The Banshee was developed as an enlarged version of the McDonnell FH-1 Phantom. The aircraft featured more powerful engines and greater armament than the earlier aircraft. The F2H-1 prototype first flew on January 11, 1947 and operational aircraft reached service in March 1949. By the end of 1949 the F2H-2 version of the aircraft was in service. It featured a longer fuselage and wings which allowed more fuel to be carried, increasing the plane’s range. The F2H-3 and F2H-4 featured an even longer fuselage and more fuel as well as a search radar making them all-weather and night capable. The F2H-2 was also modified into a photo reconnaissance version with a lengthened nose housing several cameras. The Banshee was used extensively during the Korean War as both a fighter and a reconnaissance plane. Banshees were also sold to Canada and served in the Canadian Navy from 1955 until 1962. The last Banshees left the U.S. Navy’s inventory in 1965.
Marine Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron 2 (VMJ-2), Marine Corps Air Station Atsugi, Japan, 1958
Built by McDonnell Aircraft at St. Louis, Missouri and delivered to the U.S. Navy on October 12, 1951.
October 1951 To Bureau of Aeronautics Representative, Research & Development, St. Louis, Missouri.
June 1952 To Naval Air Test Center, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
March 1953 To Composite Squadron 61 (VC-61), Naval Air Station Miramar, California.
March 1954 To Overhaul & Repair, San Diego, California.
April 1954 To Overhaul & Repair, Jacksonville, Florida.
October 1954 To Composite Squadron 62 (VC-62) Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. Deployed on USS Bennington, USS Intrepid, and USS Forrestal.
September 1956 To Overhaul & Repair, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
April 1957 To Reconnaissance Squadron 61 (VFP-61), Naval Air Station Alameda, California.
December 1957 To Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 3 (FASRON-3) Naval Air Station Alameda, California.
February 1958 To Marine Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron 1 (VMJ-1), Marione Corps Air Station Atsugi, Japan.
June 1958 To Naval Air Facility Advanced Base at Oppama, Japan.
October 1958 To Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 4 (FASRON 4), Naval Air Station North Island, California.
October 1958 To Storage at Litchfield Park, Arizona.
1958-2012 Displayed at St. Louis, Missouri; Cherry Point, North Carolina; and Wings of Eagles Museum, New York. At some point the aircraft’s original photoreconnaissance nose was replaced with the gun equipped nose of a standard Banshee fighter.
2012 Loaned to the Pima Air and Space Museum by the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Pima Air & Space Museum