F3D Skyknight

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F3D Skynight
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F3D Skynight

The F3D Skynight was a twin engine, mid wing jet fighter manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, El Segundo, California. The F3D was designed as a carrier all-weather aircraft and saw service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. Originally known as the Skyknight, the second 'k' was dropped through common lack of use. The Skynight had a crew of two, a pilot and a Naval Flight Officer, seated side-by-side. It was powered by two non-afterburning Westinghouse J-34 turbojet engines. The armament consisted of four 20mm guns located in the lower fuselage, just under the nose radome. The aircraft did not have ejection seats but used an escape chute facing aft between the two crew members, similar to that in the A3D/A-3.

The aircraft was produced in two basic versions, the F3D-1 and the F3D-2. The F3D-1, fitted with J34-WE-34 engines, was produced in limited numbers of which a number were fitted with an air missile launcher and used to support development of a number of air-to-air missile systems during the 1950s, including the Sparrow I, II, and III and the Meteor missiles. The F3D-2, powered by J34-WE-36 engines, was produced in two versions, the basic F3D-2, used mainly used by the Marine Corps, and the missile armed F3D-2M. The Marine squadron, VMF(AW)-242, deployed with the First Marine Air Wing at NAS Atsugi, Japan was equipped with the F3D-2 in the mid 1950s.

The radar system in the F3D-2 was the AN/APQ-35 that was a combination of three different radars, each performing separate functions: a search radar, a tracking radar, and a tail warning radar. The complexity of this radar system, that was produced before the advent of semi-conductor electronics, required intensive maintenance to keep it operating fully.

The F3D-2M, using a different electronics system, was the first operational Navy jet aircraft to be fitted with an air-to-air missile, the Sparrow I, a missile that used beam riding guidance for the aircrew to control the flight of the missile.

In the late 1950s, a number of the Marine F3D-2 aircraft were re-configured as electronic warfare aircraft and were designated F3D-2Q/EF-10B.

Related content
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Similar Aircraft
Designation Series (Pre-1962)

FD - F2D - F3D - F4D - F5D - F6D

Designation Series (Post-1962)

F-7 - F-8 - F-9 - F-10 - F-11 - YF-12 - F-14

Related Lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft


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