engines of the F3D-1. Development problems with the J46 led to the F3D-2 aircraft being fitted with J34-WE-36 engines instead. The F3D-2 also incorporated an improved Westinghouse AN/APQ-36 radar system. A total of 237 F3D-2s were built before production ended on 23 March 1952. A higher performance F3D-3 version with swept wings and J46 engines was planned, but was cancelled when the trouble-plagued J46 engine program was terminated.
The few F3D-1 aircraft were used primarily to train F3D crews and did not see combat. F3D-2 aircraft, however, saw extensive service during the Korean War and destroyed more enemy aircraft in Korea than any other Navy or Marine fighter aircraft. Although initially designed to shoot down bombers, they were painted in black and served to escort USAF B-29 Superfortress bombers on night raids. They also flew nighttime intercept and interdiction missions. By the end of the war, while the F-86 Sabre would become famous for victories over MiG Alley, Skyknights had claimed six enemy aircraft shot down (one Polikarpov Po-2, one Yakovlev Yak-15 and four Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15). During that time there was the loss of one aircraft piloted by LTJG Bob Bick and his crewman, Chief Petty Officer Linton Smith, on July 2, 1953. This aircraft was with a detachment from Fleet Composite Squadron FOUR (VC-4) at NAS Atlantic City, and was attached to Marine Fighter Squadron 513 (VMF(N)-513). The first air-to-air victory occurred on 3 November 1952 in a United States Marine Corps F3D-2 piloted by Major William T. Stratton, Jr., and his radar operator, Master Sergeant Hans C. Hoglind of VMF(N)-513. While the Skyknight lacked the swept wings and high subsonic performance of the MiG-15, its onboard radar enabled it to find and kill other fighters, while the MiG-15 could only be guided by ground-based radar to the general vicinity of large B-29 formations.
In the years after the Korean War, the F3D was gradually replaced by more powerful aircraft with better radar systems. The F3D's career was not over though; its stability and spacious fuselage made it easily adaptable to other roles. The F3D (under the designations F3D-1M and F3D-2M) was used to support development of a number of air-to-air missile systems during the 1950s, including the Sparrow I, II, and III and Meteor missiles.
In 1954 F3D-2M was the first Navy jet aircraft to be fitted with an air-to-air missile that could fly operational combat missions: the Sparrow I, an all weather day/night BVR missile that used beam riding guidance for the aircrew to control the flight of the missile. Only 38 aircraft (12 F3D-1Ms, and 16 F3D-2Ms) were made able to use the missiles.
In the late 1950s, a number of the Marine F3D-2 aircraft were re-configured as electronic warfare aircraft and were designated F3D-2Q (later EF-10B). Also, a few aircraft were converted for use as trainers and were designated F3D-2T.
Skyknights continued service through the 1960s in gull white color scheme, when their contemporaries had long since been retired. In 1962, when the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force unified their designation systems, the F3D-1 was redesignated F-10A and the F3D-2 was re-designated F-10B. The Skyknight was the only Korean war fighter that also flew in Vietnam (as also did the Douglas A-1 Skyraider attack aircraft). EF-10Bs served in the electronic countermeasures role during the Vietnam War until 1969. The U.S. Marine Corps retired its last EF-10Bs in 1970. Some aircraft continued flying as testbeds for Raytheon until the 1980s.
When the U.S. Navy issued a requirement for a fleet defense missile fighter in 1959, Douglas responded with the F6D Missileer, essentially an updated and enlarged F3D that would carry the AAM-N-10 Eagle long-range missile with the most important characteristics being able to carry a large load of fuel, long time-on-station, crew of two, and sophisticated electronics rather than speed or maneuverability. This concept which kept the straight wings in an age of supersonic jets was soon cancelled because it would not be able to defend itself against more nimble fighters. Its weapon system would be adapted for the supersonic swing-wing General Dynamics-Grumman F-111B, the Navy version of a joint USAF/USN tactical jet aircraft which also specified side-by-side seating. The USAF version would eventually see service as an air-to-ground fighter bomber, but the USN version, envisioned as a Fleet Air Defense fighter and dogfighter, would be cancelled when it was clear that its performance was not sufficient for an air-to-air dogfighter role. The AWG-9/Phoenix and TF30 turbofan engine would eventually enter service on the F-111B's successor, the swing-wing Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
The unusual, portly profile earned it the nickname "Willie the Whale". It is less clear how it also came to be known as "Drut." It should be noted, however, that "Drut" is "Turd" spelled backwards.
- Prototype aircraft, three built.
- F3D-1 Skyknight
- Two-seat all-weather day or night-fighter aircraft, powered by two 3,000 lbf (1,400 kgf) Westinghouse J34-WE-32 turbojet engines, 28 built.
- F3D-1M Skyknight
- 12 F3D-1s were converted into missile-armed test aircraft. Used in the development of the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile.
- F3D-2 Skyknight
- Improved version, powered by two 4,600 lbf (2,100 kgf) Westinghouse J34-WE-36 or J34-WE-36A turbojet engines, equipped with an autopilot and a Westinghouse AN/APQ-36 radar, 237 built.
- F3D-2B Skyknight
- One F3D-1 Skynight was used for special armament test in 1952.
- F3D-2M Skyknight
- 16 F3D-2s were converted into missile armed aircraft. The F3D-2Ms were armed with AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles.
