The Crusader is often called the “Last of the Gunfighters” since it was the last Navy fighter to rely on guns for its primary armament. Design work began in 1953 and the first of the prototype aircraft flew in March 1955. The most notable feature of the aircraft’s design is the ability to raise the wing’s leading edge in flight. This changes the angle at which the wing cuts the air and allows the aircraft to fly slow enough to land on a carrier while keeping the nose down and improving the pilot’s forward view. The Crusader first went to sea on the USS Forrestal in 1957. In the early 1960s, a dozen F-8As were converted to DF-8F drone controllers for use on the Navy’s various target ranges. The last of the Crusaders left navy service in 1987.
Utility Squadron 8 (VU-8), Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Puerto Rico, 1964
Pima Air & Space Museum