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McDonnell F3H Demon Fighter Aircraft (1953)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/27/2012

The F3H Demon was McDonnells first swept-wing turbojet fighter design.

The F3H Demon series of aircraft produced by McDonnell Aircraft was a further development of the company's expertise with carrier-based turbojet-powered aircraft. Ever since the arrival of the Japanese "Zero" to the war front in World War Two, there was great belief by such aircraft firms that carrier-based craft could easily match or even supercede the performance offered up by their land-based counterparts.

Nearly a decade later since the end of the conflict, McDonnell was hard at work in trying to match their earlier carrier-based attempts in the F1H and F2H series of aircraft. The F3H Demon was such an attempt, becoming the company's first attempt at a swept-wing turbojet fighter - a technology incidentally pioneered by German engineers in the Second World War.

The Demon featured folding wingtip assemblies for added storage space on American carriers and was a single seat, single engine aircraft. Twin intakes were fitted on either side of the forward-mounted cockpit and the single exhaust was uniquely fitted under the tail assembly - which in itself featured low-mounted elevators. The wing systems were of a low-monoplane variety and the aircraft housed a more modern-looking tricycle powered land gear design.

The F3H Demon was designed from the outset to become the first aircraft in the world to be built specifically with air-to-air missile technology capability in mind. It would not be until the more definitive F3H-2 model that the system would be fitted with the 4 x 20mm cannon armament consistent wit earlier McDonnell turbojet designs. The system would be fielded with a standard array of 4 x Aim-7 Sparrow medium-range air-to-air missiles.

Production delays and an underpowered initial powerplant led to the F3H seeing considerable development time. Since the initial flight in 1951, the system would not be fielded up until 1956. The F3H Demon would go on to miss the Korean War altogether, though - after powerplant issues were dealt with - the United States Navy would field no fewer than 10 squadrons with the new and nimble missile-threatening F3H Demons.

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Specifications for the
McDonnell F3H Demon
Fighter Aircraft

Focus Model: McDonnell F3H-2 Demon
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: McDonnell Aircraft - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1953
Production: 519

Crew: 1

Length: 58.92 ft (17.96 m)
Width: 35.70 ft (10.88 m)
Height: 14.57ft (4.44 m)
Weight (Empty): 22,132 lb (10,039 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 33,900 lb (15,377 kg)

Powerplant: 1 x Allison J71-A-2E afterburning turbojet engine generating 14,000lbs of thrust.

Maximum Speed: 647 mph (1,041 kmh; 562 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,370 miles (2,205 km)
Service Ceiling: 42,651 ft (13,000 m; 8.1 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 12,000 feet-per-minute (3,658 m/min)

Hardpoints: 4
Armament Suite:
4 x 20mm cannons

4 x AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles

F3H-2 - "Definitive" fighter-bomber variant

F3H-2N - Initial Production Model Designation

United States