- F3D-2Q Skyknight
- 35 F3D-2s were converted into electronic warfare aircraft.
- F3D-2T Skyknight
- Five F3D-2s were converted into night fighter training aircraft.
- 55 F3D-2s were used as radar-operator trainers and electronic warfare aircraft.
- F3D-3 Skyknight
- Unbuilt project, intended to be an advanced version fitted with swept wings.
- F-10A Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-1.
- F-10B Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-2.
- EF-10B Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-2Q.
- MF-10A Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-1M.
- MF-10B Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-2M.
- TF-10B Skyknight
- 1962 re-designation of the F3D-2T2.
Aircraft on display
- 125870, (marked as 127039), - Vietnam War memorial in Del Valle Park in Lakewood, California. It is painted in the 1960s/1970s-era grey and white color scheme of Marine Corps aircraft. The aircraft bears the tail code "7L," which was the 1960s-era tail code designated for Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment and Naval Air Reserve aircraft based at Naval Air Station Los Alamitos, California.
- 124620 - Quonset Air Museum at Quonset State Airport (former NAS Quonset Point in Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
- 125850 - Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB, California. When operational, this aircraft served until 1970 as part of VMCJ-3 (Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron 3) based at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California, carrying tail code "TN."
- 127074 - Empire State Aerosciences Museum near Schenectady, NY. This plane was operated by Raytheon in Massachusetts as an electronics test plane until it was donated to the USS Intrepid Museum in New York City, NY. It was displayed at the Intrepid from 1987 until April 2012, when it was one of three planes moved to the ESAM to make room for the Space Shuttle Enterprise. It is painted in the colors of Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513 (VMF(N)-513) as flown during the Korean War.)
Data from Standard Aircraft Characteristics F3D-2 "Skyknight"
- Crew: 2
- Length: 45 ft 5 in (13.85 m)
- Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
- Height: 16 ft 1 in (4.90 m)
- Wing area: 400 ft² (37 m²)
- Empty weight: 14,989 lb (6,813 kg)
- Loaded weight: 21,374 lb (9,715 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 26,731 lb (12,151 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Westinghouse J34-WE-36 turbojets, 3,400 lbf (15 kN) each
- Maximum speed: 529 mph (460 kn, 852 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 454 mph (395 kn, 731 km/h)
- Stall speed: 93 mph (81 kn, 149 km/h)
- Range: 1,374 mi (1,195 nmi, 2,212 km) (with 2 × 150 gal/568 l tanks)
- Service ceiling: 36,700 ft (11,200 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,970 ft/min (15.1 m/s)
- Wing loading: 53.4 lb/ft² (383 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.32
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- "KORWALD." dtic.mil. Retrieved: 12 September 2010.
- Zhang 2002, pp. 194–195.
- Donald 1997, p. 365.
- Badrocke 1993, pp. 41, 44–45.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft 1985, p. 1559.
- Douglas F3D-2 "Sky Knight." Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 16 December 2007.
- Grossnick 1997, p. 768.
- O'Rourke, G.G. and E.T. Woodbridge. Night Fighters Over Korea. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998. ISBN 1-55750-653-1.
- "Guided Missiles Ride Navy Jet." Popular Mechanics, November 1954, p. 116.
- Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 183.
- Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 182.
- "Douglas F3D-2 Skyknight." Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 6 March 2008.
- Badrocke 1993, p. 47.
- Francillon 1979, p. 717.
- "Douglas Sknight." Boeing history. Retrieved: 23 August 2010.
- Goebel, Greg. "Douglas F3D Skyknight." vectorsite.net. Retrieved: 25 2010.
- "Naval Aviation Humor." bluejacket.com. Retrieved: 25 July 2010.
- "F3D Skyknight/124598." National Naval Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/124629." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/125807." Combat Air Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/125870." Warbirds Resource Group. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/124618." Aero Web. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/124620." Quonset Air Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/124630." Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "F3D Skyknight/125850." Aero Web. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "Final mission for fighter jets" Schenectady Spotlight 5 May 2012
- McGeehan, Patrick. "Anticipating Space Shuttle’s Arrival, Old Warplanes Ship Out." The New York Times, 18 April 2012.
- "F3D Skyknight/127074." USS Intrepid Museum. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
- "Standard Aircraft Characteristics F3D-2 'Skyknight'." Naval Historical Centre. Retrieved: 23 June 2007.
- Andrade, John M. U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1979, ISBN 0-904597-22-9.
- Badrocke, Mike. "Electronic Warrior". Air Enthusiast, Fifty-one, August to October 1993, pp. 41–48. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing. ISSN 0143-5450.
- Donald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
- Francillon, René. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
- Grossnick, Roy A. and William J. Armstrong. United States Naval , Aviation, 1910–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Historical Center, 1997. ISBN 0-16-049124-X.
- Heinemann, Edward H. and Rosario Rausa. Ed Heinemann: Combat Aircraft Designer. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1980. ISBN 0-87021-797-6.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
- Jones, Lloyd. U.S. Fighters: Army-Air Force 1925 to 1980s. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, 1975. ISBN 0-8168-9200-8.
- Jones, Lloyd. U.S. Naval Fighters: 1922 to 1980s. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, 1977. ISBN 0-8168-9254-7.
- Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. London: Putnam, Second edition, 1976. ISBN 0-370-10054-9.
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