F3H-2 Demon - "Top Gun Demon Drivers"

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The F3H Demon was originally designed around the ill-fated Westinghouse J40 engine. When the expected performance did not materialize from this engine the Allison J71 was substituted. Even with the new engine the Demon had a reputation for being somewhat underpowered. Nevertheless, the type gave good front-line service with the US Navy carrier fleet for 8 years as the first true all-weather missile interceptor. The Demon had excellent flying characteristics and was very maneuverable. LCDR Harry Milner had over 1,300 hours of flight time with the Demon. He relates the F3H would actually go supersonic in level flight at 8,000 feet altitude. The F3H could be a respectable foe once most of the fuel was burned off and the airplane got into fighting weight. In the experienced hands of LCDR Milner, he relates more than one occasion when he was able to get the drop on an F-8 Crusader. He writes, “The F-8s used to have a hammer head stall maneuver to lose interceptors. They would go straight up in burner then turn around and come straight down when they ran out. Well, we’d wait for them and catch them on the way back and follow them down the hill. That was a real education for F-8 drivers who weren’t knowledgeable about the F3H.” The F3H capabilities were also proven in 1959 when the VF-41 “Black Aces” distinguished themselves by winning the Topgun award in the air to air, all weather class at that year’s Naval Air Weapons Meet. This print depicts those airplanes of VF-41.