The F-8 Crusader was incredibly versatile, fast, and agile. One of the most capable ꜰɪɢʜᴛᴇʀs of the post-World War II era, the F-8 Crusader was a sleek design that featured a gaping ᴊᴇᴛ intake beneath the fuselage and a variable-incidence wing that could be raised to enable the ᴀɪʀᴄʀᴀꜰᴛ to land and takeoff at slow speeds while maintaining excellent visibility for the pilot. In an era in which fighter pilots relied increasingly on ᴍɪssɪʟᴇs, the Crusader retained 20mm cannon, prompting its pilots to call it the “Last of the Gᴜɴғɪɢʜᴛᴇʀs.”
The F-8 made history almost immediately. Commander Robert W. Windsor established a national speed record on 21 August 1956, reaching 1,015.428 mph over a 15-kilometer course. In so doing, the F-8 became the first operationally equipped ᴊᴇᴛ ᴀɪʀᴄʀᴀғᴛ to fly faster that 1,000 mph.
On 16 July 1957 future astronaut Major John H. Glenn, Jr., flew a photo reconnaissance version of the ᴀɪʀᴄʀᴀғᴛ in a record transcontinental flight, taking off from Los Alamitos, California, and reaching Floyd Bennett Field, New York, in 3 hours, 22 minutes, and 50.05 seconds.
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