Register here

Author Topic: Vought Crusader for F-X, 1962 (instead of northrop F-5A)  (Read 392 times)

Online Archibald

  • Senior Member
  • CLEARANCE: Top Secret
  • **
  • Posts: 1918
Vought Crusader for F-X, 1962 (instead of northrop F-5A)
« on: July 05, 2018, 12:07:43 am »
As said in the tin. The N-156F life was quite precarious until Kennedy revived a LWF program in 1961. On April 23, 1962, Northrop F-5A was the winner. some years later another similar competition, IFA, was (logically) won by the F-5E. Together they sold more than 2000 airframes, then spawned both F-18 and F-20. Overall, Northrop line that goes from  the N-156T to the Super Hornet was a major success.
Now, whatif this was derailed by... Vought ?

I can't find F-X / FX anymore (damn it) but I vaguely remember Vought proposed a land-based, simplified Crusader, eventually with a J-79. Whatif that aircraft was picked as a winner instead of the F-5A (and later, F-5E) ?

Would it sell as well as the F-5 did ?

This would butterfly the Hornet and F-20, for a start.

Which bring us to naval fighters, something the F-5 never did because of its wing / stall characteristics. Both France and Great Britain wanted fifferent Crusaders for their navies, in the mid-60's (see the thread).
By 1971 in France, Dassault, Aerospatiale and the French aéronavale all had a love affair with Vought (harcking back to 1939 and the V-156F dive bombers). This could solve the "Crusader conundrum" where the French aircrafts remained in service until Rafale, that is, in 1999...

The F-X Crusader would have kept Vought into the fighter business far better than the A-7, there might have been some synergies between the two aircrafts.
Would a much improved Crusader be a better choice than the troubled Hornet ?

Vietnam might be a little different. The old Crusaders did wonder against the MiG-21. The F-X Crusader would be far better.

As you can see, there is a lot of "whatif" potential.

Possible timeline

- 1961 Vought Crusader is picked as a winner to F-X - with a J-79 in place of the old J-57

- 1963 France announce it picks the J-57 Crusader for its Clemenceau carriers. Yet they are interested by the J-79... or perhaps even by the American Spey developped for the A-7, the TF-41. Great Britain reacts "We want a Spey Crusader, too !" J-79 and TF-41 are close enough in dimensions, weight and thrust the aircraft can fly with both engines. A tri-service Crusader program is setup, between the United States, France, and Great Britain. The later country notes that improved Crusaders could fly out of Centaur-class carriers (not dissimilar to French Clemenceaus) and starts considering that as a cheap alternative to CVA-01, Ark Royal / Eagle upgrades.

- 1964: France initially wanted a cheaper, single-seat J-79 aircraft, but GB is pushing toward a two-seat, AW, TF-41 powered machine. France capitulates, and goes for the second option. They loan some "ordinary" Crusaders from the USN to bridge their naval fighter gap.

- May 1965: the tri-partite agreement. No Jaguar, by the way.

- 1966: the land-based, F-X Crusader proves its worth in Vietnam, decimating NVAF Mig-21s. More and more interest in the type boils up all over the world. Vought proposes, indifferently, single seat / two seat, TF-41 / J-79, naval and land based variants.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2018, 12:23:11 am by Archibald »
Conservatoire de l'Air et de l'Espace d'Aquitaine - Bordeaux - Mérignac / Dassault aviation museum

Offline alertken

  • Senior Member
  • CLEARANCE: Top Secret
  • **
  • Posts: 506
Re: Vought Crusader for F-X, 1962 (instead of northrop F-5A)
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 01:56:09 am »
That is an entirely logical, credible sequence. So, why did it not happen?

Northrop put up PV money for a cheap (expendable) mud-mover scheme, when their competitors were happily spending DoD's money on Century Series et al. From that they won T-38A. From that they evolved low-risk F-5A, of no interest to USAF/DoD but of great interest to State for Aid-to-poor Allies. Large production orders, so on to Hornets. McDonnell evolved a truly multi-role combat a/c in Phantoms: by 1961 USN was very happy with those, Crusader becoming an also-ran, its shrunk A-7A winning USN/USMC mud-mover, not an F-5/T-38 variant - again for low-risk reasons.

Aeronavale took much-modified F-8 because F-4B was seen as incompatible with Foch/Clemenceau, and the pre-mod. package was proven and cheap. So why did RN press for Spey/F-4, fit only for CV/CVA, leaving the Light Fleets with Vixen/Scimitar? I suggest: both to enhance the capability of CVA-01, so dissuading further upgrade of CVs, and to inter-operate with USN, especially East of Suez (and the 2-engine reliability issue, which enabled RN to escape from P.1154(RN). Aeronavale disdained that issue).

A Spey/TSR.2 avionics/F-8K/N could have been assembled in France, more parts from UK than were supplied to F-4K/M, and would have displaced F-4M in RAF. If that had been inherited 10/64 by the new Labour Govt. an AFVG might have survived and led to an EADS-type link up, UK/France, strongly placed to win FRG et al 1968 NKF F-104 replacement. Howzat for a WhatIf!